Repped off

Part of the pursuit of flight in Draenor is gathering reputation with various factions. The rep grind is one of the long established pillars of Warcraft, and many people seem to love (or at least tolerate) the repetitive path to being Exalted.

I find it kind of soul crushing after about Honoured. Which is kind of pathetic given most factions want to at least Revere you before it’s worth your while. It does depend a lot on the carrot at the end of the grind stick. For a Netherwing Drake I’ll throw a lot of boots, and flying is a big carrot too.

The Tanaan work though I’m finding a little too far to the glazed eye side of the equation. The chores are quite long and you can’t one-shot most of the bad guys. It’s more fun than Garrison stasis, but still not something I’d want to do more than once.

Which makes me surprised to see the many people who have obviously already got the required rep – as they triumphantly swoop down from the skies onto the mob I was about to tag – doing it again on alts.

I guess that’s the beauty of MMOs – you can play it anyway you want. As long as you’re Revered with Tanaan that is.

This sporting life

Despite being in Australia, I’ve managed to catch a fair amount of NFL action this year (the new free-to-air sports-only Channel One is brilliant). Gridiron has always fascinated me – what other sport has people wearing full body armour and helmets?

The coverage, presentation, amazing camera work (they seem to have one HD camera for each player, for every game), and deeply knowledgeable commentators make it a real spectacle. The way it is hyped is amazing, making every game (or at least the Sunday Night/Monday Night games) seem like an epic battle of the utmost importance. It’s a unique insight into American culture.

Watching this year has made me realise just how much the military is a day-to-day part of American life. Every game seems to have an airforce fly-by, or military marching band, or tribute to the fallen, or gigantic American flag being unveiled & folded with military precision. The zenith was during Veterans Day, when they went as far as flying some of the commentators and coaches to Afghanistan to bond with the troops, who then rhapsodised on air about how much they missed those times with ‘the boys’. As if they too were ‘in the fight’. Truly strange stuff.

A group of friends used to run a virtual Madden NFL season, getting together each week to try out our tactics and seek PC domination. It was great fun until one of our more obsessive players, and the one with the most time on his hands, worked out how to ‘break’ the game via an undefendable play that would have been impossible in the real game. Or so we thought.

One of the most interesting things watching the actual NFL this year has been the emergence of the “Wildcat” formation. This is where the regular quarterback is replaced instead by someone who can run, pass, fake, kick, do magic tricks, and cartwheel. The unpredictable nature of this player means the defence is often completely confused, which is the general idea. Do they set-up for a pass? For a run? A punt? It’s fun to watch as the D scrambles to make sense of what is about to happen.

Miami seems to have been the first to popularise it in the NFL, though apparently it’s long been a staple of College football. But it’s now spread to many teams, and in many variations. In the last game of the regular season, the New York Jets created the most bizarre formation I’d seen where the regular quarterback lined up several times as a Wide Receiver. I had no idea what he was doing out there, nor did the commentators. It was so strange, and you could see the defence just didn’t know how to deal with it. A Miami game earlier in the season had a fake punt, that turned into a run, and then a pass, for a touchdown. All in the same play.

I’ve been amazed that at times this season it seems like the NFL has been influenced by the Madden computer game. Madden encourages you to try different formations, do some insane stuff that the other player won’t be prepared for. Just like my friend, the NFL coaching staff have come up with something unpredictable that changes the game. They haven’t broken the NFL like you could the computer version, but they’ve sure made it more entertaining.

Who knows, thanks to Madden, we may see the old under-the-jumper statue-of-liberty 70 yard hoike in the NFL after all.

Toruk Makto saw Avatar, again. And was again amazed by the reality of the world James Cameron created. You no longer need to suspend your disbelief – it is real.

It also again struck me the influence WoW (amongst other video games) must have had on some of the designers. There are many moments that recall Warcraft, from the critters that roam Pandora’s forests, to the no agro radius wildlife, to the epic ground mounts.

The scene when the Na’vi warriors scale the Hallelujah Mountains to the Banshee nests is my favourite sequence, the moment when the wonder of Pandora really sinks in. And the Banshee are the strongest WoW reminder of all. Those things are Proto-Drakes through and through. Jake & Neytiri’s flying cliff dive is almost enough to make you want to go B.A.S.E jumping to experience what they do, or failing that to hop on a WoW dragon and wish for some VR goggles.

It’s a great film. When I finally finish What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been, I want a Toruk instead of the Violet Drake 🙂