He’s alive!

My friend Das, in his gear from 6 years ago (Wrath!!!), with my druid Anacrusa, with whom he raided when he last played. And yes, we danced with each other several times while hanging out in Dalaran, because an occasion like this deserves dancing and singing!

My friend Das, in his gear from 6 years ago (Wrath!!!), with my druid Anacrusa, with whom he raided when he last played. And yes, we danced with each other several times while hanging out in Dalaran, because an occasion like this deserves dancing and singing!

I still play World of Warcraft. I don’t raid in the traditional sense, nor do I PvP. I don’t even succeed at meeting personal goals, like doing an Ironman or whatever. And I haven’t blogged since shortly after I hit 100 on Mushan in December 2014.

But I still play. I do some leveling, holiday events, hit up LFR/LFD on occasion, and have 7 100s. And I do enough garrison crap to not be paying to play anymore.

Sometimes, I think I will be done soon. I was thinking about not getting Legion until I heard some lore-related stuff* that made me reconsider my lack of desire for new content.

*The more “veteran WoW player” I become, the less I want to know about anything new before it comes out, other than mechanics-related info…

But, every once in a while – and this is very rare – something happens that changes perspectives and makes one glad that he/she has stayed the/(some type of) course… and on Saturday night, I got the strongest dose of that feeling that I have ever experienced.

 * * *

Back in the summer of 2013, I wrote a post called “Someone I loved is lost. Is he gone forever? I may never know.” Disregarding the snow we got yesterday, the post is almost three years old.

In the post, I revealed my anguish regarding my friend and former raid-teammate Das, whom I was worried might have killed himself. I had read a post on Facebook from March 2013 that basically gave me no other option – given that he had disappeared from every online means of reaching him – than to seriously concede that the worst could have happened. Without belaboring the content of that post again, I was shocked, scared, and shattered by the idea that my friend could be dead by his own hand.

Over the past couple of years, on occasion, I have retraced my steps and looked for new information avenues in attempts to find out if my friend was still alive. My limit was money: I was unwilling to spend money online to do “searches” with questionably legitimate companies in order to maybe find out nothing. Not being a hacker, or otherwise IT-wise, I looked as far as I knew how for free, and found nothing conclusive.

I didn’t look perpetually: it would be unhealthy to obsess over it, so I wrote that post, shared it with friends and family, and grieved. And, as I said, I retraced my steps from time to time. After the initial shock, however, I quickly settled into a state of unwilling acceptance, that I might never know what happened, and that probably my worst fear had come true.

* * *

On Saturday night, I got home after a long day at work, and logged in to WoW. Mushan’s garrison missions, done. Logged in to Anacrusa, and GUESS WHO LOGGED IN?? My friend Das.

My reaction?

“WHAT THE FUCK??!!” I said, out loud.

“What?” asked my better half.

“Das just logged in!”

“Oh… really?! Holy shit!”

“Yeah, I’m trying to find out if it’s really him.”

I was not convinced it was him. Immediately, my heart told me that, years after my friend apparently did himself in, his account was being hacked by some grave-robbing asshole. So I steeled myself for rejection and ventured a whisper: “Hi Das! :)”

The result was more than I ever could have hoped for. He answered, and answered again and again, and then at some point he addressed me by my IRL first name, and asked me if I still worked where I work, and so on – it was, as far as I could tell, really him.

After further conversation, I can tell you that it’s really him.

My JOY was – and still is – leaping from every fiber of my being.

I don’t have to reference that original post on Das that I linked above to recall that, when I got the scare I got, I spent time frantically searching for closure on him, and, failing that, I became as close to catatonic as I have ever been.

The feeling when my acceptance of that scenario was unraveled/reversed was incredible.

We conversed via pink text (whispers) for over 90 minutes before I broached Real ID, and now we can see each other whenever we’re online. Back in the day, we were in the same guild and I played my druid mainly, but now I have several new alts and I wanted him to be able to find me – and vice versa – if I was not on Ana.

I spent portions of the rest of the evening on Saturday texting some of my old guildmates and family who shared my concerns, in order to share my joy with them. And I suppose this post is a continuation of that process. There were many of you who responded so kindly to my original post almost three years ago, and so if anyone is still interested in what’s happening with Mushan/Anacrusa**, the answer is “not much, but… remember that post? This is the resolution to that situation.”

I am so happy. I am high on joyfulness right now; I just got the best news I could get this year, and I wanted to share that with those of you who read and responded to or were touched by my original post in 2013.

Thank you, to everyone who ever responded to anything I’ve written, and to all who are reading this today. Your interest and friendship means more than I can ever express.

* * *

**A lot of my old guildies know me as Ana, since I mained my druid until late-2010, when I switched to Mushan and eventually started Mushan, Etc. To this day, I am still called Ana more than Mushan, and I consider it an honor. To know those people, AND to have been fortunate to have such an amazing toon that I built so many close relationships while playing, are things I will cherish forever. 

I’m still here


Hi all…

I’m still here. I haven’t written here in five or six weeks. But I’m still keeping up with everyone’s blogs, and I still have plans for this blog, although if I do end up going a while before that manifests itself in the form of posts, I won’t be surprised.

I can’t do the squeeze-whatever-news-and-speculation-I-can-out-of-every-day thing, which is why I’ve kept quiet. I simply can’t justify budgeting the time and emotional energy into “waiting and hoping” for, and writing regularly about, a launch that is looking increasingly like it could actually go all the way to the end of – or even pass – the December release window.

(To those who are doing so, by the way, kudos and thanks!)

So it’s highly likely that posting will be sporadic for the foreseeable future.

However, a couple of things are happening.

For one thing, I recently returned to the game after a two-month break. I’ve actually raided with some friends a couple of times – although I have no weekly commitment – and I’ve done some other things here and there with my regular toons. But the majority of my time over the past couple of weeks has been spent leveling a new toon on a new server.

He’s a Marksmanship hunter, Skinner/Herbalist, and I’m enjoying leveling him all by himself, with no guild and no other toons from my account on the server (so far). As such, he has to manage bag space and gold as he levels. I’m having fun dealing with these rather mundane issues.

Additionally, I recently got a promotion at my job, so I’m spending a lot more time at (and thinking about) work.

As it’s taking more of my time, any WoW-related activities – and considering the conditions I discussed above (the waiting game) – consist of either playing the game or reading about it. Nothing terribly important is happening in my WoW-world, so there’s little for me to write about. I’m leveling a toon, and that’s basically it. It takes me back to earlier, simpler times.

There is a good chance that I could take another break before Warlords of Draenor manifests itself. I haven’t decided, or given it much thought; the fact remains that we could be six-to-eight months away from a ‘go-live’ date. So we’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hello!

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

A follow-up to yesterday’s post

Yesterday’s post got a ton of views and sparked some good conversation both in the comments and on Twitter. It was an unusual amount of activity for this blog. I kept up during the initial flurry of conversation, but eventually I had to leave for work. During that time, I was away from my blog and social media, and when I got home, there were a couple of questions on Twitter that I didn’t feel that I could answer there.

I do enjoy talking with people on Twitter, but sometimes I don’t feel that using it for multi-tweet answers to questions is good for me, format-wise. I like to be able to see what I’m writing in full, and Twitter’s character limit makes that difficult. As such, the rare follow-up post is in order.

The first tweet that I saw – because it was in reverse chronological order, per the browser version of Twitter – was from WoWWiki.com, which posed the following question:

[tweet 448191254371647488 align=’center’]

It was nice of them to MT me, but I don’t know if anyone answered the question with thoughts of their own; the tweet itself has no direct responses so it’s hard to say.

To answer WoWWiki’s question:

Personally, I wasn’t writing with the intent to call out Blizzard. I did address Blizzard directly toward the end, but what drove me to write the post as a whole was a desire to try to put into words some logical explanation as to why players’ frustrations are legitimate.

If we look at Mists of Pandaria’s doldrums (thanks, Ambermist!) on a more “big picture” development level, we can see that they are unfolding similarly to those of the last couple of expansions: the cycle is about two years, this is normal, etc. However, the rapid roll-out of successive patches in the first year, followed by Nothing (except another PvP season and a free 90 carrot to attempt to interest players) in the second, has players confused. Is it “faster content” or is it not? And so we wonder aloud, and some of us take our cash elsewhere, to different new content.

I think my post got that across. The section at the end where – I suppose – I “call(ed) Blizz out” was written in order to reinforce the logic behind the thoughts and feelings of players like myself. There was nothing more behind it; to otherwise think that my post would be read by someone at Blizzard would be to delude myself, and I have a very pragmatic sense of where I fall in that order. This was not a “blow off steam at Blizz”-post.

Earlier in the day, before I left for work, I had tweeted the following:

“One thing that’s important to remember is that people like me WANT to spend money for some new content! That’s where my post comes from. :)”

The reason I said that is because the vibe that I was getting from most people was in step with my own feelings: that we do, indeed, want to spend money on new content. We are not simply “whining” to be “whiners.” However, I worried that some would mistake my meaning from the post. The truth is, I love the game, and am looking forward to coming back eventually and checking out all that is new.

Back on Twitter, Alsoria responded to my sentiment:

[tweet 448153662192627712 align=’center’]

And my response to that question is this: No. No, I do not want to spend money on content that isn’t up to Blizzard’s usual standard of quality and readiness. I’m well aware of how much it sucks to suffer through bugginess in WoW, and I am not advocating that Blizzard release lesser-quality expansions with higher frequency. Let me pull a quote from yesterday’s post:

“…it is in the company’s best interest to actually put out faster, full-sized expansions.”

“Full-sized expansions” refers to the same breadth and quality of expansion that we are accustomed to: a ready-to-launch Wrath/Cata/MoP/WoD. I think that’s what we all expect. I apologize for not making that clear.

My post was not about more/faster/now, without regard for quality. Yes, we know what Blizzard can do, but they showed us for a year that they were doing it faster and with quality. That’s what players who consumed content as it was current got accustomed to before Blizzard announced Warlords, gave interviews where they re-stated a collective intention to reduce time between expansions, and then effectively told us that “less time between expansions” wasn’t actually going to happen this time.

 * * *

Yesterday’s post seemed to touch a nerve; for the first two hours after I tweeted out the post, my page views were about 20 times the usual rate, and I was privileged to converse with several others on the subject both here and on Twitter. Hopefully, if it did nothing else, it resonated with the feelings of other players.

As I’ve alluded to before, that post serves as criticism, but such criticism does not diminish my respect for WoW’s creators, or my love and desire for the game and its potential. On the contrary, I pine for more good times and great content, as do many of us. Ultimately, we’ll get it when it’s done, and then many of us will reconvene in-game as well as on Twitter, blogs, etc. to share our thoughts and revel in the goodness. I’m looking forward to those days.

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Semantics, defensiveness, and the “intention” of making content faster

On Saturday, MMO-Champion highlighted a recent exchange on Reddit involving Bashiok (Blizzard CM), along with some graphs* he had found on Twitter, regarding the length of MoP in comparison to those of other expansions. For the sake of simplicity, I’m just going to post a screenshot of MMO-C’s page here (click the screenshot if it’s too small to read):

MMO-Champion Bashiok MoP length

*[Edit: the graphs were created by Sivation, who has more graphical goodness on the topic on Twitter – check it out!]

Darkbrew took these graphs and did some amazing analysis over at The Brewhall on Sunday. It’s a post that I would highly recommend checking out. His post was the catalyst for this post, because it drove me to look at Bashiok’s words again, and although my post might not relate to his very much, he deserves some credit for inspiring me.

* * *

The intention to make content faster is not new. Blizzard-folk have been talking about it on and off since at least the beginning of Cataclysm: it’s supposedly the reason we got the troll dungeons in 4.1, and was a much talked-about topic as Blizzard rolled out the first few numbered patches of Mists of Pandaria. In fact, we were given all of MoP’s raid content over the course of less than a year.

The concept of “faster content” is not a myth. Shortly after Blizzcon, the man himself, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime, told Polygon:

“It’s going to be on us and our development team to continually look at ways to evolve the game and keep it relevant, and look for new ways of maintaining engagement within the game. We view expansions as a huge opportunity to do that. 

“We recognize that we need to release them on a faster cadence than we have in the past. So we’re investing in the team and our resources to enable us to do that.”

Still, it’s not technically a promise. But this is just a recent example of Morhaime’s stated intentions to release content more frequently. For instance, during an earnings call in May 2011, during which Blizzard announced the loss of 600,000 subscribers, he said:

“We need to be faster at delivering content to players. And so that’s one of the reasons that we’re looking to decrease the amount of time in between expansions. 

“What we have seen so far is that people have been consuming this content very quickly, and so the subscriber levels have decreased [following the release of Cataclysm] faster than in previous expansions.”

And look at this, from Greg Street to Digital Spy, shortly after Blizzcon (and before his revelation that he was leaving Blizzard):

“We find that expansions are what bring players back to World of Warcraft. Really good patches will keep them, but they aren’t as good at bringing players back to the game.

“We really want to get to a cadence where we can release expansions more quickly. Once a year I think would be a good rate. I think the best thing we can do for new players is to keep coming out with regular content updates.” 

[Emphasis mine.]

Regardless of the fact that Street left Blizzard shortly thereafter, his words echo those of Morhaime from around the same time. Look at what Morhaime said: “We recognize that we need to release [expansions] on a faster cadence than we have in the past.” These statements are collectively indicative of an actual company vision – more than they constitute rhetoric put in place to placate concerned investors – especially given similar comments in the past.

Players have looked at words like these from Morhaime, as well as similar ones from devs like Street, and taken them to mean that this will happen. Where Blizzard is (and has been) clever is that these are only statements of vision and intention. Goals. Not promises or official deadlines.

Semantics and implied meanings. Yes, we like the idea of faster content, and that is our intention. But if we fail to provide that, we never actually said that we would definitely provide that, so you can’t hold it against us.

However, their ability to stand on such statements of good intentions in times like this, where a patch is seemingly interminably long, is weakened in the wake of what happened in 2013, when they started to show that that vision is producing results. In this case, Blizzard released content faster during MoP, which belied an actuality: that “intention to produce faster content” was becoming “actual faster content” – that, in a manner of speaking, the train was picking up speed, that things were finally moving toward making that stated goal a reality.

In fact, as we see now, this was not the case. Despite Blizzard’s best intentions as stated, if the company does have a goal – once again, not a promise, but a goal or an intention – then they are failing at that goal.

With the recent release window (fall 2014) announcement, players are staring at five-to-eight more months of nothing new as it stands today (eventual beta notwithstanding; many people consider beta to be at least something new, but I’m looking at “new content” as content that is guaranteed to be available to everyone, like the expansion’s pre-patch and release). At the very best, unless the beta is extremely short due to arriving in a much more fully-formed state than past betas have (and Blizzard beats their window by quite a margin) we’re basically looking at the same thing we’ve always experienced.

They’re failing to reach the goal.

So here’s why players are irritated with Blizzard, and why people have reacted negatively to Bashiok’s recent comments, and so on: because from all points of view – player happiness, subscription retention, shareholder satisfaction – it is in the company’s best interest to actually put out faster, full-sized expansions.

To Blizzard:

  • During times of Nothing New, you lose subscribers. You know this. People don’t want to pay for Nothing New as much as they want to pay for Something New. These are basic economic principles, particularly as they relate to subscription-based content.
  • You’ve stated several times that you want to fix this subscriber-retention problem by releasing faster content – specifically, faster expansions. It’s right out there on the internet for people to see.
  • You haven’t managed to release faster expansions: at this point, every expansion has taken roughly two years to release after the previous release. As we now know, the MoP-to-WoD transition will be the same.
  • Regardless of the fact that you didn’t explicitly “promise” faster content, you consistently fail to meet your stated intention. Players know that this is your intention, and they wonder why nothing has changed in spite of it.
  • MoP was flawed in part because new content was jammed down players’ throats over the course of a year, and now the players who consumed that content in real-time have nothing but the Same Ol’ Same Old for a year.

And that brings us back to the first point: people don’t want to pay for Nothing New as much as they want to pay for Something New. So don’t be surprised if people ask why content isn’t coming out faster, or express dissatisfaction that it isn’t. They are paying customers until the content runs out and they get bored. And if you know this, and don’t fix it – and lose subscribers as a consequence of that, and are questioned by a portion of the player base – then that’s on you as a company. Getting defensive doesn’t help things.

When you fall back on technicalities and semantics, like ‘we didn’t actually promise, we only intended,’ you’re refusing to acknowledge the point, which is that you’re actually failing to retain subscribers by giving them what they want most: faster content, including faster expansions.

* * *

Bashiok’s a good dude, and deserves respect. However, the players are right, and they also deserve respect, as do their points of view. If Blizzard as a company can’t actually make faster expansions, its representatives (and its customers) would be better served if they would simply be up front about it as standard procedure.

And players like me vote with our dollars. Now obviously, if you (the player) are still playing and enjoying current content of any stripe, then by all means, keep playing and enjoying yourselves! But at this time, for those of us who are bored and tired of Blizzard’s carrot-on-a-stick way of attempting to lure people back to / keep people playing WoW during a time like this, some of us vote Nay. Because in spite of the fact that there was no promise, Blizz is still trying to lead us on. And that gets old.

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

A guy and his video games… oh, and “his woman”

“If your girlfriend told you to quit playing video games forever or she’d leave you, would you do it?”

This question was posed to me by a customer on Monday night. I had previously helped the customer, so we were on familiar enough terms, I suppose.

I looked at him, smiled patiently (or, as I like to think, wryly), and replied: “Well, given that my girlfriend is more of a gamer than I am, I doubt that would ever happen. I’m probably the wrong person to ask…”

He seemed momentarily surprised, but he didn’t give me the response I usually get when I answer questions related to my girlfriend being a gamer, which is typically some expression of how cool and awesome and rad my girlfriend is (because too many people are still surprised to find that females actually play video games and play them well, I guess).

Then his cell rang, and he answered it.

His girlfriend stood there, a smirk on her face. I asked her if this was an actual issue. She nodded yes. We exchanged small talk for a moment, and then she moved away to browse.

Eventually, his call ended. I decided to be both honest and diplomatic.

“To answer your question… if something like this happened, I imagine we would have to have a conversation, in order to find out

  • if there’s something behind her demand (some deeper reasoning);
  • if there is a possible compromise;

and what we want to do with our future. I would ask myself, if this really matters that much to her, (what do I value more?)…”

[I’m remembering this conversation later, obviously… so I can’t remember everything that was said, as remarkable as this conversation was.]

“Is playing video games really the most important thing to me? Is this the person I want to spend the rest of my life with? Have a family with?–”

He cut me off:

“Already had that. Wife, kid. It’s over.”

“Ok.” (Why am I not surprised?)

“I guess if this was your only woman… see, I don’t have that problem. I mean, I have a girl, but she’s not the only one out there. There’s a lot of women out there. And I pull a lot of women, you know, so I don’t have to worry about that.”

[“And I pull a lot of women, you know” is an actual, 100% authentic quote, by the way. I felt like I was dreaming. It was bizarre. Meanwhile…]

During this astonishing statement, I was looking back and forth at him and his girlfriend, who went to look at something on a shelf a dozen feet away about halfway through it. She shook her head in amazement and, without looking toward him, said, “Sure ya do, sure ya do.” He didn’t seem to hear her.

I decided to directly answer his question.

“Well, in my case, if that was something that she felt truly felt was important, and we really wanted to spend our lives together, I would quit playing video games.”

“All video games? Like, computer games, consoles? Everything?”


He didn’t seem impressed, but I’m not the kind of guy who “pulls a lot of women,” so I really didn’t care if he was or was not. He joined her to look at whatever she was looking at, and I played parts of the conversation over in my head, trying to remember them so that I could write them down here.

* * *

For many people, video games are a serious hobby, a favorite pastime, and/or a culture. I understand those things, and experience/participate in them myself. And I’m in a relationship with someone who plays more games, more often, than I would/do, and plays them better than I would/do. So the likelihood that she will present me with an ultimatum like this is minuscule, at this point.

However, there may come a time when that changes. And when that happens, I’m confident that we will work through that change together, regardless of who initiates it. And I doubt it will come in the form of an ultimatum, anyway. But if moving forward meant that video games went on the back burner (or even completely out the window), I think it’s important to recognize that there are times when that may be necessary.

Of course, as I was experiencing this conversation, I was observing the couple. The first thing I thought was that these two people seemed very different. They were companionable in a way, but it seemed like this was a foreign world to her. He obviously values playing NBA 2k14 on his PS4 very, very highly – possibly more highly than he values his relationship with her. She doesn’t get it (playing video games), or thinks it’s a waste of time, or feels like the relationship is one-sided and that she has to fight him for his attention – I don’t know; in fact, I don’t know much at all about either of them. Watching them, though, I got the impression that they weren’t very compatible, and that she was mostly living in his world, and wasn’t very comfortable doing so. In a different dynamic, I’m sure that a compromise could be worked out if they talked about their issues and each made concessions to one another in the name of bettering the relationship, but I wasn’t counting on that happening in this case.

But what do I know?

As I said, not much. Well, other than that this young woman was not a gamer – which is fine, because we are all different – and that I considered the guy to be solidly douchebag-material. And I wasn’t comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable with people being disrespectful to others, and to see such a lack of respect on display wasn’t fun. But I couldn’t say anything. In cases like these, my job is to sell as much stuff to the customer as possible, and to give good service, in spite of any BS like this. And I couldn’t have changed his mind anyway.

I thought that I was as fair in my response to him as I could be – recognizing, of course, that this wasn’t a person who could be reasoned with, given that he and I are, pretty obviously, about as far apart as noon and midnight with respect to our personal philosophies and interpersonal behaviors…

It was food for thought, and a remarkable exchange to witness and to be a part of. I’m still shaking my head, thinking about it.

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Warlords of Draenor’s release is a long way off

All we see in the near future is Pandaria. Many are disappoint.

All we see in the near future is Pandaria. Many are disappoint.

Hello, everyone.

It’s been a month since I announced on these humble pages that I am taking a break from World of Warcraft.

My time away – an admittedly short one, at this early point – has been good. Things have been busy at work; the new blog has been fun to work on; I’ve gotten plenty of Fable-playing time logged; and I’m just getting started on a virtual stack of books that need reading. Because I had become thoroughly exhausted with the game in the months before my break started, my playing time had been steadily withering, so making the transition from “very little WoW” to “no WoW” has been fairly pain-free.

One thing has not changed throughout all of this: I still love the flippin’ game, and there have been times when I’ve missed it and wished for a moment that I could log in. But I quickly realized that what I’m missing is not the game as it stands today, but rather as it was in the past, and how it will be again later this year. Specifically: expansion time. Leveling time. The time when everything is new again.

As part of my effort to not completely lose touch during these next few months, I’ve determined to read the WoW section of my blog feed once per week, and to periodically check up on the news. Usually, this happens on a Sunday.

This week, I decided to make an exception, because of speculation that the beta – the arrival of which is already late in the minds of many – could be happening. I’m curious about the beta start date, because it has been written about so intensely since Blizzcon, and because it was expected as early as December, then January, then February…

In catching up on last week’s blog posts this past Sunday, I noticed that anticipation for a beta was particularly high. It was this excitement that I remembered as I casually opened up MMO-Champion this morning, and swiftly found myself in a fierce battle to keep the orange juice in my mouth from destroying my keyboard and monitor when I read the following:

Once I had managed to get said orange juice flowing safely in the correct direction, I read on. There was little other information of interest to me, since the level 90 boost has little appeal for me at this point, and I will “only” be purchasing the regular edition of WoD. There was also no mention of a beta launch, which was the information that I came to the site for in the first place.

At any rate, given that the xpac will likely see a fall release, that puts the earliest launch date at September 23rd (if we take “fall release” literally). September 23rd is a hair short of two years since the launch of MoP, while September 30th is just a hair longer. Of course, “fall” is probably an approximation, so it’s possible that if everything goes awesomely in Irvine, CA, we could see a release on the 9th or 16th. However, if we get much later into the fall – October 21st or later, to be specific – Warlords will have both A) taken the longest time-after-previous-expansion to release of any expansion in the game’s history and B) given players the greatest amount of down-time after the previous expansion’s final content patch in the game’s history.

And if we do get into December before it’s released? Well, then we’re talking about what I would already categorize as a giant misstep on the part of Blizzard.

It turns out that I picked a good time to take a significant break from the game. When a company provides fairly regular content updates for a game – some would say they came too fast, and I have to agree with that sentiment – and then gives players little more than a new PvP season in an extended final patch, there is little to keep my interest. Late 2012 and the first three quarters of 2013 consisted of “content content content.” 2014 is doomed to consist of “waiting waiting waiting” for much of the year, until this thing (WoD) happens.

So… what happened? Over the past couple of years, we’ve gotten a lot of talk from Blizz-folk about faster content, and we saw some evidence that that was a priority. Mists arrived chock-full of things to do at 90 – repetitive, grindy-as-hell things, to be sure – and with “move the story forward” patches in between raid patches, there certainly was plenty of content for about a year…

And now we have this Nothing. We’ve been told that there are different teams that work on expansions… so did the Mists team significantly outpace the Warlords team? Did the Warlords team bite off more than it could chew, like they supposedly did when they remade the world for Cataclysm?

Somewhere – dev team to dev team, or Blizzard to players, or whatever – the message went off the path. And I think that, at this point, Blizzard does itself and its players a disservice when it says that it would like to release expansions on a yearly basis, because then players believe that the company – this great company, which has made such a great game and done so many wonderful things – was actually working hard toward making that actually happen. All evidence at this juncture shows that it either is not doing so, or is just wildly failing to make that happen.

I was skeptical at the time, because those comments at and around the time of Blizzcon were comments that many players took and ran with, in spite of Blizzard’s history and lack of actual promise. Those stated best intentions were believed by many to be modus operandi, and they are proving not to be so. I, like everyone else, wanted Blizzard to be what they said they intended to be. I was skeptical, but if they had dropped a beta on December 10th or January 8th, I would have been happy. If they had announced that WoD was arriving on May 20th or June 17th, I would have been happy. I also would have been surprised.

This doesn’t surprise me. At this point in the history of WoW, this has become the norm, and it seems that Blizzard – as much as they purportedly intend to change for the faster – has become entrenched in this two-year cycle.

As such, I believe that they should just stop talking about it. They should just stick with “It’ll be Soon(TM),” and “It’ll be out when it’s finished,” and stop talking up what has become a pipe dream for everyone. I’ll be finished playing WoW for a while before yearly expansions become a thing.

I was skeptical, but that does not mean that I’m not disappointed by this news. What do I want? I want to play through some new content. Of course. I find myself daydreaming about past new-xpac leveling experiences from time to time, and that is what I want to be doing again, sooner than later.

It looks like it will be later.

I’m already mentally extending my break. Originally, I was thinking about taking three months or so. However, with this news – and barring extremely unlikely “let’s get the band (raid team) back together” overtures from my absent friends – four-to-six months or more is looking more likely. There are good things about this: no WoW means more time for other adventures elsewhere, both in and out of gaming worlds. But ultimately, I am disappointed… although I’m glad that Blizzard finally came out and confirmed that my skepticism wasn’t unfounded.

Yes, I could still be playing. But right now, Blizzard has no new product for me. I’m not paying $15 per month to wait for half a year or more. I can do that for free.

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Off-Topic: The best days

It’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that and I know. But lately, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.

– Tony Soprano, The Sopranos “Pilot” (1999)


This part was written on September 14th (with some measure of optimism)

The recent announcement by Darkbrew that Hunting Party Podcast co-host Euripides is done blogging about, talking about, and playing WoW was yet another in what has become a series of retirements/hiatuses by prominent members of the hunter community this year.

This marks the fourth time since the end of May that I’ve read an announcement like this. Tabana, Frostheim, Quelys, and now Euri. The Hunting Party Podcast has not just been decimated, it’s been seriously hurt, although Arth has been doing a tremendous job on the show.

In a game as long-running as this one, with such time commitments, there are several factors that can impact a player’s ability or desire to stay in the game. The number of “I’ve been here since Vanilla beta” players continues to dwindle, as people grow tired or disappointed with the game, or have less time due to family or work commitments, or a desire to use their talents differently. This is only natural, and completely understandable.

However, there’s a part of me that identifies with the above Tony Soprano quote every time someone like Euripides announces that he’s reached the end and is moving on: I came in at the end. The best is over. I missed the best ride, as a blogger and a part of the community.

It seemed like the best days were around the time of Wrath, heading toward Cataclysm. This is probably my perspective alone, but with Wrath seeing overall population numbers reach their zenith, there was also a boom of bloggers about the game itself: theorycrafters and class bloggers, explorers, levelers, raiders, achievers, PvPers, screenshotters, role players, fiction writers, and so on. That all continues today, but it seems at times that, like the subscription numbers, the number of great blogs is dwindling – not toward zero at any time soon, but dwindling nonetheless.

The truth is that we still have some great hunter bloggers, and there are new and rising bloggers out there all the time. However, they don’t always come to our collective attention, and so it feels like the community is shrinking, and some people do seem irreplaceable.

As a person who started blogging almost five years ago, but started blogging hunters 17 months ago, it’s easy to feel like I came in at the end. And perhaps I did miss the community’s zenith, or, at least, came in at the end of the tail end of it (WoW Hunters Hall was a pretty great hunter community site, after all!). But the game and the community are still going strong, and I have to remind myself of this at times like this, when it seems like what I knew to be constant is no longer so. It’s the nature of the game and the community, constantly changing and adapting and fluctuating.

Euripides doesn’t know me from Adam, but I’ve known his voice and writing for years as a hunter and podcast listener. I loved listening to him talk about PvP; I think that, in general, he played the game better than I could ever have the focus to do. I looked up to him, even when I disagreed with occasional points he made on the podcast. And while Darkbrew has long been the zen member of the podcast, and Frost the outspoken one, Euripides held his own in some fun and epic battles with the Frost-meister. I’m going to miss him, and I’ll always remember listening to him.

Take care, Euripides, and best wishes to you and your family!


Today (with slightly less optimism)

It’s almost a month later, which means we’re a month further from experiencing the talents of all of the bloggers who have retired over the past year.

We do have a new bright spot in Scattered Shots columnist Adam Koebel, who is doing a fine job over at WoW Insider. After five months of dormancy on the hunter front at WI, there is finally someone there representing the class. This is very important, because WoW Insider has a large reader-base… and while the powers that be seemed to be disinterested for a long time in providing for class columns when previous columnists left, I personally think they provide a critical service to the community.

Beyond Scattered Shots, most of my hunter reading material – what I’d classify as commentary on raiding with the class and playing it well – comes from Kheldul (Hunter-DPS), The Grumpy Elf, Darkbrew (The Brew Hall/OutDPS! The Hunting Party Podcast), and Arth (and commenters at Warcraft Hunters Union). Jademcian (Jade’s Forest) has posted somewhat recently. Jasyla (Cannot Be Tamed) has switched her main from druid to hunter and has some nice posts. And of course there are various hunter guides at Icy Veins, the forums, Youtube, etc.

That’s about it.

Alternatively, after a glance at (the also dormant) WoW Hunters Hall’s blog list, the number of bloggers who have gone dark from that resource list alone in the past year or so is kind of staggering:

  • Loronar
  • Zanbons
  • Garwulf (for the most part)
  • Morynne
  • Euripides
  • Quelys
  • Gavendo
  • Frostheim
  • Mehtomiel
  • And, of course, both Tabana and Kalliope at WHH

And Laeleiweyn is a monk now. Just sayin’. :)

Additionally, there are some signs that the Hunting Party Podcast could be close to having run its course. In a post this past week, Darkbrew hinted that this could be the case. And Arth has also said previously that he doesn’t know how long he’ll be there, or at the WHU for that matter. It’s certainly understandable – both the podcast and the WHU are big commitments and popular hunter gathering places, and also stand as two of the last bastions of the hunter community we have come to love over the years. A lot of work goes into them, and that can be difficult to sustain.

This morning, out of curiosity, I went over to Blog Azeroth to see if there was anything new there. What I found was that participation on that site has dropped precipitously as well. The first page of new blogs, for instance, has 48 blog introductions since the beginning of December, 2012.

I was stunned. Just 18 months ago, I stuck the business card for Mushan, Etc. on there and hoped it wouldn’t be drowned out by other blog introductions. In retrospect, it sort of was and sort of wasn’t; close inspection shows that use of that site has been dwindling for some time now. I think it helped a tad, but it’s not the resource it used to be.

One thing I need to do is take some time on Twitter, to browse through the lists of people who follow me, and people I follow, and check out the people who follow them, and who they follow. There has to be a new (or new-to-me) hunter blog in there somewhere, right?

Before this post gets too long, I should cut it. The purpose isn’t really to whine and complain about people leaving the community of hunter bloggers; rather, it has been sparked by a feeling that the pool is much smaller, and a bit lonelier, than it was a year ago.

Sometimes it seems like there is little to read for days. And as someone who enjoys back-and-forth inter-blog discussions about the class, I’m starting to miss that. And I’m starting to feel like the hunter blog is becoming a “legacy” thing, where there actually isn’t renewal or new birth in the community because of changing technology or due to lack of interest. I’m fine with blogs themselves being “old hat” – I just blog, when I have the time, because it satisfies an interest of mine. So if this is the way it’s going to go down, I’ll accept it. It’s just sad to see so many old friends saying goodbye. The community really is a gift.


Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Interviewed, Etc.

Quelys, looking badass as always!

Quelys, looking badass as always!

Recently, I had the privilege of being asked to be a part of the next round of hunter interviews by Quelys, over at Quel’s Hunting Corner. For anyone who knows, this puts me in some pretty sweet company, as Quel had previously interviewed Frostheim, Solarflair, Zehera, and several other hunters I’ve looked up to!

The interview is live this morning, so if anyone is interested in reading This is the Etc. he was talking about!, follow the link in this sentence!

It was fun and exciting to be interviewed by someone whom I admire as both a hunter and a blogger; whose site has been a staple in my reader for a long time, and who has been one of the more consistent commenters – and sources of encouragement, for that matter – at my own blog.

Sadly, my joy at being interviewed by Quelys is subdued, because there is a concurrent post on his site, announcing that he is done blogging and playing, effective immediately. His leaving creates another big void in the hunter universe, and it looks like mine will be the final interview in his “An evening with…” series.

I don’t know if you know this, Quelys, but I have always enjoyed your posts, and I’ve looked up to you like a big brother in huntering. I’m sorry I never said that before. I’m going to miss you. I hope that life kicks major ass in your favor, and wish you the best. Thanks for everything!

The timing of these two events makes me feel kind of like I’ve broken the internet. I’m sad and confused. However, this doesn’t diminish the fact that Quelys has always written great stuff, and I think his interview with me turned out pretty well. Please check it out if you’re interested!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Off-topic: anonymous commenting, Facebook, and the future of online discussion*

*Almost definitely an overly ambitious title.

As a fan of hard rock and metal, one of the sites I visit on a daily basis is Blabbermouth.net. For more than 12 years, they have been an aggregator of news, reviews, and happenings in the rock and metal universe, and for me they’ve been the go-to site for that kind of content.

Since the beginning, Blabbermouth has had a typical comment system, where a user registers with the site, creates a user name and password, and is essentially anonymous – and, therefore, is free to be unrestrained with his or her speech on the site.

Blabbermouth has always had a policy against abusive language, racism, and so on, but it never seemed to be enforced. And with the previously mentioned commenter anonymity, there probably wasn’t much that could be done in such cases if abuse was reported, other than banning an account or even an IP address, but over the years it seemed to me that no comment was ever addressed by the admin. I came to accept that this was just the way the site was: it continued to post content, commenters did their thing, and if you didn’t want to read the comments, you didn’t read the comments.

On Monday night, I visited the site to find that at some point in the previous 24 hours, it had been relaunched in a new format. Gone are the full-length front page articles, the archaic post menu, and the long-standing, claustrophobic-dark look. In its place is a bright, clean, professional, modern looking website, with truncated posts and “Read More” buttons. In general, it is a much easier site to navigate from a “what’s happening right now” standpoint.

Also gone, however, is the old commenting system. If you want to comment at Blabbermouth.net now, you have to be signed in to Facebook. Which opens up an interesting can of worms for the site’s users…

There has been a lot of talk around the world lately about anonymous commenting and online discourse: I’ve heard a few stories about it on NPR and its affiliates (here and here. for instance) in the past six months. Unsurprisingly, it’s been a subject of discussion within the WoW community. Furthermore, with a couple of Google searches, you can find many articles about websites, such as online newspapers, getting rid of anonymous comments.

What’s interesting is that many sites that don’t allow anonymous commenting have integrated with Facebook. One of the benefits of doing so is that the site’s Facebook page can then highlight comments that it gets on its website, giving both the site and the comments/commenters more exposure (and, presumably, can lead to more discourse). As far as I can tell, it also takes a huge chunk of responsibility for the content of the discussion out of the hands of the website and places it squarely, in the end, on the user.

This is fairly simple to explain. On Facebook, the user is the person. The user isn’t “Neil Young’s Cocaine Booger” or “RiotAct666” (real user names from Blabbermouth – I didn’t make them up myself). It’s you, the Facebook user with – potentially – real life friends and family, who are “friended” on the site and can presumably see every comment you make.

To my knowledge, Blabbermouth.net hasn’t made any announcement about the revamp of the site and the discussion system overhaul. When I saw how it had changed, my first thought was “they must have changed it to cut down on trolling.” That may or may not have played a part in their decision, but I’m inclined to think that, in addition to adopting a comment system that is in place on thousands of other websites (and is probably simple to implement), improving the quality of the discussion was a factor.

Additionally, Facebook is the closest thing there is to a universal sign-in system in the world, particularly when requiring that commenters use their real names is a desired feature. Facebook is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, and nothing else that uses real names to commonly sign in to anything on the internet comes anywhere close to that magnitude. It’s a built-in sign-in system, with no site-specific registry required – unless, of course, you don’t use Facebook at all. Or, unless you don’t want to use your Facebook login to make comments on other websites…

While anonymous posting/commenting is as alive as it has ever been, there seems to be something of a growing movement toward requiring real names in order to comment on websites.

I’m curious to see how this plays out over the next several years. As more sites stop allowing anonymous commenting, will there be more ways to require that users log in as real persons, other than using Facebook? Or will this be something that becomes the lifeblood of Facebook, as more and more young people enter the online sphere looking to use the new “it” social media format – not FB – but are forced to use Facebook in order to be a part of a growing piece of the online discourse pie?

Or, will there be sections of that pie that begin to skew less toward the opinions of young users simply because such sites’ comment requirements will restrict them to Facebook, while these users would rather use Tumbler / Twitter / whatever the next big thing(s) is(are)?

Personally, I sit in the camp with those who don’t want to use their Facebook logins to comment on other sites. This is not because I am young and hip (…), but rather because I just don’t like Facebook. I barely ever comment on Facebook itself. I don’t trust Facebook. There are many reasons for this, and I won’t get into them here, because I’ve never written a 5000 word post before, and I don’t feel like having my first one be about Facebook. But there are privacy issues, data-collection and -sharing issues, and others that make me extremely uncomfortable with the idea of just going ahead and giving in to it, and posting my life and opinions and whatnot there… and, therefore, having my account linked with various other websites doesn’t make me feel easy.

With respect to Blabbermouth.net, I don’t really care. I didn’t ever bother commenting there before, and I don’t think that will change. But I also never comment on a site that requires Facebook. If FB is an option, but you can also use an alternative, I’ll comment if there is an alternative that I like.

I do like the fact that, intended or not, Blabbermouth has stopped so much of the terrible commentary on its site with one fell swoop. There is value in that. But I go to that site for news and videos and so on, not for the comments. The comments there have historically been mainly garbage, although there has been good discussion on rarer occasions.

I just wish that there were non-Facebook alternatives for sites like that, where the burden of moderating could be kept to a minimum without requiring FB. Right now, I don’t know that there is any other solution on the horizon.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Someone I loved is lost. Part 2: learning points

Regarding the situation I described in my post (Someone I loved is lost. Is he gone forever? I may never know.) from last weekend, there are some learning points, or action points, that can come from an experience such as this.

First of all, I received some very kind comments to that post, both here and on Twitter. Thanks, again, to those people who took the time to comment, share their thoughts/feelings, and lend a /hug. I’m glad that so many people read the post – it’s definitely a subject that made me think a little more deeply about relationships with online friends.

Secondly, Nev from She Rides Dragons wrote a piece from a place on the other side of the equation, entitled Just Somebody That I Used To Know?, where she talked about the fact that sometimes real life events – going in for surgery, for instance – present us with unknowns that we might not always think about. What if, as she posited, she doesn’t come out on the other side of the surgery, for instance? On one hand, it’s a terrible thing to think about, but it can be a pragmatic thought in cases like this. However, while her friends and family might always be in touch with what’s happening, what about all of her online friends, fellow bloggers and followers, and gaming buddies?

This made me stop and think again about my own situation. While I don’t have anything like surgery on the horizon, what if? is a big question. We are never guaranteed tomorrow; we only have today. And if something happened to me, Mushan, Etc. would stop cold. @MushanEtc. would as well. Mushan would stop logging into WoW.

Any and all of my WoW-related online personas would come to a standstill, but they would also be suspended in time for all time. Other than my Real ID friends in WoW – many of whom are friends who talk outside the game, and would find out somehow – and friends on places like Facebook, who are connected to people I know in real life, including family, nobody would know what happened, or have a way to find out.

I assume this is the case with most bloggers who write about things like video games. Anyone who hides behind the avatar and screen name is somewhat anonymous, and difficult for the average person to find. This is as intended, but as I talked about in that previous post, there can be heavy consequences.

What’s great for me about this set of realizations, putting them into words on the blog, and the reactions I’ve gotten, is that they solidify a train of thought that has been germinating for a while. What’s happening is that my perspective about clinging to online anonymity is changing. Along with that, I’m also formulating a plan to provide some measure of closure to my online friends in the form of information, should something happen to me (God forbid).

A while back, I was having a conversation with my father. He’s retired, and healthy, and hopefully he and my mother will both live until I am an old man. Anyway, he was talking about paying bills. He pays almost all of his bills online now, and suddenly he mentioned that he should probably do something with all of that information, since he handles the family finances and my mother does not. She doesn’t know the passwords to any of the sites that he uses to pay their bills, do their banking, manage his retirement fund, and so on. We talked about this again recently at my brother’s wedding – apparently, it’s still on his mind, but he hasn’t done anything about it.

My parents aren’t in their current situation because my mother can’t handle finances; rather, my father handles them because he has the time and the interest, and my mother still works, so that’s just how they get done. Given the necessity, my mother would do a fine job with it. The only obstacle is that she will likely need the passwords and information in the event that she outlives him.

These conversations came to mind when I was thinking about my online personas. Someone close to me should be able to access my blog account, my Twitter account, and any other place where I interact with people that I have relationships with. If nothing else, so that readers/friends can be informed.

(This is actually an issue that is becoming increasingly common in this day and age, by the way. I’ve read several articles about it over the past few years, regarding both finances and social networking – mainly Facebook – in the case of someone passing away.)

Ultimately, I’ve learned that when someone in our “online world” disappears without word – for whatever reason – it is not an event (or non-event) that occurs in a vacuum. As a blogger, I want to always remember to never be the person who suddenly disappears, leaving others to wonder. However small or large our circle of community, it’s still a community of real people with brains and hearts.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!