Archive for the ‘Sort of Outside Azeroth’ Category

Have you ever walked through the town of your choice — be it big cities like Stormwind or Orgrimmar, forlorn capital cities like the Exodar or Silvermoon, or little townships or camps like Nijel’s Point in Desolace or Desolation Hold in the Southern Barrens — and someone walked or flew by you and you recognized them instantly? Maybe you just read their name tag. Hopefully, though, you recognized them by their silhouette (maybe you are like me and have nameplates turned off for both ally and foe).

Silhouettes are an easy way to make an impression. Let’s do a little test, shall we? Here I took a few screenshots of WoW celebrities. Can you recognize all five of them?

(solution: 1. Deathwing, 2. Thrall, 3. Arthas as the Lich King, 4. Kel’Thuzad, 5. Garrosh Hellscream)

Well, how many did you get right? Tell me in the comments. Now back to your regularly scheduled programme.

Of course, silhouettes are not the only way to be recognized. Mixing and matching colours for astonishing-looking armour sets is one of the most fun you can have with transmogrification. In fact, more so than a silhouette, colours make you stand out even more from the croud. If you look at any of the many fabulous transmogrification websites and blogs (Go Mog Yourself, for example) you will see that their primary concern is probably colour matching, not creating unique silhouettes. You can have the most interesting silhouette, and it will make a hell of an impression if you are far away or shrouded in mist or shadow. Once you step out of the shadow, however, you might not have the same impact on people. Or a completely different one:

What has all this to do with anything? Well, Blizzard has shown their tendency towards more asymmetrical armour sets and other little things lately. You just have to take a look at the Mists of Pandaria sets; almost none of those are symmetrical. Here is a quick example:

The upper image is the rogue challenge mode set in a golden tone. The two images below are what the set would look like if it was symmetrical either way. Now you might think “That’s not that bad? I don’t like any of them / I like all of them.” It doesn’t look like there’s much of a difference, does it? Well, let’s see what happens when we simplify these into silhouettes:

Sure, they still all look kinda cool and mysterious. But I would say that the upper image looks way more interesting than the lower two. Don’t you?

As you can see from this short example, an asymmetrical aspect on your armor makes your character quite a bit more interesting. Assymetry in your shoulders isn’t the only thing that can influence your silhouette and appearance. During the last BlizzCon, Blizzard have stated that they will try to make more armor pieces stand out on their own. The first thing we see the effect of this on are belts — belt buckles, specifically. Looking at a few of the new belts, we can see once more how they change your appearance. From the same set of armour as before:

Notice how the upper belt (the rogue Tier 13 belt) has absolutely no impact on your silhouette? Now compare this to the lower belt (the rogue challenge mode armour). What a difference!

Although Blizzard may have gone a bit overboard on the size of the belt buckles (who would wear a belt with a buckle that big? It would slow you down tremendously), it’s nice to see this change. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Imagine a world (of warcraft) in which every piece of your armour looked and behaved like it would in real life. That would be incredible. And nearly impossible to code, I would think.

But we don’t have to have it all in place perfectly. And not all at once. Belts and shoulder pieces are only the first steps into a less flat character silhouette and therefore, a more dynamic character appearance.

I asked on Twitter what some of your favourite armour sets were. Now let me entertain you with what some of these armour sets could look like on your characters. All I did was take screenshots from WoW Model Viewer and paint over them. You might not see much of a difference, but if you look closely, you might see a few surface changes. The red arrows and the few sketches from the side might help indicate changes, too. It’s not much, but it should give you an impression of what your character might look like if Blizzard keeps going in the interesting silhouette direction.

Edit: Maybe I should end on something like a disclaimer: while old armour sets are fun, I don’t think it’s feasible to expect Blizzard to retroactively change old armour sets to fit the “new” model. They would have to redo most of the sets completely. But if we arrive at the point where feathers stand out like feathers, plates are stacked on plates and cloth flows like cloth at SOME point, I’ll be really happy.


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At least this one has a shirt on.

We meet yet again, my still faithful readers. As you might have noticed, there has been a distinct lack of new posts in the last couple of weeks. This, of course, is no coincidence, and will unfortunately not be remedied within the next few weeks. Work for uni, the Secret Santa Art Exchange and other projects, and actually playing the game from time to time (my girlfriend might tell you that I still play way too much, and clearly always at the wrong time, but what does she know?!) have been keeping me fairly busy. With the coming of the holidays and the real life guild festival (I contemplated calling it a meeting, but it’s really just a gathering of insane people who party for a few days) through New Year’s Eve that’s not likely to change much. After that, I might have more time again, but we will see.

On to the real deal: I recently had a nice conversation about times, dates and everything in Azeroth with Angelya and Rioriel (who actually spawned the idea). A few days later I got my courage up and suggested it as a Shared Topic on Blog Azeroth.

For anyone not in the know: Shared Topics can be suggested by any blogger on the Blog Azeroth forums. If they are deemed appropriate and interesting, a moderator will give the topic suggestion a date, and during the assigned week any blogger can write their response on it. It is a great way to get through writer’s block, to practise your writing skills or to simply give your spin on a topic you find interesting.

The main reason you haven’t seen me posting any other Shared Topics is simply because at first I wanted to get the blog going (which didn’t work out quite so well, now did it?) and then had no or too little time to give them a go. Which is a pity, because I had a hilarious idea for last week’s — at least in my head it was hilarious.

The topic I suggested reads as follows:

Time passes, in real life and in WoW. But except for how long a day and a year are, we know virtually nothing about the calendar in Azeroth. Are there also twelve months in Azeroth as there are here? How long are they? Only because February is 28 days long in the calendars of Western civilizations doesn’t mean Azeroth’s February has to have the same length.
As there are many different civilizations with their own languages spread throughout Azeroth, what names might the days and months have?

See, Earth can have two moons just like Azeroth.

How It Works on Earth

To discuss time measurements in Azeroth it might be helpful to start out by looking at how we on Earth measure time. However, even this is not the same for everyone. I am sure many have wondered before why the Chinese don’t celebrate the advent of the new year at another date than “the rest of us”, without you ever considering how arbitrary the measurement of time really is. There are calendars based on the moon as well as calendars based on the sun, if you can believe it. Without going too much into the minutiae of things like hours, minutes and seconds, we (i.e. the “Western civilized world” — although the term sounds horribly wrong, I couldn’t come up with something better on the spot) measure time in the following:

  • days
  • (weeks)
  • months
  • (seasons)
  • years

Decades, centuries and millenia are just convenient additions of a certain number of years (10 years, 100 years, etc.), so they don’t really need to be discussed here.


A day is…well, a day long. The period between sunrises, or the time it takes the earth to spin around itself once. Although only the time in which the sun is up was called ‘day’ first (and although this seems plausible, I’m talking completely out of my butt here and have no data to support this) and the dark part ‘night’, we have come to understand the period that is ‘one day’ as those 24 hours from sunrise A to sunrise B (sunrise because of the aforementioned other meaning of day, i.e. “time with sun up”).


Weeks are a completely religiously motivated thing. If certain people who wrote a book they named after Phil Collins’ old band (I’m sure it must’ve been that way around!) hadn’t been so keen on the number seven, a week could’ve been 15 days, 2 days or 73 days long. But since God did it all in 7 days, a week, it was decided on, should be exactly that long.


A month is signified (or was originally, at least) by the phases of the moon. The words ‘month’ and ‘moon’ don’t look quite alike for nothing. A month is the time between two full moons (or any phase of the moon, really; that it is full moons is another piece of guess work by me; it is the most noticable phase of the moon, after all). In the olden days when the old Greek complained about the bad weather around Troy (“Whose idea was this, anyhow? No Helen is worth ten years of sleeping in poorly constructed and maintained tents and battling on an empty stomach!”) we had a calendar whose years were based on the moon even (I could be wrong in that the Greeks could’ve actually had a solar calendar; again, out-of-butt talking). Then, one day, some Roman Julio Igles– I mean Caesar thought this wasn’t such a good idea.


Seasons are reigned by nature. When the leaves fall, it’s autumn. Or fall, for the American folks out there (can you guess where that season got its name from?). When everything blossoms and the birds come back from Africa, it’s spring. The four seasons are really natural, flowing things (not the Four Seasons, though; nothing natural about that) that some OCD kiddo decided to put a date on. Why is the 21st of June the beginning of summer? Because the guy proposing it yelled louder than the poor 18th of May guy. As different as the four seasons are in some parts of the world, as little they differ in other parts (e.g. near the equator — again, anyone have a guess for that denomination?).


A year is the time it takes the Sun to circle the Earth– I mean the Earth to go around the Sun. This calendar, introduced first by Julius Caesar (who wasn’t quite aware of the Earth-doing-the-circling thing yet, though), aligns with the seasons more nicely than one that is based on the moon. This season-fitting calendar was arguably the greatest invention ever. Imagine there was no August. How could you complain about all the rain “when the sun is supposed to shine in August” if you didn’t know that the sun should even shine in August because August is in the summer every year?

I can hear your minds crackling from all the confusing “what-ifs” and the anthropological talk of arbitrary measurements, different seasons and regulated calendars. But now maybe you know a bit more about why Summer is never in April (lesbian pun? check!).

A whole new world.

Let’s Take This to WoW, Shall We?

Why, if the calendar in game tells me it’s December the 18th  2011, should all of what you wrote even be important for my life in Azeroth?

Easy: the in game calendar was designed for the player. It was designed so that players didn’t have to learn a whole new calendar in order to play the game. As fascinating as this would be for a select few, it wouldn’t have been fun for most players. That doesn’t mean that the world of Azeroth and real life (I couldn’t resist!) aren’t vastly different from one another. Just like your character bravely faces and destroys dragons when you — in the real world — would run screaming, so it is not only thinkable, but probable that the races of Azeroth count time differently than us.

While we can assume that at least days are approximately the same length as on Earth (the sun rises and sets within the same amount of time), we don’t really know about the other measuring devices.

As I said above, weeks are completely arbitrary, so I am not even discussing them much. However, if the Darkmoon Faire is open for 7 days a month, does this mean this is a week? Or is it simply Silas Darkmoon’s lucky number?

Similarly, the only in game indication for months I can come up with is the Darkmoon Faire as well. This is from Wowpedia:

The Darkmoon Faire is a large gathering of activities on the southern area of Darkmoon Island, brought together by Silas Darkmoon. The faire opens up on the first Sunday of the month and lasts for one week.

This would indicate that, at least approximately, the length of months in our calendar corresponds to the length of months in Azeroth. Questionable is the denomination ‘month’ here as there is no apparent correspondence between the length of a month in Azeroth and the phases of its moons. The two moons (of which you only see one in game) don’t seem to wax or wane. Assuming there are no phases, maybe the visual distance between the moons plays a vital role. A month could be the period of time it takes the two moons to meet (i.e. be in the same place as seen from Azeroth) or perhaps the quantity of days it takes the one moon to “leave” the other moon (assuming the moons move at similar stellar speeds, this option seems more likely, as otherwise a “month” would either be extremely long or the one moon would move way, way, waaaaay faster than the other).

Seasons, with the exception of obscure seasonal events (and as we are all aware, customary seasonal events don’t necessarily have to do anything with the four seasons), are virtually non-existent in WoW. There is no raining season in the deserts of Tanaris, no snowflake (except for all you little, precious, individual snowflakes!) ever touches the grass in Elwynn Forest, and it is not likely there will be a monsun season on Pandaria. The male dwarf joke “Ahhh, winter… Yes… Winter…” is funny to them (probably) because it is always winter in Dun Morogh (let’s remember that all of the three big clans called Ironforge their home once, so it’s not unlikely a Wildhammer or Darkiron would tell this “joke”). The snow, which is a defining character of winter (at least it is more than likely that it is at the birth place of the denomination), never melts. There seems to be no global warming, too. At least not yet. I’m sure the goblins can fix that.

As for years, there isn’t really an in game thing. Sure, the War of the Ancients took place 10,000 years ago. But were those years as long as what we call years? There is, however, a timeline by Blizzard floating out there in the internethers. According to this timeline, the events we as players witnessed during the expansions took place within one year. So, from the opening of the Dark Portal to the defeat of Kil’jaeden? One year. From the call to Northrend to Halion’s demise? One year. Now consider how long it took us “in real time” to go through that content. That’s right, something around two years. Does this mean that two years on Earth are the same as one year in Azeroth? Maybe, maybe not.

Both Illidan's and Gul'dan's heads hurt by now, I'm sure.

Spectacular Speculations

Don’t be too disappointed when this turns out not to be all that spectacular; I just like alliterations (as if you hadn’t noticed).

Now that we have cleared up (haha!) how calendars work and what we know about time measurements in WoW, let’s get speculative. What races might use what kind of calendar? It is probable that how the different races (and factions) count time is different. While there probably is a general consensus within a race by what standards the passing of time is measured (due to traditions), there might not be a unified starting point. As the starting point for any calculation of times is marked by some event that is of particular importance for the counting crows (heh!), these may vary radically from faction to faction. You will see what I mean by this in a second.

  • Humans are farmers, warriors, sages, fanatics, and basically everything else you can imagine. The motley nature of humans makes it very difficult to picture them with a strictly solar or lunar calendar. They might have a mixture between a solar and a lunar calendar (where solar phases define seasons and years and lunar occurences define months), similar to what we have in the real world (and have had for quite some time now). A starting point is difficult to pin down. You can easily imagine every faction of humans to have their own. So might the Argent Dawn/Crusade (whatever Tirion rolls with these days) have an assumed date of Tyr attaching his silver fist to his arm or the first time the Light communicated with a paladin or the founding date of the Order of the Silver Hand (or any other significant paladin-related date, really) as their starting point, while the denizens of Stormwind might count in dynasties (currently the Wrynn dynasty), e.g. the fifteenth year of the Wrynn dynasty (similar to how the Japanese count).
  • Orcs are not native to Azeroth. They come from Draenor. Thus, they might have had a completely different calculation of times than anything we know. However, ever since they have come to Azeroth, they likely have adopted (at least to a certain degree) the calendar of another race of their new home planet. Most orcs will probably go with either troll or tauren calendars, and some may utilize Human or even Elven calendars. As for a starting point: anything is possible. From the moment they set foot on Azeroth through the freeing from the internment camps after the second war to the beginning of the reign of Garrosh Hellscream as warchief or even the end of the Cataclysm, different orcs may favor different starting points. It quickly becomes a question of who can be the most persistent — which is a nice way of saying stubborn. And we all know that if Orcs are anything, they are stubborn.
  • Dwarves are difficult to pin down. As most dwarves are natural miners, they don’t see much of the sun or the moon. Their calendar, dating back to their origins as Earthen, might even be completely different. Maybe a year for a dwarf is measured by how long it takes erosion to ablate one cm (or inch or finger width or whatever) of a rock? Or maybe how long it takes a good ale to age? Dwarven calculation of times may begin with their creation by the Titans, the War of the Three Hammers or similar occurences. The three main factions might also count in either dynasties (Bronzebeard, Thaurissan etc.), and maybe the Wildhammer dwarves count from the first time a Wildhammer fought atop a gryphon.
  • The Forsaken undead are former humans (and bloodelves; and dwarves and gnomes, I hear!). Thus, their calendars will correlate with their former races’. Maybe Sylvanas has pushed through a unified Forsaken calendar akin to the High elven one? Then again, she isn’t the type for concerning herself with calendars, is she? There are two events that are a strong contender for the Forsaken starting point: the first recorded case of the plague or the beginning of Sylvanas’ leadership. Although the defeat of the Lich King is a major event, too, I don’t think the Forsaken could have borne not calculating the time they have waited for their revenge.
  • Night elves are lunatics. Quite literally. Not only are they grand screw-ups (expect a post on this at some distant point in the future), but they are incredibly focussed on the moon(s). Elune is their goddess of the moon, and not only does she call the biggest building in the elves’ capital her own, she also has her own sect (or as big sects like to refer to themselves: religion. Oh no, he didn’t!). Consequently, it is likely that their calendar is a lunar one. Whether it has something to do with waxing and waning or whether an interplay between the two moons is responsible for the way they define a month (and year) isn’t clear. The night elves have had many dates in their rich history that could mark the beginning of their count. The year 1 for night elves could start with any of the following (and more) events: the first conscious moments as night elves after being transformed from trolls due to the Well of Eternity (they are mutated trolls. Deal with it!), the foundation of Zin’Azshari (the Highborne mages might pick this date as it marks the beginning of their golden age), the first druid being taught by Cenarius (druid factions might choose to pick this date), the War of the Ancients (or rather: the first defeat of the Legion), the Sundering. Being the smug people they are it is also thinkable they start their count from the (assumed) moment the Titans created Azeroth.
  • The Shu’halo, commonly known as tauren, are likely to have a solar calendar. As nomads, the sun was one of the few constants in a tauren’s life until they settled down in Mulgore. Plus, the tauren paladins call themselves Sunwalkers. Starting points for their calculation of times is difficult, as we (or at least I) don’t know as much about this nomadic people. The taurens seem to be a people full of tradition, though, so rather recent dates like their settlement in Thunder Bluff or their admission to Thrall’s Horde are not too likely.
  • Gnomes are very peculiar little creatures. It is almost impossible to imagine them not having an exact system for counting time that has absolutely nothing to do with tradition, solar cycles, moon phases or major events. It therefore can be assumed that a year has a set number of months, days, hours, minutes, seconds and so on. If they count anything like this at all, that is. As for starting points: dynasties could be a possibility, but seeing as their best tinkerers are voted “kings” and “queens” for set periods of administration, it might get confusing. Imagine you tried to start a new year count every time a new President is elected in the US.
  • Trolls are very mysterious. At least to me they are. One of the eldest races on Azeroth, they have rich traditions. Whether they would prefer a solar or lunar calendar, I don’t know. Given their connection with the night elves, a lunar one is possible. However, there is also the possibility of them having a seasonal calendar. Maybe certain herbs which are beneficial for talking to the loa (if you catch my drift) grow at certain times during the year, and the trolls align their ‘months’ and yearly cycles around these things. Starting points will probably go waaaaaaaaay back.
  • Draenei are the newest “addition” to Azeroth (from a timeline perspective). I can see them having a completely different calendar than any other race on Azeroth. I do think they might have sustained their traditional calendar all through their thousands of years of flight from the Burning Legion (as the calendar was probably one of the few things reminding them of their lost home, Argus), as well as their calculation of times might have started some time on Argus. Additionally, they seem to be immortal (Velen is, what, 25,000 years old now?), which might prompt them to not even think of time as something that you can (or in fact have to) devide into subsections. Therefore, it is very hard to pin it down for the Draenei. Maybe one of the reasons they seem bewildered by the other races at times is the drastically different viewpoint they have on time?
  • The Sin’dorei, or blood elves, do probably have the same way of measuring time as the night elves. The starting point of their counting time spans might be different, though: the Sundering, the destruction of the Sunwell or the “reanimation” of the Sunwell (by M’uru) might all be possible. Or it’s something completely different.
  • Worgen are humans, and therefore are likely to have the same calendar. I can see them counting in dynasties or starting with the erection of the Gilnean Wall, as this seems an obvious choice.
  • Goblins count everything, especially money. They have to have a calendar in order to know the best time for sales. Maybe their calendar is even entirely comprised of sale times? Who couldn’t imagine that. Starting points are difficult, though. Maybe the different cartels count from their first trade princes?
  • Pandaren— I’m not even going to attempt to guess at this point.

Epicus Maximus -- suitable for food for thought, don't you think?

Some More Food for Thought

While we’re at it, here is some more things one can consider when thinking about the topic of counting, calendars and denominations:

  • the different races may have names for their respective “months”, “days” and so on, just like “Thursday” is “Donnerstag” in German, “jeudi” in French, “giovedì” in Italian and “четвéрг” in Russian (don’t even ask me to pronounce that). While on the topic of language, here is yet another piece of trivia I believe to be true: similarly to how the “common” language in Middle Earth, Westron, is its own language and was translated by Tolkien into English (I’m speaking from a Hobbit’s perspective, of course) so that the stories of elves and orcs, hobbits and humans, rangers and kings could be told, the “Common” language of the Azerothian humans is not English (or German, or [insert the language you play WoW in here]) at all. Mind blown?
  • Numeral systems, how I love you. For most things in everyday life, we (again, Western civilizations) use a decimal system, which means we count to ten. Ten times one is ten. Take ten tens and you get one houndred. Take ten of those and you get the next big step, one thousand. A major reason why we count to ten is right at hand. Literally. Count the number of your fingers. … Interesting, huh? Now, we do have other systems we work with. The binary system of computers is only one of them. Another would be the duodecimal system, which counts to twelve. A day consists of two times twelve hours. 12 a.m., 12 p.m., and so on. Now consider this for a moment: if we have a decimal system (partly) because of the number of our fingers and toes, what about gnomes? They (famously) only have four fingers on each hand. Does that have an impact on how they count? And what about those trolls with their three fingers per hand? Do they have a heximal (six) system? Or do they maybe count in binaries because of their tusks?

Don’t worry. The next blog post will be easier to follow again, albeit maybe less mind-blowing. It can’t just be me who finds all this incredibly fascinating, can it? … Hello?

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Oddly enough, this post was inspired by Eldoric‘s series of blog posts about the different tank classes (at the point of me writing this, there’s the two linked; no favoritism or anything!). Don’t ask me where the connection is, though. My mind works in mysterious ways. Anyway, you can find Eldoric’s blog posts over at overraidedblog.com. Overraided is generally a very nice blog with several different writers covering different topics using different styles, so I encourage everyone who hasn’t visited the site to give them a look (I will so boost their visitor numbers by, like, seven! Awesome!).

On a side note, I had way too many ideas for the title of this one. From hourglasses over sands of time (and Prince of Persia — I’m such a geek sometimes) to a walk on memory lane I had any title imaginable in my head at some point. Curiously (again, my mind is a confusing place), the first thing I came up with was ‘Where Are My Elephants?’

I was awarded this picture when I pasted the post into writtenkitten.net.

By the Mighty Zoos!

I haven’t been to a zoo in what feels like ages. More likely than not, this is a false perception on my part, as it cannot have been much more than three years. It feels way longer, though. Probably because we (my parents and two siblings; yes, I am a sandwich child, before anyone asks) used to go to a zoo at least two times a year when I was little. I wrote “a zoo” instead of “the zoo” because although most times we would go to the local zoo situated about 15 kilometres (~ 9-10 miles) from our home, we occasionally went to others zoos within a 1-2 hours’ drive radius. Additionally, we would sometimes go to the zoo when visiting friends or relatives who lived in remote ( from us) places throughout the country (the zoo visits on these occasions were rare, but they did happen). And since my family has moved several times over the last three decades, I have seen quite a few different zoos.

I love zoos. I love walking through the greenhouses: the soft, warm soil under your feet (I’d go barefeet if I was allowed to); the warm, thick, humid air that fills your lungs (I’d always breathe in as deep as I could the moment I stepped into a greenhouse); the sweat that builds on your forehead because of the warm climate; the sounds of chirring crickets and buzzing bees you rarely see; the ripple of water somewhere (in some houses you’d have a waterfall, which was always a reason for an excited yelp); the chirping and tweeting of exotic, colorful birds; the smell of scarlet, snowwhite, marine blue, and otherwise coloured lilies and orchids and what-have-you; and the feeling when a big, dark green leaf slightly grazes your skin.

The only thing better than these houses are the animals. From parrots over lions to elephants and bears, you can see the most marvellous assembly of creatures this planet has to offer. I would stand in front of the tigers’ compound forever, until an irritated parent called me to join them again so we could “please move on.” I would see if there was any possibility to feed the giraffes (a few zoos will let you do things like this). I would tiptoe through the houses of nocturnal animals, always on guard for anything pouncing out of the shadows (I’m prone to wincing at the smallest things).

Night elves -- they screw up everything, but they have a sense for ambience.

Azeroth — A Big Zoo

But what has all this to do with World of Warcraft, I hear you ask.

Why, what a coincidence you should ask. I was just about to tell you.

When I started playing the game it felt very much like a zoo to me. Not only were the trees huge and the whole environment seemed foreign and exotic, but the wildlife of Azeroth seemed so familiar (from what you had seen in zoos) and yet so different from anything you had ever laid eyes upon. My first character, a female night elf hunter during Vanilla beta (remember I was a teenager back then; plus, I love the elves in Lord of the Rings —  I have an Elvish dictionary, for Christ’s sake — which made night elves the obvious choice), would walk reverently through Teldrassil with its jungle-like foreign blue-green colour palette and its spiders, owls and — most of all — night sabers.

It blew my mind when I realised this was a giant tree I was standing on — which didn’t happen until I played my rogue in the actual Vanilla WoW and did the level 10 rogue quest (you had to go to the rim of Teldrassil where, on a narrow branch with miles of nothing beneath it, there stood a sartyr you had to pickpocket — it was really quite challenging at the time since the sartyr would see you if you attempted a frontal approach and the branch was too damn narrow to do anything else; if you were unlucky, you had to wait up to ten minutes for the sartyr to move into an opportune position, all the while you were completely unnerved by the possibilities of being beaten to death upon discovery and falling off the world upon stumbling; I love this quest so much). Why I didn’t realize it before? Who expects mountains to grow on a tree? To me, Teldrassil was an island with a rim of mountains (indeed, I think it was lazily built like that in Vanilla), and Rut’theran village was the only place with access to the rest of the world not because it was at the roots of a tree, but because it wasn’t encased in mountains. This is one thing I think Cataclysm did very well. Now, when I am in Rut’theran, the actual roots of the tree seem more like just that: roots. Plus, you can now fly up there and see the trunk, branches and twigs, which helps with the whole idea of this being a huge tree.

When I got to places like Ashenvale and Felwood I would marvel at my beautiful and sometimes somewhat eerie surroundings (I was on the edge of my seat most of the time anyway, so I didn’t need additional eeriness; I would flinch every time a mob turned in the direction of my stealthed self), while I would stand agape in front of the animals in places like the Un’Goro Crater, Feralas, and even the Barrens (in spite of the scenery, the wildlife there — and trade chat I hear — is very interesting). Has anyone else ever noticed that most exotic places seem to be located on Kalimdor? With the notable exceptions of Stranglethorn Vale (which always felt like a drag when questing there) and the Swamp of Sorrows (which gives me the willies), the Eastern Kingdoms seem the less exotic, but more shifting-between-light-and-dark-zones continent. Before the Cataclysm, anyway.

Is all green, Illi-baby, mah man?

Expansions (Not) Expanding Excitement

I had the same feeling when I stepped through the Dark Portal and leveled through the remnants of Draenor. To me, Outland was to Azeroth what Azeroth was to the real world. It felt somewhat familiar, but still was completely different. Yet another batch of marvellous scenery and wildlife (if you can call the different kinds of demons wildlife) to explore and just take in like a deep breath in a greenhouse.

Then, Wrath of the Lich King happened. And while places like Dragonblight, the Howling Fjord, and Sholazar Basin were, indeed, some of the most stunning places to look at, it didn’t feel quite as awe-inspiring as the previous times. Actually, I was lucky enough to choose the Howling Fjord as my first leveling zone. That first long boat ride through sheets of floating ice and fjords with burning ship wrecks stapled to the cliffs and Vrykul buildings seemingly build into the rock was a breath-taking experience. However, the amazement didn’t last as long as previously.

Where Outland had fascinated me even on the fourth walk-through (with the exception of the blasted Nesingwary who had you kill 184[!!] animals — I’ll trust Wowhead although I could’ve sworn we had three quests per species at 30 a quest plus the boss animals; maybe it just felt that long and arduous? — I have no idea how the wildlife there managed to live through the massacre that is questing in Nagrand), Northrend already seemed dull the second time around. Come to think of it, Northrend remained exciting to me as long as it did more because of the lore figures you met along the way and the stories surrounding them (OMG! Alexstrasza! And Krasus! I just read a novel about them! /nerdgasm) than because of the landscape or what roamed its plains.

Was it, maybe, because my priorities in the game had shifted from getting to know the world to “How can I get more epixx?” ? Although this may have been a factor, somehow I doubt that. And here is why: I didn’t feel the amazement of the first expansions in Cataclysm, either.

The wisps destroy Archimonde at Mt. Hyjal. Just like I never saw Archimonde die during BC, I was never able to (legitimately) beat this mission in Warcraft III.

The Power of Love Lore

I know that Cataclysm is a revamp, so why should anyone feel like this was new at all? Right? Let me explain.

When I first walked the streets and forests and deserts of Azeroth, I was amazed by the scenery. I was baffled by its inhabitants. I was mesmerized by its architecture. What I didn’t care about as much in the original game was the lore, the story behind everything I saw. From the rare times I played Warcraft III all I knew was who Arthas and Tyrande and Illidan and Thrall and all the major players there were. I didn’t know anything about the history of Azshara, about the reasons for the corruption in Felwood, or why there was a little boy standing in front of the throne in Stormwind. Leveling up, I cared (looking back I want to add the word ‘surprisingly’) little about things like that. Yes, I realized them, but I didn’t question what I was given. I worked with and around them.

Around the launch of WotLK, I read my first Warcraft novels (the War of the Ancients trilogy by Richard Knaak). Day of the Dragon, Lord of the Clans and The Last Guardian (not the UK newspaper, either) followed quickly. During the same time, I started reading blogs and listening to podcasts about WoW. The first WoW blog I read regularly was Qieth’s Quips (who has quasi-retired since) because my main at the time was a balance druid. Slowly, but steadily, the list of blogs I read grew. When, after a surprisingly long time of reading several blogs, I came across the Know Your Lore column of WoW Insider (written by the silver-tongued Matthew Rossi and the gigglicious Anne Stickney), I knew I was home. My interest for lore was kindled. This was around the time of the hell that was the Argent Crusade.

So, naturally I was hyped when Cataclysm was announced. After all, I knew who Deathwing, or the artist formerly known as Neltharion the Earth-Warder, was. I knew why he had been in Deepholm. I knew what Deepholm was, for that matter. I knew what all this was about. I was more in tune with the story than ever before. I didn’t care what loots there would be, what abilities the bosses would have or what the best tactics to downing them would be. I just wanted to see and absorb everything Blizzard would throw at me. And I was not disappointed …

This picture fits perfectly because it shows something from Mists of Pandaria and at the same time has lore as its focus.

Cataclysm and Beyond

… at first. Very soon after the release, though, my excitement ebbed down until it vanished. I love the new quests, and I have so many quests I still can do. I haven’t done half the Alliance quests and almost none of the Horde ones. But I can’t convince myself to do them. And I don’t know why. I love the story behind Cataclysm, and I want to explore all of Azeroth for the second time, to see what has changed. But I simply can’t muster enough of a motivation to do it. The flame of wonder is extinguished at the moment.

For me, there simply isn’t as much excitement to play the game anymore. And it has nothing to do with repetitive game mechanics, boring class abilities or stale talent trees.

I really hope that Mists of Pandaria can rekindle that flame. It certainly has both the scenery and the possibilities for new, awesome lore to do so.

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I Couldn’t Be Arsed to Find out about Password-protected Posts and Didn’t Care too Much whether Everyone Knew What One of My Characters Was All About

Edit: I made a separate post with the references when I realized this post became way too long for the poor guy or gal who has to draw my toon. And I didn’t want them to think “My god, when is he finally getting to his references? I don’t want to read through all of this nonsense and whining first.” The references can be viewed here.
Now, after that is out of the way, on to the excitement and whining. And nonsense, but that’s a given with me anyway.

Just a random picture of the Tirisfal zeppelin tower near Undercity.

Wow, that subtitle sounds way less cool and more aggressive than I thought it would. But since the lazyness factor is captured perfectly, I’m just going to leave it there.

What did I want to post about?

Oh, yes.

I’ve recently rekindled my love for drawing (after I had drawn next to nothing for several years), which is probably at least partly because I love experimenting with my (first ever) tablet. I feel like my sketches and “pencil” drawings have become somewhat better, but I haven’t found my “groove” with colours yet (tips are always welcome; I don’t even care if they’re about drawing, writing, behaviour or drinking). I really hope this isn’t one of my squirrelly flavor-of-the-month things and I stick with it, because it’s really fun to just forget your surroundings and problems and indulge in drawing stupid stuff for a few hours. I don’t know why, but writing doesn’t quite do that to the same extent. Maybe because I don’t have to think too much about how particular words and vernacular expressions could be translated from my mother language into English. But it’s probably more the fact that writing doesn’t come as natural to me. I don’t even remember if there was any particular reason why I stopped drawing when I did.

Anyway, a few days ago, I stumbled across this on twitter. The Twitter Secret Santa Art Exchange.It sounded like something I might like to sink my teeth into (which isn’t to say I’m necessarily on Team Edward; well, I’m not really on any Twilight team, but if Cho’gall was an option, he’d be my pick — the dude is big, bulky, has two heads, looks like he can smash you with his pinky, and the eyes all over his body are creepy as hell; when it comes to picking teams, I guess I’m quite the opportunist if I don’t have a strong opinion on any of it) and so, without thinking much about it, I signed up for it.

Oh, the horror! … Not really, but I have to illustrate my self-doubt in an exuberant fashion because otherwise I doubt that I get my point across (I even have doubts about speaking out about my doubts … huh). Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled at the opportunity to create something for someone else than me. And the precise due date will keep me on my toes about it (I hope — I am terrible with due dates). But after I saw some of the previous years’ art (which can be viewed here: 2009, 2010), I became seriously concerned I was going to disappoint whoever had the misfortune of being the artist  I would be drawn to draw for. I’ll just have to give it my best shot and hope I can surprise myself, I guess.

I’m sure it will be fun (I know I did sound more like I was going to kill myself a minute ago, but I’m really psyched — that is a positive word, right? — at the opportunity). Plus, I receive a piece of art myself, drawn by one of the exceptional artists participating in the exchange. And who can say no to that?

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Snippy in the Spiritmender set (Spiritmend Robe and Spiritmend Shoulders), probably my favourite non-tier cloth set.

The Character

Snippy has always had a hand for fixing things rather than creating them on his own. As an engineer, that means he was mainly there to repair other people’s inventions and improve their functionality. Since those inventions came from engineering themselves most of the time, he lived a very dangerous life filled with explosions and subsequent shopping tours for new, unburned clothes. Which is why he eventually took up tailoring as his second profession. If he could fix complex mechanical gadgets, how hard could it be to fix his work clothes? Ignoring his initial difficulties, he soon developed quite skillful weaving and stitching techniques (again, based on the ideas of others and refined).

Being good at repairing and stitching things together, it seemed logical for him to pursue the career of a priest when he was enlisted for war. The Light itself has become more of a means to an end and (primarily) a very interesting study case for him. He is not really a devout follower of the Light like many Draenei, but since it seems logical to him that he could only study the Light if he believed in its existance, he believes in it enough to wield it. The fact that this is reverse logic doesn’t bother him at all.

The study of the Light has changed his behaviour quite a bit, even though he is not aware of it. He has gone from the typical gnome (lively, open-minded, overly curious, painfully honest, smiling all day long, and freaking out — both the good and the bad way — about the smallest things) to a much more balanced, calm, diplomatic, and mild-tempered person (still curious, open-minded and smiling a lot, though). This change, however, is not fully carried out, and if his self-restraint fails him he explodes with emotion. He’ll be furious, exstatic or depressed even more than a “normal” gnome in those cases (if any gnome really is normal).

He has a heart for critters and is often seen playing with a moonkin hatchling or an armadillo or has a mechanical pet he’s repairing for a friend next to him.

The Appearance

Snippy is in his late 40s, which in human years equates to something around his mid to late 20s; so he’s quite young still. His face is, for gnome standards, fairly pretty (if no mechanical squirrel has exploded in it) except for the very prominent nose that is the trait of all gnomes, and his calming smile adds to the sympathetic aura he emanates.

Mug shot profile. He doesn't look too happy, does he?

Unfortunately, creating a gnome with a pretty face is an impossible feat in this game. I guess that's what all the facial hair is for.

These are some facial shots so you get an impression of what he might look like.

His very clear-cut hair is more reddish-brown (think fox) than it appears in the pictures, and I imagine his eyes to be azure blue (with a hint of grey) rather than pink (unfortunately, eye colour is fixed to the face).

He is very cleanly and neat (a bit vain, but not overly so), and doesn’t like bad hygiene. He’s a bit of an order (and control) freak and hates irrationality and chaos (which makes him even more angry when he loses his temper and becomes irrational). He shaves daily if there is a possibility to do so (he has had bad experiences with beards and volatile inventions).

He isn’t a very physical person and doesn’t exercise much, which gives him a very lean, but not in any way muscular — almost fragile — look.

The Accessories

Snippy is a gnome of very simple taste. Since he has begun his studies of the Light, he has become more comfortable in robes, to the point where he will wear them almost exclusively (if he’s not tinkering on something). Other than that, he doesn’t wear any necklaces, rings, amulets or other trinkets of sentimental value. It’s just not logical to him why he should overburden himself with things that don’t have a practical use.

Whether you want to portrait him in a tier set-like bombastic and breath-taking outfit or in the simple robes of a priest is entirely up to you. Shoulder pats or no shoulder pats, I don’t care. Most helms I don’t mind. Even hoods that obstruct the view of the face are fine by me. Engineering goggles are fun to look at, and I don’t mind them at all (as long as they fit the picture 😛 ). The only exception is the tier 1 head piece. I don’t want him to have Mickey Mouse ears (the rest of the set is nice, though).

My favourite tier sets are

  • tier 5
  • tier 6
  • tier 8 25 (mouth cloth piece or not, either is fine)
  • tier 11 regular (although I don’t necessarily like the veil in front of the eyes — again, no pratical use)
  • tier 12 regular (this one probably without the fish-bowl-socket-space-suit helmet, though)

Tier sets I don’t quite like as much (I don’t need a list for them) are tier 9 and 10 (they are fine in themselves, I just don’t like how they look on him somehow). But if you can make those look good, feel free to do clothe him in them anyway.

I have attached a few pictures of Snippy in some of his non-set robes below so you can see what he might wear (pictures vary in color, saturation, hue and brightness to better bring out the colours of the dresses- umm…robes; the first one in the series is probably best for skin colour reference and similar things; note that my in game graphics are not very high…poor old machine can’t handle fancy water).

Concerning weapons, you have absolute freedom. I don’t care if its a stick, a dagger, a mace or a wrench. He can have a weapon or have left it at home (he can sometimes be quite oblivious to these things).

ATTENTION! This last one is Not Safe For Work!! Viewer discretion is advised.


The Picture

Not much to say here, really.

Whether funny or serious, fiercely battling or being spit on his head by a troll, in a majestic pose or petting an armadillo, I don’t care, really. I don’t prefer any of these aspects and am happy with anything you can come up. So, no constraints there. Let your creative juices flow!

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