Aurilo is the latin stem for cats; Aurilomancy is the practice of divining the future by gutting a cat and examining the entrails (I promise this is going somewhere). Poda is the latin stem for feet, like podiatrist. Mela is the latin stem for black, like melanoma (a skin cancer that makes black splotches on your skin, also related to melanin, which gives skin color). Leuca (or leuka) is the latin stem for white, like leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells).
This is what the scientists called pandas: A cat-footed, black and white animal.
I almost didn’t write a post on the topic of the next expansion; as MMO Melting Pot has reported, virtually everyone else has, and most of what I wanted to say I found reflected in the posts of others. I hate to seem like a copycat (which I am), so I almost went ahead with a different post.
Instead, I’m going to dive in to the same nonsense and say my piece. I think there’s a lot of overreaction and poor writing going on. Complaining about our cat-footed friends really shouldn’t be an issue. There seem to be a lot of interesting changes being made, which certainly keeps the game fresh. Instead, what I think people should be focused on (and some have focused on this already) is the marketing direction of the game.
It’s always been a game with a lot of childish elements to it, and that was fine. We’re fantasy lovers, so silly walrus-men and “dapper lycanthropes” (to copycat Penny Arcade) were endearing. I doubt Pandas will be much different. I think my initial revulsion was due to the obvious similarity to Kung-Fu Panda, which has already been widely discussed, so I won’t say more about that here.
However, reflecting on that disappointment, I more clearly refined why I was upset. I remember being extremely irritated about the child Boba Fett character in Star Wars. The first of the newer movies had a child Anakin, so that was all they needed to make the series kid-friendly. Jar Jar was certainly a further child-oriented addition who grated adults to no end. However, as Anakin aged, they wanted still to have a child character, so they threw in Boba Fett. He was a entirely unnecessary addition, and the only reason I can think to add him would be to appeal to kids.
The original Star Wars had mass murder (of the Jawas) and burning dead bodies. It had anti-heroes who by god, shot first. It was a fantasy, but it was not a kids movie. Sure, kids could watch it (I sure did), but its themes were more universal, it’s characters adult and complex. Sticking kids in turns Bond into Spy Kids, Star Wars 4-6 into Star Wars 1-3.
At some level, I feel that’s why I’m upset about the next expansion. Three of the four major changes – pandas, pokémon, and the talent trees – are making the game more geared for children. Only monks stand out as a more adult addition, but compared to Death Knights, who murder innocents for Arthas prior to their redemption, even monks seem a bit kiddy.
I don’t think I need to really explain why the cartoony pandas are child-oriented, so I’ll keep this short. If you compare the greed-centric goblins, the self-hating lycanthropes, the worldless, lost Draenei, or the magic-addicted blood-elves to the bouncy, food-loving pandas, you can see a real shift in the “darkness” (or complexity of character) ratio. They’re lighter characters, which is fine, but are also more kid-friendly.
If I didn’t need to explain the pandas, I really don’t need to explain the Pokémon addition. In fact, I’ll say only this: sure, it was my generation that really started the CCG craze with Magic: the Gathering. It was the following generation, kids in college now, who really dug in to Pokémon first. Since then, though Pokémon’s become so culturally infused through shows, movies, video games, stuffed animals, and the original card game that it’s still very popular to kids, and it’s far more socially acceptable for them. It’s another addition for the kids.
The talent trees are also, indirectly, for kids. They simplify the game even more. I’ve complained about homogenization for a while, and this is no different. Now even within the same class certain iconic talents are available to whomever. You don’t need to do the research, you don’t need to understand how the talents work, you just choose one and move on. Beyond that, they’re so similar that there almost can’t be a wrong choice. Since kids wouldn’t be interested in learning to play, but just playing (which is completely fine by me, but I wouldn’t want to raid with them), this, too, is an addition for the kids as it makes the game more accessible for them.
Don’t get me started about only getting 1 talent every 15 levels, either. That just pisses me off. The reward for leveling was talent points. I already lost half of them. The little dopamine squirts I got every time I spent one of those points (often wrongly) meant I was feeling good. While I applaud the designers for making their game less addictive for a change (literally – dopamine is what a lot of addictive controlled substances manipulate), I also find it frustrating that they’ll be less little rewards along the way.
I’m an old man now. I don’t want to spend my free time with kids. If WoW’s to turn from a casino to a playground, I’m going to feel more out of place than I already do. In fact, don’t they generally arrest adults who hang around playgrounds but don’t have any kids of their own there?
That said, I’ll play the xpac; I know I will. I’ll almost certainly play a panda monk (since it will be the only class I haven’t leveled and the only new zones I haven’t seen). I really like the idea of there being no end boss; the best stories aren’t about the obvious bad guys, but about what the obvious bad guys release (which often kills them). More on that another day.
On a related, but only barely, note, I’ve started to feel the crunch. The 10×85 challenge was to be completed before the next expansion. That now has meaning, a time limit, a deadline. 7 down, 3 to go, and go I must if I want to finish.
Stubborn (and skeptical)