Wrath of the Lich Cain

Herman Cain was a business executive and 2012 presidential candidate. On July 30, 2020, he died from COVID-19–several weeks after attending a Donald Trump rally.

Even though he died a couple of months ago, someone keeps tweeting from his account about current events, leading someone to post this satirical image in reply.

Wrath of the Lich Cain
Wrath of the Lich Cain

Torture in Video Games

Richard Bartle’s post about a quest in Wrath of the Lich King that requires the player to torture an NPC got a lot of feedback, much of it negative. Bartle writes,

Now while this means that WotLK is not yet torture for me, there is some torture involved. Specifically, this quest. Basically, you have to take some kind of cow poke and zap a prisoner until he talks.

I’m not at all happy with this. I was expecting for there to be some way to tell the guy who gave you the quest that no, actually I don’t want to torture a prisoner, but there didn’t seem to be any way to do that. Worse, the quest is part of a chain you need to complete to gain access to the Nexus, which is the first instance you encounter (if you start on the west of the continent, as I did). So, either you play along and zap the guy, or you don’t get to go to the Nexus.

I did zap him, pretty well in disbelief — I thought that surely the quest-giver would step in and stop it at some point? It didn’t happen, though. Unless there’s some kind of awful consequence further down the line, it would seem that Blizzard’s designers are OK with breaking the Geneva convention.

Well they may be, but I’m not. Without some reward for saying no, this is a fiction-breaking quest of major proportions. I don’t mind having torture in an MMO — it’s the kind of thing a designer can use to give interesting choices that say things to the players. However, I do mind its being placed there casually as a run-of-the-mill quest with no regard for the fact that it would ring alarm bells: this means either that the designer can’t see anything wrong with it, or that they’re actually in favour of it and are forcing it on the player base to make a point. Neither case is satisfactory.

I did the question that Bartle is talking about, though it is not the only torture quest in the game. Both my wife and I remember doing a quest where you have to beat up some NPC until he gives you the information you need — that may be a rogue-specific quest, however.

Anyway, I had no problem doing either quest, and I suspect the main reason it’s not generally an issue is that video games as a dramatic medium are simply not compelling. Torture is no more real in a game like World of Warcraft than slaughtering village after village of sentient beings is real — it is just a Pavlovian put in place by the designers.

After all, in order to get to the point where Bartle could worry about the ethics of torture in a video game, his character had to slaughter thousands and thousands of sentient beings. And yet, this is largely unremarkable and unremarked upon precisely because of the lack of real emotional connection.

And, frankly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I never felt guilty over my efforts at military domination of the world in Risk nor the nuking of enemies in Civilization. A torture mechanic at this point seems like a fairly small thing to suddenly draw a line on the sand over.

Paul Pape Designs Announces Ore-naments from “That Game”

Apparently Blizzard will not let him advertise these as being based on Wrath of the Lich King,  so think of Paul Pape Design’s new Ore-naments release as generic cobalt, titanium and saronite  mining ornaments suitable for any MMO. The entire set is $24.95. I own the original set and am very happy with them, and will definitely be adding these to my collection as well,

Paul Pape Designs Ore-naments

Epic Fail – Blizzard to Reset Honor Points for Wrath of the Lich King

Just when Warhammer Online is providing some serious competition to World of Warcraft, Blizzard decides to go ahead and piss off anyone who has spent significant time grinding the four (count ’em FOUR) PVP Battlegrounds,

As many of you know we will be featuring a new Battleground, a dedicated world PvP zone and all new PvP items in Wrath of the Lich King. In order to make the transition from The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King flow as smoothly as possible, all accrued honor points will be reset at the launch of the expansion. We do this to ensure select players do not have an unfair advantage at level 80 from stockpiling honor to instantly purchase the newest Wrath of the Lich King PvP rewards. For those with unspent honor points prior to the release of the expansion, we will be offering a few upgrades and special rewards in next content patch solely for purchase via the honor system.

As many commenters have posted on the forums, that is simply bullshit. I’m one of those people who, according to Blizzard, would be disadvantage since I don’t have a huge stockpile of honor points sitting waiting until I reach level 80. But since earning honor points is nothing but a boring grind anyway, I’m not sure what difference it makes if you wasted 50 hours the past month or due it in December. To say it puts the average player at a significant disadvantage is absurd.

What it sounds like is yet another stupid time sink put in the game to keep players busy. Hmmm..you just spent weeks grinding 50,000 honor points? Okay, we’ll reset those to zero so you can experience the joy of weeks of grinding all over again!

If that wasn’t bad enough, they’re also resetting Marks of Honor which are badges you get for completing a battleground. Most of the gear you can buy with Honor Points requires a certain number of Marks of Honor. It is much harder to obtain Marks than honor points especially in the defective-by-design Capture the Flag BG Warson Gulch.

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Mythic has planted a mole inside Blizzard.

Level 70 Daily Quests to Get Nerfed in Wrath of the Lich King

WoW Insider reports that the Wrath of the Lich King expansion will nerf the amount of gold rewarded by level 70 dailies, as the screenshot below from the WotLK beta illustrates,

Get exalted with Shattered Sun Offensive now, as there’s pretty much no point to do any of those dailies aside from the gold and reputation.