Minipost: Watch the sky burn

I've taken thousands of screenshots since I started playing WoW six years ago. And the one above, of Westfall in flames during the conclusion the zone's Post-Shattering questline, remains one of my favorites.

Its composition is nice, good vibrant colors, rule-of-thirds and all that. But I think what I like most about it is the in-game and in-character story behind it.

You see, at the end of the zone, Vanessa Van Cleef reveals herself to be the mastermind and driving force behind all the uprisings and rebellions that you've been investigating. And in a really cool moment, she and her lieutenants subdue Marshal Gryan Stoutmantle, Horatio Laine and the other Alliance / Westfall Brigade soldiers, before proceeding to raze Sentinel Hill to the ground. Meanwhile, Stoutmantle desperately yells at you to hurry and travel to Stormwind and warn them that the Defias Brotherhood has risen once again.

Well, I did nothing of the sort. I stood around, redid the quest a few times for more screenshots, and just relaxed, enjoying the scene.

Why? Because the Alliance deserved it. Stoutmantle, Laine, Varian, they brought this entirely upon themselves. Screw you guys, I'm done, YOU'RE the ones at fault here, I quit. Time to sit back and watch the sky burn.

Post-Northrend Westfall is in sorry shape following the war against the Lich King. The farmlands are barren and full of homeless refugees, people are starving and reduced to eating dirt, and morale (and faith in the government) is at an all-time low.

And what's the response from Varian? How does the King of Stormwind react, hearing of the plight of his people? Well, let me first add that when you do eventually go to deliver the message to Varian, you have to run right past the city's BRAND NEW GIANT VARIAN STATUE that they constructed after Northrend. But the nation has no funds and that's why Westfall civilians have to squat in deserted homes and starve. Okay.

Statue aside, even after all this, when the ignored, unheard people of Westfall are driven to rebellion because they have no alternative, Varian...well, he ignores their issues and dismisses them as "a ruthless organization of criminals."

With treatment like that, is it really any wonder the people of Westfall rebelled? That you finally pushed them so far that they put their feet down and said "No. No, you arrogant, selfish children. You only care about your own egos, you don't listen to our concerns, and when you are FORCED to notice, you have the gall to not take responsibility?"

Hey, I guess that's cool. You already got their money, so who needs to actually LISTEN to those bums, right? May as well just ignore their reasons for being angry and place the blame right on their shoulders, not yours.

But maybe, just maybe you underestimate how hurt, upset and above all else, how tired of this crap people are. How maybe people would be willing to overlook a single offense and chalk it up to an accident or mistake. But when it keeps happening over1 and over2 and over3 and over4 and over5 and over6 and over7 and over8 again? Um, no.

(1The absence of Aggra in WoD. 2Female Draenei April Fool's joke. 3One-dimensional female lore characters. 4Lack of Hearthstone Hero equality. 5Tyrande's leader story featuring Malfurion. 6Malgrim Stormhand's "real man" line. 7Dustin Browder on hypersexualized female designs. 8Rob Pardo on diversity in Blizzard games.)

Eventually, you're going to push them away. You will lose them by offending them. By not representing them. By dismissing and refusing to acknowledge the times you screwed up, and trying to just pretend those times never happened via deafening, overwhelming silence.

Even the most loyal, dedicated supporter, who absolutely LOVES all the good things you DO do, reaches a point where they have to say to themselves "How can I continue to support these people when they clearly do not care about me?"

And I guess the answer is, you don't have to.

* * * * *

Warlords is probably half a year away. And I fully admit it, I am dying - DYING - to see what happens with the lore. Come on, Blizz. Six months to put your money where Pardo's mouth is and prove that you really do want diversity in your games. There's plenty of testosterone, musclehead games out there for the dudebro crowd. Warcraft (and Blizzard's other games) could be so much better than this.

Anyway. From Draenor With Love will be unaffected, and I hope readers enjoy where our story goes, and who it involves!

This won't be the last post here, though it'll be the last one for a while. But just in case, thank you for reading. If you've ever enjoyed anything, anything at all posted on this blog, know that your enjoyment makes me incredibly happy. Thanks. :)

It's funny. Predictions have always been one of my favorite blog topics. Sure didn't see this coming, though.

23 Responses Subscribe to comments

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    They lost me too. Subscribed since 2006, ending on the 13th.

    I always thought I'd end up quitting because I got tired of seeing the story go downhill, but nope. It's casual (and, apparently, intentional) sexism and refusal to acknowledge diversity that got me.


    June 2, 2014 at 5:55 AM

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    I was hoping you'd go there, when I started reading this post about Westfall. And you didn't disappoint me, Rades.

    What will you be playing in the meantime? Outside of tormenting your D&D group as DM?

    June 2, 2014 at 6:18 AM

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    Can I have your stuff?

    June 2, 2014 at 8:46 AM

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    Thought the analysis of the Westfall chain was a bit ... hordish in flavor, but absolutely love how that tied in to Pardo's faux-befuddled tweets. I also find it completely unbelievable that a techy in today's connected world could go on vacation anywhere and not be aware that people were pissed off at him in mass quantities. That just smells wrong. More of a "Oh dear, the peasants are revolting, dear." "You can say that again, they stink on ice!" "Oh, do pass me another round of Brodawg Micro-Brew, I feel a headache coming on."

    I've tested the waters in Wildstar and am finding it extremely friendly there. It's really weird going ten whole levels without a single joke putting down gays, women, or pencil-neck geeks. But they've managed to do it so far and still have a sense of humor. Pay attention, Blizz. You can "be awesome" and not piss on half your playerbase. Check it.

    June 2, 2014 at 10:07 AM

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    I found that early Wildstar beta actually did have some problems with regards to their representation of women (e.g., having such an exaggerated waistline they couldn't possibly have a spine or internal organs, some offensive NPC text, being cat-called by NPCs as I walked by, etc). They fixed some of the user character model problems (by allowing for some choice in whether or not your female character has room for internal organs). In general, WOW's quest text isn't openly derogatory towards people. It's the culture and lack of representation in key story lines (present in both WOW and wildstar and many other games) that is much more subtle and problematic.

    June 2, 2014 at 12:20 PM

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    @Shizu - My thoughts exactly. I assumed it'd be when the servers shut down.

    @Redbeard - I'm trying out Wildstar, and I've got a lot of Steam games I've been neglecting! I might check out more console games too - I actually prefer console gaming, generally!

    @Kal - Gonna throw it in TTGF's guild bank, sorry! ;)

    @Grimm - Admittedly, I have no previous history or bonds with Stoutmantle so I was particularly unimpressed with just what we see of him in the zone. But yeah, in today's day and age? When you're that high up the food chain. Doesn't fly.

    So far the Wildstar chat channels I've been in have been very positive, friendly and helpful! The worst I've seen is some people grumbling about certain mechanics or quests, but nothing too bad, and they're usually then engaged in helpful or legitimately interesting discussion afterward.

    @Lissanna - I did hear vague whispers of that from people in the Wildstar beta, but I didn't even check out the game at all until after I was ticked off at Pardo's twitter replies, so it was all before my time. I definitely see where those complaints came from though, the "comic book" figure is pretty prevalent in many of the races. I don't really know more of the game than that yet though!

    (I will say that so far - and this is with VERY limited exposure - Deadeye whatshisface seems like an overly posturing tough-guy like many, many short-lived D&D characters I've encountered who try to be all badass and cool and usually end up being ridiculed.)

    June 2, 2014 at 12:27 PM

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    I am truly regretting pre-ordering Warlords of Draenor. I was dubious about the "boys trip" aspect, but pushed my doubt away for adorable Dread Raven Hatchling and mount. With all this BS with Rob Pardo being a sexist asshole, I wish I'd never given them that money.

    June 2, 2014 at 3:06 PM

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    @Clara, I've heard from a few people that they've been able to get refunds on their pre-orders, as recently as last week. It might be worth looking into!

    June 2, 2014 at 3:10 PM

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    @Lissana - Like Rades, I hadn't been paying much attention to WS before the Pardo shizzle hit the fizzle. I'm glad they appear to have listened to honest feedback on this topic, and hopefully they'll provide some more body types going forward as well. Rosie the Riveted needs to flex her silicon muscles!

    @Rades - To further expand, there's nothing really there to support the "malevolent Alliance rich dudes hate the peasants" trope, outside of what Ms van Cleef has to say; the writing HINTS that the officers of the Alliance just don't get it and see the peasant uprising as some sort of Defias resurgence. HOWEVER, I think the writing for that particular zone was pretty crappy and left a lot to the imagination, in a very bad way. Which is real shame since Westfall is in a way the heart and soul of Stormwind's culture, and an integral part of the early Human leveling experience pre-Cata. I guess it does, as you allude, depend on how much you've soaked in Alliance culture prior to experiencing this chain of events. I suspect that if Wrynn actually WENT to Westfall, he'd have a few words to say on the subject. Sometimes it seems like the Nobles are still running things, doesn't it?

    June 2, 2014 at 3:32 PM

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    @Grimmtooth - Ah, I see what you mean. Yeah, I don't think Varian is ACTUALLY oppressing the people of Westfall. But it IS clear that they are in serious need of help, help that doesn't appear to be coming from Stormwind any time soon. Varian will send military troops to take back Sentinel Hill, but where's the food supplies and humanitarian aid these people need? Whether intentional or not, the Stormwind government is failing these people and letting them down, big time.

    I mention the statue because I honestly DID find myself taken aback that Varian would build a huge-ass statue of himself while literally in the next county over, his people are starving in the dirt. As a new Alliance player, it was the first time I'd seen the statue, and it was (somewhat story-appropriately) very jarring and maddening!

    June 2, 2014 at 3:39 PM

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    @Rades - Yep, the statue is one part that does not jibe with the narrative that they've been building around Wrynn and Anduin. To be fair, the gap between when the statue was and wasn't there is five years, so it could have been added (chronologically) before things got badder in Westfall. And I really have no idea who built it, or why.

    But it does really stand out there.

    June 2, 2014 at 3:42 PM

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    @Grimmtooth-- Although a Hordie at heart, I leveled in Westfall and Stormwind before Cata dropped as well as after, and I see the current Westfall as a continuation of the old storyline of VanCleef done wrong by the nobility in Stormwind. Westfall, pre-Cata, was already going to pot, and there were indications in the original storyline in Stormwind that the nobility didn't care about the peasantry out in Westfall.

    Westfall basically financed the army for Outland and Northrend, and they were left holding the bag afterward.

    And that statue of Varian... The day after the Cataclysm patch (prior to the expac actually dropping), I was on my Draenei Pally perusing Stormwind. It didn't take long for me to find the statue of Varian. As I looked at it, a toon next to me said aloud "Other people's tax money," made a rude gesture, and left.

    June 2, 2014 at 6:20 PM

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    Very sorry to hear this, Rades, I've always enjoyed your writing.

    I hope Blizzard manages to remove their heads from their rear ends and address some of these things prior to WoD.

    And yes -- I really don't like how people in Westfall are treated, really jars with the whole image they try to give Varian.

    June 2, 2014 at 11:28 PM

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    Even though I knew you'd been thinking about this for a while, it's still a bit of a shock to see you leave. I've really enjoyed reading your work, so glad that Akabeko introduced me to your blogs way back when!

    Good luck, Rades, and perhaps I'll see you around in another MMO.

    June 3, 2014 at 7:35 AM

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    You're an inspiration, sir, and I'm sorry to see you go. I hope you're back full of vim and vigor for the next expac, though. Enjoy your time away.


    June 3, 2014 at 9:13 PM

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    Truth. Alliance (and Blizzard) have always been about the statues.

    June 4, 2014 at 12:17 PM

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    @Clara you can get the WoD preorder canceled. I put in a ticket from my account page and it was refunded within 24 hours.

    My sub runs out later this month. At this point all I feel is regret I gave Blizzard my money for six years straight (never took a break even during the pre-expansion quiet times).

    June 4, 2014 at 7:39 PM

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    It's hard to write something original when everyone else has said everything. But your eloquence has always made me swoon Rades. If this post is like the last episode for this season GoT, your next post when WoD comes will be eagerly awaited and we know it's coming...

    June 4, 2014 at 10:54 PM

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    Rades, I'm very sorry to hear you will take a leave. Reading your posts always takes me to a deeper level of understanding the World of Azeroth and its people. You will be very much missed.

    June 5, 2014 at 2:58 PM

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    Just Me


    I have to agree with the last comment, you will missed.

    Just remember that whatever you do, do it in Flabulor fashion.

    Best wishes to you.

    June 6, 2014 at 7:18 AM

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    It's funny I cancelled my sub on the 3rd and stopped playing for the same reasons you did. I wish I'd called Rob Pardo out by name as a reason for quitting. Now that I'm not playing I'm catching up on reading blogs, and finding more and more bloggers and other players quitting. I really hope they make a real effort to change their ways and give me a reason to re-sub. Because the game that I planned on quitting WoW for hasn't been made yet, and is not even on the horizon.

    June 12, 2014 at 4:24 PM

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    I wasn't sure if that was you on Tumblr with that quitting post. I need to get around to making that gif of Mike Morheim from when he was on Tabletop. Also I wish I hadn't quit a couple months before all the bs started or I'd have quit and said the same thing.

    Man, I never did get Kilnara's panther.

    June 16, 2014 at 12:59 PM

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    I quit back in January due to boredom and feeling obligated and my depression actually being worse when I played WoW all the time.

    Blizz is just... failing miserably at this. I'm glad I got out when I did. I'm debating whether I'll continue to play SC2 on principle.

    June 19, 2014 at 1:20 AM