Tag Archives: pandas

So… It’s Kung Fu Panda After All?

Horde and Alliance fight each other. But worry not, they will band together against the common evil… the Pandas which will destroy them all. But hold on, Pandas are cute, so we are evil? I’m confused. Blizzaaaaaaard! Don’t do that to me! You know, your game should be accessible, not make me think and fail at it!

Anyway. Let me compose myself.

Unfortunate Focus

Going by the news, one of the topics of the next expansion supposedly is broader focus. Diversification. Alternate ways of advancement. I would’ve expected to see this focus on less focus in the trailer. Instead in the trailer for Mists of Pandaria, you see mists, and you see a panda. (I didn’t see a “ria”, but that might be because I don’t know what that is.) That’s about as much focus as you can put on one thing. It’s basically the title of the expansion in video form. The strong focus on one thing, the Big Bad at the end, was in line with the previous expansions, but that also means that by extrapolation, Mr. Panda suddenly gets cast into this weird role as big-bad-but-wait-not-really.

Unfortunate Reference

When I say, “it’s Kung Fu Panda after all”, that is not only because kung fu and pandas is all we really see in the trailer, except for the stock Horde and Alliance poster children. As an aside, why is none of them female? Maybe I shouldn’t ask, because all we’d get is a scantily clad woman with clothes ripped off in strategic places from her unfortunate boating accident. (Also, I guess she wouldn’t fit in, because women obviously can’t wear real weapons, so she would have to be a mage,  like all important human women in MMOs always are, and how would a Kung Fu Panda be able to beat a mage? ) Note: WoW needs more female orcs! Rawr! In your face!

No, the reason I saw Kung Fu Panda in that trailer was a very specific scene. Remember the scene where unnamed Panda #1 returns the decorative headpiece to its original place… then realizes it’s slightly askew and adjusts it with his staff? Here.

The movement, the sound effects, the timing, the comical effect… I don’t know whether I’m imagining it, but this felt so evocative of Kung Fu Panda. Now, don’t get me wrong, Kung Fu Panda is an enjoyable movie. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the “even more inter-faction war” vibe that I heard Blizzard was trying to push. Instead of downplaying the Kung Fu Panda angle with “but there’s so many more cool things waiting!”, they embrace it.

Unfortunate Use of Rhetorical Device

The first statement by Mr. Panda was that the question “why do we fight?” is a stupid one. He then proceeds to smack the previously brawling human and orc until they band up, then smacks them a bit more, then stops. Then we realize it seems the question actually might be “why do we fight?” after all, because that is what we’re given the answer to. Huh? Is it OK to be confused by that? Maybe Mr. Panda had a bit too much to drink. The answer he gives is “to protect home and family and blabla something harmony”. Well, that’s nice, I guess. I assume that is also the answer to the “real question”, as Mr. Panda puts it,  that he then rhetorically asks: “what is worth fighting for?” That must be the reason why six weeks from now, all those Pandas will randomly choose either Horde or Alliance as faction, so they can proceed to smash each other’s heads in. Wait, what? That doesn’t make any sense in light of that trailer! The sad thing is, this trailer projects a relationship between the factions that I would have enjoyed a lot more than what we will get. The pandas stay together, the Horde and Alliance band up, and all need to go after the Big Bads.

Unfortunate Target Group

Well, at least for me, in a sense. Because I’m not part of it. (Whether that’s unfortunate or not might be up for debate.) I knew that beforehand. I actually watched the trailer with very low hopes. That, funny enough, often works for me like a reverse prejudice: because I go in with low hopes, there’s a decent chance I might be pleasantly surprised because I’m at least not totally disappointed. Sadly, it didn’t work this time.

Oh well. There’s other games to play. I might check out MoP once it’s in the virtual bargain bin, just for the hell of it.

Of Gnomes and Pandas

There’s been a lot of discussion about the silliness of WoW’s next expansion, or, more specifically, pandas. Spearheading the doomsayers, in a somewhat unlikely casting, Nils, who has been blogging almost nonstop about why he dislikes Mists of Pandaria. Some people support him, others oppose. At the center of the panda discussion seem to be two arguments “how can pandas not be silly?” vs. “How can they be sillier than gnomes?”

I agree, they aren’t. But I want to give a different point of view why I’m not a fan of pandas. That is a totally personal opinion, but maybe some people can relate.

Pandas are silly. Yes, gnomes are silly. Yes, space goats are silly, possibly even more. The point is: when I started playing, I didn’t like gnomes (incidentally, nobody did). When TBC was announced, I was furious about draenei. But at the time, I managed to live with it. It’s like a relationship. (Yes, dangerous comparison, yadda yadda, bear with me.) There’s always things you don’t like. Initially, you might not even realize them, ignore them, or glorify them. But even when they annoy you, you don’t immediately break up. You feel that those small annoyances are worth it overall. That works, to a certain point.

But then things start to cool down, and those annoyances start wearing on you. When your relationship ends, maybe not on the best terms ever, you might look back and wonder how you actually managed to live with all those small annoying things. And then you hear about her doing something stupid, and you go “wow, how COULD she?” And you might have a hell of a time slagging off with your friends. Over time, you’ll probably lose interest in that (you better do), but until then, it’s a valid strategy of coping with a breakup.

My MMO relationship with WoW is over, at least as an exclusive one. I have a lot of fun fooling around with other games at the moment. Maybe WoW will join their ranks again eventually. But most of the time, there’s a good reason not to “try again”. That’s for schmaltzy romance films.

Of course, Blizzard is not a girl. Blizzard is a company that wants money. They want me to come back, and many others like me, so you’d think they work for it. From the reactions I’ve read, they at least haven’t managed to amaze a lot of people who have been on the fence before. So that doesn’t look like a success.

The only reason why they wouldn’t want money from people like me, is if they assume they’ll get more money from other people not like me, and it’s a better deal overall. What Blizzard’s real business strategy is, we’ll probably never know. Whether it will be a success, time will tell.

[Blizzcon] WoW: The So-So

After the good stuff, now the things I’m not sure or worried about. The outright disappointing things, I’ll talk about in another post.

Pandas as a race: We’re getting as the main selling point a race that started as an April fools. That is somewhat silly, literally. I never understood what the thing with these drinking pandas was. I concede that some players got really worked up about those pandas, so I guess it might work for them. I’m a bit worried that the whole panda focus we’ve seen yesterday makes for a one-trick-expansion though. That would be the last I want.

edit: If Blizzard is aiming for a more light-hearted expansion, I can get behind that. A lot of the great conflicts that we fought out in the past, against the Lich King, against Deathwing, but most of all, against each other, made the world a less likable place. If all I see is dreariness, what is there to fight for (instead of against)? If they succeed in making the world dear to me again, then that’s a plus.

Pandas as a race for both factions: Obviously somebody at Blizzard thought that pandas are so supremely awesome that nothing would be able to stand their ground against them, and whoever would end up with the not-panda would be annoyed. Huh. Like when Horde got the elves, and Alliance got some retcon space goats? And Horde got the goblins, and Alliance some weird werewolves? Even as someone who always played Horde, I feel for the Alliance routinely getting the short end of the stick when it comes to new races. I wouldn’t have complained if Horde would have gotten some ersatz pandas this time.

On the other hand, this will then be the first race that will be available to both factions. That raises interesting questions. One of the reasons why races are bound to factions was suspected to be PvP; at least, that’s what I heard. (It also fits well with my “PvP is the root of all evil” mantra, so it’s easy for me to believe.) The silhouette of a character already gave away their allegiance. This will go out of the window. Maybe that’s the first step to freer choice of faction/race combination? Maybe some EQ2-style betrayal? I’m probably assuming too much though. If anything, it would probably be an extra battle.net shop option for transfers.

Talent revamp: It looks like Blizzard really likes the way they’re doing talents in Diablo III; so much that they’re now porting this to WoW. It’s really a mixed bag (that’s why it ended up in this post, right?): on the one hand, it emphasizes interesting choice, and choice generally is good. (We recently had that discussion on several blogs. See Psychochild, Tobold. Yes, I’m paraphrasing the results. *g*). On the other hand, it feels like it clamps down the players in an even more rigid system than the talent revamp we got last time around. And Blizzard fundamentally redoing the whole talent system twice in such a short time means they’re obviously not happy. Will we get yet another one after this? By going the D3 route, Blizzard put all their talent eggs in one system basket. Let’s hope that basket works. And for two such different games at the same time.

Removal of ranged weapons: That felt very odd. There will be no ranged weapon slot any more. Warriors and Rogues will throw their weapons. Wands will be come main hand. Hunters are the exception, and will instead not have a melee slot any more. Does that mean they’ll have to hit the enemy over the head with their bow when it comes close? No, it seems minimum range will be removed too. Yay for point-blank bow shooting.

This is an example how Blizzard is going for fundamental changes more and more these days instead of minor fixes. Back in the good old days(tm), warriors, rogues, and hunters could equip ranged weapons. Priests, mages, and warlocks could equip wands. Paladins, shamans, and druids could equip… nothing in their ranged slot. That was considered the “hybrid tax”. And it was the reason hybrids ran around with Egan’s Blaster. Then, in patch 1.10, they got relics to equip in that slot. It was a fix to give hybrids something to do with their empty slot. Compare to today, where they merge melee and ranged slots, merge ranged weapons into melee ones, and work around that. Which one is better? I don’t know. I personally could do with a few less sweeping changes these days; we already had enough in cataclysm. On the other hand, I know that I might be prejudiced when it comes to that topic. But it seems we’re going full circle on this one, because relics are scheduled to be removed from the game again.

[Blizzcon] WoW: The Good

I can’t say I followed the Blizzcon information with bated breath. Instead, I skimmed over MMO Champion, and that’s almost it. Let me first say that a lot of information disappoints me. However, I realized that a lot of my posts lately had a negative vibe. So I’ll start with a positive thing I found in the information. Besides, it’s already past 1am here, and it’s a lot faster to write a post about the things I like instead of the things I don’t (sadly).

The saving grace for me so far? The mistweaver. It is a monk specialization, a healer. But not one of those pansy healers in dresses that stand in the back. No! This healer is supposed to be in the middle of things, punching and healing. A melee healer. This sounds all kinds of awesome on paper.

Back when I started playing Vanguard, the disciple was one of the classes I fell in love with. It worked wonderfully in this game. You hit stuff and healed people in your group. It was awesome fun. If Blizzard can pull this off well, this might be a real reason for me to try out this expansion.

Of course, and though I hate it, I have to become a bit negative or at least wary again. How are they actually going to pull that off, especially in raid settings? Melee has had a disadvantage in many situations in the game since… forever, almost. It’s only gotten worse over the years. Melee has to pay attention to at least as many environmental effects as ranged, and they lose their possibility to do damage if they have to move into the wrong direction. A healer that can’t heal because they have to dodge an environmental effect doesn’t sound very appealing. Especially because exactly those elemental effects might necessitate healing. And especially especially since healers already have to juggle health bars. Watching health bars plus watching the ground around you plus intricate melee positioning is more than anybody has had to do so far, and sounds like a little bit too much stress in my book.

Vanguard also has another large advantage. In Vanguard, you can have two targets at all times. An offensive target, which you attack, and a defensive target, which gets beneficial effects. In Vanguard, disciples do their healing and buffing by cycling between group members, while they still can attack whatever is in front of them. I wonder how targeted healing will work with damage dealing in WoW, if you can always only attack or heal.

Of course, Blizzard could change a lot of things around to make the mistweaver work out better. They could reduce their reliance on move-out-of-the-fire effects, which would also make melee more fun again at the same time. In that way, by designing it to cater to a melee healer, they could fix the game back to an (in my opinion) overall better state. They could even extend their focus system to create something similar to the Vanguard offensive/defensive target system.

Blizzard obviously isn’t afraid of change, just look at the “yet another major talent remake” that is planned for the next expansion. But we’ll see whether they can change the game in a way to make this class/spec work.

What do you think? How on earth could Blizzard make a melee healer class work in WoW? Or do you disagree and think such a class would be fine in the current situation, without any changes needed?