Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fact-Check : Blowing Mists' Myths

Okay so we've all read a lot of bullshit and complaining about Mists of Pandaria and I want to get some of that info straight, because normally there's the gut reaction concerns that appear first and then they get the right information and the fires die down.
But I still see some stuff being repeated, especially by the Holiday/returning players on Trade, and not seeing good enough answers by the normal players.
Apparently, I've had this "secret feed of information" that was separate from what we all heard at Blizzcon, or something.

And being a cheerleader for... well... everything I like, I'm gonna be totally pompoming my way to this expansion.

So here's a fact-check - I'll try to keep it simple.

First things first
The continent is Pandaria.
The race of pandas are called the pandaren.
Good: the pandaren.
Bad: the pandarens.
It's the same reason why you don't call the draenei "the draeneis".

I want to mitigate as many mistakes as possible.
I still cringe when people refer to scribes as "inscriptionists".

"Pandas ? What the ?"
Okay so I've seen every kind of back and forth about this.
Lorewise or not and blah blah blah.

FACT: Pandaren have been by far the most requested race by their customer base.
They kept saying that at Blizzcon and have been repeating it ever since.
You may find that hard to believe because there hasn't been any blue post on the forums about it for the past years, but they have the info, they have the numbers, they keep track of everything on their forums and they are the best to evaluate what the customers are demanding.
Even at the risk of being very unpopular to a bunch of fanboys, their major player base has been requesting panda-people.
Yes, you have to deal with that, whatever you might think about the subject of panda-people.
Not only that, but also players have been requesting them since Day 1 of World of Warcraft.
It's been such a demand that Blizzard had slated pandaren to be the Alliance race introduced in Burning Crusade (but it didn't feel right, so they switched with the draenei instead).

We have not met the pandaren.
We know nothing about them, except that they are orient-inspired people, they like beer and some of them are Brewmasters.
We still have to figure out who they are, what they want, their history (apparently, they used to be slaves of the mogu), the conflicts in their race that are bound to crop up.
This is all new, and really no one should be judging the pandaren until we have the whole story playing in a completed version of the game.

From 09:00 to the end of the video is the real info you need to hear and remember.

"Pandas don't fit in my conception of a fantasy world"
Indeed, pandas are not a part of your fantasy tropes.
Purple/blue aliens aren't either, but we have them in-game right now.
In fact, remember how adding the draenei to the game was going to "destroy the game" ?
Yeah, same stuff here.

A crucial part of development of any type of video game and the reception of the games by critics and gamers is immersion and Blizzard cares a lot about immersion.
Sure they throw in some goofy stuff along the way, but it's always ever in a small passing manner to bring some sort of levity to all the dark, heavy, twisted plots that are happening in their games.
You can count on the fact that they will have worked hard on making the pandaren fit in the World of Warcraft, and make them part of the environment.
Blizzard has always been very good at putting their own brand of twist to real life cultures and environments and include them in the games in a way that totally makes them fit in.
You can already see this in the expansion trailer : the vistas and buildings and environments look like different places that we haven't explored yet, but still feel like they are a part of the World of Warcraft.
I totally trust them with this and there's no reason why you shouldn't either.

We totally bought those characters when we encountered them in-game. (Ok I did a double-take when I saw a naked walrus guy for the first time, but it could not be unseen after that...)

...and I didn't hear any sort of cry of outrage when they showed us this artwork of a verming.

"It's a trogg-bunny! OMG that's for Alice in Wonderland, not in my WoW! And look at that weapon! Blizzard is too lazy to give them real weapons! Next thing you know, we'll be fighting with giant sporks, gg Blizz!"

"There is no Big Bad in this expansion"
Blizzard did not announce who the Big Bad was going to be.
Usually, the End Boss is the Expansion Boss, as in he's responsible or tied-in to almost everything that we experience in the new content.
With Mists, they don't want the whole scheme happening again exactly like Burning Crusade (Illidan), Wrath of the Lich King (The Lich King) and Cataclysm (Deathwing).
They want the focus of the storyline of the expansion to be on something else : war.

But all this doesn't mean that there won't be an End Boss to the expansion.
Technically, raids still need End Bosses, and this expansion isn't an exception to the rule.
In fact, we know there's an End Boss.
Ghostcrawler said so.
There are definitely villians in Mists of Pandaria. We just didn't want to put one on the "box cover" so to speak (we don't know what the box looks like yet of course). You have seen some of them, like the mogu. We know who the final boss is. Seriously. It's just too epic to share. Yet.
See ?
You can all stop panicking now.

"We're getting stupid Pokémon in WoW!"
Yes, now as you've noticed, they've been very very careful to not use specific Pokémon terms themselves, but let you connect the dots until it became overwhelmingly obvious.
"But that's what it is! Don't call it a Pet Battle System!"
I'm sure some lawyers would disagree with you, because they know the Pokémon lawyers are waiting for them to slip up.
They can use Pokémon as references, but the moment they directly attach the Pokémon brand to their Pet Battle System, they're done.

"We don't need the Pet Battle System anyways" and "It will go the way of the Path of the Titans and be scrapped"
Listen : you've asked for this.

Yes, you have.

All the comments about being bored in between activities in-game, when you have to wait for a friend or a guildie to switch alts, when you wait for your dungeon or pvp queue...
All the comments about asking for mini-games, like the Bejeweled addon, like many other fan-made addons...
This is Blizzard's answer to the general demand.
And depending on how that goes, there might be other mini-games added to WoW in the future.
(Maybe something to do with our mount collections ?)

It's also their solution to the fact that outside of WoW, there's been fans of Pokémon that have been asking for a Pokémon MMO for a very long time and the owners of the products have refused to even consider making it happen.
This is Blizzard answering other people's prayers and taking the advantage of a golden opportunity that's been left wide open in the world.
And on top of that, if they do it right, people that are not interested in World of Warcraft will join only for the Pet Battles.
And will probably stay for an amazing game they've finally discovered.

So, in short, people in game and out of game have been asking for that and Blizzard's simply delivering the goods.
They already have this impressive collection of companion pets that are just piling up in everyone's Companion tabs - might as well do something with that.
And it doesn't matter what the naysayers are blabbering about it: the people that are for Pet Battles are totally psyched about it, and because of that reaction you can be sure it's going to be fully developed.
And if you don't like it, you just don't get involved with that.
It's 100% optional.

If anything might be axed in all the stuff they've told us at Blizzcon, it's the PvE Scenarios. (Not fully fleshed out, looked more like a concept than something they were working on, most people weren't sold on the idea, Blizzard knows that PvP players have been asking for more maps so they might work on that instead)

"It's going to be a happy fluffy expansion for kids"
I refer you to the video I've embedded earlier.

There is one mistake they've made in the preview trailer: they've forgot to show us the pandaren kicking ass and taking names.
They forgot to bring the "Badass" in that trailer.
Every previous trailer has shown us some threat and a reply back to that threat, something that the player can see and go "I'm going to kick so much ass in that expansion".
That was clearly lacking and they are paying dearly for that with the negative reactions for the trailer.
A bit more of that in the trailer would have helped the perception of pandaren
But then again, most people forgot what Chris Metzen said when he stated that he needed to put the trailer into context.
"To contextualize what you are about to see... Get a picture in your head. The war that is coming between the Alliance and Horde: picture it as a storm on the horizon. The video you're about to see, the land you're about to venture through and experience, is much like the calm before that storm.
This next expansion set is set in a place that has been lost to time for close to 10,000 years. It is a land of balance and harmony and beauty and hope.
That is... until we arrive.
With all of our hate and our violence and our unending factional conflict, [...] the war that is coming for the World of Warcraft will be fought in this gentle place. [...] But guys, if that sounds a little "doom and gloom", sounds a little heavy, [...] guys it's just possible that the curious race we're gonna meet in this mystic land may just teach us a thing or two about who we are and why we fight." (underline emphasis by me)

The trailer didn't show us anything or anyone kicking ass.
But what they've been talking about throughout Blizzcon is that there's heavy stuff, there's going to be conflicts, and you know the usual stuff you find in a game called WARcraft.
There's going to be some fighting.

Here's a few things:

- Factional conflict: There's something to be said about them wanting World PvP coming back. Bringing back the World Bosses (which implies heavy griefing, especially from a community that has perfected the art of trolling), making the Horde and Alliance start on opposing ends of the starter region and having them "meet up in the middle", and the incoming "Theramore incident" are there to force conflict.
Alliance is already up in arms about the destruction of Theramore - and it hasn't even happened yet!
I certainly wouldn't want to be playing Horde during that expansion...
(If you are - we'll be meeting on the battlegrounds...)

- The sha: Oh I love this. "They are the living manifestations of the negative energy unleashed by the war brought to Pandaria by the Alliance and Horde." If this isn't dark enough for you, think of the consequences of having to fight things in Pandaria and having one of those things pop up behind you when you're done.
Think of all the angry characters that we have in the World of Warcraft and all the potential sha they could be releasing in this environment... Undead, orc, human, friggin' worgen, etc...
People that have been theorizing that Garrosh would step down from the Warchief post to let Thrall return, and then Garrosh would be killed because of his sha energy, either being killed by it or transformed by a manifestation of it that we would have to kill. (Either way sounds good to me! Death to the Horde!)

- The Shado-pan clan: What ? You've seen one of them already.
That does not look like a happy fluffy panda. Actually, I'd be ready to run away from it right now.
The Shado-Pan are different from the other pandaren clans being darker and sinister with a ninja-like culture dedicated to protect Pandaria and are in a timeless struggle with the Sha. I can see them bringing some much-needed seriousness to the whole "having to fight negative energies".

Everything else
And then there's a ton of assumptions that are being repeated left and right about the expansion and other misquoted stuff that developers have said during Blizzcon, but I'm not going to go through that.
Then again, here I am arguing the merits of a few ideas we were given about the conception of a video game that none of us have yet played in its final version.
What's definitely interesting about Mists of Pandaria is that we don't know what's going to happen.
There's going to be a ton of new stuff and lore and content and artwork and creatures and that already makes me excited to see what's coming our way.
And if you think that because there's new stuff that's being brought in means that Blizzard is going to forget all the lore that has already been established, and the PvP systems, and just all the stuff that currently exists in the game, then you don't know the company that you're trying to bring down.

For all the bad stuff that players are saying about Blizzard, don't forget that they are at their core a bunch of geeks just like us.
They love this game, they have the same kind of references that are close to their heart, they want to bring in the epic experiences and questing and fights.
And they are really trying to make the best game possible to please all the different crowds that are a part of World of Warcraft and the Blizzard family.
And it's because of who they are and what they are at their core that makes them so talented and keep bringing us such memorable games.

They're not paying us to like their games.
They're not paying us to play their games.
We play their games based on their own merits.
If really the ideas and concepts of Mists of Pandaria are so incredibly bad as the hyperbolic language used in the forums suggest, then people won't be playing it.

As long as it's for a good reason.

Feb. 5th Edit: Zarhym addresses some concerns and totally justifies all that I've written in this post

Bonus research info:

5 reasons you should love Mists of Pandaria

Concerns about Dreamworks and Kung Fu Panda (and consequently, you can apply the same rules to Pokémon VS Pet Battle System)

Current known lore about pandaren

Wowpedia article - Warning! It contains elements from the RPG books, which Blizzard has stated to be non-cannon until they decide to make it cannon, which means "wait until we re-work everything into our new storylines and then you can start lorecrafting".


  1. You know you're shitty at English when you need to be corrected by a Québécois :P

  2. I actually reacted kinda negatively when I first heard about Mists, but honestly I've started to warm up to the idea. Can't wait to make gold off the new pet system :P

  3. My favorite post thus far. Of any blog or article I have seen. Great job Khalior, you hit the nail on the head with this one.

    Did I mention I like this post?