Shamus Plays WoW #14: Thinking Inside the Box

By Shamus
on Jan 22, 2017
Filed under:
WoW

What a lovely day for... uh. What are we doing again?

What a lovely day for... uh. What are we doing again?

“Explain to me again what we’re doing?” I ask Norman. It’s been almost fifteen minutes since we killed somebody so I haven’t been paying attention.

Norman holds up a cardboard box and shows it to me, “New Shoe Lou – or whatever that idiot’s name is – gave us this box. He said to go into the Jangolode mine, walk to the back, and get in the box.”

“I thought we were investigating a murder? Why are we moving into a cardboard box?”

“I guess we’re supposed to spy on somebody? Look, I have no idea. I’m just happy that for once we’re going to go into a mine without needing to fight dozens of…”

A Kobold Digger, which is TOTALLY Different from a Kobold Delver, a Kobold Tunneler, a Kobold Hole-maker, and a Kobold Unearther.

A Kobold Digger, which is TOTALLY Different from a Kobold Delver, a Kobold Tunneler, a Kobold Hole-maker, and a Kobold Unearther.

“…kobolds.” Norman hangs his head in defeat, “Do we have ANY mines that AREN’T kobold cities?”

Since this is some sort of police stakeout, we inconspicuously murder our way through the tunnels, leaving a clandestine pile of mutilated kobold corpses in our wake.

Maybe I`m misunderstanding. Maybe by "Kobold Mine" they actually mean, "Place where you mine more Kobolds"?

Maybe I`m misunderstanding. Maybe by "Kobold Mine" they actually mean, "Place where you mine more Kobolds"?

“We’re murdering a lot of these guys,” Norman says uneasily as he looks back at the carnage.

“They attacked us. Self defense.”

“Well at this rate we’re going to self-defense them into extinction.”

Eventually we reach the back of the cave. Norman unfolds the box, and we slip inside…

And ogre shows up. And a woman made entirely of shadow. Thinking they are alone, they talk shop…

The box right in the middle of the screen is where Norman and Gobstab are hiding.

The box right in the middle of the screen is where Norman and Gobstab are hiding.

I’ll just copy & paste the conversation directly from the Wiki. In order to really experience this the way Blizzard intended, picture this conversation as taking place in overlapping chat bubbles that change once every fiscal quarter.

Glubtok says: What little humie want? Why you call Glubtok?

Shadowy Figure says: Sad... Is this the life you had hoped for, Glubtok? Running two-bit extortion operations out of a cave?

Glubtok says: Glubtok crush you!

Shadowy Figure says: Oh will you? Do you dare cross that line and risk your life?

Shadowy Figure says: You may attempt to kill me - and fail - or you may take option two.

Glubtok says: What option two?

Shadowy Figure says: You join me and I shower wealth and power upon you.

Glubtok says: So Glubtok have two choices: die or be rich and powerful?

Glubtok says: Glubtok take choice two.

Shadowy Figure says: I thought you'd see it my way.

Shadowy Figure says: I will call for you when the dawning is upon us.

I know Blizzard makes great cutscenes, but that skill doesn`t translate well to this in-game, in-engine stuff. This is awkward, obvious, slow, uninteresting, and the dialog is atrocious.

I know Blizzard makes great cutscenes, but that skill doesn`t translate well to this in-game, in-engine stuff. This is awkward, obvious, slow, uninteresting, and the dialog is atrocious.

The idiots finish up and leave, and Norman and I climb out of our box.

“I can’t believe this. They didn’t say anything about the murder we’re supposedly investigating,” Norman says once the conspirators have left.

Sure it was pointless, slowly paced, and awfully written, but at least we got no XP for sitting through it.

Sure it was pointless, slowly paced, and awfully written, but at least we got no XP for sitting through it.

“I can’t believe they didn’t discuss the carpet of dead kobolds they had to walk on to get in here. You’d think they’d notice something like that.”

We head back to Two Shoe Lou and Norman tries to set the guy straight, “The lead you gave us was a waste of time, and had-“

You`ve been very unhelpful.

You`ve been very unhelpful.

Lou slams his hands over his ears and begins shouting, “STOP! STOP! STOP! I don’t wanna hear it! I don’t wanna know and I don’t care! That kind of information is liable to get you killed ’round these parts. “

Norman boggles, “What, you’re an informant who hates information?”

I tug on this robe, “Don’t knock it, boss. You’re a warlock who hates evil, working for a detective who hates investigating, and you’re trying to find out about the death of farmers who never planted any crops.”

Norman sighs, “I know demons supposedly come from some sort of terrifying hell world, but I really can’t imagine how it could be much worse than this place.”

“We demons have a saying in the demonic realms: ‘Hell isn’t where we live. It’s all the OTHER worlds, that haven’t been cleansed of idiots.’

“It’s a shame you couldn’t get rid of these idiots,” he says to himself. A few seconds later he adds, “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”

“Of course you didn’t,” I smile.

Boo Hoo Lou is still standing with his hands over his ears. Norman pokes him, “So what now?”

Wait, we`re going to accept ANOTHER job from this clown? Is this supposed to make sense, or are the writers just testing to see if we read this stuff?

Wait, we`re going to accept ANOTHER job from this clown? Is this supposed to make sense, or are the writers just testing to see if we read this stuff?

Lou looks around carefully and then whispers, “A couple of thugs recently showed up at the farm, causin’ all kinds of trouble. I don’t know where they came from or who they’re working for, but I KNOW they’re bad news. I may have overheard ’em talkin’ ’bout subjects that might interest you.”

“I suppose you can’t just tell me what they said?” Norman says impatiently.

The answer is more squealing and hands-over-the-ears, which we take as a “no”. We walk around to the other side of the nearby barn, where we find some guys talking.

Hello gentlemen. I`m looking for some unsavory thugs. Seen any around?

Hello gentlemen. I`m looking for some unsavory thugs. Seen any around?

Wiki time again!

Thug 1 says: Did you... Did you meet her?

Thug 2 says: Yep. She's for real

Thug 2 says: She wanted me to tell you lugs that she appreciates the job that we did for her on the Furlbrows. gave me a pile o' gold to split with you all.

Thug 3 says: See her face? Is it really...

“Waaait a second,” Norman says out loud. “The shadow lady hired a team of thugs to assassinate a couple of broke, starving losers? That doesn’t make any sense. Why bother? What possible reason could they have… I mean, aren’t they busy with a conspiracy? Did Arthas stoop to hiring hobos to kill unemployed people when he was trying to take over?”

In case you’re wondering: No, there isn’t an explanation for why this shadow organization would murder a couple of farm-less farmers. The whole comical investigation plot gets dropped in a couple more quests and the CSI jokes and the Fullbrows are forgotten. The quest chain turns into a fight against the Defias Brotherhood, who used to be the major bad guys in Westfall before the Cataclysm. To explain more would require a massive lore dump. Let’s just move on.

“Idiots! These men are complete idiots, and it’s an insult to even face them,” Norman shouts. Suddenly the group of men look in our direction…

Hey lady! Get out of the shot! We`re trying to do a scene here.

Hey lady! Get out of the shot! We`re trying to do a scene here.

Thug 1 says: Whoa, what do we have here? Looks like we have ourselves an eavesdropper, boys.
Thug 1 says: Only one thing to do with a lousy, good-for-nothin eavesdropper.
Thug 1 says: DIE!

“Yeah, that’s not a good idea,” Norman says. But the hobos swarm around and Norman calls down a rain of fire to incinerate them.

Attack of the clones.

Attack of the clones.

Not sure how they thought this would go, but I guess they had it coming.

Not sure how they thought this would go, but I guess they had it coming.

“At least we’re solving the homeless problem,” I cough once the smoke has thinned.

We head back over to Lou, who turns out to be a recent recipient of the gift of murder. Detective Horatio Laine has showed up and launched an investigation comprised entirely of yelling at people and trampling evidence.

Oh please, just don`t do the *puts on sunglasses* bit again. I`m pretty much done with that joke forever.

Oh please, just don`t do the *puts on sunglasses* bit again. I`m pretty much done with that joke forever.

This is Blizzard’s new phasing technology. People that haven’t completed this quest can come to this same spot and still see Lou alive. That person would not see me standing here, since we’re in different phases of the world.

When we get near the detective turns to Norman, “We’re dealing with an organization here, rookie. You don’t just off the richest bum in Westfall in broad daylight and leave no witnesses. Someone with a lot of power is behind these murders. What have you learned so far?”

“I’ve learned that setting hobos on fire does not make them smell better, which is probably more than you’ve learned… ‘detective’.”

“So what do we know so far? We need to follow the clues.”

“There are no clues!” Norman snaps. “This isn’t an investigation. This is a series of murders, most of which were committed by me.”

“Over at the Jansean Stead you found a note and some scraps of cloth. Here at the Furlbrow’s you overheard a conversation between some shadowy figure and an ogre mage. You also got a confession from a bunch of thugs – whom you then killed.”

Detective, are you about to propose? I`m not really looking for a relationship right now, to be honest.

Detective, are you about to propose? I`m not really looking for a relationship right now, to be honest.

“For the record, I… self-defensed them to death.” says Norman. “But look, why would an ogre cover up his crime? He’s an ogre. We kill them on sight- just for being ogres. There is no reason for them to care what we think.”

Horatio scratches his head as he tries to think. The expression on his face suggests that this process is painful for him, “Something isn’t adding up, rookie. There’s an old couple, southeast of here, at the Saldean’s Farm. Head over there and speak with Farmer Saldean. Find out what he knows.”

Easter egg: If you look very closely and zoom in on these screenshots, you might notice the subtle clues Blizzard snuck into the environment that suggest some sort of autumnal kind of deal.

Easter egg: If you look very closely and zoom in on these screenshots, you might notice the subtle clues Blizzard snuck into the environment that suggest some sort of autumnal kind of deal.

“I hate this,” Norman says as we hike to the next farm. “I was a bad mage, then a bad alchemist, then a bad warlock, and now a bad detective. Mother was right. I AM a complete screwup.”

“Stop being silly,” I tell him. “Think back to the last hobo fight. You took on six guys at once.”

Norman shrugs, “Yeah, but that doesn’t count. That was easy.”

“Do you think it would have been easy for Detective Laine? Or Marshal Dughan? Or Marshal McBride?”

Noman is quiet for a minute. “I guess not.”

Huh. Never thought of it that way. Or at all.

Huh. Never thought of it that way. Or at all.

“Se you are good at something, kid.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“Just something to think about, is all.”

Finally, a voice of reason.

Finally, a voice of reason.

We arrive at the Saldean’s Farm and speak with their chief dirt-pusher.

“Horatio Laine? That man is a scumbag. Dirty as my underwear,” the guy tells us.

“Thank you for that image,” Norman says. “Just thinking about it has soiled my brain. I don’t even know how to wash that.”

“Listen, friend. I don’t often give out advice like this, but you guys seem like a good man and… a…”

“Gnome. Gobstab here is a gnome.”

“A gnome?” the guy asks suspiciously.

“Sure. An underfed, angry, gnome that was burned in a fireball mishap.”

“Whatever,” he tells us, “The point is… GET OUT OF WESTFALL. You’re already in way over your head. All you’re doing now is putting your neck on the chopping block.”

Apparently it`s worth 13XP just for walking here and listening to this meandering paranoia.

Apparently it`s worth 13XP just for walking here and listening to this meandering paranoia.

Norman stands there in stunned silence for a few moments. Finally he replies, “Okay.” We head for the road.

“We’re really leaving Westfall?” I ask.

“I don’t see any point in staying. We’re killing hobos to investigate the murder of a couple of hobos to uncover a conspiracy of hobo-murderers.”

“You know boss, I’m proud of you,” I tell him.

“You’re what? I’d think you would be disappointed. Aren’t you in favor of all this senseless killing?”

“You have a very old-fashioned view of evil. But no. Being evil doesn’t mean killing hobos for no reason, especially not when it’s a waste of your time and talent. Don’t get me wrong, hobo-killing is a great recreational sport, but it doesn’t pay the bills and it doesn’t build your power. I’m just glad to see you taking a stand. You didn’t let those idiots mooch help off of you just because you felt sorry for them.”

Their quests are so self-destructive that it could be argued that refusing to take them is kind of helpful.

Their quests are so self-destructive that it could be argued that refusing to take them is kind of helpful.

“I don’t feel sorry for them,” Norman says flatly.

“Good man!” I tell him. “See, your mother might disapprove of the stuff you do just because you didn’t become a paladin. But I’m proud of you as long as you’re using your skills and looking out for yourself.”

Norman nods. Looks like his head is busy.

“So where are we headed next?” I ask him.

“Let’s head for the Redridge Mountains,” he says. “We’ll see if there’s anyone worth helping.”

I`m sure things will be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in the next town...

I`m sure things will be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in the next town...

NEXT WEEK: Our story ends. What will happen to Norman?

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10Just 10 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Galad says:

    Kobold Delver, Tunneler etc – are these all actual Kobold flavors in WoW?

    “Don’t knock it, boss. You’re a warlock who hates evil, working for a detective who hates investigating, and you’re trying to find out about the death of farmers who never planted any crops.” – Beautiful <3

    • Somniorum says:

      About the kobolds – yup. There’s no significant difference between them – maybe the odd ability.

      WoW has to name each type of creature that pops up throughout the world differently – can’t have a Westfall kobold with the same sort of name as one twenty levels later, as loot might be a little different and so on. Though the ones Shamus named might have all been in the same place (I don’t recall), in which case it’s just a matter of *slightly* different abilities and just making quests a little longer, I suppose.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a hundred or more different kobolds in the game, in regards to their names, anyway.

      • Mephane says:

        The “best” part is when a quest asks you to kill 10 Kobold Diggers and 10 Kobold Tunnelers. Yes, these specific amounts of these specific types. Usually the populations are then set up so that for every tunneler you find, you have to kill 10 diggers anyway. When you do the same content on a 2nd character and remember such bottlenecks, you are much faster by ignoring anything but the bottlenecked mob type, and get the rest of the quest done automatically…

    • Josh says:

      In the most recent content, you visit a city which has just been infested by… evil, turning the local wildlife hostile. Most of the animals have a reddish tint to indicate their status, but there are some birds that look perfectly normal. They are helpfully named, I kid you not, “Horrid Eagles”.

      I like to think that the thesaurus keeper was out drunk or playing Overwatch the day they built that area.

      • Syal says:

        Well, the real name wasn’t entirely kid-friendly.

      • Somniorum says:

        (I always had to laugh when I saw that name, too)

        I like to imagine that they’re just really awful at being eagles. Like, the Acceptable Eagles are flying overhead, soaring majestically and dropping turtles onto rocks, and they’re looking down and the Horrid Eagles which are stumbling around near the ground, attacking random adventurers and they’re just going “ugh” and shaking their heads.

  2. Dreadjaws says:

    Hey, that screenshot where Horatio Laine appears to be serenading Norman doesn’t have alt text! Is it a subtle joke I’m missing or did you just forget it?

  3. Steve C says:

    This is hitting on one of the many reasons why I quit WoW after so many years happily playing it.

    After Cataclysm, a typical zone might have 2 or 3 quests total. The quests became insanely long chains. So convoluted that they stopped making any sense long before they finished. That, along with phasing meant that you could never *not* do a quest. By refusing to do a quest that was annoying, stupid, not in character, or simply not fun, in fact you were breaking a hard prerequisite and giving up on the entire zone. By half finishing a zone you weren’t going to see other players either. Only a narrow subset of players were going to be on that quest at any one time. They probably wouldn’t quit on it like you did, so it would never be the same players you’d see in that zone.

    Long quest chains and phasing were two good ideas that I don’t believe were ever fully thought through. It changed the game from “So many options! Hundreds of quests I could do! World of Warcraft is HUGE! My log is always overflowing! This game has so much choice!” to… “There’s exactly 3 zones I could do. Each of which has 2 quests in it. yay.” It made leveling an alt miserably unfun.

  4. Professorkid says:

    Actually there IS an explanation for why the shadow organization killed the farmers and the mystery IS resolved. The shadow woman reveals at the end of the quest line that she had the farmer family murdered because they recognized her from when she was a young girl. She was supposed to be dead and she had them killed to cover up the fact she was still alive.

    • Boobah says:

      Admittedly, it’s all for naught since, IIRC, the player’s interference (assuming you continue the quest chain) forces her to reveal herself anyway.

      And, of course, ‘Detective’ Lane shows up only in the version of Westfall’s dungeon where you fail to find the mastermind.

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