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The pre-Cataclysm lull has made my beloved WoW start to drag a little of late. I’ve done pretty much done everything there is to do. So I have set myself a challenge to experience every starter zone in WoW, starting with the strange (and slightly smelly) Alliance races that as a Horde-fanatic are completely unfamiliar to me. Having been dismayed by the hypocrisy and flimsy morals displayed by Humans, I was really hoping for something more impressive from my next character: a Night Elf.

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Origins: The Human Story

One of my goals to achieve before Cataclysm hits is to make sure I’ve seen everything the World of Warcraft has to offer, because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Now I’m well on my way there, having always been a natural in-game explorer and lore-hunter. However, the areas I haven’t really seen much of are the low-level zones, especially for those races that I’ve never rolled a character on. So I have set myself a challenge: to roll a character of every single race and thoroughly explore their starting zones. Also, starting zones are an area Blizzard is strongly looking at with regard to the next expansion, so I thought it would be fun to review the experiences I had with each starter zone, and see how they currently compare. I’ll be reviewing each race’s zone in turn, but as a long-term dedicated Horde player I thought it would interesting to start with the complete unknown: the Alliance zones. First up – the Humans!

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Success!

I’m overjoyed to read this announcement from Blizzard, saying they have decided that, actually, it might not be such a great idea after all to use real names on the forums, and they have decided not to go ahead with this plan. Can I get A WHOOP-WHOOP?

This is freaking awesome news, and a massive victory for the online community. It has been massively inspiring to see so many people band together to fight against this, so I want to say massive thank you to all the gamers, tweeters, bloggers, forumites and everyone who helped protect our online privacy. This is your victory and you deserve cookies and cake all round!

As a word of caution, I would like to point out we are not totally out of the woods when it comes to the threat posed by RealID. Blizzard have simply decided against the use of Real ID on the forums, but their other plans, many of which they have not yet disclosed, still remain.  It partially restores some of my lost faith in Blizzard that they actually listened to us on this issue, but the fact that they had the idea in the first place, and that we had to fight so hard to put a roadbump in their plan means that I will never again view them with the same compassion that I once did. It is OUR responsibility now to continue being vigilant against encroachments upon our online privacy. Hopefully this has taught a lot of us some lessons about how much information is out there on the internet and how we can take steps to prevent this being misused.

But for now…. success! Now lets go kill some internet dragons!

Portals to Real-Rage

Blizzard, I want you to know, that I’m not angry, just disappointed. Apart from, y’know, the bit about being really really angry! Seriously Blizzard: What The Fuck? You were always the one company out there that I not only respected and admired, but actually liked. Your work is fantastic, your games are works of art beyond comparison, and throughout it all you’ve kept a sense of being a fun, interesting and friendly bunch of people. And then you screwed us.

I said my piece on this already, but I plan to continue  protesting against it as long as Blizzard and their evil twin Activision keep going ahead with this shamelessly money-grabbing, immoral and borderline illegal plan. For now, here are some of the arguments against RealID that have really caught my eye and I feel are well worth a read.

Like myself, Jaedia has simply lost her faith in Blizzard.

Pokute presents a keen-eyed analysis of what this is all about (money) and how simply ragequitting won’t be enough.

Mental Shaman draws attention to how RealID will silence marginalised voices.

Deuwowlity discusses how Blizzard is turning it’s players into Unpersons, as well as sharing my fears over centralised ID systems.

Valis shows how damaging RealID will be, by taking up a forumites challenge to find him based on his real name. Valis phoned him 20 minutes later.

Snowy shows us how identity is what you choose, and highlights how policy creep makes RealID truly terrifying.

and finally, possibly my favourite of all reactions to RealID so far has been this letter to Blizzard by Shade. Because after all, Warcraft is about fighting internet dragons, not money-grabbing tyrants.

UnReal

So the internet, or at least the WoW portion of it, is exploding over RealID controversy. Many players and bloggers were expressing some concern over the system since it was first announced, but for the most part people were not bothered due to the totally optional nature of the system. This included myself, as whilst I have no desire to use RealID there was nobody making me, so why worry? Then of course yesterday the shit hit the fan when Blizzard announced that in future, using RealID and hence displaying your real full name, will become mandatory for all Blizzard forums. Note that word ‘mandatory’, because it’s a very quick shift from the word ‘optional’ which has henceforth been used to describe the RealID system.

Now I’m not going to get into the details of why people may not want to use the RealID system and what those very legitimate arguments are. You can find them all over the internet, twitter and on various respected WoW blogs such as here, here and here. However I do want to talk about why these changes are extremely worrying, and more importantly, where all this may be going.

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Nostalgia

The above screenshot from Blizzard is my favourite image of Cataclysm so far. It’s beautiful, it’s fun and it evokes everything Goblin, which for me is a big deal as I plan to roll a little green dude as my main. It’s also exciting because it looks like Goblins get some kind of bombing run in their starting zone! Lots of fun and awesomeness to be had. Plus did you see the water effects?

Cataclysm gets my blood pumping because I’m looking forward to all the new experiences that will come with it, those special gaming moments that I know I will remember for years to come. And thinking about that makes me nostalgic, thinking of past characters I’ve rolled, and the many moments of wonder that I experienced with them. So I went scrolling through some old screenshots,¬† which is like searching through a gallery of fun memories. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have any of the truly early years, but I did find a nice selection I took on my shaman Wulfkin, circa levels 51 to 60, which for me was a kind of golden era. So, today I thought I’d share with you a few random personal moments from the days of vanilla goodness – the days when orcs were real orcs, shamans were real shamans, and small furry leper gnomes were REAL small furry leper gnomes!

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Portals to Other Worlds

Things have been a little slow around The Barrens Chat lately, mostly because of a decline in gameage due to expansion fatigue. So in order to keep you, our beloved readers, entertained I thought I would provide some linkages to some of the other WoW blogs out there that keep me amused.

Oddcraft has a great series on the upcoming Horde leadership which has been keeping me entertained. Check out his tour of Stormwind series too!

A couple of weeks old admittedly, but Felfire‘s list of ‘5 signs your succubus might be cheating‘ made me laugh!

Similarly, Looking For More pretty much sums up the problem with stupid DPS in a very funny way.

Lazy Sniper also has a great guest post/rant about party member stupidity (strong language involved).

Enjoy!