Episode 72 – Dwarves in the Hall

Can’t Believe it’s already 2010! A new year and TNB is still kicking. At the ripe old age of 72 episodes, the TNB team welcomes Ringo, and by proxy Beli, from Flinthammer Hall. We talk RP, Image editing, raiding.. Well, EVERYTHING! There is also news about WoW Radio closing up shop, ruckus about Gearscore and we read/answer a TON of listener emails.

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The Interview

Here are Beli Flinthammer’s answers. Be sure to listen to the podcast for Ringo’s take on these same questions.

Is it still true that Ringo writes most of the adventures and Beli does the artwork?
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I’m not as prolific as Ringo (our motivations for writing a blog entry are different, as detailed in a later question), but I do put up something every once in a while. And yes, I do all the artwork for the same reason why husbands want wives to make their sandwiches for them, “It just tastes better when you make it!”

Which comes first, the images or the story?
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The story mainly comes first. Images are meant to compliment or add to the story. Sometimes there will be an image with no-story attached — those are the ones that reflect a moment in time and in those situations, a picture is worth a thousand words.

What tools are you using to capture the images?
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Three tools I use:
1. WowModelViewer (www.wowmodelviewer.org) for the characters
2. The game (for background screenshots)
3. Photoshop CS (for editing)

The process:

I make the character in the Modelviewer and cycle through the standard in-game animations until I find something that could imply the character is doing something else. One example is the human male “strangulate” animation. If I pause it and angle it just right, the male could easily look like he’s adjusting a bow-tie. Or be about to rip off his shirt Superman-style.

I hit “print screen” to capture the pose, paste it into a file in Photoshop, and add a background from the game behind it. I may or may not add more props (extra characters or objects from the game to add to the story). Then I put finishing touches by adding shadows to the characters so they look like they fit in the background better. That’s basically it.

Do you lay out the image in your head and then stage it? or does it just “happen”?
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I start out with an idea in my head, but rarely end with the original vision I had. This is mostly due to the limitations of the program not providing the pose I wanted, thus forcing me to find a different way to interpret the scene. The most recent example I can provide is that I originally wanted to have our dwarven son sitting on Greatfather
Winter’s lap, either asking for or being given a toy. However, the human boy model (which I edit/shrink down to dwarven proportions) did not have a sitting animation available. I was unable to create the scene I wanted, but I did see the crouching animation (where the boy is picking something off the ground) and thought I could pass that off as him looking at presents. Throughout the process, it was obvious to me the presents were going to overwhelm the kid so I set them further in the background and instead had him playing with a train toy instead.

It wasn’t the original image I had set out, but I was very pleased with the new direction it went. I didn’t intend to include the parents in the background, but I had invested all that time and background detail that it seemed a shame to not have them present either.

How long does it normally take to get the images “just right”?
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I typically spend an entire afternoon or evening working on the images for a story. The most tedious part of the process is finding the right pose. Even more so, when there are multiple characters involved. I sometimes have to log on a game and my character stand next to a taller race so I can get proportions right in Photoshop. I enjoy creating art so I don’t mind setting aside a chunk of my day for this. (Just not everyday!) Ringo has told me that he felt guilty that it would not take him long to write a story when I spend way more time on the artwork alone. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it!

Is the story following, and in a sense, roleplaying your day-to-day gaming or do you have a whole story arc laid out?

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For me, it’s about recording what I did in the game and putting a dwarven perspective on it. Nothing more. I blog so I can look back and go, “Remember when we did this? Oh, wow, look how long ago that was!”

Is Wow your first MMO? What is your gaming background?
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EQ gnome cleric. WoW priest.

When did you start playing WoW?
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Friends and family alpha.

Is this your first/only blog?
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For game purposes, yes. I have no other current blogs since Facebook is the RL blog equivalent.

What inspired you to blog about WoW? What lead you to this? As far as I know this is a unique concept for a WoW blog. How did you end up doing a RP blog?
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When the game launched, we picked a roleplaying server, which was new territory for the both of us. Ringo had already played Warcraft and knew the lore pretty well, but I was basically fish out of water with my limited knowledge of the game’s background. I didn’t even know what was expected of me as a roleplayer and frankly, I really did not want to go around saying thees and thous. I did feel guilty that I wasn’t contributing to the overall ambience so when I saw several friends mention that they created an account at Blogspot specifically to post their character’s stories, I felt that I found a way to contribute in a roleplay sense.

The blog started out simple enough. If I did something in the game, I just wrote about it from a dwarf perspective. If someone said something stupid in general chat, I shared my opinion in-character. I would include screenshots as if I was taking photographs of my adventure. It was a bit awkward at first trying to find my voice on the blog.

In the meantime, Ringo was writing his longer, elaborate stories that weaved the game’s lore together with his character’s back story and wrote about how the guild came to be. Those stories were posted on the guild message board if anyone was interested in reading them. At some point, he checked out my blog and liked what I had been doing with it and asked if we could set up a joint blog. I was reluctant at first. It seemed to me that our stories would conflict, how would people know who is posting what, and so on. Eventually he talked me into it and we brainstormed a template that would allow us to share a blog yet keep us as individuals. The first layout had Ringo’s side and Beli’s side with our corresponding links to artwork, individual stories, and our own links. He asked me to help out with the images for his stories so in my spare time, I went back to his older posts and filled the holes. Over time, it really took shape and we hit our stride. It clicked for the both of us so when we revamped the site, there was no his or her side. There was simply “our story.” It became the blog of two dwarves on the same adventure.

So, to make a long story short, this blog was my way of contributing to the roleplaying community. I don’t really want to stop and chat with other people in Goldshire or Stormwind, but if they want their experience enriched by the people they meet in the game, there was a link to the our blog that was included in RPHelper mod. I have had people tell me they moused over me, saw the link, and looked at the blog and appreciated the stories.

What’s the hardest part of the blog? What takes you the longest to figure out?
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There are a couple downsides that we face. The first being that Ringo churns out his stories, but he has to wait on me to do the artwork since I go at a much slower pace. He doesn’t complain, but he does give me multiple reminders that he has a story waiting to launch when I have the free time to do artwork for him. I’m sure that frustrates him.

The second downside is that I write self-contained stories. It all fits into one neat little post. I just get straight to the point and move on. Ringo has these huge arcs that he likes to write and release each chapter after a certain amount of time. Sometimes this ties up my character and prevents me from blogging about something that happened to me the night before. It is not realistic for me to brag about getting an pvp accomplishment when Ringo has my character on the other side of the world, all tied up in their travels.

We try to minimize those issues as much as possible, but it can be a minor annoyance if we’re not paying attention to what the other person is doing.

Has this worked out the way you expected it to? Is there anything you’d do differently?
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It surpassed my expectations, actually. I thought we’d be at each other’s throat and the joint blog thing wouldn’t work out, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and we would seek out each other’s ideas on possible stories to write.

If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers what would it be?
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Just keep it short and sweet.

Are you an in-game roleplayer? What is your favorite aspect of the game? (alts, RP, pvp, raiding, leveling, theorycrafting, etc)
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Only by action. I think about things through the perspective of my dwarf and act accordingly. For example, it didn’t make sense to me to get exalted with another race before my own. Why would I value the humans or elves more than my people? So I made sure the first race I got exalted with was with the dwarves even though there was no benefit to doing so at the time. (Back then, it was only worth getting exalted if you wanted a different racial mount.) I do /burp and /scratch emotes in-game because dwarves are not known for being delicate flowers. On a couple occasions, someone would tell me he thought I was a tailor because I was a cloth wearer. My standard response would be that my dwarven fingers were too fat to thread a needle!

My favorite aspect of the game is probably pvping. Not because I enjoy killing people, which I do, but because it’s a system that rewards me exactly for what I put into it. There is no one else for me to roll against and lose. I like raiding, but I really like the independence that pvp offers me in terms of gearing up and getting accomplishments.

Cataclysm is coming. I can image this will lead to some exciting times at Flinthammer Hall. Do you have any ideas that you’d like to share with us?What do you have on your to-do list before Cataclysm comes? What aspect of Cataclysm has you most excited?
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Since I’ve been playing for 5 years, I told Ringo that I really wanted an extended break. It gets old that there’s constantly war somewhere or the other. Our characters are constantly leaving the boy with his grandparents as we march off in duty. Well, Beli’s tired of fighting a war she doesn’t care about. She wants to stay home and be with her child and enjoy the simple life for a change. Ringo has agreed with this perspective and said that this can be our new story direction. And obviously, when Cataclysm comes out, the world is going to change profoundly. There has to be something that impacts Beli directly to get her marching out the door and we have several different ideas of how that can play out.

When goblins were announced, I immediately declared Beli’s inevitable death and give Ringo permission to remarry whatever dwarf he wanted because I was going to be a goblin as I wanted all along! Ringo would not have any of it, said I wasn’t killing off anyone, and that we could pick a night a week to play goblins as our alt. Once the high wore off, I realized that it would be very hard to say goodbye to a character that had been a part of me so much for the past 7 years. So yay for Ringo, one less gravestone he has to visit.

If you could have any one thing from Blizz what would it be?
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I really want them to put in more children models, especially dwarven ones. Obviously it would be easier on me so I wouldn’t have to manipulate the human boy model for our stories, but this is something that is really long overdue. There’s a dwarven child, Yarlyn Amberstill, that sells snowshoe rabbits at Amberstill Ranch — she is a dwarf adult that has been shrunken down to represent a child. At the very least, her model could be updated to look like an actual dwarven child.

What do you feel is your greatest WoW-related achievement, either indirectly or directly related to the game?
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Achieving the Lieutenant Commander rank as a priest back when heals did not translate into honor points. I felt like I really earned my stripes because I worked twice as hard as everyone else to climb that horrid ladder.

General News

Long arm of law reaches into World of Warcraft(link)

WoW radio (wcradio.com) to close its doors (link)

New Wing opened in Icecrown Citadel. Plagueworks with 3 new bosses. Festergut, Rotface, and Professor Putricide

Ingame Hotfixes(link)
- Nerfed Lady Deathwhisper in ICC 25.
- You can now soon whisper people in pugs cross-realm?

1/8 GC announced they will be doing some class/item balancing. (link)
– Warlock damage in PvE is a little low.
– Protection warriors have too much utility and damage for PvP. (We don’t want to hurt their tanking in PvE of course.)
– We are considering adjusting (not replacing) the Elemental 4 piece Tier 10 set bonus.
– We’ll continue to refine and look at the Icecrown weapon procs.
– Other stuff (yes, we’ve heard your concerns), but these are the big things we are focusing on at this time.

WordPress 2.9 (and 2.9.1!)

  1. Global undo/”trash” feature, which means that if you accidentally delete a post or comment you can bring it back from the grave (i.e., the Trash). This also eliminates those annoying “are you sure” messages we used to have on every delete.
  2. Built-in image editor allows you to crop, edit, rotate, flip, and scale your images to show them who’s boss. This is the first wave of our many planned media-handling improvements.
  3. Batch plugin update and compatibility checking, which means you can update 10 plugins at once, versus having to do multiple clicks for each one, and we’re using the new compatibility data from the plugins directory to give you a better idea of whether your plugins are compatible with new releases of WordPress. This should take the fear and hassle out of upgrading.
  4. Easier video embeds that allow you to just paste a URL on its own line and have it magically turn it into the proper embed code, with Oembed support for YouTube, Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Flickr, Hulu, Viddler, Qik, Revision3, Scribd, Google Video, Photobucket, PollDaddy, and WordPress.tv (and more in the next release).

Hot Topics from the Nether!

(via World of Matticus) 7 Important healing Lessons I Learned from 1 Quest (link)
(via 4 Haelz) WTF Gearscore (link)
(via Clearcasting) Wow: The Community (link)
We’d like to welcome all of the new bloggers who introduced themselves on Blog Azeroth. This week we saw posts from:
- (resto druid) Fear of the Bark
- (healers) Moar HPS!
- (Paladins) Girly Pally
- (shamans) Ankh=Life
- (Addons/Macros) Righteous Fury
- (Holy paladins) D.I. The Tank
- (Rogues) Between The Blades
- (warlocks and druids) Fel Concentration
- (digital diary) Forest Cat: Confessions of an Azeroth Tourist
- (druids) The Feral Tree
- (digital diary) Casual Addict
- (WoW Wallpapers) World of Wallpapers
- (druid) Revive & Rejuvenate
- (priest) Healer’s Haven
- (casual WoW) Azure Shadows
- (Warlocks) Purple Fiend
- (hunter) Marks-365 http://www.marks-365.com
- (general) Daughter of Ravenholdt Manor
- (digital diary) The Hollowed Hunter
- (trolls) Troll Bouquet

We’d like to encourage all of you to visit the TNB Wiki and be sure to be listed in the Big List of Blogs.

Shared Topic This Week
Each week on BlogAzeroth a new topic is posted for general blogging. We encourage our listeners to post about that topic on their own blog and then post a link to it in the forum.

Current Shared Topics:
It’s a whole new year. Go to Blog Azeroth and suggest a shared topic and maybe yours will come up in the year.

Next week…

Next week we’ll have a guest. Stay tuned :)

(Opening song “Monster Techno Blues” is preformed Joe Sibol, additional song credits: Phonecasting – Foggy Monutain Morning, Joe Sibol – Hot Sexy Girls Instrumental, provided by podssafeaudio.com)

4 comments to Episode 72 – Dwarves in the Hall

  • As so often happens, I thought of a better answer for the greatest WoW-related achievement after we wrapped. (What can I say? It had been a long day.)

    I’m retroactively changing my answer to getting a rusted proto-drake. Not only did it represent weeks of fun in my favorite raid zone to date, it was a huge RP goody: My dwarf was asked to take care of a survivor of Loken’s madness by Brann Bronzebeard himself! While I do hope to get a frostwyrm from ICC before Cataclysm hits, it’ll be the rusted proto-drake I’ll be using in years to come.

    Thanks for the invite, guys; we had a lot of fun.

  • Many thanks for the mention on your show. The WoW: The Community post is actually the second part of a series of 6 posts regarding the Heroic situation. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be doing a series on raids.

    FYI – “he” is a “she” /wink

  • Baines

    I just wanted to say thanks for another interesting episode. I think what I like the most with your show are your interviews and the variety of your guests.

    Wish you the best of luck!

  • Just got to listen to this episode – thanks for the mention and the link! /fangirl squee