Home > Game Development, Out and About, Social Networking, World of Warcraft > The Road to World Conquest: Cataclysmic tidings!

The Road to World Conquest: Cataclysmic tidings!

Obviously, the end of the world is nigh: On Wednesday, I went to the doctor for my annual physical.

I don’t like doctors. Nothing against all you doctors out there – it’s totally irrational. I’ve never been diagnosed, but it feels like borderline iatrophobia. I think it comes from the fact that I hate hearing bad news and past experience has suggested that, more often than not, when one visits the doctor, one doesn’t come away with good news.

On the other hand: Preventive medicine is a good idea. I’ve still got a few weeks of Icarus-provided insurance left. And Catherine would like to make sure that I don’t die anytime soon.

So, I went to the doctor on Wednesday.

The first two things they did: Weighed me and took my blood pressure. I’m still hovering around 215 pounds – about 30 pounds to go before I’m absolutely happy with my weight. Blood pressure reading made me panic, though: 145/95. That’s in the neighborhood of hypertension. Well, there you go, I thought. The bad news starts.

The doctor didn’t say much about that at first. We moved on. I got a flu shot, then she checked my heart and lungs. Made me say “ah.” Looked up my nose and in my ears. Eventually, when I seemed relatively calm, she re-took the blood pressure for a follow-up reading. This time: 124/80. Much better!

After that, she gave me nothing but good news: Heart and lungs sounded fine. Nothing bad, skin-wise. No suspicious lumps or potential malignancies.

Then I went down to the lab and gave three blood samples for metabolic and cholesterol testing. As of Saturday, I haven’t heard any bad news from those tests so far.

Maybe I won’t be so terrified of doctors anymore.


World of Warcraft released its newest expansion, Cataclysm, on Tuesday. I’ve been playing through the new content.

On the first day, I spent much of my time in the new goblin starter area with a character on the Earthen Ring server named Gizmik. The goblins bring some much-needed whimsy to the Horde side of things. They’re tacky, trashy, and reckless. They blow stuff up with alarming regularity. They ride rockets as mass transit. What’s not to like?

The next day, I took my Level 80 tauren, Stamp – the only character I’ve ever gotten to the former level cap – out to the underwater high-level zone.

The day after that, I created a new worgen named Dillahunt so that I could experience the new Alliance werewolf content.

All three experiences echoed with one striking similarity: At a time when many MMO players are calling for more “sandbox” content as opposed to linear storylines, WoW is taking the linear storyline model to a whole new level using the phasing technology that they introduced in the Lich King expansion. For me, it mostly works because the devs are creating a more immersive and personal experience, while keeping some sense of serendipity and surprise with quests that pop up, seemingly at random, while you’re out playing in the world.

Things I liked (Goblin Edition):

* The tacky sprawl of the goblin town of Kezan.
* Getting a car right off the bat to zoom around the starter town.
* The moment when Deathwing makes his appearance over the island.
* The repeated use of familiar characters from Kezan in later goblin content, giving a greater sense of your persistence and impact on the world.
* The goblin rocketway in Azshara.
* The raptor rescue quest in the Secret Labs, where you end up covered in hissing and growling baby raptors. Glorious!

Things I didn’t like (Goblin Edition):

* More poop quests? Really? Granted, it doesn’t come until Azshara, but the big reveal about where those shiny crystals come from made me roll my eyes.
* The faux Jersey accent.

Things I liked (Stamp Edition):

* The sense that the world changed and evolved based on what I did as the missions progressed. I enjoyed this feature in WotLK. In Cataclysm, they just amped it up everywhere. It’s quite an accomplishment, making an MMO feel personalized. It’s something that I thought Lord of the Rings Online did quite well, and Blizzard seems to have taken some cues from what worked for the Hobbits.
* Quick travel option with the seahorse mount in one of the early underwater quests.
* The “astronaut” run animation along the sea floor.
* Huge whale shark!
* Getting chomped on by a grouper.

Things I didn’t like (Stamp Edition):

* Felt like I was in an aquarium, not the deep blue sea.
* The Jaws/Pirates of the Caribbean quest. Sorry! I think I’m just burned out on quests that just blatantly draw off pop culture. It felt lazy.

Things I liked (Worgen Edition):

* Enjoyed the starkly different mood of the worgen starting area, with its Victorian style and gloomy forboding.
* The “Running Wild” ability, which makes it possible for a worgen to be their own fast transportation.
* The option of switching between human (albeit without combat abilities) and worgen form.
* The new and improved murloc-killing quest in Darkshore, where you use a special robot to blow the hell out of the annoying critters.

Things I Didn’t Like (Worgen Edition):

* The opening storyline that takes the player from Gilneas to Darnassus seems to drag on a bit long after a while.
* In the beta, worgen didn’t need special knives to skin creatures – their claws were good enough! Now, even worgen need knives.

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