Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Pink Pigtail Inn Awards of 2010 – Things we saw in-game

Welcome to part two in the series where we present The Pink Pigtail List of 2010. Today we'll look closer at some things we saw in game, ranging from huge game changing additions to the not quite as serious competition for the ugliest tabard

Silliest gold sink

Nominated: Mechano-Hogs, Dalaran rings, raiding, Harison Pilton achievement bags, Hyacinth macaw, monocles, The Insane title, Chimaeric chops ("like 3K for an old world cooking recipe? Really?”), Sparkling Pony.

If you look at the number of nominations, the chopper looks like a winner. As Shintar commented:

"Not only are they ludicrously expensive, their sound effects are annoying as hell. I can listen to cars driving outside my window all day, thanks. I don't need that to invade my fantasy world".
On one level I could agree with her, but on the other hand, I must admit that I've enjoyed it quite a bit every time I've been given a ride in them as a passenger. They may be noisy, ugly and unsuitable for a fantasy game, but they're kind of fun and I can actually understand pretty well why some players are willing to pay a lot to get it.

The winner is: The Sparkling Pony!

Motivation: The suggestion came from Redbeard, with the motivation: "You didn't mention whether it was real coin or virtual gold". And he's right of course.

I know there are some of you out there who bought this mount and love to get it on all your alts, ready to ride as well as fly. But I couldn't help finding the sight of a huge, armor covered warrior flying around on that over-sweetened sparkly little creature that could have been taken straight out of "My Little Pony, rather ridiculous.

You don't see much of these ponies around anymore. I doubt it's because people don't have them. I just think the sparkles faded quicker than Blizzard could put the money into the bank.

Biggest addition to the game

Nominated: 4.0 revamp of all classes and their talent trees, new race/class combos, Level 10 keystone ability, Cataclysm, the glyph system, old World flying, the Dungeon Finder tool.

If you disregard of Cataclysm, being launched in towards the very end of 2010, there wasn't much new content released in 2010 in the terms of new quests, instances, things-to-do. We raided ICC until the very thought of the voice of Sindragosa made us want to throw up something. And then we just waited. And waited. However, for the lack of content, there have been quite a few changes changes that I suspect will make veterans from vanilla, returning from a couple of years of absence to check out Cataclysm raise their eyebrows.

Apart from the nominations I can easily think of other candidates, such as the changes in the quest design, which began in Wrath with novelties such as vehicle questing and phasing.

Or take the changes to the UI, which have made the life of the first-time WoW player way easier and many addons obsolete.

However: the choice was pretty easy. There was one change to the game that made WoW of 2010 very different to what it had been in 2009.

The winner is: The Dungeon Finder Tool!

Motivation: Strictly speaking the Dungeon Finder it was introduced in the 3.3 patch of December 2009, but in 2010 it became an institution. Loved and hated – it changed the game, making instance runs easy accessible for everyone, guildied as unguilded. At the same time it became a threat against the existing social structures in WoW such as server communities and guilds. The horror-Pug stories flourished in the blogosphere. Everyone knew how bad it could be, and many of us thought that the one-night-stand character of the pug groups made them feel hollow, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. And yet we kept entering the lottery over and over again. After all it was convenient.

Best quest

Nominated: The Shadowmourne chain, Harrison Jones Uldum questline, Loken chain in Storm Peaks, Venomhide Raptor chain, The Drakuru questline, Battle of Lordaeron, Echo Isles/Reclaiming Gnomeregan, Start a Bar Fight – on the new ship down in Thousand Needles
The Cultist quests in the major cities, Sons of Hodir quest chain in StormPeaks, Crusader Bridenbrad, in Icecrown

For all the suggestions, the competition in this category wasn't exactly bleeding this year. Cataclysm is swamped with worthy candidates and picking the best one will be hard, if this award is still around next year. Quests such as Crusader Bridanbrad or the Loken chain had been out for so long that it hardly felt 2010 specific.

The Shadowmourne questline was a strong candidate; it gave guilds an interesting and challenging long-term project to work on, a true feat of strength. However there were only ever so few players in the game that experienced it first hand, and this pulled down the grade a bit.

So the end candidates boiled down to the pre-events of Cataclysm, with the retaking of Echo Isles/Gnomeregan respectively the cultist quests in the major cities.

The winner is: The retaking of Gnomeregan and Echo Isles!

Motivation: Admittedly there was a little lacking in the execution. Especially the end quest in the battle at Gnomeregan tended to bug out if someone moved to close to the entrance too early. That was a downer, as well as the fairly short length of it. But the fact remains that I had great fun either I was drilled as an army recruit or dancing with the trolls. It gave us few laughs and a nice gnome costume and a pre-taste of what was soon to come.

Ugliest tabard

Nominated: Tabard of the Lightbringer, “All, except Isle of Conquest”, Tabard of the Achiever, Kirin Tor, Wyrmrest (“I know it’s ineligible, but it’s really really ugly”), Loremaster’s Colors.

I don’t know what it is about tabards, but to be honest, just like one of the commenters, I find most of them more or less ugly. If I wear them, it’s always for a good utility reason. In dungeons, to get reputation. Or as in the case of the Argent Tournament tabard: to get a free teleport. I wish I could wear my guild tabard with pride. But I can’t. It’s ugly like everyone else’s.

However there was no doubt one among all those tabards that was just outstanding in its ugliness. I wasn’t aware of its existence before I got the suggestion in several nominations (it was the by far most nominated tabard.) And no wonder! I can’t blame the owners of it for not using it. I would hide it deep down in the darkest corners of the bank vault if I were in their place.

The winner is: Loremaster’s Colors!

Motivation: I think the guy who designed this tabard wanted to be clever, but for all the cleverness, you can’t come away from the fact that it looks plain horrible in combination with any armor you can think of in the game. And to be honest this is a bit of a shame considering the huge amount of effort the owners of it have gone through to get it.

As Ale put it in a comment:
“One works their booty off to complete all the quests and their reward is an ugly tabard with a giant yellow exclamation point. It is just so lame, fugly and a huge disappointment.”
And as if the ugliness wasn't enough, it might also have other consequences to wear it. I'm not sure if the following remark at Wowhead is entirely truthful, but it sure made me smile:

"I found myself unable to wear it as random strangers began offering me wagons of beaver colons in the (unrealistic) hopes that I would return their efforts with money and/or phat lewts."

Favourite non combat pet

Curious Wolvar Pup “Nothing beats a pet with a story”, Captured firefly,Argent Tournament Page, The phoenix, Moonkin Hatchling, Lil’XT, Perky Pug, Core hound Pup Deathy, Waurpetinger, Wind Rider cub, Spirit Darter Hatchling, Chuck, Pandaren Monk.

Rhii suggested Sen'Jin Fetish, from the Argent Tournament:

“I love the different masks this pet wears, and the jungle drums that play when you summon it. I also love that it's not all that common, despite being easily available from the tourney and BOE"
I was frankly a little overwhelmed by all those nominations. So many pets! And so many new and beautiful and clever ones, far more advanced and interesting than the relatively crude vanilla pets. (Sorry Snowshoe, I didn’t mean that, you’re still one of my favourites, OK?)

This could explain why Blizzard has been too busy to produce any new Wrath content over the year. The staff had all been re-assigned into the pet industry. No, just kidding. Probably the pet design doesn’t compete for the same resources, and I suspect it isn’t that time consuming anyway. But obviously it’s something that has climbed on their priority list, especially after Blizzard saw the success of their experiments in offering non combat pets for real money. There was definitely a gold mine waiting to be explored! The charity polish they put on the surface couldn’t hide it.

I must admit that I find some of them incredibly cute as well. Especially the Moonkin Hatchling is absolutely adorable. But cute or not, I was never a fan of the concept to buy pure game items for real money, so I couldn’t stomach making it my favourite non combat pet for the year.

The winner is: Core Hound pup!

Motivation: The Core Hound pup was released in December 2009, too late to be considered for an award that year. But I think it deserves an award. As TM put it: “Cute AND foils hackers”.

Either I bring him out or keep him in my bags, I know that my Core hound pup will bite the pesky hackers in their legs. How couldn’t you love such a creature?

There’s a lot of hacking going on out there – I got about ten e-mail attempts to steal my account just the last couple of weeks – and we have every reason to do what we can to protect ourselves and our guilds. And the pet that comes with it is just so adorable, that even if it was sold on a stand-alone basis, I would be tempted to temper with my principles not to buy game items for real money

The End
And that's it for tonight. Next up are the community awards.


Shintar said...

Another couple of well-explained choices. :) Good call on the Gnomeregan/Echo Isles chain in particular; I have to admit that as much as I enjoyed it, it completely slipped my mind after the excitement of Cataclysm's actual release.

Redbeard said...

Woo! Thanks for the props, Larisa!

I really liked the Echo Isles chain too; unlike the Gnomer chain which tried to hard to be silly, the Echo Isles chain really underscored the seriousness of Vol'jin's desire to retake his homeland. (I still preferred the Quel'Delar chain, tho.)

Dàchéng said...

3K gold for [Recipe: Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops]? Wow, that's cheap! On my realm I have personally sold one (in the week before Cataclysm) for 9K, while they were still obtainable in-game, and I see them in the AH now for around 19K. For reference, ilvl 359 gear is selling on my realm for not much more, 20K-30K.

Anyone who got it for 3K got a bargain!

Analogue said...

I disagree a bit about the sparkle pony. My brother gave me one for Christmas and I'm thrilled because now I can roll Draeni alts again. I hate, hate, hate elekks. Big stupid ugly things that won't go through doors and make you seasick.... I stopped playing my paladin when they turned her horse into an elekk. Now maybe I will play her again.

Rades said...

I think even Blizzard considers the Sparkle Pony a bit of a humorous goldsink. I mean, they *did* implement it in a tongue-in-cheek fashion as the mount of the swaggering Johnny Awesome. I doubt they'd ever come out and say it, but I think it's a not-so-subtle minor dig at the people who purchased one.

I agree with the Gnomeregan/Echo Isles quests as being memorable and unique. Not only were they fun and long overdue ingame, but they came at a great time from a meta perspective, as players were growing bored and losing interest as they waited for Cataclysm. The posters and buildup to these fun events were very enjoyable to participate in.

Rebecca said...

The Corehound pet is *very* cute, you're right. Though I've always felt an attachment to the Wolpertinger - I've no idea why. Just somehow the cute bunny + antlers and pointy teeth is... so right. Especially as my fury warrior's companion. Pebbles is really sweet too.

Gronthe said...

Honestly, I have no idea how Lil'XT was even nominated, I don't know anyone (except those owners) who enjoyed the torment of hearing that annoying little bot. So glad that the Core Hound Pup took the prize.

And although I enjoyed Quel'Delar chain immensely, the Echo Isles chain build up and execution was really, really excellent! Not every quest leaves you feeling like you actually accomplished something, but for da Trolls, you actually did.

Vidyala said...

It's sad but I wrote a whole post with nominations for this but was too slow to actually POST it.

I'm glad that the Dungeon Finder won in that category as it really was such a sweeping change to the game. I've given up some thought since, and I'm still really happy for it. I've had more enjoyable dungeon experiences since it came out, and even though in the time it took me to pug my paladin from 15-80 I did have some horrible experiences - it was through writing about them that I have met so many incredible people, commenters, bloggers. In that way, LFD was the best thing that could have happened to me in 2010! :D

Larísa said...

@Shintar: I actually had forgotten about it too, until I got the reminder thanks to the nominations. Even if I don't arrange an actual voting process about this, the suggestions from the readers still matter a lot.

: Well, since PPI is a sanctuary and neutral zone regarding alliance/horde I decided to play it safe and reward both factions. Yes, I'm a coward. ;)

@Dàchéng: I must admit that I'm missign something here. Why do people want this recipe so badly?

: Oh, I understand completely that for certain players this pony isn't a gold sink at all, but something they appreciate highly and think it was worth the money. Still.. I can't help finding it a little amusing when bold warriors go nuts about a sparkling pony. It looks silly. And I'm still not a fan of RMT for pure pixelated in-game items.

@Rades: Yes the timing with those events were fine and I enjoyed it a lot more than I enjoyed the cultist things later. Just a shame with the bugs.

@Rebecca: They have really taken pet cuteness to a new level this year, haven't they? So many well crafted and cute pets to choose between. However since the dog is attached to account protection, I think it stood out a bit more than the others.

@Vidyala: Oh, what a shame. :( I thought I had given a fair amount of time, but apparently it wasn't enough. Next year, if PPI is still around, I'll make the call for nominations a tad earlier.

TM said...


The Chimera Chops recipe is a quest reward from one of the chains leading up the Scepter of the Shifting Sands quest line. Or should I say was, since the whole chain has been removed from the game with the Shattering.

So in order to get the recipe, you would have had to grind AQ rep, and then gone on a long and tedious (but not difficult at 80 - extremely difficult at 60) chain, rewarding you with the only epic cooking recipe in the game. And then you would have had to resist the urge to learn it!

It was always rare, and now gone. It's a little piece proving you were around pre-Shattering, and awesome for profession collectors. Thus why it's so expensive.

Michael said...

I know I'm late to respond here, but I just gotta say, although I really hate the idea of spending real money (above the monthly account fee), that the Celestial Steed (I can't refer to it as a sparkle pony, because that just feeds the idea of it being lame) has been awesome. And I like that no one else still rides theirs much... now that they seem more unique, it's amazing how often I get a random tell from people wanting to know where they can get one. (And yes, I do have a relatively good sarcasm meter and can tell the difference.)

But more important than that, I love it for it's utility. (The only mount I like for utility more than the steed is my RAF Touring Rocket, but I can't have that on every character.) Also, at the time they became available, there was literally no other flying mount you could successfully cast in a non-flying area. Finally, the Celestial Steed also made it possible to have the same macro for all characters (yes, I have a plethora of alts), in all environments.

And I'd also point out that it's difficult to really compare what $25 means from one person to another since our RL earning potentials are so drastically different, whereas in game, assuming you're max level, you have roughly the same earning potential as everyone else at max level. In other words, if you lived month to month, then sure, $25 would probably be a "silly" expense, but potentially not worth mentioning for those with plenty of disposable income.

All that said, I think these awards are great, and I fully expected there to be a few I didn't really agree with -- that's part of what makes them fun. So thank you for doing this again this year!

Here's an early nomination for next year's award in this category: Mysterious Fortune Cards.