Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Rabbits and pandas

I managed to create a Guild Wars 2 character this morning before having to go to work. It is a rabbit. Or rather a humanoid which looks like a rabbit, and is called an Asura. Wielding pistols, as I chose engineer as his "profession" aka class. Next month I will create a panda monk in WoW, like everybody else. I already play a humanoid cow in that game. None of these are the weirdest race I've ever played, because that distinction probably has to go to the three hamsters I played in Allods Online: They play like one character, but are shown as a group of three, for example with two of them on top of each other holding a bow, while the third one pulls the arrow.

Everquest has lizard-men and rat-men. And there are lots of games in which some of the other races aren't completely serious either, for example the gnomes and goblins in World of Warcraft, even if they aren't fluffy animals in human form. I have a female warlock in WoW with pink pigtails, summoning sinister demons. I wanted to call her Dottie, but the name was already taken. And once you visit Asian games, you will see a lot more silly races.

There is a huge amount of silliness going on in nearly every MMORPG, in quest descriptions, the way how certain races look, dance moves and other emoticons, and in lot of other places. I really don't understand the people who chose to ignore all of that silliness in the history of MMORPGs and pretend that the Pandaren are the first time a game introduced silliness, somehow spoiling their game and turning it from something dead serious into something childish. It isn't as if Blizzard had lots of other options to introduce new races into the game that aren't silly. Next expansion will probably be murlocs.

Hehe, I must admit now that I almost want to check out Allods just to see those hamsters in action. :)
Can't wait for some of the silly replies.

On topic, yeah, I think the gibberlings were definitely the most interesting I've played.

I definitely will roll a monk on release, though I am still unsure of what race I will make em. Panda is tempting, but there are a few of the males's animations I just don't like...

Blah, then again, their racials are quite nice, and more importantly, the alliance racials just aren't as inspiring to me as the horde ones. Outside of every man for himself, I can't think of a single one that draws me to a particular race. We'll see I suppose.
Just because one acknowledges that humor is the spice of life doesn't mean that one would enjoy an entire meal made out of it.
The majority of the people that dislike the 'pandas' is not because of their animal features. If nothing else pandas in real life are as fierce as mountain bears and can kill people.

However in Pandaria the design decision was to make them look as silly, light hearted and cartoony as possible. This is why people have no trouble playing cow-men, and yet the pandas presented now make them twitch.

PS. the only similarity of the Asura with bunnies is the ears. And even then you're stretching it.
I see the "Tauren are just as silly" argument a lot. To me it just doesnt hold much water.

Tauren look to be based on the minotaur, which is a greek mythical beast, and has often been portrayed in fantasy settings as a powerful inteligent beast, that fights with honor, but often on the side of evil.
Thats what I think of when looking at Tauren.

Contrast that to Pandaren, which, lets be fair, conjure images of a fat panda tripping over while trying to do Kunf-fu.

Just because both are animals doesnt mean they are "equally silly" in my opinion.

You might as well say "just as silly as Worgen" because they are based on an animal too. You would have much more trouble selling that.

Its all about image really.
The image of Pandaren is "silly".
If you find the Tauren in WoW to be "serious", what about the WoW goblins (especially in their starting zone)?

Do you consider the Asura in GW2 to be "serious"?
I'd play a Murloc! They would be perfect for pvp because they are so annoying!
Do you consider the Asura in GW2 to be "serious"?
Even though I think the question was directed at Remi, I do find the Asura serious. I also think Tauren are serious. The thing is that the race has to match the lore the game has.
The lore surrounding Taurens and Asura are solid, they do fit the world.

Goblins in Warcraft are a mixed bag. Prior to them being a playable race Goblins were creatures with lore regarding trade princes and working for the highest bidder. When the Goblins became a playable race, their lore became a parody of themselves. The starter area with the car quest all was one big reference to other games and taking it to extremes.
Pandaren have been part of Warcraft's lore and Pandaria seems to be well done- a serious take on the lore. It makes the Pandaren fit the Warcraft universe as much as Tauren do.

Murlocks... well- they are part of Warcraft however in the lore they are not a very advanced culture. For them to become a playable race it would require a lot of retcon on the part of Blizzard. For me Murlocks isn't a serious option for Warcraft.

So Asura have an established lore within the Guild Wars universe thus they have a serious place there.
Tobold Stoutfoot said...
If you find the Tauren in WoW to be "serious", what about the WoW goblins (especially in their starting zone)?

No not really, I see gobilns as the light comedy option for Horde. Similar to Gnomes for Alliance.

I think you would be better off comparing Pandaren to these two races than to Tauren.

I expect Asura is designed to be the light comedy option for GW2, although I have not looked into GW2 that much.

Some people just prefer playing a race thats "cute and silly", and I dont blame any MMO for including a race like that.

However, that is a minority playstyle, so I am dubious that Pandaren is a good idea as a single race addition to WOW. A lot of players will be turned off by the "cute silly" image.

Just complete the first zone and the first part of asura story quests...

then you learn that "rabbits" have an evil side... more corretly, a MAD scientist side.

I liked the story quest where you find an evil version of yourself from other reality that conquered the world and now wants conquer your "reality"... but the golem with the "killer bug" too was fun...

That "rabbits" have sharp teeth...
I find the goblins just as silly. About the Asura, they are just neutral to me, not serious but not "in-your-face" silliness also.

However neither of those 2 races had the entire expansion/game based on them, so they can easily be ignored completely.

Do you think one can ignore the pandas while playing in "Pandaria"?
I'd play a murloc, if only to get abilities like Demoralizing Mmmrrrggglll.

And they could be the start of a third faction. I am pretty sure the forsaken would join up. They seem to hate everybody else already.
I have a 9 year old son and he loves the Goblin starting zone and playing a Goblin. That may hook him into playing wow and is probably exactly what Blizzard's intent was.
Are you aware that WoW has a "T" ESRB rating, stating that it is recommended for teens age 13 and older?
I an't believe anyone would try to justify WoW as serious. I'm an older gamer now... I remember the first time I logged in (I came straight from EQ) and saw people named Luckycrit and Ipwnyou and knew this game wasn't to be taken serious. EQ had a strict naming policy at the time I left for WoW.

There is a Plants vs Zombies quest in WoW, all the characters have comical dances, the entire game has a cartoonish and childish feel to it. It's still fun, don't get me wrong, but never once have I thought "Oh this takes away from the seriousness of my Blood Elf dancing like Britney Spears or completing a Jaws inspired quest line.

WoW's content is not serious. I'm not sure it ever really was either.

Sorry, this is completely off topic but your question to Scugger was so intriguing.

Is it your argument that the ESRB a better judge of what is appropriate for Scugger's son than Scugger himself?

You don't usually do posts on order (good strategy), but I'd be very interested in reading a post with your views on the ESRB ratings and the six-year-olds playing WoW (and the three-year-olds playing Lego Indiana Jones (ESRB 7) too)!
As I am not a parent I wouldn't dare to tell any parent what his child should or shouldn't be allowed to do. My point was that because the ESRB rating is 13+, I doubt Blizzard is adding content specifically targeted at children under 12.
For me the horde has always been a zoo. With the Jamacian trolls, the tauren cows, the orcs, and a bunch of undead who look they came late from a carnaval party.

The Pandaren were already introduced in Warcraft 3.

If you think Pandaren look silly, have you played a ranged DPS on alliance side? If yes, most likely the worgen was the best race for you. Their caster animation look terrible.
I don't think anyone has ever argued that WoW was completely serious. It's always been known for its inside jokes, jovial characters and parodies. But there's a difference between a balance of serious and silly, and Kung-Fu Panda. I seriously don't think it needs to be argued that even a slight shift in the balance of an atmosphere can have huge subjective view changes.
I don't get this preoccupation with the idea that an entire race is silly. Even the Gnomes in WoW have their serious moments, while they're usually pretty light-hearted. A good story is a mix of both serious and silly.

Just because something started out as an Easter Egg in WCIII like the Pandaren doesn't mean that the idea can't evolve. And from what I've seen of images of the Pandaren, they aren't necessarily all that cuddly, either.
Something off topic but interesting.

When I saw TSW embed in game web browser, I smelled trouble.

Now news is out that, hackers found a way to steal your account using GW2 in game mail. Anet disabled in game mail and will enable it after they patch this security exploit. GW2 also uses embedded browser for its in game store, trading post and mail.

With all the security issue with IE, you would think last thing people will do embed a browser inside MMO.

@Talarian: While the Pandaren could certainly do a turn around and be a bit more serious, it doesn't help that Blizzard doesn't seem interested in portraying them in that light. See: MoP trailer.
The silly characters in the MoP trailer were the orc and the human, which were in stark contrast to the much wiser panda. The "fat panda tripping over while trying to do Kunf-fu" Remi mentioned didn't appear in the MoP trailer. Maybe you guys should watch less childish movies.
Tobold Stoutfoot said...
The "fat panda tripping over while trying to do Kunf-fu" Remi mentioned didn't appear in the MoP trailer. Maybe you guys should watch less childish movies.

Lol, it was a good movie and made me laugh. I would recomend it. The wife loved it too.

Just because Pandas were "serious" in the trailer doesnt mean they no longer have a "silly" image.

Lets put it another way:
Blizzard clearly decided to introduce Pandaren to maximize exposure after the films were so successful. They probably did get a lot of people who loved the films interested in playing a Panda monk.
However they cant have it both ways. Pandas in WOW are now linked by image to those films. For good and for bad.

I don't understand how anyone seriously thinks that Kung Fu Panda was ACTUALLY the inspiration for this expansion. That's utterly asinine.
It would be asinine to believe it wasnt a factor.
Remi, the Pandaren were first mentioned by Blizzard in an April Fool's joke in 2002. The first Kung Fu Panda film was released in 2008. If anything, the film copied WoW, and not the other way around.
I am aware of Pandaren being in Warcraft lore for a long time.

Blizzard made the decision to make them a playable race (along with the monk class) AFTER the film. (Please correct me if I am wrong).

Does anyone think that the films had no bearing on that decision?
I doubt that Dreamworks copied the Pandaren, they were still pretty obscure outside of those who played The Frozen Throne.

Associating Panda and Kung Fu isn't exactly a stroke of genius (they're both very typically Chinese)

It's undeniable that Blizzard came up first with their humanoid panda fighter (though I wouldn't be surprised if there are earlier examples) and there have been requests for their inclusion in WoW since vanilla, but I think we shouldn't dismiss the idea that the success of Kung Fu Panda helped Blizzard to finally decide to add them.
I would be astonished if there were no link between the films and the decision to make Pandaren playable.

It is also important to view the choice in context: they come with pokemon pet battles and failsafe "talent" selection. Taken together, the lurch toward the sunny, silly and simple is fairly clear.

I am not a particularly hardcore MMO-er, but the pandas symbolise a reorganisation of the target demographic that I do not find to my liking.
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