Letter to Mr. C, after long quiet

December 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Luzara | 1 Comment

Dear Mr. C:

I apologize for letting so long an interval go by without correspondence. However, I believe I’ve now arranged things with my various electric odalisques so as to make it easier to resume being in touch. While I prepare some annotations, though, I know just what you’ve been missing lately: pictures of giant skeletal heads, of course.

This particular member of that species is found in the Pit of Saron, the second of three 5-person instances added in the most recent patch. Yogg-Saron is one of the Old Gods, buried in the Titan stronghold of Ulduar; I personally haven’t yet gotten to contribute to his demise, but hope to in the new year. Saronite is the tainted magical ore named after him, an ore that the Lich King just loves to use in Scourge weaponry, armor, furniture, and no doubt many other interesting and unwholesome applications. I don’t think there’s an in-game explanation yet about what this thing is, but I love it.

I am, by the way, experimenting with handling my images a little differently. You should be able to click through and get to the Flickr pages for these, and see the full-size screenshots by clicking the All Sizes button. Please let me know how it works out for you. (Other readers who have the misfortune not to be Mr. C may also do so.)

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I also have reason to believe you’re short on images of four-headed undead winged axe-wielding creatures. Here, therefore, are two images of Lord Marrowgar, the first of four bosses available to those of us venturing into the first open wing of Icecrown Citadel, the Lich King’s own stronghold and the subject of 10- and 25-person raids. More commentary on him coming soon.

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Yours in Christmas undead cheer,

Ms. B

Letter to Mr. C: The silithids

October 18, 2009 at 11:30 am | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Movies | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. C:

I realized this morning that although I keep writing about the silithids and their hives, I haven’t put up a lot of pictures or anything. Consider this some correction.

Regards, Ms. B

Tentacles and bugs

October 8, 2009 at 7:28 am | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn), Letters to Mr. C., Movies | Leave a comment

Mr. C, you’ll like these, I hope. First up is one of the Faceless Ones, minions of the Old Gods that lurk in the darker recesses of the continent of Northrend. This one has the yellow exclamation mark because it gives a quest, with mind manipulation to make the quester (Xenzzarn, in this case) find the key that’ll set it free from the shackles attentive Scourge elites used to bind it. You can see the size of it compared to a troll, who’s somewhat bigger than a human being, and the quality of its motion. In combat, those long tentacles on its right hand shoot out further to inflict sudden blows.

Next up, a blast from the past, late in the “vanilla” WoW era, before the release of the first expansion pack. This is deep in the 40-person raid instance Ahn Qiraj, deep in the zone of Silithus, completely overrun by other-dimensional insectoid worshippers of another of the Old Gods. This particular hallway calls for rounding up all those guys and nuking ’em down once at the far end, before fighting the next of the bosses. It was hellish at level 60, quite a rush at level 80.

Post #14: Letter to Mr. C – Yith, thir, that’s my baby

September 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Movies | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. C:

I’ve taken several tries in the past at conveying how very, very much some elements in WoW remind me of Lovecraft, and sometimes words and screenshots do it and sometimes not. But now that I’m playing around with video, here you go. Isn’t this a great echo of the various vast underground realms in Lovecraft?

Your friend, Ms. B

PS. This is Azjol-Nerub, part of the continent-spanning network of caverns and underground cities home to the nerubians, fairly insectoid beings who go way back in Azeroth’s history.

Post #8: Letter to Mr. C – What’s Up With Cataclysm, concluded

September 1, 2009 at 8:08 am | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | 4 Comments

Dear Mr. C:

Er. Sorry about the extended dance-mix delay on finishing this up.

To recap: Blizzard and its customers share an interest in updating old maps, but doing that will make a significant amount of change necessary in key locales and in boundaries. Furthermore, changing the map this way provides an opportunity to update the structure of quests, adjusting givers and goals in light of lessons learned about what makes the process of questing more fun and less frustrating.

So, what are they doing to tie it all together with? To my great pleasure, they’re pretty much entirely building on existing platforms. Or, to get image-y about it, it’s act III and they’re firing off a bunch of the guns that have been on stage for some time now.

Continue Reading Post #8: Letter to Mr. C – What’s Up With Cataclysm, concluded…

Post #5: Letter to Mr. C. – What’s Up With Cataclysm, continued

August 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. C.:

I’ve had a nap and some cold medication, so let’s see if I can pick up where I left off…

Graphics. Yes. Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, the two original continents of WoW, were designed with a great many graphical tricks to present a rich-looking world that would nonetheless not overwhelm their capacity to design or players’ computers’ capacity to display. Thus there are steeply rising mountain ridges that simply become impassible to tell you “You’ve gone far enough, there’s no more zone past here” and flight paths for griffons, wyverns, zeppelins, and the like that operate along constrained paths. (They have room for variation to keep it interesting, but only so far.)

Later, the developers worked out ways of handling freer movement, and the results are on display in Outland and Northrend: there are no inaccessible spots except the edges of the world, or its equivalentslike the uncrossably large oceans between continents. But doing that to the Old World would mean, it turns out, literally rewriting the map from the baseline data on up. It’s not that every single pixel has to change, but that every pixel might, and that all the old shortcuts would have to be reexamined. Stormwind with flight enabled would have to be laid out freshly, its proportions altered, and the cathedral and many other buildings redesigned, for instance.

So that’s one consideration. What else?

Continue Reading Post #5: Letter to Mr. C. – What’s Up With Cataclysm, continued…

Post #4: Letter to Mr. C. – What’s up with Cataclysm?

August 27, 2009 at 8:41 am | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. C.,

You wrote on your blog, “There’s a new World of Warcraft…expansion, is it? called Cataclysm coming out, and here’s a trailer for itRob Bricken is right about how cheesy it is–wayyyyyy too much po-faced narration for my, or surely anyone’s, taste. I remember when the trailer for Wrath of the Lich King came out–I’ve never played WoW for a second and yet I watched that thing over and over and over again, it was so perfect at expressing its ersatz Tolkienisms. This, on the other hand..” Let’s see what I can make of it.

The first thing to say is that you’re certainly right about the narration. This is not a piece of voice work to compare with “The drums of war sound again…” or Terenas’ memorial to his son Arthas or especially “You are not prepared.” It feels rushed to me, though I’m always leery of putting any weight on guesses about the circumstances of production. It seems like the sort of thing a recording engineer would want to use as the basis for markup notes like “Speed the pacing here” and “Let’s get a more sustained rise in intensity through this passage” and “Back off there, it undercuts the punch line in the next paragraph.”

But then this is very much a work prepared under a specific deadline, that of Blizzcon, Blizzard’s annual convention. They obviously want to have a hefty attention-getting announcement each year, and it’s a little tricky for them at the moment. Starcraft II has turned out to be a big enough project that they split it into three separate packages, each of which will apparently have enough material in it to warrant selling as a separate game with a straight face. Diablo III is work in progress, but apparently there’s not a whole lot of news ready to lay before the public. They have a new MMO in the works, but that’s also still work in progress, and there aren’t even any very interesting leaks about it yet.

So WoW is the project most likely to have news of the right sort, and expansion #3 has been underway for a while—since before expansion #2’s launch, they say, and it certainly makes sense that it’d be so. But there’s a difference between having something that is in a general way newsworthy and having a specific bundle of news ready to go right at a particular deadline.

Continue Reading Post #4: Letter to Mr. C. – What’s up with Cataclysm?…

Post #3: Letters to Mr. C.

August 27, 2009 at 7:13 am | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Preparing for Cataclysm | Leave a comment

I have a friend who shares my enthusiasm for explaining subjects each of us loves to an audience of people unfamiliar with it but who may turn out to enjoy it. He particularly excels at doing this with comics, and had had pieces about comics lore and history published in some pretty high-profile places. In turn, he’s interested in MMOs even though he doesn’t play them, and I have fun interpreting this game for him. I like the exercise of looking with as fresh eyes as I can manage at the basic assumptions and deep levels of foundation in both world and rules, so whenever I want to do that, I’ll write a letter to Mr. C.

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