Wednesday, 21 January 2015

WCC: World of Warcraft Shadow Box

   I sort of inadvertantly abandoned my WoW Crafting Challenge just over a year ago; I took a break because 2013's Christmas sales (this blog is that old?) were taking up too much of my time to be able to maintain it, and the same went for Atherya's diary. I had intended fully to come back to both of them, but...I suppose I got used to just not doing it. The time got filled in with other things.
   I did manage to get a couple of things up last year, but they were things I'd already started work on before going on the hiatus, so nothing new really happened.
   I'd like to try to return to the challenge, but the truth is that I'm feeling a bit burnt out with crafting after the Christmas just passed, not to mention the fact that, while I can still come up with a few other mediums I've not used yet, I can't seem to get excited about doing it. I do have some diary entries for Atherya backed up, but I've been hesitant to post them because I don't want to start and then abruptly stop again, you know? I'd rather try to get back into consistant posting.

   Anyway, I dug out an old piece that never made it up last year, in part because it was never finished. A friend of mine in the US makes wonderful watercolour shadowboxes, and I fancied trying my hand at one. She uses nature as her subject and she's very good at it, and she's also helped me a little with making this piece.
   My skill with drawing and paints don't have a chance in hell of meeting Connie's, but I think I got quite lucky with both my Night Elf and my Orc. I admit that I cheated with the background, though. I knew I couldn't create enough to fill a background, and I wanted it to be set in Ashenvale because it's one of my favourite zones, so I may have taken a screen shot of a clearing in Ashenvale and printed it out... It printed quite poorly, though. But honestly, I promise that I did try to paint the background. I wasted much paper and many paint in my numerous attempts, and in the end I had to admit defeat to that aspect, and to compensate I made the tree roots larger than I wanted to (clearly my tree-making skills are epic).
   But the two figures are the main focus, and I'm really pleased with their outcome. I drew them A4 size initially, then scanned them into the PC and printed them much smaller so I had several line drawings to work with in case I messed up the watercolour, but I surprised myself. The Orc's shading leaves a lot to be desired, but I was content to settle on it. They were a nightmare to cut out, too.

   I think there could be a little more in there, like something treeish in the top right corner. I can't think what it could possibly be, and now I look at it, I remember that that was actually what stopped me from finishing it early last year. I decided yesterday, though, to just put together what I had, knowing it would only remain unfinished otherwise. Besides, if I really want to fill that top corner, I can still fix something in place easily enough by gluing the tab to the wood rather than slotting the tab into the background.
   I also can't decide if the window lid thing should be removed or not. The plastic window isn't as clear or crisp as it could be, and the frame around it - the thinnest one I could find - casts too much shadow into the box. I suppose that should be fine because Ashenvale isn't exactly the brightest of places, but the excessive wooden colouring around the edges of the box sort of creates too much of a contrast...buuuut it also forces you to view the contents head-on rather than from an angle which hides the wooden surfaces inside and adds a bit more depth...I really haven't got a clue.

   But I am happy with the outcome.
   It's made from a simple wooden window box, cardboard and paint, but because they're so long, the tabs from which the Orc and Night Elf are suspended have been reinforced with jewellery wire - you use what you have, really :P
   Like I said, I used a screenshot for the background, and I drew the Orc and Night Elf out on a full sheet of paper before scanning them in, cleaning up the lines and printing them far smaller. I used watercolour paints to colour them and I'm quite pleased with that, though the Orc could do with more shading. The tree was hard as hell to paint, I don't do well with purples for some reason, but I'm happy enough with it, and then it was just a case of folding cardboard tabs to go behind each piece, though the grass just have folded bases.

   To be honest it really wasn't a trial to make, it was a harder job just finding a box the right size and getting the drawings right. If there were enough takers I'd LOOOOVE to do a shadowbox competition, maybe just to make a scene - any scene - to any location in the game and use a screenshot for the background as I did.
   The trouble with arts and crafts, however, is that people get quite paranoid about their skill rather than just having some fun with it, and end up not trying. All of my friends are like that. I'm not the only creative one out of my tiny little group, but I am the only one that does anything with it, while the rest look at it and say "I wish I could do that" but have never once tried, and probably won't, either.
   A crafting competition has been on my mind for a while, if I'm honest, even while I haven't been blogging - the idea actually occurred to me when I started the crafting challenge in 2013, but like I said I'm not sure that anyone would be willing to participate, and I'd need some pretty great prizes for the work that would be put in. Just what they'd be, I don't know.

   Well, if anyone thinks they'd be interested in participating in a crafting competition, or a shadow box competition, please do let me know. I might put a more detailed post together about where to find materials and a step-by-step how-to. With a shadow box all you really need to buy is the box itself, the rest is just paper, a printer, and paints/pens/pencils, so it's actually a cheap option.
   I'm going to be quiet now, because this idea is growing on me big time and I don't want to go getting my hopes up. I might make a how-to for a shadowbox anyway, maybe put it up here or on my other blog, so at least if anyone is interested they can have a look.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


   I'm sure most of you are aware of how much of a loner I am when it comes to this game. If Seeg isn't playing, I'm on my own, doing my own thing, and interaction with other players is very rare. I wasn't always like that; back in the old days group quests, especially 1-60, were common and you had no choice but to find other players, and I still remember how awkward it was - for me, at least.
   Well, since group quests have gone bye-bye, I rarely, if ever, talk to other players. Though, when I do, it's usually because I'm jumping to the defence of someone who very politely asked a perfectly valid question in trade (one I'd have asked several years ago) and someone unduly replies with hostility rather than giving an answer. Strange, really, for someone as quiet as me in game to only pipe up if someone's being an asshat, but it's a quality I admit that I like. It's certainly better than being the asshat.

   Anyway! Yep, loner. So imagine my surprise when seconds after I logged in the other day I got a whisper in purple text rather than blue. I panicked at first, especially because all I was greeted with was my name, but I clocked the character name (eventually) and was shocked to find it was Navi of The Daily Frostwolf! She'd tracked me down to ask why I don't have any WoW stuff in my Etsy shop (something I've been trying to work on since she said so) and we got talking. It was intimidating - what can I say? I've never considered myself a 'proper' WoW blogger, and given that Navi's is one of my favourites I was honoured to have been tracked down.
   We spoke about a number of things, and she pointed out all of the quest achievements there are. I hadn't seen them yet (I don't look around at achievements very much unless there are rewards, and even then all I've really looked at are the pet and garrison sections) but now I suddenly have even more to do. She also mentioned the Garrison friend, Peckers the raptor, who I quickly went out to get. I love dinosaurs!
   We were talking a lot about how people are bored already and that we're both addicted to garrison missions. It's all the real-time stuff; if missions only progressed while you were logged in it would all go so slowly, but knowing that things are happening without you really pulls you back. If a mission is finishing in 10 minutes' time I'll stay put and wait so I can send others back; the same goes if an important work order is about to be completed so I can put another one in line. It's stupid, but if Blizzard wants to keep people subbed, that's certainly one way of doing it!
   We also talked a little about her daughter, and she sounds lovely and my kind of player, fascinated and perfectly content with the simple things. It was Navi's post about her daughter and Pepe that alerted my attention to its existence - unfortunately, I had Pepe on my head when I went to meet Navi in the ever gorgeous Thunderbluff, but in my nervousness I managed to missclick and Pepe poofed away...I'm not even sure what my mouse was doing near the buff in the first place...heh... ^^'

   Navi is a really lovely person and I really enjoyed speaking to her, and it's endeared her blog to me a little more. Actually speaking to the person behind it puts both her and the blog in a whole new light, and I just wish I could speak to others in the same way. But, as I said, I'm a loner, and speaking to people even in text puts me waaay out of my comfort zone, which is strange given that everyone I know in person think I'm a ridiculously energetic person. I think it's the expectation of a response and I overthink everything. As I'm sure you can see from this post. I get the same way on Twitter, any time I get a tweet I think hard about how to reply. I feel it's rude not to reply to a tweet, so I try not to let that happen, even if it's a simple one, but sometimes I just can't think of a good reply and it gets me a little more stressed out than it should :P All writing this post has done is alert me to how awkward I am...

   Basically, I got Navispammed, it was cool, she's lovely, I was nervous, and to be honest I still am a little bit, but it was good fun. So thank you, Navi, for the company! I appreciate being included in your vast collection of navispamees!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Blizzard's Gift - I've Changed My Mind.

   Suffice it to say, I've changed my position on this whole Blizzard gift thing.
   Initially, as I said in my last post, I thought it was perfectly justified for Blizzard to thank the players who had been with them from the beginning, people who purchased WoW in a leap of faith. That was great, you know? And, obviously, they'd kind of have to have been subbed far more often than not.
   The thing is, Blizz only said, initially, that to be eligible you had to have activated your account within 60 days of its release in your region. Fine, I get that, totally. But, that was all they said. Then, once all of the emails had gone out, they announced that you also had to have been subbed for damn near 10 years straight. I do not understand that. Barring the fact that Blizzard went about 7 months recently without releasing any new content, life gets in the way. 10 years is a really long time. If people had purchased the game at the minimum age of 12 when it was released, they would be 22 now (maths). In that time, they would have gone to high school and done their most important exams, headed off to college, even university for even more important exams. Then there are the people who were already 20 when WoW was released, the ones who had grown up with the Warcraft series. They'd be 30 now, and in that time probably got a job, maybe even had a child. Something has to give, right? So subs would be cancelled whether they'd want to do it or not because life demands it, not because they want to stop playing.

   No, I'm not complaining because I'm one of these people. I started WoW in Burning Crusade; I wasn't eligible from the beginning, but I was happy for the people who were. After all, I can't exactly falsify my account activation, right? Plus, it's just a statue that won't affect the game or my life in any way except having to find space for it on a shelf.
   The trouble is, now it seems as if Blizzard are rewarding the people who were simply well off enough to be able to afford a rolling subscription. Rich kids, people whose lives never changed in 10 years to get in their way, and people who took for granted their ability to stay subbed.
   No, not all of the people to receive the gift fall into this field, some of them would have stuck to WoW simply because they love it, making cuts in other parts of their free time to keep doing something they enjoy - that's what free time should be used for, after all. But I knew right away, as soon as I read 'consistant 10 year subscription', that many of the people to receive the gift would be ungrateful. I looked on Ebay this morning, the day after the first deliveries were made, and I saw 2 statues on there already. I admit I was surprised to only see two - one was start bid for $250 with a buyout of $650, while another was a start bid of $500 and a buyout of $1000. Well, I had another look this evening out of curiosity alone and found the number had increased massively.
   When you consider the number of people who would have kept a 10 year sub with only small breaks here and there, there can't have been many of these statues sent out - like I said, life gets in the way - and there's a huge number on Ebay. So how many of the people being rewarded even care for the reward they've been given?

   I disagree massively with this decision. They should have, at the very least, stated the 10 year sub on the initial blue post alongside the 60 day account activation, because all they've done is get other peoples hopes up, people who have played loyally but had to take breaks whether they wanted to or not, but love Warcraft, WoW and Azeroth enough to have bought half of the Blizzard store, read all of the books and short stories, taken time, like many of you, to blog about the game and increase the depth of the world by creating stories of their characters, roleplayed in the game itself and really established a deeper community. And yet, because they were late to the game, or because they couldn't justify subbing to the game when the realm was dead and there was no sign of new content, or simply didn't have the time for a brief period because life was moving in another direction, be it for good or bad, are going by - yes, I'll say it - unappreciated.

   I'm finding myself angry about this, and it's really weird because it's not anger on my own behalf in the slightest. It's for the people who deserve it, like - well, to be honest, like most of the people reading this post right now, because I know a lot of you are bloggers yourself, far better and more dedicated than myself and have been playing for much longer. You all deserve the appreciation that Blizzard has given the rich kids (and a few people who probably do deserve it, admittedly).
   I know I said a couple of days ago that Blizzard didn't have to do this and that it was a really generous thing and they should be congratulated rather than yelled at for doing something that only cost them money, but I think, in the end, they took it in the wrong direction.

   If anyone wants that statue, it seems to be trending at around $200 on Ebay right now.
   I doubt Blizz will adjust the eligibility, and I doubt they'll have any more made, either. It sucks for everyone else. I do understand the concept behind it, but I think Blizzard have misunderstood the difficulty of remaining subbed, overestimated the content they release and forgotten that the community is something that is made by itself rather than put in place by them.

   Well, we got the mount, we got the pet, we got the title, a new battleground and a revived version of the first raid, and it was all exclusive to the celebration of the 10th anniversary. The game has done stupidly well, everyone has had a lot of fun - I know I have - and while this statue business has ruffled a lot of feathers for both justified and unjustified reasons, as long as the game quality continues to improve, as it has been (aside from a few nerfs to make it easier for casual players, like the talent system), it will last for a lot longer still, and I hope it does - though it will be interesting to see how long that will be. Another 10 years, I wonder? As long as it ends with a final attack by the Burning Crusade, I don't care. I want to kill Sargeras - or, rather, weaken him so that some other sod can come along and kill steal.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Blizzard's Gift - Stop Your Moaning

   Understandably, there is a lot of complaining going on about these gifts Blizzard is supposedly sending to veteran players, and in truth, I don't really feel it's warranted. People who just missed out by a matter of days, yes, I can understand that they would complain and be a bit miffed at having been so close, but people who didn't activate an account until Burning Crusade, I don't think they have any grounds.
   I do admit that I consider those people to be veteran players, just as I almost consider myself that way, even though I didn't get my own account until just before Wrath (I obviously didn't think for a moment, however, that I'd be eligible), and I can understand that these people are disappointed and maybe feel unappreciated, but that's not what the gift is about. It's a gift for the players who joined WoW when it first started up, for the people who were there from the beginning, who didn't wait for game reviews or to see if the game would survive, or chose not to buy it right away as an ineffective protest towards subscription fees. They jumped in right away, even in a time when the game wasn't really aimed at casual players as much as it is now.
   World of Warcraft was not the first MMO, but because of Warcraft's popularity long before, there was already a really big fan base. The idea of being able to play more freely in Azeroth, with its already rich history, and create your own story was probably an appealing one after such a story-limited game, so that helped WoW to sell right from the start. Yes, there are probably reasons such as money and time that held people back from buying it right away, people who were just unable to buy it though they were hugely interested and loved Warcraft, and it's these people I feel bad for, but that's also just life.

   I can understand that people who aren't eligible are disappointed, but at this point they're complaining before they even know what they've missed. Not everyone is complaining because they genuinely think they deserve the gift, either, I think a lot of people are complaining simply because of the fact that they missed out. There are lots of people who love WoW but didn't start playing until well after the release date, people who would absolutely love whatever merch is being given out and may well own half of the products from the Blizzard store already. I adore the game, I truly do, and I've got several pieces myself, namely figurines and plushies, but I started playing a long time after the release date and I can appreciate that I'm not eligible for the gift, whatever it might be. I never thought for a moment that I would be.
   Consider how well WoW sold from its release. The fact that everyone in the US and UK who activated their account within 60 days of their continents' respective release dates is getting a gift does suggest it's not going to be that incredible. It could be nothing more than a 'WoW veteran' t-shirt, because it's being given out to an awful lot of people, and they certainly couldn't be giving out thousands of Lich King helmets. However, I presume you have to have had a relatively active account throughout WoW's existance to be eligible, rather than having not played for the last 3 years. Consider that the cost of creating and shipping whatever it is is being covered entirely by them, too. There has to be a limit, and I think 60 days as of release is quite generous.

   Blizzard is doing this as part of their 10th anniversary celebration, and so it's for people who have been playing for 10 years, relatively consistantly. Everyone takes breaks, either due to money or life, so I doubt the accounts have to have been active for 10 years straight, though I could be wrong, in which case the gift may well be quite amazing and quite limited for players that loyal. But I doubt it.
   It's not about rewarding people for simply playing WoW, it's about thanking the players who have been there from the start for their support, players who bought the game based on their passion for those that came before it. It could be argued that these players don't need to be thanked in this way, as they probably enjoyed the game an awful lot to still be playing, so wouldn't the fun frm the game itself be a reward? Perhaps, but in that case you could also argue (admittedly to a more extreme extent) that people shouldn't be given birthday gifts because they survived another year. Not to mention the fact that WoW - the birthday boy - is the one giving the gifts.
   It's not as if veteran players are the only ones to have gotten anything, anyway. All players who logged in within the anniversary period, regardless of how long they've been playing, got a free pet with a relatively unique model, a mount for players who were able to get to level 100 and a 615 item level and run a revamped Molten Core, reviving WoW's first raid, and a title for PvPers which nodded towards the old days of open world Southshore v Tarren Mill. Everyone got something. It's just that the veterans are getting a little more.

   No, I'm not eligible for the gift. I created my account at the end of Burning Crusade, 3 or 4 years too late. Yes, I am disappointed that I'm not eligible because I love WoW and am a loyal player, but I can also appreciate why I'm not. There has to be a cut-off point for eligibility.
   I'll also point out that Blizzard didn't have to do this, either, they could have stopped at the pet, maybe given us a tabard as well, or just given us the mount for free and not bothered with anything else. They certainly didn't need to re-establish a raid or create a battleground, but they did, satisfying PvPers and PvEers alike with content. And that was more than enough. But then they decided it would be nice to go one further and thank the veterans who have been there from the start with a physical gift, something which really would come out of their own pockets, and I think they should be congratulated for that, not yelled at by bitter players. I can understand people being disappointed  because they missed out by a few days - that must really sting - but there has to be a cut-off point. If everyone had it, it wouldn't be special, and, let's be honest, of course Blizzard wants it to be special, just as those receiving it do.

   Besides, I'm sure many of whatever it is will wind up on Ebay anyway, so it's not like Tom, Dick and Harry won't get the chance if it matters that much.

   Either way, congrats to those who are eligible, I hope it's something really awesome. I also hope that it is limited to accounts that have been relatively active over the last 10 years rather than stopped playing for good 3 years ago, and I also really hope that these players appreciate their gift enough to keep it rather than sell it.
   Personally, I'm really happy with my mount. I missed out on the title because whenever the Alliance realised they were losing, they all left the battleground, causing it to end early due to lack of players, and I admit that that is something I think they should have considered - some kind of incentive for all players to stay whether they win or lose, like a cache for each player on the losing side with a chance at old-world armour which isn't available even as a replica, or another pet. So that did suck, but in the end, I got the mount which I really wanted, and didn't expect to get, so as far as I'm concerned, I'm quite happy.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Nerdy Christmas...And Birthday...

   It's not until I go to show off my gifts on twitter/facebook/my personal blog that I realise how nerdy they are and how little people probably care. I'm not in the slightest bit ashamed of it, of course, I love what I love and that's simply me, but it does make me laugh a little.

   My Christmas gifts are clearly all kinds of nerdiness. I got a fabulous book from my dad featuring the '70 Greatest Mysteries of the Natural World' - I knew it was a quality book right away when I opened it up on the Cambrian Explosion - two words that mean little to most people, but I already knew that that was one of the most pivotal times in the evolution of life on earth, and that's not really something that would be in any old run of the mill Top 70 sort of books.
   My best friend gave me a book of '642 Things to Write About' which is exactly what the title says. The book gives you 642 very precise scenarios which you must use to write a short story, even just a couple of paragraphs. You can write it in the book itself, but the space it gives you isn't enough for a wordy person like me. The two of us both have a huge passion for fantasy writing and have done since we were both 12, and it's a career we've both wanted. Unfortunately, I've had a lot more time to chase it than she has and while I've not managed to get a literary agent and don't have the guts to self-publish just yet, I have written a few full books. It was only the last one I wrote that I felt was some kind of publishable, though, but looking back I'm not so sure. It was rejected either way. The book I'm about to finish, however, just might be the one! And if not, then the one I have planned next could be...
   *Ahem*. Seeg got me the best gifts. A murloc mug which I hadn't ever seen, which is amazing because I drink tea like there's no tomorrow! A keychain of Frostmourne which is too big and too heavy to be conventional, and so has joined the rest of my WoW collection on the wall. A copy of Robson Green's Extreme Fishing, Season 4 - I don't really care for fishing, but the program is funny, the presenter is excitable, and the different fish and methods of fishing are actually incredible. I've got a big interest in things like tribes and similar civilisations, so seeing him learn traditional Indian, Maori and other such methods of fishing is quite amazing, as well as bits of their culture. And, last but not least, Dragon Ball Z Sseason 3, which I watch while exercising if my workout doesn't involve a DVD, and for the last three months it hasn't.

   My Birthday gifts on Friday were just as great. Stargate SG-1 from my Dad, who is just as sci-fi crazy as me, and Seeg gave me the final Bleach movie, Hell Verse, and a copy of Lindsey Sterling's first album, who I fell in love with after seeing her Dragon Age video and hearing her very clear talent with one of my favourite instruments in the world. He also gave me the World of Warcraft water bottle, which is awesome. Unfortunately, being glass, I'm a little scared to use it. I use water bottles while exercising and by the time I reach for it my hands are shaking too much to trust myself with glass. But it's still awesome and I will make a point of using it. I love the print! 'Refreshing Spring Water' 'Item Level 1' 'Use: Restores 180 mana over 18 seconds. Must remain seated while drinking'. Brilliant. And, last but certainly not least, the Faerie Dragon plush!! I thought it was a Blizzcon exclusive, and I remember wishing so, so much to get it, but I couldn't even afford a virtual ticket let alone the plush on top. I checked and checked and checked and never did I see it in the normal Blizzard Gear shop, so in the end I wrote it off - kind of. I checked the store and ebay a few times since but never found it, so I was over the moon when he gave it to me :D

   So, awesome gifts, though admittedly not for your typical lady. Needless to say to you guys, however, that I was far from disappointed.
   Seeg also gave me some cool gifts on WoW, too! Along with the Elekk Plushie - which does not follow you around, as a stuffed toy shouldn't - he also gave me the Ethereal Soul Trader. I was so happy! I've wanted this pet for so so long, so much so that I almost paid £90 at one point for the card in a trading card game market. I'm so glad I didn't! It turns out that there might be a bug - whether it's been fixed or not, I don't know - which caused this pet to duplicate when a character is faction changed (goes to show how little changes in the game can cause bugs that seem completely unrelated) and so there's been a few on the AH for quite little recently. That kind of sucks and makes the pet feel a little less special, but I admit that I haven't actually seen anyone with either the pet or the clothing he sells, which is kind of a relief. Either way, I'm still glad to have the pet, at long last!

Daeaye never looks pleased...

   I had a great birthday, nice and quiet, but I'm slightly on a downer now because all the celebrations have passed. Christmas, Seeg's birthday and my birthday are all really close together, so it's really great for someone like me who loves celebrations, but when they're all done I do sort of crash a little. Back to normal life now, I suppose!

   I hope everyone else had a great Christmas and new year!