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The QueueDec 10, 2019 12:00 pm CT

The Queue: Elf With Braids

I’m all about the elf-with-braids trend from yesterday’s Queue. In fact my Hunter is more than happy to show off… oh, who am I kidding. We all know the star of the show is Rutherford Bear Hayes.

This is The Queue, where you give us Qs and we supply the As.


Q4tQ: since I got new computer parts do I need to update my specs on the Blizzard website for their various Betas including WoW?

Yes! And this is a really good reminder to do so. Blizzard can pull info from your computer, of course. They kept telling me I had to update my graphics drivers when I upgraded my video card, for instance, despite the fact that I already had (oddly, downgrading to a previous version finally fixed the error). But yeah, when they dole out the beta keys they do seem to try to test on a number of hardware and software cross-sections, from the people who are playing on a decade-old Thinkpad to the people who have a system that rivals Kristian Nairn’s new one.

The code is a complex beast, and not all hardwares play the same, especially if you have a frankenmachine like mine. Maybe your particular chipset plus video card makes your computer burst into flames when you enter Dalaran, but the competing video card plays it just fine. The QA team needs to know your hardware to troubleshoot stuff like that, especially if it’s a super quirky, hard-to-replicate bug.


Q4TQ Which of the currently available (ie not Vulpera) Horde races is your favorite for Warlock?

Q4TQ Which of the currently available (ie not Vulpera) Horde races is your favorite for Priest?

Undead for both.

In terms of Warlocks it’s a pretty close call between Undead and Orcs. Orcs are the OGs of demonic corruption on Azeroth, willingly desecrating their souls in pursuit of unending power. It’s a tough balance to strike and they’re constantly on the razor’s edge of succumbing to the Legion. Orc Warlocks are strong-willed in the extreme to keep their thirst for power at bay while also trying to save the planet from that very corruption the fire in their veins is begging them to unleash.

Meanwhile, the Undead found a loophole: what soul? That craftiness is what gives them an edge. Undead Warlocks aren’t tormented any more than the rest of their brethren… indeed, likely less so. Undead have logic divorced from emotion. They aren’t tempted because there’s nothing to tempt, from greed to lust for power to just plain lust. Of course we should fight green fire with green fire. What’s the point of fighting if you’re too cowardly to use your best weapon? Use your heads, and take this Healthstone. It tastes like rot and sears your flesh but it’ll save your life. Shut up.

The flip side of that coin is what makes them the best Priests. I’d say the Undead are the only priests — and only Undead — who feel a deep, dreadful conflict in every spec. The Light burns them as they embrace it, and the Void is antithetical to what we now know is the main controlling force behind the Undead as a whole. I’d imagine most of the Undead who take up the mantle were Priests in their past lives and trying to cling to the last vestige of their mortality, because otherwise why would they choose that life? It’s illogical, even in shadow form, but the shadow gives them a deadly duplicity as well. The Undead are a race who like to hide and do things in secret, and the secret of embracing the Void is a big one. Though they can’t be corrupted by demons, it’s established that they can go mad, and the power of the Void is madness itself.

The other races are devout in their beliefs but it’s much easier to reach out to An’she or their Loa in their time of need, as opposed to sending a Desperate Prayer to something that comforted you in a distant memory but actively shuns you now, and gaining life from that.

Undead are probably my favorite characters to work with in a vacuum.


Q4tQ: what defines a character? Can you separate a character’s “concept” from their “actions”?

Malfurion is a big example. Because of the way he’s written, a lot of people hate him. But do they hate the “concept” of the Malfurion character — a powerful archdruid that has fought against the Burning Legion and ruled over the Night Elves — or do they hate his actions, such as “Hush, Tyrande”?

Tyrande, in fact, is another great example. I know for a fact that her concept appeals to a LOT of people. But the way she has been written in the story over the past years… has left a lot to be desired. And many people who still like her design, her concept, her style, don’t like her actions anymore.

Are the writers to blame? Can you separate those things? Hate the way a character is written, while not hating the character itself?

Besides Malfurion and Tyrande, perhaps the biggest example is Sylvanas. I love the concept behind her, the character Sylvanas, but I despise her actions, and I hope she gets comeuppance for them. Which is why I said in a post below that “I don’t hate her as much as people think”.

Do you separate those things? Do you “fully” hate a character because of their actions, or not?

This can be a tricky knot to untie, for sure. As a whole the characters are now much more in-depth than they were in the past, but part of what makes the writers’ job tough is that they do keep going back to that old, dated-feeling well. The concept of the Warlords, for instance, came from 20 years ago, which was a different time socially than it is now. They had to stuff in a whole bunch of female characters to make the whole thing less of a — forgive me — boys’ trip.

You can’t just ignore those narrative roots but they’re coming from a wellspring the current writers had zero say in, a half-dozen lead writers ago or more, and now they’re left with this issue which would be a non-issue if you just started from scratch. It’s almost like tech debt, in a way. The Hellscreams are basically the 16-slot backpack, but they have a rich history that can’t be ignored, and many fans actively wish would return.

For the record I don’t like Malfurion not just because I dislike his actions and portrayal, but also the idea of the aged noble archdruid is a trope, and stoicism to me is a fairly boring guiding characteristic to read through, especially when his main non-stoic reaction to anything is rage. It’s rare that he’s pulled out of a noble, stoic element and when he is — as in the blind rage shown in the Val’Sharah storyline in Legion — he’s never introspective about his actions, and it doesn’t make a lasting change to his character. He’s just Big Mad for a little while and then goes back to being boring, or literally asleep for the first three expansions. His character arc is basically the Arthur fist meme, and I want to tie his shoelaces together. By contrast, the noble priestess character shown in Tyrande is a trope, but she undergoes some level of permanent character change over time as a result of plot elements. Her overarching devotion to Elune doesn’t change, especially given the symbolism present in the duality of the moon itself, but her guiding motivations and reactions obviously have.

I don’t like that she — and many characters — are kind of portrayed as Chekov’s Guns just waiting to go cRaZy, especially since “lady loses it because reasons” is pretty played as a narrative arc. She has swung a bit from expansion to expansion as the writers — again, it bears repeating that these can be different people — seek to use her as a vehicle for different narrative threads. Sylvanas is a character like this, but her evolution from reluctant shepherd of the Undead to self-preservation at any cost has been gradual, and she’s very well-written and portrayed even though I wish she’d step on a Lego.

It’s also very tough to weave nuance into something like a quest-driven MMORPG, and this is likely why we’ve seen the cinematics team take on a larger and larger role. Contrast Jaina’s Proudmoore crest anchor pendant as a symbol and how we interact with it, with Jaina’s locket held by Arthas. In the case of the locket, we got a quest spelling out the importance of him still having it, with a rather heavy-handed “oh my, do… do you think, (Champion)?” dialogue to push the point home. Most of the times we see the pendant, it’s in cinematics — given to her by her father’s ghost, taken from her by her mother — and the symbolism of what an actual ship’s anchor does and Jaina’s feeling of being unmoored is also in play in every instance we see the pendant. It’s a much more powerful portrayal in the classic sense of a symbol, though it does get a little bit obvious toward the end. It’s somewhat unclear whether the pendant itself brought the fleet home or whether Jaina, finally restored to her place, was able to use it as a spell focus.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk on, uh, whatever this was. Make sure you ask lots of questions for Liz so I don’t get fired.

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