Monthly Archives: February 2013

Overlord Bunny on the Let’s WoW Podcast!

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I am 200% excited to announce that I’ve been given my very first guest spot ever on a podcast!  Thanks to Ghemit and Dae of Let’s WoW! for this amazing opportunity.

The show’s first episode will be recorded Sunday, but mine will be recorded on Tuesday and released about a week later via iTunes so you can listen to us talk about World of Warcraft and hear me probably make a bunch of poop jokes, as is tradition.  There’s also a 75% chance that I will have the same amount of success as I did with my slightly tragic phone interview, so don’t miss the potential hilarity!  I’ll post more information as we get closer to time.

If you’re a podcaster looking for a guest, hit me up at hailtothebunnyoverlord@gmail.com or find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr.

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Confessions of a Chubby Nerd Girl

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BlizzCon is coming up, and, awesomely enough, it’s the weekend after I get married.  The Fiance and I have decided that we’re going to make it part of our honeymoon.  It’s perfect, really.  We’re both nerds, we both adore Blizzard, and we’d both really, really like it if they’d decide to give us money in exchange for us doing things for them.  Like, work things, not prostitution, because that’s illegal, and though Chris Metzen is a stone-cold fox I’m pretty sure he’s married and I may be a lot of things but I’m not a homewrecker.

I have a strict policy when it comes to attending any anime or game or otherwise nerdy convention that states “if I’m going, I’m cosplaying.”  I love cosplay.  I’ve got a list as long as my arm of characters from all over the fantasy and sci-fi universe that I’d love to portray.  At my first convention I attended as Natsumi Tsujimoto from You’re Under Arrest, and it was a huge hit.  I’ve also been Toshiya from Dir en grey, Tenjou Utena, Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the marionette shinma from the second Vampire Princess Miyu OVA.  I haven’t done a serious cosplay in years, though — the last time I appeared at a convention was about ten years ago, when I was still in high school.  People always ask me why I stopped.

Here’s a fairly recent photo of me, from my friend’s Bastille Day party.

Yep.  It's-a me, Tardbunny.

Yep. It’s-a me, Overlord Bunny.

I’m a chubby girl.  I’m 5’3, weigh 175 pounds, and my measurements are 43-33-43, bra size 36DDD (not a typo), dress size 16 to compensate for the top half but a 10 or a 12 everywhere else.  I have a bit of a squishy tummy and thick legs that are pretty much pure muscle from martial arts, figure skating, and dancing.  Am I trying to say that you can only cosplay if you’re skinny?  Not in the slightest, but I will say that the only way you can cosplay without having to worry about your photo ending up on Reddit with a fat joke as a caption, or having to pretend to ignore people pointing and snickering as you walk around the convention, is to be a “socially acceptable” size.  I have a great deal of respect and admiration for other plus-size cosplayers who are so confident with themselves that if someone calls them Sailor Fatass they can just laugh it off.  I’m still working on getting to that point.  In the meantime, I have to contend with people telling me that I “can’t” be x character because of my weight, or patronizingly suggesting that I try a costume “more suited” to my body type, and it hurts.

I was never truly thin.  I’ve always had a larger stomach, a chest that leaves people wondering how I don’t fall flat on my face whenever I try to stand, and an ass that’d make a Kardashian jealous.  I do not have a thigh gap, even when I was at my thinnest as an adult — about 128 pounds — and that was when I was too poor to eat on a regular basis and was severely ill.  For some reason, I still decided to take up ballet, which I consider to be the greatest mistake of my life because the daily bullying I received over my size left me circling around an eating disorder for years.  The other girls would hide or destroy my clothes, yell at me to lose weight because I kept shaking the barre during warm-ups, puff their cheeks out and mime shoveling food into their faces… it was horrible.  There was one girl in my class who was bigger than I was, and she would join in on the abuse, probably, I now realize, to avoid having to take it, too.

Even still, when I was a teenager, I could easily hide my “problem” areas with some creative angling whenever I was on a photoshoot.  I was a size 5 at that time and it was still suggested to me that I think about going on a diet if I ever wanted to be really successful.  When I hit adulthood, the emergency brake on my metabolism was thrown, and thanks to severe depression and an illness that left me too weak to even sit at a desk for more than a couple of hours a day for a year or so, I got fat.

For those shocked at that last sentence, “fat” in and of itself is not a derogatory term.  Neither is “chubby” or “thick” or “heavy.”  They are simply words used to describe something; in this case, a person.  The problem is that people use them in a vicious manner.  “You’re fat” accompanied by a sneer or mean little laugh takes the statement from being factual to being factual and cruel.  Somewhere along the lines, society decided that being fat was the worst thing a person could be, apparently even worse than being nasty to other people.  If you find an overweight person unattractive, don’t date them.  Don’t sit there and stare at them or tax your brain trying to think of some shitty comment you can throw their way to let them know just how much their presence offends you.  We aren’t going to give you cancer, we’re not going to kick your puppy or bring a curse onto your household.  Accept the fact that not everyone on the face of the earth needs to live up to your personal standard of beauty and move on.  I promise that I’m not going to be upset if you don’t feel the overwhelming need to come up to me in the middle of Target and tell me that I’m the most gorgeous creature you’ve ever seen.  I won’t be upset if you pass by me without saying a word or reacting in any way.  I will, however, be upset if you stare and yell “THAR SHE BLOWS, CAP’N.”

Because you know what?  I’m still going to be fat.  I’ve lost a small amount of weight from the time that I was at my heaviest, but despite going to the gym, walking, running, dancing, swimming, hooping, adopting a vegan diet, “cleansing,” taking x y and z supplements, seeing a doctor, enrolling in Weight Watchers, completely cutting out desserts, drinking more milk (disastrous since I’m lactose intolerant), drinking less milk, and everything short of sacrificing a goat to whatever deity might be paying attention at the moment, I am still thick, curvy, voluptuous, fat, chubby, whatever you want to call it.  If hurling abuse at me for my weight burned calories, I would be a supermodel right now, but it doesn’t, so just stop.  This is my body type.  This is the flesh suit I was given to walk the Earth with.  I should be the only one even remotely concerned by the size of it.  Don’t keep making suggestions about this great new diet/exercise plan you heard about that might be able to “help” me.  Don’t try to run an intervention because you’re worried about the health problems I’m supposed to have that, gasp, I’m not even close to having.  Don’t tell me “Oh, but you used to be thinner, I’m sure you’ll lose the weight again!”  If I do, great, awesome, let’s have a party, but it’s been several years of chub, and I am not holding my breath or deluding myself that one day I’m going to reach that magic number of hours spent on a treadmill and the Fatty Godmother will appear and say “Poof!  Let the pounds melt away!” and I will step out of my size L/XL workout clothes as a skinny girl.

I’ll say it again.  I’m fat.  I’m usually okay with this, except for when people decide to be assholes about it.  But even if nobody is making snide remarks about my size, it’s still pretty difficult to feel accepted or just as beautiful as anyone else when there’s so few examples of a normal-to-larger body type to look to.  It’s definitely much better than it was just a few years ago, with curvier celebrities like Christina Hendricks and Rebel Wilson strutting their fabulously fierce selves through Hollywood, but when’s the last time we saw a movie featuring a fat girl in the lead role where she wasn’t on a quest to lose weight or find a man who will love her “despite” her size?  Bringing it around to the nerd world I’m so firmly entrenched in, when are we going to see character designs that actually look like the chubby among us?

This is one of the things I happily give World of Warcraft credit for.  Rather than portraying all of their characters, male or female, as having that one fantasy-driven body type, they represent all kinds — Dwarf females are short and stacked, Pandaren ladies are soft and round, Blood Elf women are waifishly thin (because fair is fair, after all), Orc females have solid, muscular builds — and that is pretty damn awesome.  They could easily have said “Screw it!  Let’s make everyone in our fantasy world impossibly beautiful and flawless!” and gone on to make everyone look like they just stepped out of a Vogue photoshoot.  It’s one of very few games out there where a chubby girl like myself can feel properly included.  By contrast, both Oblivion/Skyrim and the XBox Live avatars have always irked me because their body type setting, even when maxed out, is still three dress sizes below me.  Maybe it’s that whole vanity thing that’s inherent to all human beings, but I enjoy running through game worlds when I can play a character who looks like me.

I’ve already picked out my costume for day 1 of BlizzCon.  I’m going to be the Archangel Auriel from D3, though I’m now wishing I hadn’t had that falling out with the friend of mine who did all the metalworking stuff because he’d be really useful right about now.  For day 2, I wanted to be Sylvanas Windrunner, but no matter how much I think I should be able to cosplay her regardless of my size, I am absolutely petrified of what the response to such an act might be, and that is a truly sad state of affairs.

A Farewell to Farts: Saying Goodbye to the Bachelorette Life

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I’ll admit it; I’ve been taking a pretty “blah” view of my impending nuptials.  Not “blah” like “this is going to suck,” but “blah” like “Oh, I’m getting married.  ‘Kay.”  My chronic bitchface has always extended to no-selling major events in my life.  When I was accepted into the National Honor Society I forgot to tell my family until two days before the induction ceremony.  My response to The Fiance popping the question in the first place was a slight nod and an even-toned “Yes.”

Then I picked up my wedding dress (lovingly donated by my sweet friend Jill), and shit got real.

I’m getting married.

If you don’t know me in person, then you don’t know that I’m approximately 200% the last person you’d expect to ever find companionship with another human being.  It isn’t that I don’t like people — okay, I don’t, but I can at least tolerate them — it’s that they scare the Hell out of me, causing me to go into socially maladjusted nerd mode, and that is why I’m really bad at phone interviews.  I may be constantly coming up with new, exciting ideas on how to improve things in the gaming realm and unusual directions to wander off in, but when it comes to my personal life, I am set further in my ways than any octogenarian you can throw at me.  I am the embodiment of a bachelorette, with the somewhat conflicting desire to not die alone and be eaten by cats.  As a great poet of our generation once said, “I’m a walking contradiction.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not having second thoughts.  To begin with, I actually love the son of a bitch (note to self: stop referring to future husband as “son of a bitch” even when doing so endearingly), and it’s rare to find anyone who’s not only willing but able to put up with my shit so well.  It probably has to do with our both being creative types and thus having a better than average understanding of where the other is coming from, something I’m incredibly grateful for because nine times out of ten I have no idea of what I’m doing when communicating with other people.  But I am coming to the realization that there’s going to be a lot of changes around these parts, beyond our upcoming move to Irvine.

  1. No more farting freely.  Look, I’m going to clear up a myth here: girls fart, and usually in an even more epic manner than dudes.  We are secretly capable of being just as if not more disgusting than any man alive.  Need proof?  Go into a public women’s restroom.  There is actually five times as much pee on the seats as there is in the guys’ bathroom and considering we have the melee range advantage I don’t even understand how this happens.  So yes, I walk around the house lighting them off whenever I damn well please because at this point in time, nobody is around to care.  When The Fiance and I spend time together, I’ve usually got my ass clenched so tight you could shove a lump of coal up there and have a diamond in a couple of hours, using the time-honored tradition of disguising any gas that absolutely MUST escape with an opportune cough.  We are going to be spending every day together from here on out.  I may as well just move out onto the balcony.
  2. My wardrobe needs to change.  Not to be “sexier” or “more flattering,” because it is absolute bullshit to do anything to your physical appearance just to please your significant other.  If they’re so shallow that they’re going to complain about your wearing jeans and a T-shirt versus a corset and mini-skirt, then they’re dicks, and you should just move on to someone who actually loves you for reasons other than how hot your boobies look.  But I do need to shift the balance in my wardrobe from a 60-40 split between pajamas and regular clothes, respectively.  I own three pairs of jeans.  I own eight pairs of yoga pants.  If I even bother to get fully dressed then it’s a small miracle.  Why should I?  It’s just me.  I’m not a huge party girl, I’m too broke to shop, and I’m currently unemployed, so where am I going to go, besides the farting balcony?  Which brings me to my next point.
  3. I have to actually be social.  Remember when I said I’m not a party girl?  That doesn’t mean I won’t raise a glass and have fun at, say, a company party or something, but I’m at my happiest on a Friday night when I’m cuddled up in my fluffy purple blanket, playing videogames or reading a book or writing or doing something else that does not involve me putting on pants.  But now I have another person in my life, and said person is not necessarily going to want to sit on opposite ends of the living room every night ignoring each other for our respective single-person entertainment choices.  He enjoys going to the movies, an activity which absolutely baffles me (I love movies, but why the Hell am I going to pay $10 to $15 to sit in a smelly theater with random strangers kicking the seat and talking through the movie?  Bonus “screw this” points if it’s in 3D, because 3D gives me a migraine), and if I want to be fair, I’ve got to stop being so ornery and be willing to say “Sure, babe, let’s go on a date!”
  4. I must, must, MUST learn to be nicer.  I’ve always prided myself on being “one of the bros.”  This is great when hanging out with friends, but I’m still trying to learn how to turn off the tough love thing with regards to The Fiance.  For example, the other day we were heading out to get lunch, and it was a bit chilly, so he asked me if I wanted to go back inside and grab a jacket.  Before I could stop myself, I said “Nah, I don’t need a jacket, I’m a man” and punched him in the arm.  There was this moment of really awkward silence as we both comprehended what had just happened and in the end, yes, I did put on a hoodie, and we never spoke of it again.
  5. I have to feed him.  Well, no, I don’t, because it’s an equal relationship, but you know what I mean.  If it’s my turn to make dinner, that means I actually have to do it rather than what I usually do, which is get so involved in writing that I finally look at the clock around 8 p.m. and realize I haven’t eaten anything all day but have consumed several pots of tea.  I can pretty much guarantee that two weeks after my hire date they’ll find me dead of starvation at my desk, slumped over the keyboard with like six empty mugs around me.  Now there is another human being who will potentially starve to death along with me.
  6. My sleeping etiquette needs to improve, stat.  I love sleeping next to him — I’m usually at anemic levels of frigid, and he generates a shocking amount of body heat for a skinny dude — but man, there is something to be said about being able to cocoon yourself in three layers of blankets like some kind of comfort burrito and sleep at a 45-degree angle across the entire bed.  Somewhat related, I tend to flail around in my sleep for unknown reasons and accidentally punch him in the face.  I am still trying to figure out how he sleeps through this.  I also need to not throw shoes at him when he tries to wake me up early.

I’d say he’s a saint for putting up with me, but he’s an Atheist and likes to remind me that there are no such things as saints.

Blacksmithing: [Opened Can of Worms]

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One of the biggest distractions for me in any game is crafting.  Take my experiences in Skyrim, for example; I’ve logged several days’ worth of game time, and easily 80% of that has been spent running around picking flowers, then running back to the alchemist’s shop to gleefully mix random crap together in the hope that it makes something shiny and/or vendorable.  Beyond just fulfilling my obsessive-compulsive disorder, it’s also an important mechanic that makes a player’s life much easier in the long run.  The ability to make unlimited healing potions is absolutely vital if you’re terrible at most videogames, i.e. me.

World of Warcraft is no exception to this rule, and though leveling the crafting professions can be something of a soul-destroying grind, I just can’t stop myself.  Maybe I’m more of a pain slut than I thought, I don’t know.  I’ve seen many changes to the profession system, from the addition of entirely new roles (holy shit, Jewelcrafting!) to minor tweaks in the form of allowing “tougher” items to give multiple skillups, thus making it ever so slightly easier and more cost-effective to craft your face off.  Mists of Pandaria introduced a newer and easier way to level cooking that allowed players with access to what I affectionately refer to as Panda-Lands to go from level 1 to 525 without having to do any more than some minimal fishing.  Now it’s looking like patch 5.2 is going to bring us a revamp of the often-bemoaned Blacksmithing profession, and on the surface it looks like a pretty sweet deal.  Truth is, it’s a pretty risky move that has just as much potential to flop as it does to succeed.

I’m a cheery person (lies artistic license), so I’d like to first take a look at the positives of this change.  If any profession needed a nerf to frustration, it’s Blacksmithing.  The sheer number of reagents required to max it out, especially during the “vanilla” levels, was mind-boggling, to say the least.  As a result, it tends to be somewhat difficult to find a fully-skilled Blacksmith, unless they a.) are masochists or b.) power-leveled it with the auction house.

There was supposed to be a picture here of somebody being whipped by a dominatrix with the caption “Origins of Copper Chain Armor” but I honestly cannot find one that even edges on safe-for-work so use your imagination, but not so hard that you get a boner because oh God please don’t do that shit while you read my blog, it’s weird.  –Ed.

The upcoming changes to Blacksmithing should make players a lot more likely to pick it up, meaning all of the delicious goodies that the profession brings will be much more readily available.  Players can power-level it using the Ghost Iron Ore projects, then go back and learn the “old” plans, freeing up time and mats to make only what they need rather than spamming the same bronze armor till it’s as gray as the ashes of your sanity.

Death Knights will also find this to be something of a blessing, since by the time they enter the game at level 55, leveling a profession would involve a great deal of farming and catch-up.  I expect we’ll see a high number of DK Blacksmiths as a result.  With Blacksmiths able to rely exclusively on Ghost Iron Ore for skill-ups, farming in lower-level areas should decrease, meaning that Engineers and Jewelcrafters who are mining in their level-appropriate zones will have to deal with far less competition from 90s on fast flying mounts.

HOWEVER.

It’s slightly disheartening for players who chose other professions that are not seeing this kind of revamp.  The multiple skill-up system has been extremely helpful to others, but there is a high probability that non-Blacksmiths are going to be a bit peeved.  Since the revamp is currently only live on the test realm, I’m hoping that they’re just revamping the one profession as an experiment, and that if it goes well, the rest will get the same treatment at the same time or shortly after 5.2 is released.

Then there’s the economic repercussions within the game itself.  The Ghost Iron projects don’t give gear, only vendorable items, so I assume that the dev team is banking on some sort of balance being struck by players who want to craft armor and weapons as they level.  The problem is that with the world revamp brought on by Cataclysm, quest rewards have caught up with crafted items to the point that the lower-level items are often equivalent or worse than what players can receive without having to put in the ore and jewels.  Unless these craftable items receive a boost to utility, it’s much more likely that the majority of the player base will simply wait until Pandaria levels and just farm the readily available Ghost Iron deposits to powerlevel it.  Beyond the few craftable item level 476 pieces and max-level belt buckles, all of which require a fair amount of mats, there’s a very real risk that Blacksmithing will be useless until level 90.  The market for lower-level crafted armor on my server is already virtually non-existent; this has the potential to be the final death knell, either by eradicating it completely, or causing price gouges, since most players will be eschewing the level-as-you-go model with the allure of e-z mode at level cap.  This will also be a blow to the ore and gem market, excepting in the case of Ghost Iron Ore, which will likely see even higher prices.  Though Engineering and Jewelcrafting will still require normal leveling procedures, they will eventually have to receive the same kind of revamp, lest the dev team risk completely alienating non-Blacksmith players, and at this point I expect the market for things like Mithril Ore and Shadowgems to disappear completely.  The same will happen for herbs, leather, and enchanting mats as the revamps continue.

Obviously, this is all still speculation, but the real question here is going to be how Blizzard is going to be able to keep all of these minutiae in balance without tipping the scales one way or another.  It’s no easy task, and though someday it will be my burden to bear, as well, I still don’t envy them for having to address it, although I suppose we could always blame Ghostcrawler if it fails.  (Note: Do not blame Ghostcrawler.  This was a joke.  –Ed.)

Now we come to the point where everyone says “O Most Benevolent Overlord Bunny, Future Dev of Our Hearts, how wouldst thou revamp yon professions in thy developmental glory?” and then the ghost of Shakespeare rises up to pimp-slap me for that sentence which nobody actually even uttered but I need to pretend like I’m popular because I have shitty self-esteem for which the pretended arrogance is just a defense mechanism, so I’m going to keep on pretending and answer.  I love lamp and run-on sentences.

Revamping the other professions to match up with Blacksmithing is a given.  My concern for the gathering markets leads me in the direction of just saying “screw it” and simplifying all crafting professions to use just one type of gathered material, which would then be available no matter what zone you’re in.  To clarify, players would be able to gather Ghost Iron Ore in Elwynn Forest just as easily as they can in the Valley of Four Winds.  This still reduces the problem of level 90s farming nodes that appropriate-level players require, since said nodes would be available anywhere.  Rather than removing the ability to create gear and weapons using the Ghost Iron projects, replace the “old” recipes with much more generalized pieces for various item levels that produce armor with random stats and bonuses, much like the system used in Diablo 3.  If the possible stats are upped to compete with current quest rewards, this could potentially revitalize the crafted item market — since it all uses the same type of ore, crafting them is much easier and more convenient, meaning more players are likely to actually try to craft useful armor for their appropriate level, which means the “rejects” can be put on the auction house for purchase by non-Blacksmiths.  Small tweaks to Tailoring already offer a similar system at higher levels, with the chance to craft not only uncommon quality gear, but also rare, a mechanic that could easily be carried over to others.

To break proposed changes down by profession and skill:

Gathering Professions: Unify all mats obtained using gathering professions into one type per quality.  Gems will be unified into one type per color, per quality.  Method of obtaining skill points in gathering professions will change to something closer to the Fishing system, with skill-ups being granted randomly as players gather items.

Alchemy: Philosopher’s Stone still required for transmutes, but no longer vendorable (I cannot tell you how many times I have accidentally sold the damn thing), and upgradable for character level range by turning in x amount of profession level-appropriate potions to Alchemy trainer.  Other options would be to make it upgradable using a quest that rewards the improved trinket, or change the base stone from a crafted item to an item purchasable from any Alchemy Supplies vendor.  Remove need to choose between Alchemy spec and implement an overall random chance for double-procs on potions, elixirs, flasks, and transmutes.  Adjust transmutes as needed to fit in with other revamps, i.e. Northrend jewel transmutes would be changed to convert x number of uncommon gems to rare gems and rare gems to epic gems once they’ve all be unified.  Change Northrend Alchemy Research to general Potion Research, Flask Research, Elixir Research, Transmute Research, etc.  Goblin Rocket Fuel will be changed to Engineering-only recipe.

Inscription: Pigments and inks simplified to one common type and one uncommon type each.  Add recipes for lower-level Rare-quality staves.  Change Northrend Inscription Research to general Major Glyph Research.

Jewelcrafting:  Recipes will now improve the stats of each type of cut rather than introduce new gems, like the jeweler system in Diablo 3.  Change different types of stone statues to statues offering different benefits, such as healing, +str, +sta, etc.  Simplify rings, necks, and trinkets to grant pieces with random stats, with new versions available for various character levels.  Unified uncommon-quality gems can be turned into a random batch of rare-quality gems once per day, and rare-quality gems may be shattered to create a random batch of uncommon-quality gems.  “Secrets of the Stone” and research on regular 24-hour timer now have the chance to discover any profession level-appropriate cuts not taught by the trainer.  Remove Cataclysm trinket quests and make higher-level trinket recipes obtainable from Jewelcrafting trainer.  Change Jewelcrafting trinkets from bind on pickup to bind on equip, which will open a new potential market and help to stabilize the economy.  Epic gem cuts will drop from all raid instances, stat bonuses dependent on level range for each raid.

Engineering:  Remove need to choose between specs and rename Goblin Rocket Fuel to Rocket Fuel.  Recipe for Rocket Fuel is now Engineer-only and will be trainable rather than crafted.  Volatile Rum component will either be removed altogether or made easier to obtain by addition to certain vendor item tables.  Various quality random-stat goggle/helm recipes will be craftable based on level, with goggles remaining Engineer-only, but special bind on equip helms usable by any profession added.  Addition of recipe for weather forecasting machine that will notify players of current weather all over the game world.  Remove Engineering requirement to use crafted mounts.  Eliminate Salt Shaker.

Tailoring:  Size of crafted bags will increase as skill level is raised.  All armor will now adhere to the random stat system with improvements to bonuses based on level.  Remove Tailoring requirement to use crafted mounts.  Unify thread reagent to one type, similar to Crystal Vials.  Revamp system for “special” cloth types (excepting Imperial Silk) to require x amount of cloth and elemental crafting pieces, such as fire, water, earth, etc.

Leatherworking:  Deeprock Salt/Refined Deeprock Salt and Salt Shaker no longer required.  All hides may be cured using salt purchasable from a supply vendor.  Add recipes for enchanted voodoo doll and toy kodo pets (Alliance equivalent for kodo may be substituted with elekk).  Armor adheres to random stat system with improvements to bonuses based on level.  Armor kit bonuses will also increase according to level.  Unify thread reagent to one type, as suggested with Tailoring.  Dragon scales will be replaced by a unified type of scale that will be obtainable from any “scaly” creature — dragons, crocodiles, turtles, etc. — in lieu of regular leather on their skin loot table.

Enchanting:  Disenchanting will yield unified dust or essence from uncommon items, shards from rare items, and crystals from epic items.  To avoid “breaking” the shard and crystal market by allowing level 90 players to steamroll through old instances and easily farm rare or epic items for mass disenchanting, yields will change to dust or essence if the level requirement of the item is x or more levels lower than the player disenchanting it.  Addition of Research on a 24-hour timer to learn new rare enchants, which will sacrifice 3 shards per use and give between 3 and 5 skill-ups at a time.

Fishing:  Clicking on the fishing bobber is no longer required to “catch” a fish; instead, the fish will automatically be caught at a random point during cast time and added to the player’s bags.  Find Fish is now a passive ability granted when a player learns the Fishing skill (like Find Herbs, etc.) rather than from a random drop.  Schools may be fished from by clicking on the school itself rather than attempting to land a cast within its confines, and will no longer require multiple casts to obtain full yield, as in the case of mining nodes and herbs.  Each school fished will give between 3 and 5 skill-ups.

Of course, I do realize that implementing these changes would be a fairly massive undertaking involving lots of man (and woman) hours, and would likely be about as big of a risk as the “official” changes being made, but when it comes to a player base as dedicated and loyal as those in World of Warcraft, any major change is a risk.  No solution is perfect.  No matter what any dev team decides, there will always be some vocal dissenters who believe that the changes have killed the game and ruined the experience for everyone.

The important thing, however, is to go into any major change with an open mind, no matter what side of the desk you’re on.  Skepticism is perfectly fine, but if we immediately dismiss something right out of the gate without even giving it a shot, who knows what we’re actually missing out on?  Because of this, I’m placing my faith in the dev team for World of Warcraft and assuming that they’ve covered the bases, discussed the risks, and so on.  They haven’t let me down yet.

And hey, one day, they might even pay me to do this shit.

Terry Deary + Four-Letter Insult = This Title

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In keeping with the spirit of my anti-bullying stance, I’m making a very serious attempt to not just come right out and call Terry Deary a douchebag.  Part of my struggle stems from the fact that as a kid, I absolutely lost my shit over his Horrible Histories series.  I was never one for Sweet Valley High or any of the super-fluffy books for kids out there.  I think the most vapid I ever got with my reading choices was the Nancy Drew series — the originals, not the cheesy ones from the 80s — and even then, I firmly believe that Ms. Drew, along with Encyclopedia Brown and Sherlock Holmes, helped me develop the critical thinking skills and attention to detail that I possess today.

But Horrible Histories, man… those were better than any fiction, detective or otherwise.  They were true stories.  They were often gory, a little creepy, and helped to cement my interest in the lives of those who lived so long ago.  Terry Deary’s dry wit and highbrow sarcasm so typical of British humor was an entirely new experience for me back then, something I much preferred over the fart jokes so prevalent in kids’ cartoons (I refuse to lower myself past dick jokes, thank you very much).  He taught me that it was possible to be funny and still intellectual, that it was better to have the audience pause for a split second to process how thoroughly you quipped the wit out of them before laughing than to have them giggling every time you say “poop.”  I actually still have these books sitting on my shelf and read them from time to time, even as an adult.  I plan to introduce my children to the series and buy the books I don’t have myself for them.

And then this shit happened.

“Because it’s been 150 years, we’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that.

“Books aren’t public property, and writers aren’t Enid Blyton, middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby. They’ve got to make a living. Authors, booksellers and publishers need to eat. We don’t expect to go to a food library to be fed.”

In a stunning display of flawed logic that will leave you wondering whether or not this man could really have ever written a book, Terry Deary announced to the world that he believes libraries to be “irrelevant,” all because one night at dinner he had to settle for the sirloin instead of the filet mignon.

But first, let’s clear one thing up: if you want to be rich, being an author is probably about the worst way to accomplish that.  Talent has nothing to do with your success.  It’s all a matter of marketing, of convincing people that they should go shell out $10 for a copy of your latest book.  You could be the best writer in the whole wide world, but if you don’t have an effective promotional strategy, you’re screwed.  Similarly, you can be the worst writer in the whole wide world, but if you have an effective promotional strategy, you’ll get a five-movie deal and dine on salads made of hundred-dollar bills, leaving the actually talented authors to stare in through your misty windows like the Victorian street urchins that Terry Deary apparently thinks they are.  Unless you’re selling millions of books and have a bitchin’ contract, you’re going to be making mere pennies.  Using the figures listed in the article from which I pulled that quote:

30p recieved per £6.99 average book = 46 cents per $10.85 average book = approximately 4.24% of the price of every book sold goes back to the author.

Those are some pretty miserable returns.

The UK, however, offers a Public Lending Right program for published authors, meaning that every time one of their books is checked out, they get a small amount of money in borrowing “royalties” up to a certain cap ($10,250 according to the article).  Granted, it’s still not going to pay for your solid gold toilet seat or blingy necklace with “SHAKEDATSPEARE” spelled out in conflict diamonds, but it’s something, at least.  This is, however, not enough for Terry Deary, whose histrionic tantrum continues:

“If I sold the book I’d get 30p per book. I get six [thousand], and I should be getting £180,000… Why are all the authors coming out in support of libraries when libraries are cutting their throats and slashing their purses?”

To summarize, I think what he’s trying to say is “WAH WAH WAH, WAAAAAH.   WAH WAH.  WAAAAAAAAAAAH.”

What he fails to realize is how important libraries are for bringing in new readers, and thus new patrons of an author’s books.  Let’s face it, books are expensive these days (and they pretty much have to be if the authors want to see any payment at all), and while we’re not at “Victorian” levels of poverty, I don’t think most of us can afford to rush out and buy every single new book we find that looks interesting.  I don’t have a spare $20 lying around to take a chance on a title or an author I’ve never heard of, even if the reviews are good.  The first place I go is the library to give it a test run.  If I like the book, there’s an extremely high probability that I’m going to run out to a bookstore and buy my own copy, and Hell, possibly even pick up a few more of that author’s works if my budget allows.  If it doesn’t, I can guarantee you that I’ll at least be following their releases, adding their names to my birthday and Hanukkah lists and crossing my fingers that the gift-giving Gods are good to me.

Until, of course, they do or say something so remarkably despicable and irredeemable like Mr. Deary, in which case I will take a solemn vow to only buy their books secondhand so that they don’t see a single penny of my money.  As an author, myself, I would expect the five people who actually read my novel to call me on my bullshit in a similar manner if I were the one spouting off ill-conceived arguments against intellectual advancement.

Libraries are instrumental in convincing the younger generation to read.  When you take a 10-year-old kid from this current generation and tell them they can either spend 20 bucks on a new videogame or on a book, chances are they’re going to pick the option that requires a controller.  Tell them that they can buy their game but can also go down to their local library and read anything they want for free, without cutting into their precious XBox fund, and you’ve just opened up a whole world to them that they might have otherwise ignored.

Yes, I believe that videogames are the next evolution of storytelling, but that doesn’t mean that I think books are an obsolete medium.  Say that the kid in question grows up to  be a game designer.  If he’s never had easy access to books, where is he going to pull his inspiration from?  From the real world, sure, but that makes a pretty boring game, unless you’re talking about The Sims, which even then is only entertaining due to the myriad ways in which you can murder your avatar.  From TV and movies?  Okay,  but where are they getting their inspirations and plot devices from?  What if he pulls it from other games?  Fine, I guess, if we want the 3287649035th Dynasty Warriors clone (of which 98% of them are themselves Dynasty Warriors sequels).  But it still all goes back to books, to the Greek mythology so prevalent in God of War, and to the almost Shakespearean tragedy that permeates the Final Fantasy series.  If that kid has spent their childhood spending equal time playing games and reading books, thus not only understanding game mechanics but also how to weave together an engaging story that will completely immerse the player in the game’s world, you’re going to end up with a masterpiece.

It also ensures that this kind of thing will never happen again.

It also ensures that this kind of thing will never happen again.

Admittedly, the vast majority of libraries could do with stepping into the digital world a bit more, adding the ability to “borrow” e-books for the Kindle and Nook — set it up right, and patrons would no longer even have to drive to the physical location to check out a new volume, but could log in to their local library’s catalog with their library card number and download it straight to their e-reader, where the file will delete or lock itself after a certain number of days.  Some locations have already begun offering similar programs, but with the drastic cuts in funding, few can afford to give it a go themselves.

Terry Deary’s arguments against libraries are founded in one thing: greed.  He isn’t selling as many books as he used to, so he’s looking for a scapegoat to blame it on, similar to the anti-download arguments found in the music industry.  His Wikipedia page states that he retired from writing in 2011, meaning that no new Horrible Histories books will be coming out, so his income is now solely from pre-existing material that has already been purchased by a good chunk of the reading population.  Sounds like a great time to put the old books in libraries and try to initiate more generations to the series, doesn’t it?  I believe his complete disconnect from logic and reality comes from his retirement.  He is now obsolete himself, probably feeling a bit emotional over giving up something he was so good at and thoroughly loved for, and likely realizes that this now presents a lower stream of income for him.

At least, I hope that’s the reason, because the only other option is that one of my favorite authors is a complete dick, and I don’t think any of us would be able to accept that without our hearts breaking in the process.

 

Everyone Is Afraid Of My Huge Rejection

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Sorry about the title, but I don’t think I’ve thrown a good dick joke out there yet, and my portfolio is 100% incomplete without it.

A few days ago I touched a little bit on the majestic failure that was my first phone interview.  I pointed out that none of us should let rejections faze us, something that is, of course, easier said than done, and that we should instead continue to push on through until we accomplished our goal.  I talked about the importance of self-care when accepting a “no” but otherwise didn’t really go into much deeper detail on how exactly to get past that ugly word unscathed.

Step into my bedroom (giggity) for a moment.

Don't judge me, I wasn't the one who picked the wall color.

Don’t judge me, I wasn’t the one who picked the wall color.

I’m about to make a horrific confession for which there is no redemption: this is my inspiration wall, which I got the idea for from Rachel Berry in an episode of Glee.

I watch Glee.

Truly, my life has hit rock bottom.

Despite the fact that I utterly hate the character of Rachel Berry with the passion of a thousand burning suns — I find her completely irredeemable — I found her inspiration cork board to be a great idea.  Her version showcases her five-step plan on how to achieve her goals of being a Broadway star.  I may have the same nose as her, but my singing voice sounds like a dying llama with vocal nodes, so a Broadway board really didn’t do me much good, and I don’t have a particularly good plan as far as how to get hired by Blizzard.  At the moment it pretty much consists of:

  1. Assemble portfolio.
  2. Apply for jobs.
  3. Preemptively move home to California in the hopes that this makes me a more desirable candidate.
  4. ???
  5. Profit.

Essentially, it’s the game industry version of dropping out of high school and moving to Los Angeles or New York City to get discovered.

My inspiration wall is more of a reminder to myself not to give up.  Though I’m beating up Shas on a regular basis, it’s sometimes hard to avoid feeling sorry for myself, or like this is all hopeless and I’m being foolish to even think I could possibly accomplish what I’m trying to do.  When I start to get depressed, I simply look to my right and see an onslaught of arguments as to why I should ignore my jerk of a brain and remind me that yes, I am a worthwhile and capable person.  These arguments are:

  • The “story” my mother wrote about my life
  • My NaNoWriMo 2012 winner’s certificate
  • The “Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Could Mermaid Like Me?” bumper sticker I got from mermaid camp
  • All of the sweet letters and cards from my friends that I can find
  • The email letting me know that I had gotten a phone interview
  • The rejection letter stating that I did not get the job
  • A collage of direct messages from fans and idols of mine, kind comments on Twitter, my blog stats since the anti-bullying post, and photos of myself doing the following: attending a gallery opening of my photography, in the middle of my first professional modelling shoot, walking in my first runway show, hanging out with one of my music idols, my first public bellydance performance, and posing for a “promo” shot at mermaid camp
  • A small award for “Best Boobs” from last year’s Valentine’s Day party
  • The veil for my upcoming wedding
  • A full-length mirror

Most of the stuff up there is pretty self-explanatory, but undoubtedly a few items will seem to be strange choices.

To begin, a lot of you are probably wondering why I have a rejection letter taped to my wall.  Why on Earth could I possibly want that staring me in the face?  Because rejection is an important part of succeeding.  Anything worth doing is worth fighting for, and nothing that really matters comes easily.  Someday, when I’ve made it onto the design team, I will look back through all of the rejection letters and smile because the missteps make the end result all the sweeter.  I learned a lot from that phone interview (comedy option: that I should not be allowed to talk to other humans ever) that I can apply to my next one — and there will be a next one.  At the time I’m writing this I have six applications in with Blizzard, all for positions that genuinely interest me.  I won’t settle for something I know that I won’t enjoy or for another company that I don’t really want to work for just to get into the industry.  Reach for the stars, or don’t reach at all.  The path may be a little longer to get there, but in the end, it’ll be a lot less time and energy wasted for everyone involved.  This one job didn’t come through.  ‘Kay, there’s still six other ones that might, and if those don’t, then there will always be more jobs opening up.  I believe in fate, somewhat.  Maybe if I had gotten this job I would have hated it.  Maybe I’m about to get a call for my ultimate dream job, and if I had accepted this one, I wouldn’t be able to take it.   At any rate, it’s a reminder to me to work harder next time, and that yes, I am fallible.  The humility keeps me hungry.

My wedding veil is there to remind me, like the letters and cards from my friends, that I’m loved, and that whatever I do, I’m not alone.  The Fiance is along with me for the ride.  Where a lot of people think I’m foolish or naive for going after such lofty goals, he’s a third party who believes that my work is genuinely good, and not just good, but good enough.  If the stress gets to be too much, I know I can turn to him for support.  It’s also an example of a dream that I never thought possible coming true.  I had resigned myself to dying alone because I truly felt that no one would ever be willing to put up with me while I went chasing after my goals, or be able to accept me for the weird nerd girl that I am.  I used to dream of finding that one person, my soulmate, to serve as a partner in crime, though I never actually believed it’d happen.  Since it did, there’s no excuse for me to give up on my other dreams.

Finally, the mirror.  When I go to my wall and reread these things, I can glance at my reflection, and remind myself that I am the one who accomplished all of these things.  These are the experiences I am made of.  I set out to write a novel, and I did.  I wanted to be a mermaid when I was five, and it may have taken me twenty years, but I did it.  I don’t always like the girl I see staring back at me through the glass, but I can’t deny that she’s pretty remarkable with a grand and storied life that most people would probably think was at least three-quarters fabrication.  Also, I had no other place to put the mirror.  My bedroom is kind of small.

Is it hokey?  A little bit, but it works for me, and I think that we all need reminders of our own worth and ability once in a while.

I also created a special playlist in iTunes for myself that I put on whenever I’m filling out applications, making connections, writing, or feeling lost.

Again, it’s cheesy, but by surrounding myself with positive messages and affirmations, I can stand up tall, no matter how many times I get knocked down.

This doesn’t just extend to a single situation, either.  I’ve started to apply it to everything else in my life.  I make a mistake?  My bad, and I won’t do it again, but I’m not going to hide under a rock and cry about it for the rest of my life.  Somebody’s a jerk to me?  I’ve got even more people on my team.  Setbacks are a part of life, and every road has bumps in it.  Even once we achieve our goals, that doesn’t mean we should get complacent.  Keep doing whatever it is you do as passionately as you did on the way up.  Pretend like you’re still at square one.  Fight to get noticed, and once you do, keep fighting to prove that you deserve the attention and accolades.

The point is that rejection is nothing to fear.  Without rejection, we don’t learn anything.  It forces us to be flexible and creative, to reevaluate ourselves and keep from becoming stagnant.  Rejection doesn’t mean we’ll never be good enough, it means we know what detours we need to take and what we need to improve.

Realizing just how much you have in common with Rachel Berry, however… that’s something to worry about.

Overlord Bunny’s Catch-Up Compendium for World of Warcraft

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After eight years of playing World of Warcraft, you can bet that I know the game inside and out.  I played during a time when hunters had to feed their pets or risk them defecting mid-combat and Auberdine was whole (and unbelievably annoying), where Blackwing Lair was the highest-level raid content available and +10 intellect on gear was pretty much game-breaking.  Hell, I remember when Thousand Needles was just a desert and there were maybe 10 quests in all of Azshara — three if you played Alliance.

Having so much experience with the game has given me the fairly rare gift of being able to fully appreciate each and every change, the subtleties of which are lost on players who only started during Cataclysm or Mists of Pandaria.  Watching the quest styles, the storyline, and the technology required to launch them all progress over time has been absolutely thrilling.  The problem is that I’ve also been able to see the cracks of age crop up throughout the older expansions, once heralded as revolutionary and ahead of the game, especially now that I’m leveling my fifth 90.

The developers have managed to keep World of Warcraft feeling pretty fresh, especially with the massive overhaul of the “classic” Azeroth that came with Cataclysm.  Skepticism ran pretty high before its release; I know I wasn’t the only one who ragequit for a short time after their plans to basically destroy the world as we knew it were announced.  We clung stubbornly to our simple grindfests and linear storylines.  I don’t think any of us could even have imagined the things that the design team managed to accomplish in Cata.  The Plaguelands are actually fun now, for God’s sake, something once thought impossible to pull off.  We also saw the first redesign of classic instances with the new and vastly improved Stockades and Deadmines (though I really do miss Mr. Smite).  And we finally realized just how sick of the “old ways” we were.

Well, except for a vocal minority who complain about the good old days and how WoW’s been dumbed down, which is funny since I still see them logged in and leveling panda monks on a daily basis.  Yes, the game has been simplified,  but you know what?  It needed it.  Even during the pre-Cata days, World of Warcraft was among the easier MMOs, certainly not as punishing as Everquest or Final Fantasy, and that was a breath of fresh air for those of us looking for a way to de-stress and just have fun.  I say Blizzard should put together a “vanilla” server for the oldschoolers who lament the game’s new directions and let them see how long they last.  I can tell you right now that if I had to go back to the old ways, I’d probably last another week before permanently giving up.

Mists of Pandaria continued the ascent into awesome with the most breathtaking landscapes and storylines yet.  It introduced more revamped instances (Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery) and a simplified way of leveling up cooking skills, allowing players to basically go from 1 to 500 by purchasing reagents from a supply vendor or doing a minimal amount of fishing in Pandaria.  Quests somehow became even more dynamic, earning reputation with the Pandaria factions was significantly less painful than the rep grinds of yore, and with patch 5.1, commendation tokens could be purchased to speed up reputation gains account-wide once the original character reached Revered status.  On top of rewarding valor points and gold, daily quests also gave Lesser Charms of Good Fortune which could be turned in 90 at a time to receive higher-quality charms that gave an extra loot roll in raids.

The past two expansions truly have been the developers feeding us all caviar on velvet cushions.  Unfortunately, Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King have not fared quite so well.  When compared to the “new classic,” Cataclysm, and Pandaria, they seem woefully last-gen and frustrating.  New content for Pandaria is still being rolled out on a fairly regular basis, meaning that the design team’s attention is rightfully focused on delivering a more current player experience, but once that all dies down, I’d love to see them go back and make a few tweaks to Outlands and Northrend.

And, well, I’ll admit it, there’s one thing I’d like to see them change that expands to Azeroth, too.  In Pandaria, players receive class-specific quest rewards for their efforts.  Monks get monk gear, shamans get shaman gear, and the options (if there are any) encompass all possible specs.  Having played so many characters through the various expansions, I can tell you that there’s a huge dearth of decent gear for some class/spec combinations.  One of my alts is a Mistweaver monk, and in trying to outfit her appropriately (spirit > haste > intellect), I’ve found that I can be halfway through a zone before finding any upgrades that are useful to me.  Leather rewards are almost always agility-centric.  It’s true that I get lots of vendor fodder as a result, but in the meantime, my monk is woefully undergeared compared to what a rogue or a DPS warrior would have at her level.  Many of the rewards are useless for any class based on the fact that their stats haven’t been updated along with the game mechanics.  I still find strength/agility plate rather frequently, especially in Outlands.  Cataclysm gear may match current mechanics, but there still seems to be an imbalance as far as how much gear is available for various classes and specs.

Drop rates for quest items are another thing that were updated for ease from Cataclysm and on.  Anybody remember gathering murloc heads  back when Southshore still had Alliance areas?  The drop rate was atrocious.  Outlands was chock full of quests where you’d spend what seemed like an eternity doing murder circuits of mobs and waiting for respawns just for one person to complete an objective.  Northrend was admittedly a bit better, but there were still a few instances where my finger hovered over the “Abandon” button.  Revising the drop rates for quest items would make a huge difference in player enjoyment through these older areas.  To alleviate any concern over losing too much potential XP to the higher drop rates (and thus fewer mobs killed), the bonuses for quest turn-ins or mob kills could be increased just a tiny amount.

Cataclysm did affect several of the older reputations, such as Timbermaw Hold, by making them easier to max out.  Quests for these factions now give more rep upon completion than they did in the old days, but many others could benefit from a similar update.  Coilfang Armaments can no longer be turned in for Cenarion Expedition rep, and with the way that the quests are set up, it quickly becomes a grind-fest to either run Coilfang Reservoir instances ad nauseam or collect random drops, such as Unidentified Plant Parts.  A revamp of the quests in Outlands to “catch up”  to current styles (more on that later) could be a great time to increase reputation benefits, as well.  The same can go for Northrend in the case of the Argent Tournament.  I would be thrilled to see grand commendations available for these older factions or the introduction of “championing” tabards to those not already offering them, allowing players to purchase faction tabards at Friendly level and wear them in dungeons to funnel rep gains towards that faction.  As it stands, Burning Crusade factions require exalted to be able to purchase their tabards, which serve no purpose other than RP or completing achievements.  This isn’t an attempt to completely kill any sense of challenge, and great caution would need to be used in determining how to buff rep gains for the older reputations, but to be blunt, most people are not farming these reputations anymore for anything other than pets or mounts just because they are such an immense pain to complete compared to newer reputations.

As far as the aforementioned revamp of quests goes, Outlands is the primary culprit here.  Cataclysm and Pandaria tend to give their quests in small, manageable handfuls that make efficient questing easy, but Outlands throws them all in your face at once, filling up your map with turn-in points and objective areas so plentiful it becomes overwhelming to look at.  Streamlining quest delivery is definitely needed.  The auto-update feature introduced with Cataclysm, where quests may be completed and advanced in the field rather than having to go back into an objective area three or four times, would be an absolute godsend in earlier expansions.  An update to quest mechanics using newer technology now available would also help to dissipate the decidedly last-gen feeling now permeating Outlands.  Northrend’s quest mechanics aren’t too terribly far behind the current standard, but some minor tweaks are required, such as lowering the number of items required to complete a quest (25 Zul’Drak rats for Gluttonous Lurkers) for sake of ease or fixing the way that Gymer constantly gets stuck on environmental geometry and is so large that zooming the camera out all the way still makes it impossible to see what’s in front of you.

Another specific area of Northrend that could use a good revamp would be the Argent Tournament.  Horde and Alliance players must complete a rash of daily quests, most of which are static, in order to receive various types of tokens, starting with Aspirant’s Seals to unlock the ability to “champion” a city.  Once all of the required Aspirant’s Seals are turned in, players then need to present each of five city faction representatives with 25 Valiant’s Seals in order to unlock dailies rewarding Champion tokens which can then be turned in to each city faction’s Argent Tournament quartermaster for mounts, pets, and other vanity items.  Each pet costs 40 tokens, and each city offers two mounts: one costing 5 tokens and 350 gold, and one costing 100 tokens.  This doesn’t even take into account the Argent Hippogryph, available for 150 tokens, or the Argent Pony, which costs another 150 tokens and completes an achievement as well as giving you access to repair vendors while your Argent Squire/Gruntling is out (thankfully, you get this non-combat pet as a reward rather than having to pay for it, too).  The good news is that during this veritable blitzkrieg of dailies, you’ll likely hit exalted with your main Argent Tournament faction and unlock more dailies that reward Champion tokens, taking your maximum obtainable tokens from 5 per day to 14 per day, but let’s say you don’t.  Let’s look at the math and see what’s required to get every single pet, mount, or achievement item with this assumption in mind:

25 Aspirant’s Seals = 5 days
25 Valiant’s Seals x 5 city factions = 25 days
40 Champion tokens x 5 city factions = 25 days
5 Champion tokens, 350g x 5 city factions = 5 days, 1750g
100 Champion tokens x 5 city factions = 100 days
150 Champion tokens = 30 days
150 Champion tokens = 30 days
Subtract 20 days during which you will be able to earn both Valiant Seals and Champion tokens

TOTAL: 200 days

Yeah… about that.  The daily quests reward a few gold and some rep, but at level 90, other than obtaining the vanity items, there’s no real benefit to them.  Two hundred days for a “vintage” faction seems a little ridiculous.  If you get to the point of earning 14 Champion tokens per day then it will take significantly less time, but due to variables such as reputation gain buffs from level 25 guilds, previous faction-related quests completed, etc. it’s hard to give a concrete total since different players will reach this at different times.  How about lowering the token cost for players who have Exalted reputation with the various cities, or giving a regular currency cost option, i.e. either farm the tokens or pay the gold?

Another issue is the mechanics behind the jousting vehicle quests offered at the tournament.  Each of the special jousting mounts handle sluggishly, with wide turns required to change direction.  The controls feel clunky enough with a mouse; I can hardly imagine how awful it must be for keyboard-turners.  The delay between activating a vehicle ability and its actual triggering during each joust event can be as long as one or two seconds even with no game or input latency issues, which is a veritable eternity in the gaming world and often means the difference between success or failure.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to activate Shield Breaker while the enemy NPC was in front of me, only to have it tell me I was not, in fact, facing it, or to have it fire off once I had run off to the side or ahead of my competitor.  I’m not sure if this was done intentionally, in order to give it a more “realistic” feel, but I can’t really think of any other vehicle quests with such clumsy controls.  It’s less like riding a horse, and more like being dragged helplessly behind it.

More streamlining and updating of old instances would be fantastic, as well.  The first one to spring to mind is Blackrock Depths.  The Scarlet Monastery of old was split into four different instances, yet combined, I’m pretty sure they would still be smaller and more easily navigable than BRD.  Eight years later, I still have trouble finding my way through that instance, and I’ve never been on a run of it that’s lasted less than 45 minutes to an hour.  Getting to the instance itself can also be a hassle, since it requires running through a large quarry where not even ground mounts are allowed.  Mauradon is another confusing and overly massive dungeon, though it at least allows players to choose either the orange or purple entrance, or take a portal hidden in a twisty-turny cavern outside of the dungeon to a spot near the end.  It was a good start at trying to make it a little less daunting of a run, but improvements could still be made, especially seeing how the bar has been set with the other instance revamps.  Somewhat related, I’d also be excited to see non-classic raid bosses updated to drop pets and max-level five-man options available for old raid instances.  The developers went through all the trouble to make the content, after all, so why not ensure that as many players as possible get to see it?

I lied earlier, by the way, when I said there was only one thing on the classic continents to change.  One more thing that Azeroth could benefit from is a Cataclysm-style revamp of Silithus.  Silithus has already been redone once, shortly after the pre-Outlands introduction of the two raids making up Ahn’Qiraj, but obviously, that was several years ago, and it hasn’t been touched since.  The quests are still extremely oldschool and require farming the Encrypted Twilight Texts that drove so many of us to madness back in the day.  I was a bit disappointed to go back to it after Cataclysm and find no changes; it was almost like the developers forgot about it, a missed opportunity considering the Twilight forces already found throughout the zone that should have been a natural tie-in to the expansion.  Silithus is one of only two options for questing between the 55-60 range, the other being Blasted Lands, which while a lot of fun since its revision still goes stale after leveling a couple of characters through it.  Either way, the last few levels before Outlands are currently unpleasant, since you risk burning yourself out by playing the same content over and over or suffering through a boring grind.

Some exciting news for professions, however — patch 5.2 will be rolling out a simplified version of blacksmithing that allows players to level from 1 to 500 using Ghost Iron Ore and special crafting projects.  It remains to be seen if this will affect other professions (lord knows Jewelcrafting needs it), but in the meantime, here’s to hoping that it’s a sign of the developers making their entrance into the catch-up game to keep World of Warcraft interesting and around for a very long time.