28 December 2010

Goblin Journals (I got what you need!)

The last two collections of journal entries for my goblin mage. Links and exerpts below.

Chapter 3: In which Sprinkie takes care of business

From there it was really just problem after problem. Vicious naga infestation on the island? I get to be the one to deal with it. Take out the big ones, replace some of their flags with the Cartel's, oh and kidnap some of the young'uns. I'm not particularly proud of it, Journal, but I lured away some of the baby naga (cute little tykes, really), to use as a bargaining chip for a peaceful surrender. I would have much preferred to use cold hard cash, but as you may have noticed we are fresh out, and I don't even know what the naga consider valuable.

Chapter 4: In which Sprinkie sticks it to The Man


While I was dealing with the slave pits, they got a footbomb uniform rigged up to take on Gallywix. Hehe. I'm really, really good at footbomb. Marching up to Gallywix and kicking his weenie little rig's can made my day! I felt like a million macaroons. The only thing that really stung was Thrall believing that sniveling weasel and reinstating him as Trade Prince! Hellooooo? What about me? I've pretty much shown that I can make a buck while still saving the collective lives of my associates! What more could you possibly want in a Trade Prince?

26 December 2010

Goblin Journals

I wrote these posts during beta whilst leveling my goblin, but 1) the content is actually current now and 2) I don`t think anyone even knew about this blog at the time and I`m proud of these journal-style summaries (and pictures!). Links and excerpts below.

Chapter 1: In which Sprinkie campaigns for Trade Prince

Trade Prince is nearly mine, Journal. I`m way, way up in the polls - and in wealth, too. Sassy Hardwrench was the best investment I ever made. She`s an invaluable assistant and has really coached me to the top. With her people skills and my knack for raking in the macaroons, there`s no way we aren`t destined for greatness.

Chapter 2: In which Sprinkie saves everybody


I found the orcs. Been pretty much singlehandedly saving them from everything. They couldn't even deal with an endless forest of constricting, freezing, carnivorous plants! Sheesh, how did they survive anything? The payment isn't all that good, but they are fixing up my gear at least. And maybe a little face time will open up some more opportunities.

24 December 2010

Winter Veil

Happy Winter Veil! In true Japanese fashion, I`ll eat a Christmas cake today. Later on, other foreigners in the area are having a dinner party...I hope they bring cookies!!

22 December 2010

A note!

If you use any addon that automatically summons a minipet for you, it may screw up some of your quests! The first one I found was the seahorse quest in Vashj'ir, where the seahorse will despawn before it gets to you due to the minipet addon noticing yours has been dismissed and summoning another one. Similarly, the quest The Twilight Flight in Deepholm will not spawn a drake for you to ride if your minipet addon is summoning for you. I was able to complete both by turning off the auto-summon option in Livestock (after a lot of QQ not knowing what was bugging the quest!).

I`ll be traveling over the next week, so I have some recycled posts for your reading pleasure along with some screenshots. Happy holidays, and see you next year!

20 December 2010

Sprucing up Screenshots

I take a lot of screenshots. A lot of them I contributed to the flickr group Old Azeroth, which is a memorial to the old world before Cataclysm. Some of them are for myself, something I thought was funny, or beautiful, or otherwise worth documenting. I even got the incredible addon Multishot to automatically shoot important milestones.

Angelya has a great post on how to take a screenshot, with technical information on hiding your UI, hiding names, and principles of composition. Today I`d like to give some pointers on what sort of simple post processing you can do to enhance an image.

You will need: WoW; screenshots; image-editing software (unfortunately MS Paint is not powerful enough for most of these tips). I`m using an ancient version of Adobe Photoshop 7, so the technical commands may not directly translate to your image-editing software. Still, I hope that the general concepts are useful to you!

First, choose the image you want to edit and open it with your software.


Resizing and Cropping an Image

If you want the same image exactly as is, but a wee bit smaller or larger, go to Image > Image Size. I usually use pixels because I have a good idea of how their proportions work, but you can also use inches, cm, mm, points, picas, and columns. If you check the "Constrain proportion" box, setting one dimension will cause the other to change automatically to keep the image proportional. If you uncheck it and put in both dimensions yourself, the image will be distorted.

Selecting "Constrain proportion" will make the lock symbol appear by the dimensions.
CROPPING

This is good for when you know exactly what part of the image you want. Hit the Crop tool and select the scene you want. You can drag the crop boundaries around before right-clicking and choosing "Crop". I use this most often for making close-up blog pictures and to remove my UI. If a sliver of UI sneaks into my crop I use the Smudge tool to drag it out of the frame. (More on that later)

REPOSITIONING

This is kind of a situational technique, but I use it often enough for icons and montages that I figured it warranted including. It`s useful for when you know what the dimensions of the finished product will be but not the composition. It`s also good for matching sizes of images and controlling the composition after a resize.

When cropping and recomposing, the first thing to do is create a copy of the image in a new layer. The background layer can`t be repositioned, so we need a copy we can move. Right click the background layer > Duplicate layer. You can rename it, or it will default to "Background copy". To resize, to go Image > Canvas Size. I often make icons, so I usually choose equal dimenions for a square image that can be resized for square avatars. For some reason it defaults to inches as the unit of measurement, so I always have to change it to pixels.


A popup message will inform you that some clipping will occur. This is why we made the duplicate layer - nothing will get permanently deleted since you can move the layer around and access all the parts that don't fit in the cropped area. Now that the canvas is resized, make sure the top layer is selected and use the Move tool to drag it around until you get the composition you want. I always end up with several compositions I like so I save a few versions. Remember that if you made it too small or too big, you can undo your canvas resize.

Changing Color and Contrast

Photoshop has a wealth of tools and I only use a small percentage of its capabilities. I`ll go in order from most to least often used. I use the new fill/adjustment layer option, which makes it easier to reverse changes because it puts its changes in a layer that can be deleted or hidden, rather than being one change in a long list of edits. (These are reset when you close the image so you can no longer ctrl+Z them; more detailed info on the history list can be found here.) It's found in the Layer menu in the bottom right of your screen, in the middle of the icons across the bottom of the menu. If you don`t/can`t use the Layer Masks, the same changes are under the Image menu.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but everything can be done by simply dragging a slider around and monitoring the results!

LEVELS
Before!
 This shows you the distribution of dark, medium, and light colors in your image. The general idea is for the dark and light arrows to be at the furthermost tips of the bell curve, respectively. The medium arrow should generally be in a spot where an equal amount of bell curve is on either side. Notice that this doesn`t always mean the center of the curve as defined by the horizontal axis. This is good for very dark or low-contrast shots. I often take pictures at night, and this helps to make them easier to see; however it can also result in pixellated images. More in-depth information about Levels can be found here. For this particular image I didn't change the medium arrow all that much because it was waaaay too bright.

After!
CURVES

Curves are similar to Levels in that you can control the contrast distribution in your image, however the tool is more powerful than Levels. I don`t use it all that often because Levels is fine for me, but I wanted to include some links explaining how it works if you want some really fine-point control.

Levels vs. Curves
Curves How-To
Color Balancing with Curves

HUE/SATURATION

This option also includes Brightness, but that gets taken care of in Levels and I mostly ignore it. Playing around with Hue, you`ll see that sometimes bumping it up a few points in one direction can add more contrast to an image. Saturation can do extremes - making a black/white image or a pixellated color explosion. In high contrast images, more saturation will make the colors really pop, whereas I find that desaturating by a couple points will add more contrast. I mostly use this for screenshots taken in a zone with a strong atmosphere huge, like Icecrown, Moonglade, and most recently, post-volcano Lost Isles.

BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST

Again, I ignore the Brightness option, having already adjusted Levels. Contrast will sharpen the lights and darks in your pictures, which can serve to make elements easier to see, or change the mood. It`s also ~super artsy~!

SMUDGE/BLUR

Blur is especially helpful for getting rid of names or other text. Using the Select tool, I put a box around the text I want to Blur. This will keep the Blur tool from affecting anything outside the box. Then, use the Blur tool and smush it around inside your selected box! Using 100% strength and a large brush size makes this a snap.

Selective Blur
Smudge is useful for dragging colors around to obscure other elements in the image. For the most part, I use it to drag (well, smudge) bits of UI that have sneaked in around the edges of my image. Use the Smudge tool to click near the edge of the offending element and drag that color towards the edge of the frame. It should drag the unwanted element off the edge of the frame and replace it with whatever color you clicked on. This works particularly well with edges of the frame that are mostly uniform colors.

A note about adjustment layers: When you are finished working with your image and are ready to save, you will need to merge the layers/flatten the image in order to save it as something other than .PSD. You can do this by going to Layer > Merge Visible OR Flatten Image. (These will work the same unless you have for some reason hidden a layer, in which case you will need to make it visible or choose Flatten Image)

EYEDROPPER

The Eyedropper copies the color of the pixel you click on. If Smudge and Blur won`t cut it to remove an unwanted element of an image, you can try to color over top of it! I usually use this when some addon text has snuck into an image. (I`m looking at you, Power Auras countdowns!) Zoom into the part with the unwanted image and use the Eyedropper tool to select a more appropriate color from the surrounding area. Then with your brush you can paint over the unwanted element. If this looks too uniform, try selecting a few more nearby colors and painting dots or lines to match the surrounding texture. This may still look cheesy, so using the Blur or Smudge tools on top of your handpainted area may help blend them with the surrounding colors. The finished version of the image below is here.

I used the eyedropper in the area circled in red to paint over those pesky Power Auras numbers!

That`s All For Now

I`m by no means a Photoshop expert, but this is a good simple list of what tools I use and how I use them when it comes time to prep an image for posting! Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or corrections about these methods.

19 December 2010

To Ulduar!

With more people online in guild, we were finally able to rally a 10 man to head back into Ulduar for the drake achievements. I had only 3 left for the meta (Auriaya, Freya, and Yogg-Saron), but we had some fresh faces and did all of the required ones. I also picked up Con-speed-atory, Who Needs Bloodlust, and, well, a whole lot of metas upon the Yogg kill. Screenshots inc!



Drakey!

Shortly after, I continued to quest in Uldum and got....

Ding!

17 December 2010

Cata reps and perks (with resto recs)

I like lists, and I like rep grinds, so I went ahead and made a list of the Cataclysm reputations, where their Quartermasters can be found, and what I might be interested in buying with my reputation perks. As an afterthought, I noted any leather caster-type gear I might buy if I didn't have a better piece from questing or instancing (which is why not all have spirit). Incidentally, I found a similar gear-specific post here at Jaded Alt, and there are gear guides detailing more than rep purchases at Revive&Rejuvenate, R4HT, and Restokin.


FactionGuardians of Hyjal
QuartermasterProvisioner Whitecloud; Nordrassil (Mount Hyjal); 62.8,23.9
PerksArcanum of Hyjal
Reputation: No dailies. You can get to revered by finishing the quests in Mount Hyjal; after that you will need the tabard.

For resto friends:
Honored
Cloak of the Dryads
Revered
Aessina-Blessed Gloves


Faction: The Earthen Ring
Quartermaster: Provisioner Arok; Silver Tide Hollow-Shimmering Expanse (Vashj'ir); 49.1,42.1
Perks: Arcanum of the Earthen Ring
Reputation: No dailies. You can get rep in Vash'jir, Deepholm, and Twilight Highlands which will get you to honored; after that you will need the tabard.

For resto friends: 
Honored
Pendant of Elemental Balance
Revered
Cloak of Ancient Wisdom
Leggings of Clutching Roots


Faction: Therazane
Quartermaster: D'lom the Collector; Therazane's Throne (Deepholm); 56.9,13.2
Perks: Honored and Exalted shoulder inscriptions
Reputation: Beginning at hated (sorry, Princess!), you will get to honored by doing quests in Deepholm; there are dailies (super useful explanations) in addition to a tabard.

For resto friends: 
Honored
Revered
Exalted


Faction: Ramakahen
Quartermaster: Blacksmith Abasi; Ramakahen (Uldum); 54.1,33.3
Reputation: You can get to revered by doing quests in Uldum; there are two daily quests and a tabard.

For resto friends: 
Honored


Quartermaster: Grot Deathblow; Bloodgulch (Twilight Highlands); 53.9,42.1
Reputation: You can get to honored by doing quests in Twilight Highlands; there are 5 daily quests and a tabard.

For resto friends: 
Honored
Exalted


Quartermaster: Craw MacGraw; Thundermar (Twilight Highlands); 48.6,38.7
Reputation: You can get to honored by doing quests in Twilight Highlands; there are 5 daily quests and a tabard.

For resto friends: 
Honored
Exalted


Quartermaster: Pogg; Hellscream's Grasp (Tol Barad Peninsula); 54.57,81.13
Perks: Rustberg Gull pet; teleporting tabardwolf and drake mounts; Tol Barad-only mana&health potions and bandage
Reputation: 6 daily quests (very helpful list) from Hellscream's Grasp in Tol Barad Peninsula; Hellscream's Reach Commendation for 10 Tol Barad Commendation.

For resto friends: 
Revered
Exalted



QuartermasterQuartermaster Brazie; Baradin Base Camp (Tol Barad Peninsula); 72.4,63.1
PerksRustberg Gull pet; teleporting tabardhorse and drake mounts; Tol Barad-only mana&health potions and bandage
Reputation: 6 daily quests from Baradin Base Camp in Tol Barad Peninsula; Baradin's Warden Commendation for 10 Tol Barad Commendation.

For resto friends:
Revered
Exalted

15 December 2010

Leveling as resto?

Back when I was a wee druid, my friend (who played a resto druid) told me "For the love of God, whatever you do, don`t level as resto." He had, for some inexplicable reason, leveled as resto in Vanilla. I feel like this is an important point - in Vanilla - because it highlights why he felt so strongly about it. It was an older, simpler, less-forgiving time, and I could see where he might have developed a distinct phobia of leveling as non-dps. So, I followed his advice and leveled to 70 as feral.

Then Wrath came out, and I no longer had any feral gear to wear, and besides, this was well before dualspec and I didn`t want to pay just to respec and then get gear and then have to respec for dungeons and, and, and. So I shipped off to Northrend with just my healing leather on my back and leveled to 80 as resto. It wasn`t...bad. I mean, it`s not like I died a whole lot, mostly because mobs didn`t pose much of a threat, and because I could heal myself anyway. It was just slow. Incredibly slow. So slow that when I finally got dualspec and went moonkin, I couldn`t believe how fast things died. I got immense pleasure from running through cultists with Starfall, then hurricaning them down for tournament dailies. Even now I`m amazed by how fast it is to kill things with (moon)fire.

At the moment, I have very respectable LK gear for resto, and a feral bear-ish set of similar quality pieces. Neither spec is dps, but bearcats tend to do more damage than trees. Excuse me, restoration tauren. But then I thought, what the hell, I`ll see how the addition of Insect Swarm affects my sick dps. As I told manfriend, it`s as I remembered: possible, but ultimately disappointing. Entangling Roots is basically a joke - I can get both dots up and halfway through Wrath before they break free. With my two dots and Thorns every cooldown I still find myself ineffectually spamming Wrath while my dots wear off. At least questing with manfriend`s ret pally was enjoyable. I felt like I wasn`t pulling my weight, though, so I made up for it by pulling lots and alternating between dotting mobs and healing him. The respawn rate is a little out of control right now, so at least working together has saved us from some hairy situations.

At level 81 this is the spec I am running with:

Talents I'm still interested in: Blessing of the Grove, Nature's Bounty, Malfurion's Gift, Nature's Grace. I haven't gotten to do a ton of dungeon-ing yet, so I'm not sure how my spell usage and resulting numbers will look. Malfurion's Gift seems like a generally good choice, especially doing 5mans now, since I am tank healing and therefore using Lifebloom a ton. Out of Rejuve and Regrowth, based on what seems to be both oft-used and useful will determine if I go after the Rejuve talent or the Regrowth talent(s). Keeva recently mentioned that she removed Efflorescence in favor of Moonglow based on how useful it was in her experience, so I'll be looking out for that as well. 

So far I've been fairly cautious with my mana usage, having been warned that it's brutal and people are drinking all the time. Maybe it's because I'm just doing regular dungeons or running with a very skilled tank, but I haven't been having so many hairy moments as others have suggested. At this point I think I'll try to be a little more bold with my spells, mostly by allowing myself to use Rejuve and Regrowth more often in addition to Nourish/HT around the group and Lifebloom on the tank. Swiftmend and Efflorescence have so far helped out a little bit with the melee group, and I'm going to allow myself to use Wild Growth more often to see where that gets me. In trying to wean myself off of compulsively topping everyone off I'm afraid I have scared myself out of "wasting" spells. Be bold, Beko!

Oh, and if you were wondering, I went with feral for questing in Vash'jir and it is much more satisfying (not to mention efficient!). I just wish that I could navigate the extra axis more easily!

12 December 2010

And you`re questing like you never did before

The Good

What`s going on in the quests themselves? They are really just divine. Without getting too much into specific storylines, I`ll start by saying that stories exist. In each zone, you`ll find a dominant theme or story that shows up in 80% of the quests and drives the progression of the zone. There are a great many improvements to the quests themselves as well. Before, you might have had a laundry list of mobs to kill - a precise amount of each type. Now, many quests (not all, but many) do away with that and simply ask for a certain number of any type of the target mob. This cuts down on a lot of riding circles around a camp waiting for "Twilight Cultist Shaman" or whatever to respawn.

 Furthermore, it isn`t so much about killing tons of various mobs, or at least not about just killing tons of various mobs. There`s collecting items, exploring areas, using an item on a mob or...other item, rescuing NPCs, and a whole host of cleverly-designed vehicle quests. Speaking of vehicles, a lot of quests either prompt travel (as part of a breadcrumb) or provide it in order to make the experience less of an ordeal. A whole host of breadcrumbs leading you to the next hub or zone now require talking with an NPC to secure travel to said area. Other quests within a hub or zone now come with a complimentary worg, wyvern, or straight up portal to get you where you need to be. It feels natural, not contrived, and makes even and 80 with epic flying breathe a sigh of relief. To make the killing of things more interesting, you often get an item or vehicle that changes the mechanics of the fight - instead of needing a group to kill an elite mob with your normal spells, why not become an elite mob yourself with a new toolbar just for the fight?

Remote quests pickup and turn-in is also an amazing advancement. Not only can you discover quests in the field, either by killing a mob with a red exclamation mark or simply wandering into the right area, but you can now complete and accept follow-ups just by clicking your quest tracker. For those of us who remember doing long chains in the same area and having to run in and out, this is a huge improvement. Similarly, I've noticed that lots of quests that require you to get into a heavily guarded area often have some sort of reason why you can avoid fighting the mobs, or give help if you will be making lots of multiple pulls. It seems like they really thought about what annoyed players (killing trash to get to the boss, then having the trash resepawn and having to fight your way back out) and tried to improve that.

Lastly, WoW humor has always been quirky, but I think it`s starting to show up in more places. Obviously, pop culture references are always a source of lulz (provided you get the joke), but I find sarcastic, morbid, or just plain strange humor in a lot more quests or NPC interactions now. That isn`t to say that it`s all hilarious - when it comes to serious business, the quests can set the mood no problem.


Omusa's last flight
The Bad

The one thing that I`ve noticed (Horde-side, at least), is that there are a lot more extremely - for lack of a better word - douchey quests. I mean, I did Loremaster before. I did forsaken quests that I found rather distasteful, for which I reduced the quest to it`s game mechanics and nothing more, for which I left them purposefully out of any "history" for Aka because they were terrible and she would never willingly do them. I may have frowned a little, but I still did them for Loremaster. Now, however, I`m finding these quests - even whole chains or zones - cropping up all over the freaking place! I`ve done a handful of zones in EK and nearly finished Kalimdor, and already have 6 zones where some or all of the quests were so contrary to both Aka`s morals and in fact the accepted lore of both tauren AND druids that I was pretty annoyed. How long have we spent telling people that Horde isn`t The Bad Guy?

[spoilers] And now we categorically shit all over Ashenvale and Stonetalon by killing, in particular, druids (o hi) and trees, destroy Hillsbrad, tyrannically force out more forsaken, and let freaking Magatha, the murderer of Cairne, get away!! Questgivers in Stonetalon are asking me to attack druids - I`m a druid, pinhead! In Azshara I was charged to chop down a ton of trees and then kill a tree spirit, who ironically uses my class name when decrying the slaughter. Sorry, buddy.[/spoilers]

It seems like the kinder, gentler Horde has been essentially forgotten or ignored. A comment on W_L mentioned that it`s hard to find places to quest in-character for a ~30 Hordie, simply because all the level appropriate zones feature the most categorically evil of Horde actions. Are carebears supposed to faction change to Alliance? Have the factions really become black and white?


The Screenshots


Brivelthwerp
All of my friends and employees are dead.

Did you hear the one about the tauren druid?
My army of wind rider babies.

Sic 'im!
Yikes, Butcherbot...
Look who we have here!

09 December 2010

Quest maaaniac, maaaaniac, I want more

Over my dead body
Quests, you guys. Today I`ll limit myself to gushing about the revamping of the old world quests into something to be proud of. The whole concept of questing in a zone has been totally rethought. Loremasters like Aka may be irritated to learn that although they retain the meta-Loremaster, they now have nearly each zone listed as incomplete. They may be further irritated to learn that although there are many new quests, lots of them are the same as before, only slightly reworked to fit the new zone narrative. Suddenly having incomplete achieves made me a little grumpy, but I`m enjoying completing them so much that I`ll allow it. Half-finished Loremaster hopefuls like my nelf might be a bit put off to discover that although the rumor was that "some quests will still count in Cata", the percentage is so small it`s basically insignificant. You have the entire project ahead of you again! But fear not! Up till now I`ve completed 10 zones and always had quests leftover after hitting the required achievement.

NATURAL PROGRESSION

No, I don`t mean raiding. I mean the pure joy that is being logically directed around a zone in order to follow a quest chain, or at least a breadcrumb. Incidentally, this ties in with the new Warchief`s message board, where you can find a level-appropriate breadcrumb quest. As an aside, I love these features and I straight up cannot understand the argument that this is "too handhold-y". Say you level to 30 via dungeons, then decide you want to quest. Sitting in UC with your thumb up your butt will not magically divine where you should go to quest. Flying/riding around every single zone in search of exclamation marks is imprecise and time-consuming. Tabbing out to do a search is also needlessly time-consuming, and strikes me as wholly unnecessary. Having a signboard/breadcrumb/taxi isn`t handholdy, it`s elegantly practical! I want my quests to take care of me when it comes to being told where to go, especially if the alternative is memorizing every single zone level range and quest hub location for what, bragging rights?

Just around the riverbend!
Rant aside, the quest progression is so well done now. In particular I noticed it in Southern Barrens, where there are questgivers tucked away in unlikely places, but a breadcrumb gets you out there rather than hoping you`ll randomly come across it while lost looking for something else. The one place I did not experience this was Dustwallow Marsh, but as I had 9 quests holdover from pre-Cata, it`s likely that the breadcrumbs were included in that. Testing with a new toon is required. Also, I don`t think it`s impossible to show up to a new zone and start questing, but bopping around between quest hubs suggests that if you don`t follow the set order for hub to hub, you may not have unlocked quests in out of order hubs. This also means that the story has become much more linear and rigid, which can be frustrating if you want to skip a particular quest or hub. So far it hasn`t been a problem questing on my main, but I`m curious to know what it`s like for a leveling toon, or a player that starts at the "wrong" hub and doesn`t know where to go.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Work it, gnomeboy
You may have noticed that starting zones are no longer required, and in fact have no trackable progress. I suppose this is because some starting zones are race-specific. Seeing as I don`t need any rep on Aka, I`ll save those for my new gobbie :D As far as the achievement zones go, it`s easy and natural (as an 80, at any rate) to reach the achievement in the course of events. And there are almost always between 5 and 10 leftover quests, should you miss any breadcrumbs or skip some quests. Breadcrumbs between zones or quest hubs count, breadcrumbs that lead to dungeons do not. You should never have to enter a dungeon to complete a zone - this bears more reflection as it seems that doing dungeons while leveling is becoming even more unusual or unexpected.

Word on the street is that XP gain is so generous that you`ll quickly outlevel your quests (and professions!), and dungeon XP may be a detriment to seeing a quest chain play out (rather than abandon it as it goes green or grey). That is great for fast or compulsive levelers, a bit of a letdown for lorenerds. I can only assume that if you are the type to stop and smell the peacebloom as you level, you`ll avoid heirlooms and dungeons, or complete grey quests, or both.

I also remember strange "hidden" quests from before, such as the goblin in Durotar who offered Allies quests. Since dominant zones of the other faction don`t even appear in your achievement list, have all instances of quests like these been removed? Or could they still be there as easter eggs? Without and achievement to prompt, who would go looking for them...

Damn you dirty...dragons!

06 December 2010

Shit!

No, I'm not pissed off! It's just my reaction to what I'm finding to be an overwhelming number of quests that relate to or reference...you guessed it....poop.

Sigh.

As of right now I've finished about half of Kalimdor's new or revamped quests and maybe 2 zones from Eastern Kingdoms. I personally have encountered 7 quests that either directly involve poop or at least reference it in some way, and manfriend found another whilst questing in Durotar. It's not that I don't love poop jokes (quite the opposite!), but it gets a little stale when you encounter it zone after zone. I remember someone once mentioned how interesting it is that all human (or was it Alliance in general?) camps have outhouses featured somewhere, whereas Horde camps don't bother to include that sort of architecture. Perhaps our love of poop quests is the response to that. At any rate, when I found myself in northern Barrens navigating around piles of...something...in order to reach a quest giver, and then have that quest giver explain that those were the steaming evidence of some very frightened wyverns, I couldn't help but groan aloud. I am all pooped out!

That's not to say that I'm not having a shitload of fun! (see what I did there?) In fact, stay on the edge of your seats because I have in the works commentary about the new quest/zone synergy, the music (oh, the music!!!) and some screenshot tips!

And now for something completely different:

Beko at Taurajo
I forgot to include this in my last post, but when I first stumbled through Taurajo I took a bunch of emo pics of Aka wandering around and /crying at everything. I'm such a sap :/

Druid and trainer
On the left is the permanently sleeping troll druid trainer. On the right is an adorable lowbie taking a cuddle nap with them.

In Ashenvale, with Withers
I don't think it's super obvious, but Withers is actually slightly larger than this when first summoned. Here she appears to be a little thirsty. I like this picture so much I'm thinking about making it my next banner...what do you think?

02 December 2010

Aftermath

It had been a rough few weeks, compounding the general agony of the past year. Akabeko was seated at the bar, looking morosely into a half-finished mug of ale. Since losing her access to her healing tree form, she had also lost her serenity. Being a tree for long periods of time had made her patient and relaxed, if not a bit near-sighted. Without that mediator in her life, the horrific events leading up to the Lich King's death and subsequent replacement, followed by the siege of the world and death of her Chieftain, had left her listless, bereft, and prone to fits of anger. She had been in Thunderbluff for the most part, first defending it, then wallowing in her grief. Some weeks ago her guild had finally coaxed her out to new Ogrimmar.

She rode to the Great Gate, almost afraid to take in her surroundings. On the other side, shortly after passing through the gate, she noticed the smell of smoke. Not a cookfire, but the thick stench of destruction. Within minutes the smoke had cleared enough to reveal the smoldering remains of Camp Taurajo. Akabeko slid off her worg, clutching fistfuls of its silvery pelt for support.

It had been ransacked. The familiar buildings were either partially or totally destroyed by fire. The stench of once-living matter was chilling enough, but when she spied what must have been the remains of the flight master, Akabeko retched helplessly. She carefully inspected the charred form, coming across some semi-intact prayer beads. Searching out other remains, she similarly took important items for the burial ritual. After an hour or so of collecting, she took her bundle to the graveyard beyond the hill that had sheltered the camp. A grave was dug, the objects placed inside and covered reverently. Akabeko built a small campfire and sang - sang her people's songs for safe passage and for grief, sang the songs of glory and of respect. And as she lamented the people she had known and worked with, she sang for others, not from Camp Taurajo but from the Plaguelands, and from Icecrown - many from Icecrown - and for her Chieftain, and for the cracked and broken earth beneath her.

As she was dousing her fire and preparing to depart, the looters came.They rode in noisily from the south on enormous Mechano-choppers, gunning their engines and talking loudly in Common. Akabeko watched in shock and disgust as they strode into camp and began irreverently pawing through the leftovers of her people. She crept closer to them, watching curiously as they overturned barrels of skins, wheat, precious stones.

"There's no treasure here," one complained. "It's all just beads and feathers!"

Without consciously choosing to, Akabeko charged forward. "It is our treasure, you demon!" she cried hoarsely in Taurahe. Her hands flowed into claws, and then the giant lion was effortlessly swatting the sandy-haired human into the wall. She hunted down each of the five scavengers and slaughtered them all. Then, her ire spent, she rode to the nearby Horde outpost and commissioned a wyvern to Orgrimmar. The rest of the journey she spent with her nose pressed into the beast's coarse mane.

She finished her ale and stood to leave. The tauren innkeeper called out, "Where are you off to this time?" as she passed by.

"Feralas, maybe," Akabeko replied absently.

An orc, puffed with misplaced self-importance in his pristine plate armor scoffed, "Feralas? Shouldn't a true Hero of the Horde be answering the Warchief's summons to the new frontier?"

Akabeko's shoulders, already thickened from months of work in bear form, became even more massive. She whirled around, revealing a long-toothed snarl in a half-formed muzzle. Her hands were the short, hairy claws of the Dire Bear.

"Don't you tell me what a Hero of the Horde should do, green-skin!" she roared. "While you were still learning to lift your axe I was killing Scourge at Arthas' doorstep!" The orc recoiled in terror, eyes wide, hands spread in front of him in defense, and Akabeko laughed bitterly at this display.She growled, shook her mane to clear the remaining bear characteristics, and stalked out of the Inn into the misty valley.