Shamus Plays WoW #13: Crime and Punishment

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jan 20, 2011

Filed under: Column 96 comments


Welcome to Norman’s wacky adventures and hi-jinks in Westfall.

Good news / bad news time.

Bad news: This series will end in the next couple of weeks. Bit sooner that I’d designed, but I’m doing this in order to make more time for…

Good News: Stolen Pixels will return after the WoW series ends.

Also, you should be reading Rutskarn’s Let’s Play of Oblivion. It’s dumb, contrived, ill-designed, and poorly written. Oblivion, I mean – the LP itself is delightful fun.


From The Archives:

96 thoughts on “Shamus Plays WoW #13: Crime and Punishment

  1. Rutskarn says:

    Although I feel bound by my duties on this site to point out that my LP is not, in fact, faithful to the original Mass Effect.

    1. droid says:

      But how does it compare to System Shock?

    2. albval says:

      I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite comment on this thread.

    3. Irridium says:

      STOP! You’ve violated the law!

      1. Fat Tony says:

        Do you wnat to join the Theives Guild?

        1. Roll-a-Die says:


          The worst thing about Oblivion is the fact that, by the lore up till it, the entire main quest could be solved by handing the amulet to Ocato and walking 300 meters down the street.

          1. Irridium says:

            I’ve seen Mudcrabs write better stories then that!

            1. Klay F. says:

              Well, look at the muscles on that plot hole!

  2. Rayen says:

    I can’t say i’m sad to seee this playthrough go. It’s funny It’s regular It’s well Written and Some other nice words. It definitely kills time which is basically what i look to the escapist to do. BUT I’ve never really been into WoW and never will be. This playthrough has pretty much sealed that what with the rampamt idiocy and monotony of the quests.

    I’ll be happy to have stolen pixels back though. Also are you going to another playthrough? If so any thoughts on what game?

    1. Klay F. says:

      In all fairness, I think you are unfairly judging the game by just what you see Shamus covering. The reason Shamus picked the human story is because it is the most ripe for comedy. And I’ll be honest, the human story is easily the worst starting area in the game. I thought the undead storyline in particular was well above par (for an MMO). I haven’t played the goblin area yet but I hear its even better.

      tl;dr don’t base your opinion entirely on an LP whose purpose is to point out the worst things it can find.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        it’s comparable to his LotRO comic. Yes, those quests were absolutely idiotic, but they are by far the most idiotic in the game. I’ve played every other starting area, and I can tell you the Shire is the only one that has you smuggling pies past hungry hobbits.

      2. But Westfall quests before this were no where near this bad (though Murloc eyes in food could have given Norm some pause).

        I’m saddened by the mud pies quest. I’m not sure I really want to experience that part of the new world.

      3. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

        “I thought the undead storyline in particular was well above par (for an MMO).”

        Not encouraging. In fact, it sounds positively ghastly.

  3. Deoxy says:

    Are all MMO quests this inane, or are you just really gifted at finding the totally inane ones? I mean, you’ve given three different MMOs this treatment, now, and you seem to think the super-hero one was the worst, but from the cheap seats (free), here, they all seem utterly insane.

    Or is it just that you cherry-pick the worst, and that cherry-picking took the least work in the super-hero one?

    1. Shamus says:

      In LOTRO and WoW, I’ve been cherry-picking. In LOTRO, I did a lot of side-questing.

      In Champs, I showed you 90% of the quests, and nearly al of them were your “main” questline.

      And maybe it’s just me, but I think Chaps looks a lot dumber in a side-by-side comparison.

      1. Joshua says:

        There are plenty of both good and stupid quests in LOTRO, and Shamus picked a lot(but not ALL) of the stupid ones. I’m just glad he picked one of my most hated- where Ted Pickthorne has you recover the ill-gotten gains of his father’s bandit years and he rewards you with 90 COPPER after you hand him a number of GOLD coins.

        What I find most interesting is that Turbine revamped almost all of the Archet quests very shortly after Shamus made fun of them. It’s like they were reading as well.

        1. Peter H. Coffin says:

          It is not impossible that this is the case…

  4. Kolobus says:

    Sorry to hear that this edition “Shamus Plays” is coming to a close. It’s been serving a dual purpose for me. The primary function being personal entertainment and the secondary function being something to link to whenever a friend of mine tries to talk me into signing back up for WoW (I stopped mid-Lich King).

    On the bright side, it’ll be great to see Stolen Pixels return. Do you plan on continuing the New Vegas story or stick with individual comics for awhile?

    1. Shamus says:

      I’ve got a New Vegas comic planned, although I haven’t touched the game in aged. Hopefully it’s been patched and the patch didn’t bork my saves.

      1. Michael says:

        It doesn’t seem to have messed up mine, so there is hope. Though, obviously, there’s always room for voodoo troubleshooting to screw you over instead of helping…

      2. X2-Eliah says:

        I hope it will be a comic about trying to run a session without crashing/glitching.

      3. Kolobus says:

        I’ve read about all sorts of issues people have had with New Vegas but I’ve somehow managed to avoid them (There’s a joke about luck and Vegas in there, I’m sure of it).

        Looking forward to seeing what you’ve planned for the game. While it was a step up from FA3, there were still some major plot issues and railroad moments. I was really disappointed that I couldn’t arrange for NCR to get the dam while keeping New Vegas for myself. I figured giving me the city would’ve been the least they could do for me after I won the war for them….

        1. SteveDJ says:

          I could imagine something with a slot machine, and only if you get 3 no-crash symbols can you play, else…

          1. Kolobus says:

            I think we’ve stumbled upon the cruelest DRM a game company has ever devised!

      4. Irridium says:

        Its better then it was at launch, but its still rather buggy. It is an Obsidian game on the Gamebryo engine after all.

        Haven’t seen any game-breaking bugs though. Mainly just enemies stuck in level geometry.

  5. Sheer_Falacy says:

    Awww, that means you’re not gonna get to Redridge. I bet Norman would have LOVED working with Keeshan.

    1. pffh says:

      don’t you mean JOHN J. KEESHAN

      1. Kdansky says:

        He was definitely talking about JOHN J. KEESHAN.

  6. Daimbert says:

    Remember the murder mystery in Knights of the Old Republic?

    Remember the murder and TRIAL in Knights of the Old Republic?

    Remember how they made so much more sense than this? And how the second one even did involve, in some way, killing things?

    Kinda sad, ain’t it?

    1. Michael says:

      I hated the murder mystery with a fiery passion. I may have finished it legitimately once, but I seriously f’ing hate that sidequest for so many reasons. Not the least of which being, he was freakin’ bjorking your wife in the next room, and you decided to just sit there and whimper!? WTF?

      I hate the Trial as well, though less so. More because it’s really a logic game disguised as a trial. Add up (at least three of) these five variables a couple of points at a time. The same with the bit with the European character in Jade Empire. In both cases, your arguments themselves are irrelevant, just the mathematical effect they have. While someone, I think it might have been Extra Credits, was recently talking about the idea of using a pseudo turn based combat system in dialog as a way to make dialog more interesting, this strikes me as a very poor implementation of this concept. (Even though the general concept itself has a lot of potential.)

      1. Daimbert says:

        Actually, I was just referring to the actual investigations in those cases, not the resolution or story. As investigations, they’re far, far superior to what’s described here. In the trial case, if you want to find out what actually happened, there’s a lot to do and it even ties into your actual mission (I mean Sunry’s trial, BTW). The trial is a complete aside wrt that. And the little thing on Dantooine, again, is a much better investigation, and certain seems less like you doing someone else’s job for them.

        1. Klay F. says:

          Oh hated that damned Dark-Side trap of a questline. There was seriously no way to finish that quest without getting Dark-Side points. Seriously…*sigh*. I realize that it was optional and that I didn’t have to do it but still *grumble* yes I am still butt-hurt over that stupid quest 7 years after the fact.

    2. krellen says:

      I don’t remember either of those. Guess they didn’t make much of an impression. Unless you mean the silly thing on Dantooine. Which left the impression of being silly, obviously.

      1. Daimbert says:

        That was one of them, but I liked it.

      2. Rick W says:

        The other involves Jolee’s friend on Manaan.

    3. Kdansky says:

      I recommend Phoenix Wright. It’s one of the best written series in the last decade.

  7. Heron says:

    Shamus, your comment on literacy made me laugh out loud. Thanks :D

  8. drlemaster says:

    I am a newish WoWer, and just started this quest line last night. It is, by far, the dumbest I have seen. The low-level human quests seem, on average, much dumber those for any other Alliance race. I think it is because most of the other races seem to be actively fighting someone nearby, while the human starting areas are not near any warfare, so there is a lot more running random errands for people.

    1. pffh says:

      Just wait until you get to Redridge. The zone is being invaded by the Blackrock orc clan and you must help JOHN J. KEESHAN* and bravo squad fight them back.

      *Yes full name and all caps are necessary.

  9. Traska says:

    As an avid MMO player, let me just say this.

    I am SO glad I never tried WoW. EQ2 may not have eleventy zillion players, but the quests make sense! And EQ1 is even better (although dated.) And City of Heroes… well it has a radio that means I don’t have to do storyline quests. But I’ve heard they’re really good!

    1. krellen says:

      Some are. Some aren’t. The newer content tends better (but not necessarily so; the revamped version of some of the early high-level contact (Tina MacIntyre and Maria Jenkins in Peregrine Island, specifically) sometimes make even less sense than the originals.)

      1. Adeon says:

        The problem with the new versions of Tina MacIntyre’s and Maria Jenkins’ arcs are that they tried to keep the same basic plot while updating it to the new time-period. IMHO they should have either written a new plot from scratch or left the arcs alone.

        As for arcs in general some of the older arcs are pretty good. I personally liked the one that deals with Nemesis and the one where you find out why the Rikti are harvesting human organs. A lot of the older arcs have very good plots, it’s just that the mission setup in them isn’t great.

    2. Daimbert says:

      Actually, in City of Villains, one of your contacts is an ACTUAL RADIO. That was really neat.

      And the storyline quests are generally good. Task forces even better.

      1. Chargone says:

        and later, a Television. they’re kinda fighting.

        1. Jarenth says:

          You will obey the will of Television.

      2. tremor3258 says:

        Doesn’t RADIO also have to be in caps? It’s my favorite pre-40 questline.

    3. Peter H. Coffin says:

      Nah, grabbing one of those 2 week trial accounts and spending the time wandering around and bashing things with sticks and rocks randomly is kind of fun.

      Taking the thing seriously is what seems to be the key to sucking every last drop of joy out of it.

  10. Wolfwood says:

    Huzzah for the return of Stolen Pixels, was beginning to miss that quite a lot. Especially since one of the best ones got featured on the best of 2010 column Wooo.

    Norman’s fall from the light is at hand wooo! XD

  11. David W says:

    Wow, am I shocked after the title that there wasn’t any PUNishment in this episode!

  12. Beardeddork says:

    Most people where I live give directions based on things that aren’t there anymore, the old things left more of an impression than the new things do. The worst directions are the ones based on live stock.
    “…Go down that road until you come to a field with a gray horse and two donkeys…”
    “but what if the horse and donkeys aren’t there?”
    “Oh, They’re always there.”
    Excerpted from actual directions I heard a friend receive a few months back.

  13. Robyrt says:

    Awww, that’s too bad. I liked this LP way more than Stolen Pixels – consistently funny, with enough context that non-WOW players can get some chuckles too, and a cute overarching storyline.

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      Well, not really.. Having not-played Wow at all, I find the Stolen pixels bits to be frequently more interesting and relevant to me.

  14. Conlaen says:

    “Imagine if there was an “All Your Base” quest in the game right now”
    The game is littered with All your base references. Setting us up the bomb quests and achievents, for great justice spell, dialogues, you name it.

    1. Shamus says:

      Said at at the start of that section that the gme was full of such winks and nods, but didn’t have a full-blown “this quest IS this meme”.

      Unless there IS a quest where you fight Cats and move a zig.

      1. Hal says:

        Get a character to 83, Shamus. Then you can go to Uldum, where you’ll partake in quests such as, “Harrison Jones and the temple of Uldum,” help him fight off a goblin named Schnottz (think about what you would call his followers), as well as Schnottz’s friend, Gobbles. Eventually, you’ll try to get the Coffer of Promise before Schottz can.


        1. poiumty says:

          Harrison Jones is actually a recurring character, but the fact that WoW has pop culture references is really old news.

          Look how big this list is. LOOK.

          1. rofltehcat says:

            And even though I haven’t played WoW since WotLK release I can tell you that this list is incomplete.
            At least there is only one Zelda reference listed and I remember a particular quest giver that really closely resembled Link and from his quests you would get a boomerang, the the master sword and some fun Zelda references.

            Don’t know if Cataclysm removed the little guy from Un’goro, though :(

            1. Sagretti says:

              Linken has departed sadly. However, in the same zone now is Maxmillian of Northshire, who is the Azerothian doppleganger for Don Quijote de la Mancha. I’ll take Quixote over Zelda any day, but that probably comes from being a former English major.

              1. That is too bad. But, paladins have other tools to pull with now.

                Still, the boomerang was a great tool for a paladin to get in order to pull mobs from a distance.

              2. Jeff #3 says:

                Unfortunate. That was neat questline that used a lot of mechanics that other quests in the game didn’t use. For the time, using an item to distract and NPC, and purposefully dying to talk to a ghost NPC were VERY nice changes from the standard grind. That was also the first time I ever saw an image in an in-game book before.

                Unfortunately it went the way of pretty much every other quest that required going outside of the current zone did when cata hit. (I haven’t finished re-getting loremaster of EK/Kalimdor yet so I’m not ruling them all out entirely)

                Is the quest where the dragon in winterspring backhands you and you go flying all the way to the plaguelands still in the game?

                1. Bryan says:

                  There is a quest in Azshara where you have to die so you can talk to a dragon…

        2. Jarenth says:

          To add to the list: Schnottz’s followers are called Schnottzies, one of his associates is called Belloc (and he’s an archeologist), and the whole group adheres to a belief that the better dressed people in society should have all the power, a belief they call Fashionism.

          It’s about as subtle as a 9-iron to the jaw.

          1. Jeff #3 says:

            Ugh. I hated Uldum because of the Harrison Jones quests. The Ramakhan (sp?) arc was at least decent, but the Jones one took forever and was filled with way to many cutscenes.

            With a lot of the zones in Cata I think that Blizz jumps a shark in going from ‘fantasy game with the occasional pop-culture reference’ to ‘pop-culture memes in a fantasy world’.

            Not that I’m against the occasional reference, I just felt the arrison Jones arc should have ended when you got out of the first ruined temple. After that it was all ‘ugh, not MORE of this?’

      2. Primogenitor says:

        Isn’t “All your base” due for a retro comeback about now? Pixel art and 80’s remakes are popular.

        1. swimon says:

          Randall Munroe was right all along ^^

  15. Amarsir says:

    Kindly clarify. Shamus plays WoW is coming to an end? Or the entire Shamus Plays series is retiring? If the latter, I’m gonna be crushed.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Just WoW. It’ll probably be a while til he starts a new Shamus Plays, though – I’m not sure what he would do it on at the moment, to be honest.

      1. Irridium says:

        Maybe DCUO. But thats probably not until way in the future.

        1. Skan says:

          No, no, Minecraft, we’ll lose him forever more

          1. Irridium says:

            But then we may get to be in the lets play! :D

            If he does it on his server that is…

      2. Pickly says:

        When Guild Wars 2 comes out, I can easily imagine Shamus doing on of these for the event system. It’s hard to explain why, but from what I’ve heard and seen of the system so far, it seems like the sort of thing that would generate a lot of material for these sort of articles.

        1. Stranger says:

          As a person who plays the original GuildWars, yes . . . you could do a lot of fun-making about the quests. There are oodles of silly ones to choose from. Heck, the Kilroy Stonekin bits are just the tip of that sword.

          If the second game was any different, I’d almost be disappointed.

  16. Mike C says:

    Play to the end of Westfall, and Mama Celeste’s quest actually makes sense. I’d elaborate, but I don’t want to include spoilers.

    1. Thanks. I’ve been debating that. I may level through it after all.

  17. Blake says:

    On the one hand it’s been a marvelous series and I’m sad to see it go,
    on the other I don’t think Norman as a character could’ve believably kept helping everyone so the story arc feels like it should be ending.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your LP series’ so far, enjoy them much more than Stolen Pixels. Hope there’s another one coming soon ;)

  18. Fists says:

    Bad that I thought “Equicide” before I read it?

    I’ll be sad to see this series end, from the way this edition ends seems like your rushing to kill it off.

    1. Pickly says:

      I could be Hippucide as well, possibly. (Hippus is greek instead of latin, but that may not really matter.)

  19. gkscotty says:

    The weirdest thing about finding the equicide is that Old Brandy is still alive in Grizzly Hills, Northrend, possibly making her Schrodinger’s Horse.

    1. swimon says:

      must’ve been a big box ^^

  20. thebigJ_A says:

    I don’t get what is ironic about the bit where it says it’s ironic.

  21. confanity says:

    You mean, “this phenomenon.” “Phenomena” is the plural.

    That said, these are great — if a trifle disturbing — and I’ll be both sorry to see the series end, and happy to see everything you put out after in the time thus freed up.

    In-story, here’s what puzzles me. When Norman offers to help people, and they ask him to do their jobs… why is he surprised? If you offer to help me, I’m not going to send you to the job office to find somebody else to work for; I’m going to accept your offer at face value and give you some of my job to do. What part of my job it is, or how much sense it makes outside of my private worldview and its implicit rationalizations, depends on what kind of person I am.

    1. Shamus says:

      I think the idea is “I’m doing his job INSTEAD of him.”

      Like, if we went out with Marshal Dughan and helped him do a thing, that would be sensible to Norman. But Dughan stays in town and leaves his work un-done until Norman comes along.

      Of course, if Dughan did that, it would be an escort quest, and I’d make fun of it for that instead. :)

      1. Hal says:

        The problem is, now that I’ve read three of your “Shamus Plays” series, I notice this every time it happens in game. “Wait, he wants me to do what? Why isn’t he doing that? It’s his job, he could at least help me.”

        I’ll at least give it a pass when the NPC says something like, “Hey, I need to keep channeling this spell to prevent the world from collapsing, so you go kill those boars, m’kay?” But that is too infrequent for my tastes.

        At least the escort quests are better these days; the tend to follow you more than the other way around, they’re generally competent enough in combat to hold their own, and often times they’ll give you a buff as a consolation prize for having to hang out with them.

        1. Yeah, the escort quests are getting better, though many were pretty good.

          In addition, the excused they give you for sending you places, such as in Twilight Headlands, have gotten better, and the questgiver actually shows up to help in the major chain.

  22. Alden says:

    I’m glad you included the screenshot of the kids looting the corpse, or I’d have assumed it was a humorous embellishment! That’s hilarious!

  23. Pickly says:

    Nice comic today, although I’m wondering how you’ll end up ending the norman storyline.

    Favorite part was probably the “Norman sets them on fire, sucks out their soul, and blasts them with dark energy” followed a bit later by “Despite seeing what happened to his buddy a few feet away, the vagrant fights as well”. (Obviously not actual quotes.)

    Extra question, though: Why do all the vagrants pick fights with the character in game? (It seems like a strange, and somewhat random event even considering how Shamus exaggerates and seeks out the random and strange plot points.) Of course, I suppose this might get answered in a later comic.

    1. Danel says:

      I’m not entirely sure, since it’s been a while since I did this quest on my Worgen hunter… I think it’s either that about half the people in this zone are actually mentally ill (due to, amongst other things, suffering PTSD from the Northrend campaign) or that they’re so terrified of the real murderers that they’re prepared to face almost certain death by attacking you rather than risk angering them.

      1. Bryan says:

        Actually, it’s a tie-in to the ending quests in Westfall, I believe. Unfortunately, the specifics are all spoilers.

  24. Jarenth says:

    Signs you have been playing, like, way too much WoW lately:

    The phrase “Norman sets him on fire, yanks out his soul, scorches his mind with searing agony, and then bonks him on the head with his staff” immediately scans for me as “Immolate, Drain Soul, Searing Pain, move in to Auto-attack.”

    I’m still debating whether or not this is a bad thing.

    1. Jeff #3 says:

      Signs you’ve been playing way way way to much:

      You wonder why he’s even using searing pain, and why drain soul isn’t used as a finisher.

    2. Pickly says:

      Nah, I noticed the same thing, and Haven’t een playing for a few years. (Except for the searing pain part, I’d forgotten that skill.)

      1. Jarenth says:

        The only reason I opted to read that last part as Searing Pain instead of Bane of Agony is that the latter would make even less sense to use at that point in time.


  25. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

    So you’re ending the Shamus Plays WoW early in order to make more time for good news? Sounds good, but I wonder what that means in practice.

  26. Bryan says:

    I can’t wait to see how it ends. Does he finally give in to evil, or does he run back to Mother? Probably something else which I have not even thought of yet.

    EDIT: not that I want it to end, I have immensely enjoyed all of your let’s play series, Shamus.

  27. Warren says:

    I just have to say that the line:

    I would not expect a murder investigation to involve killing this many hobos

    Is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. That is all.

  28. Tobias says:

    Yay – and where’s the news as to what the hell happened to Experienced Points? Did I miss an announcement? I really liked that column.

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