Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tourist. (edited)

Matty wonders how they did that...

There was a brief moment when I took my haemophobic Death Knight, Morphemia, to the Horde side of the tracks. As I always do, gave my tusk-ed friend a hug and he said, "BOOOO!" That was a major faux pas. I may have well told him he looked pretty and should ride frosting-covered unicorns over puppy rainbows. That insulting gesture, compounded with the fact I felt completely disoriented in the new city and had other friends who needed Morphemia's level to complete some task or another, caused my jump back to Alliance. 

All of us have experienced when a visitor, family, friend, or acquaintance, comes to our home turf. It's a joke that we are never tourists with the familiar, we have to wait until we have a visitor before we do anything. I have spent the past fortnight touring around my native land, visiting things and sights I haven't seen in years: beautiful natural and man-made achievements alike. Favorite foods, customs, idioms, entertainment, and mostly personal stories, are shared when a visitor is in town. Time moves on, though: there's construction, changes, old shops I had counted on were no longer there (most notably independent booksellers--saddened, but not surprised, as I hypocritically check the battery life on my Kindle), the gentrification of some blocks and the destruction of others. In the past few weeks, I've explained the English words and colloquialisms "roadkill" and "suburbia." 
Lupe meets Caylee Dak during a detour in Shattrath...

We players often look at the big, loud, most impactful decisions Blizzard makes. We all know or can easily find out who those are behind those big production and direction decisions. Those gentlemen (sadly, not enough women in game design) are sitting at the big, long table on stage at Blizzcon. 

But, I don't know who or how many are behind the other contributions--meaning, I don't know who the Blizz employees are who understand that to keep a city, town, or any environment alive, the engineers and architects are just as important, no--perhaps more important, than the designers who come up with how Arthas will look, or the cut-of-his-jib face on Deathwing. I'm talking about the designers, illustrators, and writers who have an understanding for cityscapes, back alleys, interior design, textures, light/shadow, the NPC placement, and keeping the nooks and crannies interesting. Tip of the Worgen Top Hat to them, the Underpants Gnomes behind the scenes. (Or perhaps they are more like House Elves, and no one will give them a sock to free them.)

There are countless lore stories, rumors, and mysteries around the virtual world our intrepid little characters tromp around in, from the grand to the details, such as discovering the best place to buy a Darnassus peach or where to pick Purple Lotus. You may still be able to find where your elf boyfriend carved your initials in that enchanted treant, but it may have been turned to ashes, sadly. As much as we all love new content and stories, sentimentality has its place, too. (Hadrian's Wall still stands in England, though Hadrian has long turned to worm chow. I can just imagine some Roman centurion, putting those rocks in some order, knowing that he is never getting back to the Tuscan sun, feeling a touch homesick. Maybe his new British bride made him happy. One can only hope.)

The other morning, in fact, a sweet guildmate asked where the Justice Point vendor was located in Stormwind; she had a hole burning in her pocket, and wanted to blow the wad. Her experience has been solely horde up till this mage she's leveled in our guild, so naturally she didn't have her bearings yet. It wasn't that I was being impatient, but since the vendor is by the training dummies, thought she could fly around and look, too. Sometimes you just want a linear path, from Point A to B. No short-cuts, no detours. I suggest, though, that once in awhile, take those detours, as the 'crow flies' so to speak, and see where your journey takes you. Just the other day, I found a great little pub that sells Fizzy Fruit Wine, down this alley, behind a rat, next to a gnome. So sweet.

Postscript: Read this amazing perspective when you can:

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