Friday, April 17, 2009

It’s like pasta with chocolate sauce

I like spaghetti. I like chocolate sauce too. But it wouldn’t come to my mind to serve it together. Some good things are best to enjoy separately, not together.

In WoW for some reason, the designers have decided to disregard of this. They mix high fantasy concepts such as knights, swords and dragons, with crashed space ships and gnomish high tech engineering. Anything goes and my thoughts go to odd dishes as Jambalaya or Paella, where you mix seafood and meat, ignoring that they’re normally served separately.

When I was new to the game I reacted against it intuitively. I remember clearly that I was a bit shocked when I first noticed a hunter using a loaded gun. A gun? I would have expected a crossbow, but hardly a modern shooting weapon in this supposedly magical world.

A wild mixture
Over the years Azeroth has developed in a manner that it doesn’t keep together in any way at all. It does if you just stay within Northrend. But if you travel from a vanilla zone to a TBC zone, ending up in Stormpeak, you can hardly understand that it’s the same game, especially when you look at the NPCs.

However, as I’ve grown into the game, I’ve become used to it. I’ve even come to the point that I appreciate the insane mixture of fantasy and science fiction. Anything goes. There’s no logic, but you can’t complain about lack of variation. There’s a zone and an atmosphere that will match every thinkable mood.

I consider myself pretty openminded and flexible when it comes to the game design. I don’t expect everything to be coherent; I accept that the game has evolved over time and that the built in differences makes it feel rich and interesting.

Following this let-it-be-philosophy, I’ve accepted inventions such as siege weapons and motorbikes. I’m fine riding my Alterac valley ram, side by side with a bandwagon; I can ignore that it doesn’t make sense. But there is one thing I can’t get used to, something that makes me shiver every time I see it, because looking at gives me the same feeling as when you scratch your nails at an old fashioned blackboard (I reckon some of you are old enough to remember that sound.)

The surfing disaster
The one thing I can’t stand is the surfing. I’m thinking about the pose that tailors have when they’re riding their flying carpets. For some strange reason they don’t sit down as any decent mage riding a magic carpet would do. They use it as a flying skateboard. If you have a gnome the animation looks even worse – our short legs seem to have grown together with the mat and if you have a dagger or a sword in your hand, it’s too long and will cut a hole in it, sticking out on the other side.

I don’t know why I find the surfing so appalling, but it may have something to do with my associations to the LotR movie where they for no reason at all suddenly had Legolas surfing on a shield. It was such a shame and ruined something that in other aspects was pretty good. Surfing for me is a part of modern everyday life. I don’t want it in game any more than I want them to open a fast food restaurant.

Don’t think I’m a surfing hater. On the contrary. A couple of years ago I visited San Diego and when I saw the surfers dancing on the top of the waves I fell in love with it and swore that I’d become one of them if I’d ever be offered a second life. Surfing is fine. It tastes delicious on it’s own. But it has no place in WoW!

The flying carpet remains unused in the packing of Larísa. The only use I had from it was obtaining one not-too-expensive skill-up point.

You don’t see many of the carpets flying around these days, do you? Dragons make much more sense than surf boards in Azeroth. The gamers know that. It’s just the designers that haven’t realized it yet.

Spaghetti and chocolate sauce don’t mix well.
And a final note...
Some of you may wonder if I haven't noticed the 3.1 patch. Why don't I blog about it? Does PPI exist in a patchfree bubble of its own? Well, to be honest I can't see the point of copy-pasting patchnotes into a blog post. Or to tell the world that your server is lagging too. But I will come to my experiences from it, at some point. It just needs to be digested first.


Klepsacovic said...

I once had the desire to make a night elf hunter, an engineer, who would use nothing except the guns that she makes. She'd carry bags full of bombs. She would be chocolate spaghetti with spinach. Sadly she never got anywhere because I am bad at alts and even worse if they're not on my main server.

As we speak my elf with demonic green eyes who used to keep her god in the basement is running through a mechanical city, searching for the schematic to make a small robot. I carry the mace used by Prince Arthas in the same set of bags as a sombrero. Inside the sombrero is a ghost wolf. I got it from an out-of-place duelist in the past, sent there by dragons.

I once didn't have tomatoes so I mixed mozzarella and salsa to make a pasta sauce. It was good, I made it again.

Inachinashop said...

Larisa, you have encapsulated what I truly love about WoW blogging: you softly and straighforwardly break down the imaginary wall between "real life" and "in game" life by telling a fine, personal tale about a something that 's been bothering you for awhile in the game. You also don't cave to the peer pressure of insta-post-patch-posting.

Kudos, my lady!

Iapetes said...

Warcraft's world was like this ever since, I believe, Warcraft 2. Particularly the guns and gnomish flying machines and all that. I heard that the guys at blizzard who came up with it all were big steampunk fans, but I don't know how true that is.

Anyway, I always reconciled it in my own mind by saying that the gnomes and goblins use magic to help create and power their advanced technology, that they're just kind of ahead of the curve, and that the magical power of artifacts like our weapons keep things like swords relevant to combat in Azeroth.

Iapetes said...

Naturally Kleps disagrees with me, because that is what he does.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

@larisa: Look up Warcraft 2, which is quite a few years BEFORE the start of World of Warcraft and boggle and the Gnomish Submarines. WoW is very much in the right when it comes to it's technology level.

As for the flying carpet... I'm much like you in that I suspected they'd kneel or sit. The "surfing" though, is fine, if ONLY they'd make it look decent.

@ lapetes: Well according to Northrend, Gnomes used to BE machines until they were "cursed" with flesh. If that's true, then they're affinity for technology makes sense. Goblin engineering often came from stealing things from Gnomes.

@Inachinashop: I think you have stated perfectly the reason we come back to Larisa day after day. :D

Jederus said...

Well said Larisa. We also don't see much point in cutting and pasting patch notes over at We do like analysis and opinion, but cutting and pasting? And, more to your point, I quit my first hunter because I was looking for fantasy or steam punk, but not both. I can't imagine a 'ranger' with a shotgun, seems like an oxymoron to me.

Anonymous said...

I hate the surfing on carpets too. People on flying carpets should be sitting cross-legged. It makes me so sad that they don't.

Carra said...

My server is lagging too!

As a matter of fact, I had the same problem two days ago when I was in Ulduar. I thought "WTF, I'm riding a chopper instead of a horse". It just didn't feel right.

To me, the surfing analogy brings the question "Is surfing really 'new age'"? Apperantly it's quite old:
The Ancient Hawaiian people did not consider surfing a mere recreational activity, hobby, extreme sport, or career as it is viewed today. Rather, the Hawaiian people integrated surfing into their culture and made surfing more of an art than anything else. They referred to this art as heʻe nalu which translates into English as “wave sliding.”

*vlad* said...

The flying carpet is lame; it's way too big, and as you say, the surfing pose is naff. Sometimes you see players legs sticking through the bottom of it as well.

At one time you could mount up while standing on it. Not sure if they have fixed that.

As for Science Fiction, I hate the high-tech weapons/swords from Outland; clumsy hammered together weapons that look like they gave from the 14th Century I don't mind.

Larísa said...

@Klepsacovic: haha, you're right about that. Engineering doesn't feel very night elfish, does it?

Mozzarella and salsa really does make sense though. Can't compare it to chocolate! (even though I KNOW that there are some gourmet chefs mixing chocolate into normal sauce you have with steak...)

@Inachinashop: thank you! Nice that you gave a notice about your existense! You seem like a charming blogger with a nice attitude, I'll check up on you again.

@Iapetes: oh the gnomes save the world again! Azeroth would fall apart if it wasn't for us!

@Pangoria Fallstar: I'm painfully aware of my lack of knowledge in Warcraft history... I just write about my impressions as a newcomer. But I have accepted the steampunk mix thing at least.

@Jederus: well if you're about to deliver news you have to be quick and still add something of your own. But you seem to manage to do that from a quick look. I'm not much into echonomics except for my dear little goblin friend, so I haven't read you much before to be honest. But it seems about time, it looks fine. Not just cut and paste.

@Spinksville: yeah, people were so excited when they announced the new mount... and now... you don't see them often. There's a reasonf or it.

@Carra: haha, I guess you have a point there... :) But it's the associations they give in my head... I can't help it but it puts me off.

Were in Ulduar last night btw, lag wasn't too bad at all... :)

@Vlad: I'm not too picky about the weapons even though I DO have some issues with the size of them, being a gnome. My arm gets so tired holding them up! Hey, I'm fighting with magic, not melee. They could as well keep them small.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am the only one that never felt any need to reconcile WoW. For me the very nature of fantasy is the suspension of belief (at least to some degree). WoW has always just been WoW. I don't second guess these design decisions.

What bugs me most about the game is not the mixing of the elements; I'm a mongrelist anyway. What bothers me the most is the static nature of the game, how cramped and tight it feels. How the monsters live only 100 yards away from the army (the length of a football pitch) and the army never sees them. How the one man you are looking for on the quest lives his entire life in a five yard radius. I thought the old world was bad about that but Wrath is even worse. It's here that I find the suspension of disbelief the hardest.

Anonymous said...

If I wanted to be snarky, I could say something like "Welcome to Azeroth, where mystical dragons fly alongside noisy gnomish helicopters driven by heroes who shoot lazers and missles from their armor." (I'm an engineer btw, if you couldn't tell :D)

It doesn't make sense, but it's good entertainment.

Kromus said...

Beautifully written post, and i totally agree. I love the story of WoW but some concepts make me want to curse and blind, like the adventure co. in Scholzar basin.

why! make them 77! and im fed up of looking like a viking- and i want more demon bosses in Northrend, because beleive or not, Demons did come to northrend, surely some demonic armour lays about for us warlocks?-

but anyway, i use my magic carpet, but i have the trouble of wanting to use all my mounts at once- so i tend to use it once a day, i kinda alternate- in fact. I might make a macro so it randomly choose one.

Hmm. Good idea.

My dad thinks im strange cos i eat salmon with curry on top- but i think its normal :)

Anonymous said...

I love surfing on my carpets, but that maybe because my tailors are forsaken - there's just something so very wicked about forsaken female on a flying carpet - like she's casting evil spells, flying down upon you to wreck havoc.

but I can see where you are coming from :) even though I personally like pasta with chocolate sauce. I'm not kidding - I tried it once when we were out of white bread and the closest shop that was still open was just too far away and I was craving something sweet. Rye bread with chocolate makes me cringe (I guess the way pasta and chocolate make you cringe :P ), so I made some pasta and it was actually pretty good O_O

Poledra said...

I would eat Past and Chocolate sauce, but then I am Scottish and would eat about anything.
I like my carpet, and I dont mind the surf pose but I do wish it was smaller. I often use my eagle because it looks like its going faster.

Rubymelon said...

I agree that the animation for the carpets should be something sitting down rather than surfing. Magic carpets remind me of Aladin or Searching for Dragons. I wish Blizzard spent more time fixing these sort of graphics rather than wintergrasp icons and such..

Fish said...

I agree with you completely, I believe the chopper was the beginning of the end for wow. Only engineers could use the engineer only flyers so they were super rare, but how many people will be riding around on motorcycles? How do motorcyles fit in with knights on horseback and dragons?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inachinashop said...

@Pangoria thanks!

@Larisa I'll be looking forward to regular checkups!

Larisa said...

@Daniel: I wonder if we won’t see more of those things you wish for in the next generation of MMOs, the “secret project” Blizzard’s working on now. A bigger and more dynamic world. I guess many players would like to see that.

@Anonymous: yeah, you shouldn’t think too long about things, really. Nothing makes sense, but a few things stick out more and annoy me for some reason. It’s hard to pinpoint why, but the pose on the flying carpet is one of those things.

@Kromus: Oh, I can vividly imagine that a warlock doesn’t feel too comfy dressed in Viking clothes. Just hope for the next expansion then. Right now the mobs and the gear is quite much down-to-Earth. And salmon and curry, can’t see anything wrong about that!

@Leah: Pasta with chocolate sauce, you’re kidding me… 

@Polera: hm… I guess you it haggis too… yeah, I believe you. Actually this days when EVERYBODY is using a dragon of some kind, using an eagle isn’t too bad if you want to stick out a bit from the crowd.
@Rubymelon: I agree. I guess it takes much more job though than the pointless icon polishing.

@Fish: I hated the very idea of a chopper. Now they’re not that common, and I’ve sort of accepted their existence. But there are a few design concepts that I really can’t take to my heart. And surfing is one of those.

Carra said...

@ Larissa "Not too bad lag". Server was down for at least an hour in prime time ;)

Anonymous said...

The'genre mix' is not really new though or something blizzard came up with first. the whole idea of 'gnomish engineering' and technology was already established in the fantasy genre with dungeons&dragons, read/see novels such as the Dragonlance series or game modules there about the gnome race.
there is also various other fantasy games /RPGs that took up stuff such as steam engine technology etc. and integrated them into fantasy or medieval setups (most famous probably the FF series by Squaresoft since the 80ies).
many sword&sorcery tales allow technology to a certain extent, albeit often mixed with some still magical or mysterious qualities.

thought i'd add this as a sidenote. :)

Greetings to you Larisa, Syl