Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Review: Here Without You

The Vitals: The Strider receives its first review request! Horkin, a Horde-side player on Shadow Council, wrote in to suggest an older Warcraft video, "Here Without You," by Dimoroc. As warned by Horkin, the video is not in the least amusing and viewers should prepare themselves to have their emotions toyed with. Enjoy it or not, the dramatics of "Here Without You" cannot be denied.

Story: 4/5
The story of "Here Without You" is simple and well told. Without a single line of dialog, we learn the story of the human Dimoroc, his excursion to the north with his beloved at his side, their subsequent deaths at the hands of Redsword, and finally Dimoroc's revenge. The story is touching, sad and visually eloquent.

Text and Titles: 2/5
Serviceable, though pixelated more than YouTube can account for. Also, I'm going to have to slap "Here Without You" with a penalty for overlong (an ellipsis is 3 periods, not 4) and overuse of ellipsises. Simple line breaks would have more than sufficed.

Camera and Effects: 4/5
There is a little bit of mouse shake, but camera angles are generally excellent and quite cinematic. There are few effects in this story-heavy video, but the scenery is used to wonderful effect. Well done.

Music and Editing: 4/5
As the title would certainly imply, the video is set to "Here Without You," by 3 Doors Down. Now, I own one of their early CDs and only that one. I like the group, but not enough to let their music get stuck looping in my head. However, the effect of the song along with the video is quite beautiful.

Wipes and cuts are nicely timed with both the beat and content of the song. The result is an excellent building of dramatic tension as we first wonder why we're watching this Forsaken man, then learn of his life, his love, his death, and finally his revenge and closure.

Overall Score: 4/5
"Here Without You" had me sobbing like a child. Well done, even if I occasionally resent having my emotions toyed with. A classic Warcraft movie, despite its age, and well worth a few moments of your time. Touching, imaginative, moving and well crafted. Bravo!

On a related note, Dimoroc did create a sequel to "Here Without You." Will there be more? I hope so. Dimoroc seems to have a flair for telling stories without a spoken word.

Want me to review your video? Send me a link at ShC.Strider@GMail.com.

About the Author:
E.D. Lindquist is a multimedia consultant for a large newspaper association. She has produced video for a major daily newspaper and helped to create standards for online production throughout California.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Gold Record

This week’s Gold Record finds continuing low average prices for both Horde and Alliance auction houses. Horde average prices have risen 6 points from last week, but are still slightly low at 96 points, whereas Alliance average prices have fallen 6 points from last week, landing at 85 points. This continues a four-week trend for the Alliance being a buyer’s market and is the second concurrent week of buyer’s market for the Horde.

On the Alliance side, there were a couple of sharp increases in prices of goods. Both Iron Ore and Runecloth are up (40 and 32 points respectively), bringing both up above the 100-point mark. Countering the affects of these two increases, Linen Cloth, Silk Cloth and Mageweave Cloth have all dropped (58, 50 and 26 points respectively) from last week’s high values, each residing in the 85-100 point range. Fel Iron Ore continues to be very low demand (at 53 points) and a supply of very low-priced Wool Cloth has registered at 59 points.

On the Horde side, metal has been in high demand. Rising prices for Copper Ore, Tin Ore and Fel Iron Ore have raised the average value of Horde goods this week (rising 31, 36 and 24 points respectively). This was a mostly corrective action, as the rise brought Copper Ore to 99 points and Fel Iron Ore to 89, although Iron Ore has inflated to 126 points. Despite the aforementioned rises, Mithril Ore, Runecloth and Netherweave Cloth have all been in low demand. Mithril Ore has dropped 38 points from last week’s already low value, landing at 40 points. Netherweave and Runecloth have both corrected from last week’s high value, dropping 23 and 45 points to land at 91 and 83 points respectively.

Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance since April 2007. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Coming Soon: Q and A with author Aaron Rosenberg

Shadow Council players are invited to submit their questions

World of Warcraft author Aaron Rosenberg has contacted The Strider and agreed to answer questions from the Shadow Council community!

Last month Rosenberg's book "Tides of Darkness" was released. It follows Orgrim Doomhammer, Anduin Lothar, and other heroes during the events of the second war in the strategy game "Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness."

Rosenberg also wrote "Queen of Blades," which was published in May 2006 and set in Blizzard Entertainment's Starcraft world. He has previously written for Star Trek, White Wolf, Warhammer, and Wizards of the Coast.

When he is not writing books or short stories, he is managing his own video game company Clockworks, role-playing, blogging, editing, or taking care of his two children. He lives in New York with his wife and family.

If you would like to submit a question to Aaron Rosenberg, email The Strider at shc.strider@gmail.com or post a comment here by 10 p.m. Mountain time Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Thank you for your participation!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Gold Record

This week’s auction house averages have seen low prices across both Horde and Alliance auction houses. The two Shadow Council markets are currently very near to each other, currently just one point apart (with the Horde at 90 points and the Alliance at 91). The two markets are very similar in regards to ores, however each market maintains its own distinct trends when cloth is considered.

The Alliance market has dropped slightly since last week, losing 2 points from its average. Every ore except for Thorium Ore is down from last week, and Thorium is only up 1 point (from 109 to 110 points). Despite the widely-sweeping lowered prices, costs haven’t changed too dramatically. The average change from last week’s prices (considering only the ores that have dropped since last week) is 17 points, however the bulk of that comes from Copper Ore and Iron Ore, which have lost 27 and 31 points respectively. Cloth prices have also continued fairly steadily, with the only major changes being in the prices for Silk Cloth and Mageweave Cloth. Each has risen since last week’s averages, with Silk Coth gaining 50 points at 136 and Mageweave Cloth gaining 18 points at 123.

On the Horde side, prices have shifted dramatically since last week, dropping 11 points across the board. Copper Ore, Tin Ore, Mithril Ore and Silk Cloth have all experienced dramatic price drops since last week (30 points or more), whereas Mageweave Cloth and Netherweave Cloth have both gained in prices. Copper Ore and Mithril Ore are especially low, having each lost 55 points from last week (Copper dropped to 68 points and Mithril Ore dropped to 77 points). Linen Cloth has continued its low trend, coming in at 53 points (up 2 from last week), and Netherweave Cloth has pushed past the 100 point marker by rising 40 points from last week and landing at 113 points.

Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance since April 2007. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

As chemo continues, health improving some for 11-year-old with brain cancer, says father

The health of Ezra Chatterton, the fifth-grade World of Warcraft player diagnosed with brain cancer, is improving “in a lot of ways,” according to his father Micah Chatterton.

After regularly taking severe, prescribed painkillers, Ezra is no longer taking any prescription pain medication, something his father said the doctors had little expectation he could do.

A reduction in prescribed pain killers culminated Saturday, when Ezra stopped taking morphine altogether. His father, who works as a caregiver for an elderly woman while taking care of his son during the week, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the morphine withdrawals could last five to seven days.

“Which is a good sign that the treatments have had a positive effect on the tumors,” said Micah.

“Right now I'm just very happy that he's where he's at now, and that the cancer's not growing.”

The fifth-grader has finished radiation treatments, but has five chemotherapy treatments left. He takes one chemo treatment every six weeks. His father said that when Ezra takes chemotherapy, he is sick for about a week. He then has five weeks to recover before beginning the cycle again.

Four months ago, when Ezra made his trip to Blizzard studios in Irvine, he was having double vision. His father said swelling in his brain put pressure on a nerve to his eye, which caused his eye to lose mobility. He wore an eye patch to help. But now the swelling is down, and the eye patch is “mostly cosmetic,” Micah said. “He wears it and his fedora when he goes out.”

Ezra tires quickly. He cannot walk more than 100 feet at a time, and does not have a lot of stamina to play WoW, Micah said, though he does strategize with his father about what his character needs in the game.

“He's still very involved with the mythology and strategy of the game—he's just not playing it very much. It's very much a part of his fantasy world that he imagines while he's lying in bed.”

Micah is looking forward to starting physical therapy, which will help rebuild Ezra's strength, and allow his activity level to increase.

Ezra's character “Ephoenix” has been sometimes fighting in the “Battlegrounds,” a place where players can fight with each other, because he can earn new armor and weapons there.

“His set (of armor) has gone a little out of date in the last couple patches,” Micah said.

Shadow Council player “Adriano” was glad to hear Ezra was able to stop taking morphine. “That's good news,” the player said in an in-game interview. “Certainly I wish him the best.

Players can post well-wishes and find information about his benefit fund at the Web site, ezrachatterton.org.

--L. Waymire

Friday, September 7, 2007

Real-life friendships made, celebrated at meet and greet

The second annual Meet and Greet for World of Warcraft players on the Shadow Council server is coming Sept. 22 at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, Md.

Renaissance Faire admission is $18 at the door. Costumes are optional.

Organizer Amy Bullach of Herdon, Va. (better known as “Sheva”), said she has made real-life friends while playing World of Warcraft—friends who can relate to each other outside of the virtual world.

After chatting online with other players, and discovering common interests, Bullach learned some of them lived nearby, and decided to try to meet with them last fall.

“When a number of people expressed an interest in visiting it kind of naturally morphed into an official meet and greet,” she said in an online interview.

“I've gotten to know a lot of fellow Shadow Council folk on a more real, personal basis, and consider myself very lucky in that regard,” she said. “…I consider many close and trusting friends and often can share hard times with them as well as celebrations and am met with a lot of love, support and friendship.”

Christina Cericola of Collingswood, N.J. went last year, and plans to come again this year.

“I think people who play/role-play on WoW are a creative bunch, like me,” Cericola said. “The kind of people I would hang out with in real life.”

In fact, Cericola has been playing her character “Engl” ever since her husband took her to a Meet and Greet in June of 2005.

“All I knew about WoW was it was a game (my husband) played for hours while I went shopping,” Cericola said in an in-game interview. “Then he says, ‘hey, let’s go meet some people.’ I said sure, not really paying attention.”

That meet and greet was hosted by “Ruzska,” a player who was a minor server celebrity for her numerous in-game events. There, Cericola met people who were “so cool” they convinced her to try the game.

Organizer Bullach said she will arrive early at the festival to stake out a table at the main tavern, which participants can then use as a “home base” between shows. The faire opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m.

According to the organizer, 14 people came to last year’s event. Though she expects a smaller number this year, she said she is looking forward to meeting some new players.

Agoriss” will be one of those new faces. He hopes the Renaissance Festival will provide a good social icebreaker “for meeting those strange people who geek out on WoW, role-playing all day long.”

“I also look forward to maybe making friends that I can see away from WoW,” Agoriss wrote in an email, “ ‘cause let’s face it... we can't spend our whole lives in the darkness of our computer room playing WoW all day!”

The organizer said she tries to keep things flexible. The group may tour Washington, D.C. the day after the Renaissance Festival if there is interest.

Sept. 22 starts “Adventure Weekend” at the Renaissance Festival, which is a sailor- and explorer-themed weekend. Costumes are optional. Performers will include the Medieval Times, a jousting group.

--L. Waymire

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Gold Record

This past week’s auction house averages find continuing overall trends from the last two weeks, although once again, many individual items have shifted around. As is common, the prices on the Alliance auction houses were lower than on the Horde auction houses, although the difference has grown slightly this week to a 10 point difference.

On the Alliance side, Copper Ore has broken its low trend, rising 20 points from last week to 93 points. In fact, all of the basic ores are at or above 90 points, with the notable exception of Fel Iron Ore, which is coming in at an average price of 56 points (up 16 points from last week). Despite the slightly high averages, no Ores averaged higher than Iron Ore, which was only 117 points, meaning that the Ore prices have been very balanced on the auction house this past week. For the most part, cloth prices have dropped since last week, with Wool Cloth and Silk Cloth dropping especially dramatically (dropping 60 and 44 points respectively). Despite this trend in cloth, Mageweave Cloth prices have risen 28 points since last week, landing at 104 points.

Horde auction houses have seen similar averages in terms of ores, with most metals coming in around the average of 100 points. The lowest priced ore is Fel Iron Ore, which comes in at a respectable 82 points (up 20 points from last week). The most expensive ore currently is Mithril Ore, which is up 21 points from last week at 133 points. Continuing low demand for Linen Cloth has kept the prices very low on the Horde auction houses, registering an average of 51 points this week (up 1 point from last week). Despite the availability of Linen Cloth, Wool Cloth remains in high demand (and low supply), commanding prices at 196 points. Other cloth prices have continued their trends, with Runecloth still demanding above-average prices at 126 points (down 38 points from last week) and Netherweave Cloth being relatively low-demand (at 72 points).

Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance since April 2007. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

'Sword of the Tides' project aims to include all players

A server-wide role playing project, open to anyone's participation no matter what level or faction, began Monday on the Shadow Council forums. The organizer, who plays a gnome with mysterious motivations called “Pennydrop,” says she has written what she hopes is an adventure/mystery storyline that can be played by anyone.

The storyline began with a puzzle that was distributed on the forums for players to solve. The puzzle offered a reward for the first person to solve it, and from there, more quests and events will slowly reveal the plot behind “Sword of the Tides.”

“Basically it's your standard archetypical adventure story -- there's trouble with the seas, this mysterious Pennydrop person needs adventurers to investigate, and rewards will be offered,” the organizer said in an in-game interview.

Pennydrop says the real goal behind her project is to include everyone who wants to participate.

“Having been on ShC for a long while now, and having been involved in a lot of role-playing, feeling ‘shut out’ or excluded is one of those complaints that comes up a lot,” Pennydrop said. “And it's not always something that people do intentionally. There (are) a number of factors that can cause new and old role-players alike to feel like they're on the outside looking in…so I kind of wanted to do an event that was advertised as both ‘big’ and ‘open’ from the very beginning, and try to plan things in such a way that anyone could get involved.”

In order to involve players on a large scale, Pennydrop says, she has planned several different ways for people to interact with the story. She has assistants in both the Horde and Alliance factions. Events will take place in-world which anyone can attend. If a player’s schedule means they can’t attend an event, there are puzzles and riddles to ponder. Players may also collect virtual items in-game for Pennydrop—something that can be done alone or in a group, at the player’s leisure.

Prizes include three rare turtle mounts, which will be given away during the course of the story.

Three players have already individually solved the first clue, a coded message. The first player to solve the cipher was “Heulwen,” who could not be reached at press time. She will be given a prize. The second player was “Juliard,” who says he spent four hours on and off working to solve the cipher.

“…I've always loved codes so I gave it a shot, and once I started working on it, I couldn't stop,” Juliard said in an in-game interview. “Got more intrigued once I read the further Tides details and saw the web site.”

Juliard, who has been role-playing for about 15 years, said this type of open storyline is his favorite way to play in the world. He enjoys reacting to events and seeing how others respond in kind.

And now that the first puzzle is solved, Pennydrop says an in-game event is on its way. An announcement will be made on the forums and on the Sword of Tides web site.

“It's always good to see someone start up some open RP that people are excited about!” Juliard's player said. “And, I can't wait for the next contest, so I can win!”

Who is Pennydrop?

“Pennydrop” made her first appearance last December when she mysteriously sent out a single gold coin to many characters of both factions during “Winter Veil,” the game’s gift-giving holiday in December. Why did she do it?

According to a poll taken last winter, the majority of players don't want to know about Pennydrop's in-character motivations—they enjoyed the mystery of her identity.

“My main concern at the time was whether people would actually like to associate a face and a backstory with the Pennydrop character, or whether they preferred the mystery,” Pennydrop said in an in-game interview. “And by far, everyone liked the mystery better, so I'm really going to play that up in the Sword of the Tides story.”

Players interested in participating should send their puzzle solutions to Pennydrop, either via an in-game message, an email to pennydrop@swordoftides.com, or via a private message to Pennydrop on Roleplayer's Haven. Players can also contact her assistants, Silvia on the Alliance side or Goldstein on the Horde side.

Pennydrop thanks the server of Shadow Council. “It's because of the experiences I've had here that I'm motivated to do this; we have a wonderful RP community on both the Alliance and Horde sides of the fence,” she said.
--L. Waymire