The Power of Song

Just a little random story that I felt like writing down, and this blog seemed like the best place for it.

In my office at work we tend to have a random Spotify playlist playing in the background throughout the day, and it never ceases to amaze me how different songs coming up can instantly trigger all kinds of memories in me. One might remind me of an ex-boyfriend, another one of a place I used to work at, yet another one makes me think of a specific film.

Today a song came on that suddenly made me think of WoW, and for a rather silly reason at that. The song in question is Waterfalls by TLC.

Back in Burning Crusade I remember my guild working on Gurtogg Bloodboil in the Black Temple. I don't remember all the details of the fight, but I know that positioning was critical to it, and people had to make sure to stand in certain places and to move at certain times to make sure that the blood boil debuff would go on the right players. Also, the encounter was set in a room where there was water flowing down the sides of some walls for some reason.

One time after someone had caused us trouble by running too far away from his dedicated position, our main tank chided him: "#Name, don't go chasing waterfalls!" I'm sure it was nothing but a throwaway joke, but to me it was extremely hilarious at the time... so much so that just hearing the song now instantly takes me back to that moment even more than ten years later.

Funny how these things work.


Mankrik's Wife Was Never Hard to Find

So seeing Lazy Peon wonder about what people found so hard about finding Mankrik's wife finally gave me the push I needed to finish this post. I first wanted to write it after seeing this video by Tips Out, in which he talks about the Lost in Battle quest and Vanilla WoW questing in general. I don't disagree with the general gist of it, but it did bug me how he made the quest out to be this big mystery that gives the player no information and just asks you to blindly go out into the world.

I never really understood why this particular quest became such a meme to be honest. I did it on my first ever Horde character without having any issues, and I was quite surprised when I learned later how infamous it was. I guess because the Barrens were full of little kids that didn't have the greatest reading comprehension skills? Still seeing adults go on about it more than ten years later is weird to me though.

This is the original Lost in Battle quest text (emphasis by me):

We battled in a small tauren camp when we were separated--she held three of the Bristlebacks off by herself. But the odds began to overwhelm us. I led some away only to see her overwhelmed by newcomers. In my rage, I turned to face my enemies, but they brought me down easily with their vast numbers.

I awoke to a tauren druid tending my wounds--he had come across me on the Gold Road as I fell.

Please, [class], find some sign of my wife.

So right there, we know that the battle during which Mankrik's wife was lost didn't just take place anywhere; it took place near the Gold Road. Where is the Gold Road? If you're at the Crossroads you probably already know, but even if you don't you should notice as soon as you step out of the gates to either the north or south, as the Gold Road is the big road running through the centre of the Barrens all the way from Ashenvale down to Thousand Needles, and the UI tells you when you're on it, both in small and larger letters.

(As an aside, I logged into my Kronos account for the first time in ages to take these screenshots, and it was harder than expected as they actually lock you out of your account pretty quickly if you enter the wrong password too many times and I'd totally forgotten mine. Once in though, I was quite shocked to find that there were only 28 people online on the entire Horde side - I guess Kronos' golden days are over. Someone quickly whispered me trying to find people for a dungeon group - not like they had a huge pool of people to pick from - but I had to politely decline.)

Anyway, from this we can deduce that Mankrik's wife is to be found somewhere along this line:

That's admittedly still a pretty big area, but it's far from "she could be anywhere". And there are additional hints in Mankrik's general dialogue as well as in the other quest he gives, Consumed by Hatred.
Mankrik's introductory dialogue starts with: "I came to the Crossroads from the south seeking help", which means that anything north of the Crossroads is out. And in the quest text for Consumed by Hatred he says: "Perhaps instead of heading north to the Crossroads I should have headed to Taurajo." This further narrows the site of the battle down to somewhere between the Crossroads and Camp Taurajo, which is already a significantly smaller area, and not really an unusually large area to search by Vanilla standards.

If you then also consider the fact that the Barrens are very, well... barren, so that things like huts are really easy to see from a distance, and that you'll be roaming pretty far and wide for a lot of Crossroads quests anyway, Lost in Battle requires very little effort at all. I remember finding it much more challenging to find those missing guards in Elwynn Forest for example, and I'm sure there were other quests that had vague objectives that were much harder to find.


WoW Classic Demo Coverage

I mentioned that I didn't buy a BlizzCon ticket myself but was very curious about what other people would have to say about the demo.

Somewhat to my surprise, the various private server players whose channels I follow, and a lot of whom had been heavily lobbying for classic servers for years, turned out to be utterly useless in that regard. I had been hoping that maybe they'd have some interesting insights on details that still weren't quite right in the demo, or would comment on where it revealed that private servers had maybe gotten certain things wrong due to lack of data. Instead, every single one of them went on hour-long rants about how being allowed to trade a mislooted item without a GM ticket in Classic was going to ruin everything and similar nonsense. Seriously, there was more than one video that I tried to watch and eventually had to close down halfway through because it was just so boring and petty. I guess being super knowledgeable about Vanilla doesn't necessarily correlate with understanding what most people actually care about in regards to Classic. Hint: It's not whether some no-lifer's progression will be "messed up" because a drop from Dire Maul is available at the same time as Molten Core.

So yeah, interestingly it was regular news outlets and retail WoW players who provided the most entertaining and insightful content about the Classic demo. For example I had to chuckle at the headline of this Kotaku article: The WoW Classic Demo Is The Hell We Asked For. The author basically keeps talking about how much fun he had while interspersing it with negative adjectives: The experience was "an inescapable nightmare, which is to say it’s perfect". It was "horrible, but also beautiful". I'm not entirely sure why exactly... I guess because we're not supposed to say that something old and slow can simply be enjoyable as it is; it must be portrayed as some sort of guilty pleasure?

My favourite take on the demo on YouTube was this video by Preach. One of the things I really appreciate about him is that he's one of the few people still active who a) were actually there back in Vanilla and b) that he doesn't assume that everyone likes the same things he does. He's not wrong when he says that the moment-to-moment gameplay in combat is slow and simplistic and not something that can hold his attention anymore these days, but he also recognises how much more immersive the overall experience is due to slow travel and most mobs actually being dangerous opponents.

Bellular, who is a Wrath baby I believe, similarly goes into detail about how the talents and the way combat works made everything feel more meaningful for him.

An unexpected gem in terms of entertainment was "First and Last Time Playing WoW Classic" by Hazelnutty Games. She went into the demo without much enthusiasm and feeling tired to boot and basically made an utter mess of everything. She didn't even manage to pick up any quests because she didn't understand that she'd have to wait for the text to finish scrolling before the accept button becomes clickable! While this got her many downvotes and negative comments about being "dumb", I thought it perfectly illustrated that feeling of utter noobishness that many experienced in Vanilla WoW the first time around. Also, the way she got carried away messing about with her hunter pet and wondering about the kinds of things it would eat was strangely adorable.

LazyPeon's take on the demo instantly earned a thumbs up from me the moment he commented on how he didn't understand why so many people had trouble finding Mankrik's wife back in the day, because that's something I honestly always wondered myself. It's amazing just how much people struggle with basic reading comprehension apparently! Other than that he too manages to capture a lot of that Vanilla spirit in his demo footage, constantly challenging random people to duels everywhere (people like that were definitely a thing) and editing his hunt for quillboar tusks in the Barrens into an epic montage reminiscent of the WoW South Park episode.

On a more serious note, the BlizzCon panel in which they talk about just how they went about restoring Classic from a technical point of view as well as how they set their design goalposts is also up on YouTube and really interesting.


Classic News From BlizzCon

I have to admit: when I first heard that buying a virtual ticket for BlizzCon would also get you access to a WoW Classic demo to play from home, I was momentarily tempted to buy one just for that. I quickly realised that this would have been madness though, considering that I wasn't really interested in watching the show or acquiring any of the other goodies that come with the ticket. Watching other people's videos and reading about their thoughts on the demo was honestly going to be good enough. After all, I already got my own personal reminder of just how slow gameplay was back in Vanilla a few years ago, so it's not as if I was going to miss out on that front.

There were some actual news announced at the Con too - firstly that the game is supposed to launch in summer 2019, which is still some time away but at the same time sooner than I would have expected. I'm quite excited now.

Secondly, they confirmed that they are planning to have one combined sub for current and Classic WoW, which shouldn't really have come as a surprise to anyone, as it's probably the least hassle and will give them a license to make unqualified brags about "WoW's success" in general in case Classic causes subs to soar while the ones for the modern game are dropping, without giving out any information about how the populations of the two games relate to each other.

A few weeks ago there was a purported "leak" that claimed that Blizzard was also looking at a Classic only option for a fiver or so, which would have been nice for those of us not really interested in the current game, but I can live with paying the full sub for both. Just like in the old days, right? Maybe I'll check out some of the new quest content while I'm subbed for Classic anyway.

What with it only being Saturday today, there hasn't been much reporting/footage of the Classic demo yet, though I did watch someone stream it for a bit (yes, I actually watched a stream live!) and there is some feedback on the forums... a lot of which sounds unreasonably negative to be honest. Mind you, I don't think it's wrong to point out what I would call nitpicks such as rogue energy regenerating in a different pattern or some greens having wrong stats on them, but I do think it's silly how many people see this as a sign that the sky is falling, Blizzard clearly doesn't care about authenticity etc. when they explicitly said in the Dev Watercooler post about the demo that they are not done yet.

I do think the biggest and most legitimate concern I've heard is that the demo featured sharding, which I only just learned is the proper term for when they spin up multiple instances of a zone to spread out the population. Community manager Lore even went on the forums to address this, though his response was kind of wishy-washy and to me came across as basically not wanting to commit either way, making it sound as if they aren't entirely decided on the matter themselves yet.

I get why they'd be tempted to have it, as otherwise server population especially in the early days is undoubtedly going to cause issues, but at the same time I do dislike the way it's implemented in current WoW and how it can cause things like other players or gathering nodes to disappear right in front of your eyes, which is unimmersive, annoying and very un-Vanilla. I suppose I wouldn't consider it a dealbreaker if they kept it in, especially as the amount of use would likely go down over time once the initial launch population surge tapers off, but I'm still not entirely happy about it. I don't think things are set in stone at this point though.

Either way, I'm looking forward to reading and listening to more people's thoughts on the demo.