The Mists of Pandaria release has been very smooth, a delightful change from the aggravating Diablo III launch. However, while things were fine on Blizzard's end last night, it was an entirely different case for MY side of things. No sooner had I arrived in Pandaria - literally, the moment my feet touched ground - my internet connection decided to throw a giant fit and shut itself down for 30-40 minutes. I was pretty annoyed, since COME ON, OF ALL NIGHTS? I also missed my guildie Aldous' final push for Realm-First Max Fishing, a race he sadly lost by a few minutes.
After a while, my internet slowly started choking back to life, but it was just a ruse. I logged in, picked up the initial landing quests, and then watched the game world slam to a halt around me. Another internet failure!
However, this was one of those funny game lockups, where the entire world is frozen, but you can still jump and run around and wander anywhere you wanted. I shrugged, and decided to look at this latest setback as not an annoyance, but rather, an opportunity. See, when the game is locked up like this, the NPCs in your immediate vicinity will just sit there, frozen, but other NPCs and characters that weren't nearby - that weren't already within viewing distance/rendering distance - won't load, even if you start walking around.
(Example: if I were in Stormwind's Trade District when my game froze like this, I could take a stroll over to Stormwind Keep and it would appear completely empty, since this part of the world wasn't being rendered on my system when the game locked up.)
So how was this an opportunity? Well, I could wander around the Jade Forest and take screenshots of empty scenery and buildings etc. that would normally not be empty. To return to the Stormwind analogy, I would be able to take screenshots of the empty Keep/Throne Room/War Room etc, without Varian there, or NPCs, or guards, or anything.
Would these screenshots ever come in handy, or ever even be used for anything? I really don't know, but if there's one thing I love, it's having an extensive collection of screenshots of all sorts of things saved and on-file, ready for blog usage. Take the Magatha screenshot in the previous post. I didn't go out and take that, I just had it stashed away, waiting.
I meandered around for 15-20 minutes, snapping shots of anything and everything that caught my eye. Some villages, some shrines, some houses, some weird monkey village, etc. What are these places? Will there be NPCs here later, making it impossible to get a clean, empty shot? Honestly, I have no idea, but I figured I might as well go with the hand fate had dealt me.
It was actually a really odd, peaceful experience. No danger, no other people, just touring around and exploring. The only drawback was that I couldn't mount, so I had to run everywhere on foot, which got a little tedious.
I reached the second zone (I forget the name) before I was both a) getting bored, and b) really wanting to actually GET QUESTING and start seeing the new lore and items and stories!
Here's some highlight shots of my little jaunt through Phantom-Zone Pandaria. I tell you, I'm only barely into this expansion's content and I'm already blown away. Pandaria is beautiful.