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Screenshot of the Week – August 20

Even though I said my next Memories of Azeroth post would be coming this past week, unfortunately real life got in the way. It should be up this coming week.

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A while back when I was working on my Explorer achievement, I was able to have a nice view on the Night Elf boat from Darkshore to Teldrassil.  Looking back at this makes me extremely glad that the old cat form model is ancient history.

Character Identity

This is part of a Shared Topic, started by Akabeko of Red Cow Rise. Make sure to check out more great posts from other Blog Azeroth authors!

What defines a person? What is the thing that is at their core, which makes them who they are? There can be many things that do this, which can be small or large parts of their lives. As a gamer, we have a way to extend these definitions of ourselves into the virtual world through the characters we play.

Of course, not everyone does this. There are people who play only for the enjoyment of what a certain character can do or a role that is required. I believe that someone who truly enjoys playing a certain character does so because it’s something they can identify with.

Looking back at the characters I’ve played over the years, I can see a progression of how I identified with these characters and why I chose what I did. More so, I can see why I’ve stuck with my Tauren Druid so long and still really enjoy playing him.

Of my many characters, I’m only going to focus on two: my previous main, a Blood Elf Paladin and my current main, a Tauren Druid.

I stuck with my Paladin for a long time, starting on BC launch day and raiding as a healer through Tier 5 stuff (Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep). This was my first experience playing a melee oriented class that I actually enjoyed, as previously I had played only ranged/magic classes in my online gaming career. With this character, I found that I could identify with him somewhat.

In real life, I’m a very ordinary guy. I work for a living, I have a great family, I do very normal stuff. However, part of what I do in my job is help people out (since I work for a bank, it just happens to be financial help), and that is part of who I am.

When I focused on being a healer and a paladin, I could identify with what the paladin is supposed to be. A protector of others, putting other people ahead of one’s self. As I was healing my guildmates and keeping them alive through these encounters, I could see myself in that role as well. Because of this, I believe that I stayed with the character for a while.

The Paladin was a member of the Blood Knights, originally siphoning power from M’uru, and thinking that he was just doing this for his own advancement. Yet, as time went on he realized that he actually liked being able to help others out. Rather than just being another Blood Elf minion, he established himself as a member of his guild and a vital member of a raiding team. When he found out about the betrayal of Prince Kael’thas, he decided to focus on the friends he had made in his guild and only be loosely affiliated with the Blood Knights, even though the Sunwell was restored.

My current main character was born because my wife had recently started playing WoW as well, and we wanted to level characters together. She had created a Tauren Shaman, and I wanted to create a new Druid – hoping that it was better than the original time I tried to level one in Vanilla. We had a lot of fun, and made it to max level in Burning Crusade, and I eventually made him my new main.

I see my Druid’s identity as part of that original experience. He was going through the world with his wife, trying to help people out and bring glory to the Horde. His loyalty is first to his family, then to his fellow Tauren, then the Horde. This is basically how I am in my real life situation.

Our experiences shape who we are, in-game and out. Whether that is a traumatic experience that makes you cringe when you see spiders, or a smile whenever you see kittens because you just love them. If you value protecting others by keeping them safe, a healer or tank might be a good option for you because it aligns with natural personality. If you protect others by removing things that would cause others harm, there’s DPS for you. What type of DPS? Take out your frustration by stabbing things as a rogue. Enjoy setting things on fire as a warlock.

WoW’s longevity can be credited to a number of things, and I believe that relatable characters is a very big part. I wrote about this before regarding NPCs, but this definitely also applies to player-controlled characters as well. Why have a hero if you hate being that person?

Screenshot of the Week – July 9

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Flying around doing archaeology one day, I was passing through Uldum and was wondering why it was on fire. There are times I’m not very observant, but the last time I checked I was at the south end of Kalimdor and not by Blackrock Mountain.  Deathwing had apparently just been through, and had unleashed his swath of destruction.  I would be upset, except for the fact that he roasted me a while back.

Inhabitants of Azeroth

This is part of a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.

Azeroth (and Outland) is a very diverse place. Within its realms lie many different people, races, classes, professions, and landscapes. The world itself is amazing, sometimes making me want to break into song. This article will focus one just one part, which will be the races that make up the world, and those which are my favourites.

There are many races in World of Warcraft, some of which are playable and many of which are not. Some can be seen as virtuous, evil, neutral, or just plain weird. Among the playable races, people sometimes think that the Alliance is the “good” side, and the Horde are the “villains”. One thing I like about the game is that within each race lies examples of both sides of the spectrum. Whereas some races could have fewer examples, and like in real life, we can’t paint a whole race by a few bad (or good) apples.

Horde – Tauren

Tauren MaleThe Tauren have always been a favourite race of mine, since I played Warcraft III. There was something about them that always appealed to me, and to this day I’m not entirely sure what. In part, it’s because out of the Horde, they’re the race that is the most on the “good” side. Plus, they’re cows that can carry huge stumps of wood and use them as weapons. How is that not awesome?

This race has a splinter group which is finally being expanded upon in Cataclysm, the Grimtotem. I never understood why Magatha was offered a spot in Thunder Bluff when she never agreed with Cairne Bloodhoof and wanted to see him dead. Unfortunately, she was ultimately successful in her quest to kill the Tauren leader, and almost succeeded in a coup of the capital city. Thankfully, Cairne’s son Baine is as much a warrior and level-headed as his father, and was able to get support to drive them out and retake his rightful position as the new leader of the Tauren.

I have not yet played through the quests in Thousand Needles, but my wife tells me that there’s some not-so-subtle hints that we’ll be seeing Magatha another time. Hopefully, it will be to make sure she doesn’t pose any threat to this peaceful nation ever again.

The runner-up race for the Horde are the Orcs. If you haven’t yet, read through “Rise of the Horde” by Christie Golden, and you’ll get a great history lesson of how the race has changed over time. I highly recommend this book.

Alliance – Draenei

Draenei FemaleThere’s something about the blue-skinned space goats that pique my interest. Their story is a very long one which started with the corruption of some of the original Eredar leaders of Archimonde and Kil’jaeden, and ended with the Draenei we know today being the splinter group from the original people. A majority of the Eredar are now used by the Burning Legion as their troops, helping Sargeras accomplish his goals of wiping out life in the universe.

On Azeroth (and Outland) there aren’t any specific splinter groups off of the landed Draenei, just a few places here and there that have Draenei among their ranks. The main part where they’re evident is wherever there are groups of the Burning Legion, there’s bound to be an Eredar hanging out. Or to spice things up, there’s Prince Malchezaar hanging out at the top of Karazhan.

For more history regarding the Draenei, once again the book “Rise of the Horde” by Christie Golden covers parts of it.

Runners-up for the Alliance would have to be the Night Elves. As much as I may hate to admit it, I like the story behind the race and everything they’ve gone through to become the race they are today. With a few

Non-Player Characters – Dragons

Dragons are awesome. In World of Warcraft, they’ve become even more awesome than most other series or games that are out there. Not only are they dragons, but the idea of being separated into the aspects and each aspect having dominion over a certain part of the world is a great idea. Many series have dragons as being the “bad guys”, with some certain ones breaking away from that – which is what I like. They’re freaking DRAGONS.

Runners-up for the NPC races are a tie for me: the Naga – again, I really like their history and what happened to them after the Sundering; and the Murlocs – say what you will, they’re still entertaining.

Conclusion

I truly could go on about the different races and what I like and dislike about each of them. Thankfully, Blizzard gives us many options and stories to choose from. It will be interesting to see what future expansions hold.

Cataclysmic Beginnings, Part 2: Horde

In my continuing coverage of the new starting areas for the changed Azeroth, we come to the Horde. My preferred faction, the one that I’ve played a majority of my World of Warcraft career with. I’ve rolled alts galore before the changes, and I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only one who has. After a while, the mind just goes numb and the starting zones became a blur until you just plow through it and get it over and done with.

Pre-Cataclysm, I know that all of my characters went over to Eversong Forest and Ghostlands as soon as possible. The rewards were better than any given in the other areas, and the flow was much smoother than doing the other ones. It’s a little bit sad that it’s now the opposite – any Blood Elf will likely try to go to Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest as fast as they can, and with good reason.

One great thing that has been changed for all starting zones that is extremely useful is that there are flight paths in the starting towns, like Razor Hill or Bloodhoof Village. Less travel time is always appreciated.

Each of the remaining Horde races will be covered here: Orcs and Trolls in Durotar, Tauren in Mulgore, Blood Elves in Eversong Forest, and Forsaken in Tirisfal Glades. There will be spoilers ahead.

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