Tag Archive for destruction

Not All Slopes Are Slippery

Taking another angle on yesterday’s post, now I want to look at the major protest against the sparkle pony: the slippery slope.

As with any time a change is proposed, the alarmists immediately paint it as a step toward complete and total destruction.  No change can be in a vacuum, but not every change needs to be the tipping point for Armageddon either.  So the argument goes like this:

  1. Pets for sale.
  2. Mounts for sale.
  3. Epic raid gear for sale.
  4. The only way to “win” is to have the most money and “buy” victory.
  5. The planet explodes.

Yes, I’m exaggerating.  But only for step 5.  Here’s the thing… you don’t need pets.  There are pets available in game, and they’ve given away exclusive pets at Blizzcon and other events as well as sold them as part of pre-order packages and collector’s editions.  But as far as I know, the pets for sale don’t actually do anything to affect game play.  If I’m wrong, please correct me.  (A quick run through some wikis tells me that there are no bonuses but some will detrimentally affect play by ruining stealth or debuffing the owner.)  They dance, they talk, they are silly and fun, but having a pet doesn’t make your character any stronger than someone of the same class, same level, same gear but without the pet.  The pet is a toy.  And so is the mount. (Wiki link.)  The mount gains you no extra in-game advantage.  None.  It just looks pretty.

So, why the jump in step 3?  Why go from two consistent levels of selling items with no affect on game play to suddenly selling gear that does?  This is where the argument falls apart, and it is clear to see why they go there.

The pets, the mounts… the coolest pets and mounts in the game comes from raiding or hard quests.  Regular players get pets and mounts, but they are, in comparison, bland.  Blizzard has giveaways and collector’s editions and pre-orders, but again, those are somehow considered special, just like the stuff you get from playing the game at it’s highest level.  The fact is, most of the people complaining wouldn’t have an issue with Blizzard selling a $25 plain brown horse that worked that same as the Celestial Steed.  The issue is that Blizzard is selling the (arguably) coolest looking mount in the game for cash and not reserving it for their hardest working players to earn with blood, sweat and tears.

Even if Blizzard followed the advice I laid out in yesterday’s post and introduced appearance only items (items with no stats at all), it would not be an escalation.  They might end up selling the coolest looking appearance items in the game for cash, but it would not be selling raid level gear.  The thing is, to define a slippery slope, you need at least two related items that show a clear escalation which you can extrapolate to further escalations leading to destruction.  No such thing exists here.  People might not like Blizzard selling game stuff in the store, but there is no slippery slope here.

The minute Blizzard starts selling raid gear, though, you’ll find me in line throwing rotten tomatoes at them.  Until then… nothing here to get worked up about.

Dawn of the Dead

I love zombie movies. Ever since I saw the original Night of the Living Dead, I’ve just always liked them. One main reason is that within the span of the movie, a good zombie movie remains internally consistant, and its not hard to be a good zombie movie. Do your zombies run or walk? Are they capable of any speed movements or are they always slow? Do the only attack humans or anything that lives? Is the whole body reanimated or is it just the brain keeping it going? Is anyone who dies capable of being a zombie or do they have to be bitten by one?

Answer those questions, stick to them, and you can have a good zombie flick.

When I went to go see Dawn of the Dead this weekend, I knew alot of what to expect. I had seen the original (though not recently), and knew it was about a bunch of people who wind up in a mall while the world outside spirals into zombie hell.

It was good in that it was scary. It was good in that is was consistant. It was good in that it had funny moments to break the tension, and calm you down as a viewer.

But I didn’t love the movie…

Now, before I continue, let me get something out of the way:

** SPOILER – DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE MOVIE, INCLUDING HOW IT ENDS – SPOILER **

Okay, now that everyone has been warned, let me talk about why I didn’t love the movie.

Night of the Living Dead is a cornerstone of the zombie genre. At the end, everyone from the house, the story you’ve been watching is dead… but, the human race is winning. Zombies are getting under control and the bodies are being burned. In a way, it has a very War of the Worlds feel to it. We are on the bring of destruction, but as dawn arrives, we start winning.

Return of the Living Dead (and its sequals) are the flip side of the genre. They are pure camp. The zombie say funny things, do funny things. People die in funny ways. There are two actors who are in every movie (they play different people and die in every one of them). And the movies end with total destruction. In fact, more than one I believe ends with us (the Army) nuking the infected town only to further spread the infection in the form of contaminated rain.

The original Dawn of the Dead ends when the people from the mall decide to make a break for the harbor, where they plan to get on a boat and sail off to an uninhabited island or somesuch. The movie literally ends with a shot of the boat sailing away, abandoning the main land. In this end, its similar to both Night and Return… We (the humans) have lost, and have turned over the main land to the undead, but there is also hope because we are sailing to a safe place.

The new Dawn of the Dead ends in the same way. I could feel in myself, and in the sigh of relief in Jodi, and the other members of the audience, a sence of relaxing, and sadness, but also of hope as the boat sails away. Like the original, we lost, but we survived. However, as the credits rolled, snippets of film continued in the form of seconds here and there on a video camera found on the boat. Food on the boat, which had been idle for weeks, is covered in maggots. They run out of gas. The engine catches fire. They find a row boat with a cooler, and in the cooler an undead head (funny, but… ). Snippets, until they pull up to shore at the island. The dog is barking, and runs off. They have guns out and start to move down the dock. Then dozens of undead rush the boat and camera, which drops to the ground and you keep seeing snippets of undead running by, screams, and death. The movie finally ends with total destruction… we lost, and we didn’t survive, and it wasn’t funny enough to laugh it off.

In the end, the new Dawn of the Dead leaves you without hope, and not enough to smile about.

Is it worth seeing? I would say yes, but just make sure you leave when the credits begin to roll.

12 September 2001

Yesterday
The World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists. The Pentagon was also attacked. Four airplanes were hijacked to do this destruction.
Sounds like some hot new action flick starring Arnold or Sylvester or even Wesley. But it’s not. It’s real.
I told some friends yesterday that I kept blinking my eyes, like I was trying to wipe away the last remnants of a bad dream. And it was true. I spent the entire day in utter disbelief that this could be happening.
There have been other attacks on the U.S. by terrorists in the past. But each of those existed in a world of “isolated incidents”. Yesterday was a concerted, organized, deliberate effort to end lives. No kid with a truck of fertilizer parking next to a building, but hijacked airplanes diving down at the world below that no amount of security or protection could avoid, let alone stop.
Terrorism has existed for a long time. But to us in the United States, except for “isolated incidents”, it was a news story, a movie, a book, a television show. It was on the other side of the glass, over the fence, in the neighborhood down the street. It was second hand, rumor. Yesterday it became real.
For thousands of people yesterday, life came to a sudden and final halt. Minutes before they were probably looking, like most of us who exist in a corporate world, forward to the weekend, even though one had just ended. They joked. They gossipped. They smiled. They laughed. They stressed. They loved. They died.
For millions of people yesterday, life as they knew it came to a sudden and final halt. The world crashed down around their ears. Some of them ran. Some of them stayed. Some of them charged into the discord to see if perhaps they could calm the storm, or perhaps just drag one life from the jaws of death and into the world of tomorrow.
For billions of people yesterday, a dream came to a sudden and final halt. The United States has for 200 years been the beakon of freedom and hope for those both within and outside her borders. The dream of the perfect life in the land of plenty is something that people from all over the world think about. Even if they never work toward it themselves, they knew it existed and that people actually lived there in safety and peace.
There is a dream that is America. It still exists, but for most that dream now seems further away than ever. Where it used to be just out of reach, within our grasp, it is now a few paces away, easier to see than to touch. And in seeing the dream, we see that it is tarnished.
We will recover. America will be strong. Woe be to those who have for the second time in a century tempted fates and awoken the sleeping giant.
Life will go on. People will work. People will live, and love, and hate, and laugh, and cry, and die. People will fly in airplanes, although perhaps giving a second glance to all those passengers who made it through the new security checks. People will visit tall buildings to look out and the beautiful skylines of cities all over the world.
But these people are not the same people from last week. They are more like those of 1941. The people of the United States today have been touched by something that leaves no thing unchanged. Its a message. “Time is short. Life is precious. Live.”
Me? I’m off to get a job. Life goes on, there are bills to pay, and I’ve spent too much of my short precious time here on this Earth doing nothing waiting for life to take me along for the ride.
It’s well past time I put both hands on the wheel.
I’m driving from now on.