Yearly post…

Hey everyone!

Time for a new yearly post…

Well… I guess I have nothing or too much to say at this point… More on that later!

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Youtube easter egg

Merry Holidays everyone! May 2011 suck less!

As my present to the interwebs, I present this little trick I re-discovered this morning. You used to be able to hold the left key on any Youtube video to activate a simple snake game. Most people probably know about this but now it seems that the activating key pattern is to hold the left key for two seconds then press the up key while still holding left.

Anyway, just a small quirky thing I felt like sharing, keep on keeping on peeps!

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Crash Ballet

I just managed to dig this short video from the forgotten drawers of the interweb. It was produced for a contest held by Coudal Partners and based on original footage by NASA of a plane crash simulation. The music is a remix of Interpol’s Untitled by Velapene Screen. This short film was made by Ethan Mitchell and he won the contest…

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My cello is itching!

While I’m still trying to finish my latest post on Lore and the Windrunner family, I found this little gem: Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ played by four cellos.

I should let my hair grow...

If you still have doubts about my theory (and I’m of course the first to ever have said that…) that the cello is the one instrument most capable of mimicking the human voice and its emotions and the Kol Nidrei has not convinced you yet, give this a listen.

Mixing classical instruments with soft metal rock or pop music in general is usually dubious at best and has a tendency to birth disasters. In this case though, I feel like the original song’s power is perfectly translated through the harmonics and crescendos of those four cellos. This cover actually brings out something new and unexpected from the song.

This gave me the same feeling than when I saw Mat Weddle of Obadiah Parker sing his acoustic version of ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast. It shed a new light on this already great song and it made me like it even more for it. You can be a great technician and make a perfect cover of a song but when you actually add something the original lacked or hid, you’re an artist in my books.

That also reminded me to weep a little inside thinking about Jeff Buckley and the great things he should have brought to our ears. His cover of Hallelujah still gets me every time. Even Leonard Cohen‘s barbarian of a brother gets teary when he listens to it.

Once I’m elected president of Europe, I’ll make sure death becomes illegal… except for medicinal purposes.

When did Lando grow a moustache?

Back on subject, Apocalyptica is a Finnish cello rock band from Helsinki. It’s composed of four, obviously, classicaly trained cellists with mostly long hair and untrimmed facial hair. Their 1996 debut album was all Metallica covers but they’ve since started recording their own original scores. They are the first Finnish band to ever reach the top of the american Billboard rock chart with their single ‘I don’t care‘. Their cute little names are Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, Max Lilja, and Antero Manninen and they all graduated from the Sibelius Academy. All their music is available on Amazon and, after all, it’s the season for half naked women, minus one boob, to ride their proud stallions across the snowy landscapes…

A propos, if I haven’t bored you yet, please listen to Sibelius concerto for violin solo. That’s some truly epic music

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Lore for Dummies, myself included… (part 1)

Ever since I started playing World of Warcraft, I’ve had a thing for its Lore. I listen to many different podcasts about this game and I make a point to pay a lot of attention every time a Lore segment comes up. Unfortunately, most of time, it seems that the hosts/narrators assume I already have a solid knowledge about this fantasy world and its main protagonists. I don’t have this background though and that’s why I put a lot of effort into listening religiously to the stories I’m being told. So I end up more confused, than before and I quickly lose interest, it never fails…

What I need is someone to take the time and explain it all from the beginning to my precious self. Podcasts hosts seem, for the most part, to care about their audience but I doubt they’re waiting for me to call them so they can spend a few hours on Skype and lay it all out for me in simple words.

Thus I’m a pretty frustrated Loremaster or was until recently…

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up this manga version of The Sunwell trilogy and the first five pages or so didn’t even have any drawings on them! Feeling cheated into actually having to read words, I drank myself into oblivion and bought a goat on Amazon.fr …

The next morning, as my new goat was being delivered, I sat down with a nice cup of coffee and proceeded to actually give this ‘reading’ thing a try. In simple English words and coherent sentences, the genesis of Azeroth was explained to me in a manner I had not encountered before. It all seemed so simple all of a sudden: the Titans, Sargeras, the dragon aspects all seemed to come to life in my mind.

On these pages, I will try to share some of this in a simple and unassuming manner. Hopefully, it’ll help other lore-noobs like me out there to grasp some understanding of this world we play in. Some players might actually enjoy this game even more for it. I know that for me, in these times of patch expection, it was a source of unsuspected enjoyement and it shone a new light on a lot of characters, regions and questlines.

Azeroth seen from the roof of the Black Temple

In today’s installment, I’ll go over the origins of Azeroth, the Titans and Sargeras.

The Titans are a bunch of almighty giant god-like creatures who travel the universe trying to bring order to it. They take planets, terraform them, stabilize them, put life on them and then move on to the next.

They are governed by a group called the Pantheon. This elitist sect chooses one of its members and one of their most powerful warrior, Sargeras, to defend their multiple creations against the demons of the Twisting Nether.

Sargeras

The Twisting Nether is a parallel dimension where demons and other abominations roam free. It’s not really a different universe but more like a separate level of the same universe. As such, it’s never far away from the world our characters live on, it’s like a layer surrounding it on all sides.

Teleportation and translocation spells are said to use that place in order to bend the physical world and create ‘wormholes’ between different locations in the physical world. Warlocks’ Ritual of Summoning, mages’ Portals and shamans’ Astral Recall apparently make their users go through that nightmarish realm in order to save a few copper in taxi fares.

This Twisting Nether is also where warlocks summon their minions from and it is the reason why you cannot choose names for them as hunters do with their pets. They’re not so much created by warlocks than picked from a wriggling bunch of them and injected on Azeroth. A great example of this are the Infernals, which come from the skies in a very meteor-like fashion.

Infernal landing!

So now we have Sargeras, this extremely powerful Titan fighting demons across the universe. He’s very good at this and the Pantheon completely trusts him with his demon bouncer functions. The job slowly gets to him though and he starts questionning his masters. After millenia of demon bashing, he finally, loses his mind and ends up blaming the titans themselves for the origin of chaos within their creations.

He now believes Chaos is the only pure and true form of the universe and that the Titans are corrupting it by bringing their so-called order where it doesn’t belong. He decides to dedicate his existence to destroy everything the Titans have created.

On the planet Argus, Sargeras finds the Eredars, a race of extremely evolved and magically inclined giant goats. They have built a huge civilization and have prospered undisturbed on their planet for millenia. He goes to the three leaders of the advanced species and promises them immense powers in exchange for their allegiance and assistance.

Kil’jaeden and Archimonde immediately join the Dark Titan hoping to get some imba loot but Velen disagrees. He refuses to succomb to the demonic powers and ends up having to flee with his followers and the help of K’ure, a Naaru. The energy being offers to take Velen and the loyal eredars to safety. They escape from Argus in the naaru ship Oshu’gun.

Oshu'gun in the middle of Nagrand

You can find this ship still embedded in the fields of Nagrand. K’ure is still there, imprisonned and guarded by the Burning Legion minions. For the quest When Spirits Speak (part of the Hero of the Mag’har quest chain) Mother Kashur asks you to find him and he, then, sends you back to speak to A’dal in Shattrath. By the way, at the end of that quest chain, the moment when Thrall comes back to visit his homeland is, in my opinion, one of the best in the game. It’s up there with the Wrathgate chain

K'ure in Oshugun, you're free little Naaru, run away!

Velen and his followers now call themselves the Draenei (exiled ones) as they are being chased across the cosmos by Sargeras‘ army which is now called the Burning Legion under the orders of Kil’jaeden. During this exodus, K’ure becomes Velen’s friend and mentor and after centuries, they finally settle on a ‘safe’ planet they call Draenor (which became Outlands at the release of Burning Crusade). This is where they meet the Orcs, a shamanistic and noble society with whom they live peacefully for a while.

The Burning Legion eventually discovers Draenor. Kill’jaeden decides to make the Orcs part of his army and to force them to fight the Draenei. For this, the eredar corrupt the Orcs, give them access to warlocks magic and transform them into a bloodthirsty race of warmongers. The Orcs, manipulated by Kill’jaeden, wage war on the Draenei, destroy their cities and kill most of them. Velen barely manages to escape with a few survivors and they find refuge in Zangarmarsh.

All that travelling made him cranky...

You can still find two Draenei settlements in Zangarmarsh: Orebor Harborage and Telredor. The latter one is probably the one where most of them fled after the Orcs turned on them.

After a period of time, the length of which I couldn’t really figure out, the Draenei eventually come out of hiding and manage to take control of The Exodar, the fourth wing of the Tempest Keep complex floating in Netherstorm.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to find out more on how Kael’thas took over this former Naaru fortress in a future episode…

Tempest Keep in Netherstorm

What the Draenei don’t know is that their new spaceship has been sabotaged by the bloodelves. Upon taking off from Draenor/Outlands, they lose control of the Exodar and come crashing on Azeroth, on the Azuremyst Isles. Velen and the survivors of the crash-landing salvage everything they can from the Exodar and slowly start rebuilding their society.

As Kil’jaeden’s revenge has supposedly been carried out upon the traitor Draenei, Sargeras is now free to push for more and more destruction across the universe. He charges Kil’jaeden to seek out the darkest and most usable races of the vast universe and to force them into the Burning Legion ranks. He makes Archimonde the general of his armies and orders him to lead them on a Burning Crusade across the universe.

The Exodar, the missing fourth wing of Tempest Keep

At this time, the Titans are unaware of the evil deeds their champion is comitting and keep on trucking through the universe searching for planets to inseminate with life. Eventually, they find a small planet which its inhabitants will later call Azeroth. They spend centuries creating mountains and oceans in order to make it as perfect as possible. In the center of its unique continent, they place the Well of Eternity, an incredible source of energy in order to feed the planet with life. Slowly, plants, trees and all sorts of creatures take over the barren lands and start spreading all over the small planet. On their last day of work, the Titans name this continent Kalimdor, the land of eternal light.

Before leaving the planet to its own destiny, in order to protect it against any possible threat, the Titans decide to grant a shred of their powers to some of the main creatures of Azeroth. Amongst the many dragons living on Kalimdor, there were five main clans (or aspects) dominating the rest. The five rulers of these aspects each receive a special gift from four Titans of the Pantheon.

Nozdormu during a quest in Dragonblight

Aman’Thul, el capo di tutti li Titani, gives some of his power to Nozdormu the Lord of Time, of the Bronze Aspect. He control how time flows on Azeroth.

Eonar, Patron of all Life, shares her power with Alexstrasza the Life Binder, of the Red Aspect, to protect all living things in the world. Her sister, Ysera, the Dreamer, shares with her some of that duty and rules the Green Aspect. Her duty is to watch over all the growing wilds of the world.

Norgannon, the Lore-Keeper, instills his magic to Malygos the Spellweaver, of the Blue Aspect, in order to safeguard the very essence of magic.

Finally, Khaz’goroth, Forger of the World, bestows some of his vast power to Neltharion the Earthwarder, of the Black Aspect, to give him control of the earth and its depths. The Old Gods will eventually make this puppy crazy and he will end up becoming Deathwing during the War of the Ancients.

Alexstrasza the Life-Binder at the Wrathgate

Azeroth is born but a phantom menace (!!) looms over it and, eventually, Sargeras gets drawn to its careless magic users…

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Lore, I am your master! Stop flirting with your sister!

After a couple of weeks of hard work, I finally got my Loremaster achievement and colors.

Lore, get me a drink!

Fortunately, I love questing so it wasn’t too much of a pain, not as bad as, for example, getting an epidural. More on that another time…

While Eastern Kingdoms, Outlands and Northrend went by like a breeze, Kalimdor made me want to stick needles under my nails. The last 40 of the 685 quests needed had me running Wailing Caverns, Razorfen Kraul and Downs and the very confusing Maraudon multiple times. Fun times were had by most…

With 4 quests to go and no idea where to find them, I ended up having to switch my Desolace centaurs reputation. I had to go from hated to friendly with the Magram. At 20 points per kill, it took around 600 dead horsemen to make the switch and open up the opposite faction’s quest line. That’s a lot of meat but eventually that last quest in the line got me to 685 quests completed in Kalimdor!

Yup, centaurs look just like chicken once on the grill...

During this painful ordeal, I scoured every Kalimdor zones with the low level quest tracker on praying to see the beautiful little yellow exclamation point appear on the minimap. By the way, there are two addons I found invaluably helpful. Carbonite, amongst its many features, colors the map to show where quest mobs/items are found. The Loremaster addon puts a note on every quest in your log to let you know if it counts for a regional part of the loremaster meta achievement. Another resource that really helped me was the comments to the Kalimdor part of the achievement on Wowhead. Obviously, the Alliance version has much more info, including several lists of hard to find quests and quest starting items/rare mobs.

While running around Kalimdor, I discovered many interesting/funny things and here are two I found worth sharing.

Poor Sea Wolf

First, in Booty Bay, I met “Sea Wolf” MacKinley starring angrily at a map of Thousand Needles with knives poking through it. Could this be related to Cataclysm? Does he wish he could take his ship there? Did Blizzard grant him his wish by flooding the zone in the next expansion??? I was most likely perturbed by my race against yellow exclamation marks and it clouded my reason. I wished I could have told him to rejoice and prepare his fleet because his wish was on its way.

Loramus the quick-footed?

In Azshara, I turned a quest at Loramus Thalipedes. This poor NPC is stranded on a lonely island off of the coast of Ashzara. His only companions are three fellhunters, his warglaives and his magic bandana.

The guy is one of the only two demon hunters on Azeroth yet he spends his life on a tiny island of solitude…
But what are those demon hunters? Good question!

That's one fine looking weapon!

I'd roll on THAT!

Demon hunters are warriors who gave up everything to gain abilities essential to fighting the Burning Legion. They’re social outcasts since they chose to wield chaotic powers to fight chaos itself. You can see a bunch of them training on top of the Black Temple in Shadowmoon Valley.

They usually wield two large warglaives akin to the Twin Blades of Azzinoth and most of them wear a bandana around their eyes. The female demon hunters tend to not wear that band of cloth and, actually, not much clothing at all above the waist… to distract their foes in battle probably…

A sign of their chaotic affiliation is that they traditionnally burn their own eyes out in order to gain spectral sight to help detect demons/undeads more easily. That’s why they wear those funky bandanas in order to spare us all the sight of their eyeless sockets…

Players can wear the Cursed Vision of Sargeras, dropped by Illidan Stormrage himself! This head piece, quite appropriately gives you a demon tracking ability. By the way, that item should be amber, the color of Illidan’s former eyes and it should also be called the Cursed Vision of Lady Vashj, since she’s the one who gave it to him. See the Illidan’s Bandana Retcon for more info on this particular topic.

That bandana is black not amber...

Illidan Stormrage is the most famous and first of this class of enigmatic warriors. Also called the Betrayer, Illidan, twin brother of Malfurion turned his back on Azeroth and his people to serve Sargeras during the War of the Ancients. The leader of the Burning Legion and former Champion of the Pantheon burned Illidan’s eyes to alter his vision in order to better fight demons and undeads.

He fights in a very feminine attire... hint?

Another famous demon hunter is Leotheras the Blind. Out of five bloodelves sent by Kael’thas Sunstrider to Illidan to become demon hunters, only two survived: Varedis and Leotheras. The latter apparently lost his mind and ended up serving Lady Vashj in Serpentshrine Caverns.
He is, in my opinion, one of the most fun bosses to fight in the game to this day.

The other blood elf who survived the excrutiating training of Illidan is Varedis. You can find him training the new demon hunters I mentionned on top of the Black Temple.

One last note. Warriors of any race can eventually become demon hunters. Most of them are Night Elves and a minority are Bloodelves. There are apparently even Human ones guarding Mount Hyjal .

For the LORE!

FOR THE LORE!!!

Since my Loremaster title, I feel obligated to actually know a little about this Lore, of which I’m apparently the master… I’ve been reading some of the many Warcraft books and from now on, I’ll try my best to share some of that on these pages. I listen to many World of Warcraft podcasts and I always love the Lore segments of those but they often leave me more confused than before. Most of the time, those stories are told in a very esoteric way that seems aimed at people with an already vast knowledge of the history of Azeroth. So in order to make sense of it all, I’m starting at the beginning, with the Titans and will work my way down from there… Baby steps… baby steps…

Next time on these pages: Are the Windrunner the Ewings of Azeroth?

Cheers!

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Elite Tauren Chieftains

A couple of days ago, some old friends and I wanted to get a feel of our old favorite instance Karazhan. I figured the fastest way to get there, was to use the Direbrew’s Remote and fly from Thorium Point to Stonard. So we ended up at the Grim Guzzler in Blackrock Depths.

TAFKAL80ETC

Once in the tavern, someone spoke to an NPC called Ognip Blastbolt (that’s a Goblin name if I ever heard one) which triggered an event I had no idea existed. Out of nowhere, The Elite Tauren Chieftains started playing Power of the Horde. The show lasted for about 5 minutes with fireworks and everything!

Copy and paste the following console command in game to hear it anytime:

/script PlaySoundFile("Sound\\Music\\ZoneMusic\\DMF_L70ETC01.mp3")

Their actual name is "The Artists Formerly known as Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain", abbreviated as TAFKAL80ETC for simplicity... The band members are all people working at Blizzard.

Mike Morhaime is Maï'Kyl bass player and, as a hobby, also president and co-founder of Blizzard... Samwise Didier is Samuro the lead singer and art director of Blizzard Entertainement. Chris Sigaty is Sig Nicious the rythm guitarist and lead producer of Starcraft II. Dave Berggren is Bergrisst the lead guitarist and finally Alan Dabiri is Chief Thunder-Skins, the drummer. Also known as the guy who likes to hang out with musicians.

Silvermoon City, where the party is at...

Besides summoning them in BRD (if you have the Direbrew Remote), you can see the band hanging out on a balcony in Silvermoon City as part of a Children's quest, Now, When I Grow Up... They also play at the World's End Tavern in Shattrath City every 3 hours.

Hot and steamy!

Another fun thing I discovered about the Grim Guzzler that night is that when you turn in the quest The Love Potion, Mistress Nagmara runs out with Private Rocknot. You can find them under a stairway flirting like shy teenagers...

Raggy

By the way, we actually never even went to Karazhan that night and, instead, went to clear Molten Core and a lot of fun was had by everyone.

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