The Queue: Life is pain and anyone who says differently is selling something
The Princess Bride is full of life lessons, but before I get off track, let’s Queue.
Late and possibly controversial Q4tQ: anyone else have trouble playing any Blizzard games today? After reading about the layoffs and seeing so, so many tweets from people who suddenly got fired, I just didn’t feel like getting back to Diablo IV. I know it’s because the whole situation is horrible and I have a lot of sympathy for those people, but I didn’t think it’d hit me like that. >_<
I was in a rather off-put mood all day after hearing about the layoffs — and it really was all day as the news broke around 7am on the west coast where Blizzard is located. What a way to wake up.
The number of layoffs in the industry this month is… I’ll call it worrying. What’s in the future if we’re only in January and 4,000 workers have already been laid off in the gaming industry in 2024? How many games are we never going to see because of slashed development teams? How many promised features will never get off the drawing board? How does the industry produce anything at all when it place capricious games with developers, culling them by the thousands at a whim while the companies themselves make record profits? Why does gaming have to entail quite so much suffering on the part of the people who make games?
Well. It’s the nature of American corporate life, and American capitalism. Cutbacks help the bottom line, help earnings calls — Microsoft has an earnings call on Tuesday — paint a rosier picture for investors. Which is just depressing, that the livelihood of workers and the quality of the games they make are all gauged by how they impact the corporate bottom line.
I didn’t play many games today, but that was more out of general exhaustion (in part caused by the latest news) than any specific disappointment in Microsoft. I have never seen Microsoft as a savior; they are a large company like any other, and equally likely to make corporate decisions tailored toward maximizing profits.
Part of me is still a little stunned about the layoffs, and I know Anna already posted a great article about it, but did you have anything to add? I just finished watching this video, and Zion brings up the point again about how when the WiiU bombed and Nintendo wasn’t doing well, Iwata took a massive pay cut to prevent layoffs at the company. Why don’t we see any other higher ups like Phil Spencer willing to dock their own salary during “troubled times”?
Microsoft is worth $3 trillion dollars. Trillion. It isn’t a company struggling through hard times that had to make difficult decisions to cut back; it’s a company that makes billions of dollars in profits every year but wants to make more.
Blizzard developers, and games, were simply caught in the middle.
Even with the new content 10.2.5 added, I’ve already wrapped my weekly content routine on all my alts by Thursday night. Does it feel like the expansion is in its twilight phase? Are you nearing the end of your expansion goals, or are you still working your way down the list?
Honestly I feel like WoW has too much to do and too little that I really want to do. The aggressive content rollout schedule has meant WoW has had more content than ever over the past year, that I am way behind the curve. I have not done everything in 10.2.5 because I haven’t had the time yet. And I haven’t done everything from 10.2. And I haven’t done everything from 10.1.7. I have gradually developed a larger and larger backlog of WoW content, when every WoW patch adds a large story quest and at least one major event (which feel a little less interesting each event), and it’s been too much for me to keep up with.
So I don’t feel like it’s winding down. There’s a lot I personally haven’t done, and Blizzard plans an equally aggressive schedule this year — which Holly Longdale has already said won’t be impacted by this week’s layoffs — so it looks like I’m only going to get even more behind. And we’ll likely have patch 10.2.6 (there’s already an encrypted build on the PTR) soon, which is even more content to fall behind on. :|
Why do you consider Dazar’alor the best raid Blizzard ever made?
Battle for Dazar’alor is a narrative masterpiece that tells the story of a raid on the city of Dazar’alor — a story that’s different for Alliance and Horde, and recounted as a memory from a perhaps-not-entirely reliable narrator. (Flynn Fairwind, in the case of Alliance.) The raid features alternating perspectives and slightly different raid bosses for each faction, all to serve the story. In some cases, it’s beautifully subtle, with differences in perspective you wouldn’t even think about unless you’ve played both sides.
The first three bosses are the same for both factions, but slightly reskinned. The first fight is the Champions of the Light: if you’re Alliance, this is the first line of defense of the city, Zandalari Paladins. If you’re Horde, this is a rear vanguard of the Alliance, protecting the back ranks. Jadefire Masters are a duo of Monks, again, an early line of defense for the city if you’re Alliance, or stragglers in the Alliance forces if you’re Horde.
The most interesting of the first three is Grong. If you’re Horde, he’s the second boss in the raid, a massive ape — who has a rather tragic story if you’ve played through the Alliance side and see he’s sacrificed his intelligence to be transformed into a massive beast capable of leading the attack. The Alliance put him into action to break through the Horde ranks, and you (of course) stop him, because he’s a raid boss and that’s the whole point of the thing, to kill raid bosses. If you’re Alliance, Grong is the third boss, because after Grong was defeated, Bwonsamdi raised him as undead and dropped him in front of the Alliance assault.
Essentially, this paints the picture of the Alliance and Horde fighting through the city at the same time, with the Horde hot in pursuit behind the Alliance.
The next six bosses are, narratively, split into an Alliance story and a Horde story. If you play Horde, you’ll be visually transformed into an Alliance character to play the three Alliance bosses (Opulence, Conclave, and Rastakhan), and if you play Alliance you’ll be visually transformed into a Horde character to play the three Horde bosses (Mekkatorque, Stormwall Blockade, and Jaina). In each case, a narrator explains the action as you go, and the fights are presented as a memory of something that happened in the past.
The Alliance fights come first, as you play the Alliance cutting through the city’s defenses to get to Rastakhan. Then you switch to the Horde perspective, where you come upon Rastakhan dead and then chase after the Alliance on Talanji’s orders.
It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece of storytelling, with some of the best cinematics WoW has ever made. The cinematic of Talanji rushing to her father’s aid only to find him near death is heart-wrenching, and when she commands you to go after her father’s killers, you feel her grief.
The only problem is that this beautiful piece of storytelling was wasted on one of the dumbest narratives WoW has ever created. Battle for Azeroth as a whole made very little sense, putting the Alliance and Horde at each other’s throats in order to put the “war” back in “Warcraft.” The Alliance reasoning for the invasion of Dazar’alor was, seemingly, to drive a rift between the Zandalari and the Horde, convincing them that working with the Horde was a bad idea. By… invading their city, slaughtering its defenders, and murdering its king. It was a bizarre plan, and in an epilogue quest afterwards, Anduin wonders if maybe this actually made the Zandalari dislike the Alliance rather than disliking the Horde. Huh, I think you’re on to something there, Anduin, because Talanji wants blood.
Which isn’t to say the Horde are the good guys in the expansion. Nathanos spends the whole expansion being, well, Nathanos, which is to say he is very slightly less of a jerk to members of the Horde than he is to members of the Alliance. If we had a Nathanos boss fight in BFA, I would have been the first person in line to take that guy out, because everything he does is loathsome and cruel.
But the Zandalari? I only have sympathy for the Zandalari. The expansion started with their princess being captured and imprisoned by the Alliance. Then the Alliance kills her father while acting extremely self-righteous about it, with the last bit of Battle for Dazar’alor mostly devoted to them telling you to back down so they can leave peacefully, why are you so mean and aggressive and attacking them when they are just trying to walk out of the city after killing the king. It’s a weird vibe.
But as a raid, Battle for Dazar’alor was an incredible piece of storytelling, unlike anything Blizzard has done before or since. It had some extremely innovative raid encounters, and I very much enjoyed playing through it. It’s worth running — you can solo queue for LFR from your BFA faction capitol — just to see the story unfold with the cinematics and narration. However, soloing it isn’t possible yet (that I’m aware of), because several fights require splitting the group and Conclave has a polymorph that will shut you down. Some of these can challenges can be overcome with enough DPS, but some are going to be brick walls without a couple of people. But it’s still worth it.
Hey, you want to run Dazar’alor, just DM me. It’s a great raid and I still need to get that crown from Opulence.
And that’s all for now my friends. I’ll see you back here next week with (hopefully) a new batch of questions to talk about!
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