so why planescape and fallout?

Original Setting. Admittedly, Planescape's setting is licensed, but still, it's one of the potentially strangest fantasy settings ever, depending on what you do with it. Nat, if you read this, imagine China Mieville, only more so. Also less kinky sex. And Fallout's Mad Max/Leave it to Beaver Crossover Special isn't completely original either, but they're both distinctive and there's no other games with really similar-feeling settings, which is more than can be said about most other RPGs. Exceptions include Deus Ex, Burning Crusade (although not the rest of WoW), and, okay, I guess FFX.

Combat Doesn't Suck. Well, Planescape has the same issues that all the Baldur's Gate engine games do. But that's an acceptable combat engine, and by "acceptable," I mean "characters can move around and combat doesn't arbitrarily take place in some magical other dimension." Fallout, as I'm sure I'll mention at some point if you talk to me long enough, has the best combat system of any RPG ever. At one point during an extended firefight with some thugs, one of their stray bullets flew into the street and hit an orphan in the eye. I challenge Final Fantasy to be more compellingly awesome.

Freedom of Choice. Bioware and Bethsoft get a lot of accolades for allowing freedom of choice in their RPGs, but, as I've mentioned before, that "freedom" is generally either allocated to two linear paths (Bioware) or completely shallow and meaningless (Bethsoft). Planescape and Fallout walk the line between those two extremes really well, giving you the freedom to pursue a lot of different options, but still making those options meaningful in the long run. That won't really make a lot of sense until you've played KOTOR, Fallout, Planescape, and Morrowind all, but if you do, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

Planescape has the Best Characters Ever. Possibly in all media formats even. I will run through the list of characters:
The Nameless One: The main character. He wakes up on a mortuary slab with no memory of who he is, and discovers pretty quickly that he can't die. One of his inventory slots is "Eye," so if you happen to find a better eye during your adventure, you can upgrade. ^_^
Morte: A wisecracking floating skull who apparently was your buddy back when you had your memory. Turns out you're the reason why he's just a skull, which leads to a recurring theme in all the characters you meet: you've screwed them over somehow. Because you used to be a total bastard. His main weapon is his teeth, and yes, you will upgrade those. Fairly often.
Annah: A half-demon thief. She sounds boring by comparison to the other characters, but she's actually well-written. And hot.
Dak'kon: A serious Githzerai with a sword that changes form depending on the mind of the bearer. Again, he sounds boring but he's well-written.
Ignus: Ignus is a wizard wants to set everything on fire. As punishment for arson, his body was made into a conduit to the Elemental Plane of Fire. So now he's on fire all the time.
Nordom: A robotic Modron who was exposed to chaos and thus tainted with individuality. He dual-wields crossbows.
Fall-From-Grace: A puritan succubus. She runs the Brothel for Slaking Intellectual Lusts. She's pretty awesome.
Vhailor: A suit of armor entirely devoted to justice and order. The best tank in any game ever.
Unlike other RPGs, these characters actually feel different from each other, with fairly different mechanics, inventory, and leveling systems for each of them. Compare to Final Fantasy, where all the characters are practically generic and identical apart from a few stats.

Also Planescape is the only thing that I will not spoil the ending to. It's a great ending. Mitch, you should play it, or give it (and a PC) to Young so she could play it.

I will totally spoil the ending to Fallout 2 though: the evil mastermind is the President of the United States. And you get to set him on fire, if you like.


fuck you, rpgs: part six

Dark Age of Camelot: I tried it for like ten minutes and got bored because it was ugly and had a horrible interface. I think you had to type "/attack" to attack.

World of Warcraft: Raising a new character to 70 makes me realize how horrible the old content is compared to the new content. It's awkwardly designed, overly hard, and just really frustrating in general. Dungeons, in particular, are too damn long, so I'm glad they've broken them up into wings from now on. One time in Sunken Temple my party got lost and we went through the same path like three times, since by the time we'd looped around all the monsters had respawned, so we didn't realize it for a while. I think that accurately simulates being lost in the non-Euclidean geometry of the Old Ones, so maybe they should reuse that "feature" for Azjol-Nerub. Burning Crusade's stuff was generally a lot better, so that makes me hopeful. But since they still feel that repetition is the most important aspect of gameplay, that makes me sad. Also apparently I can't truly enjoy playing anything that isn't a protection warrior. I might not be able to kill anything effectively, but I can not die for a really long time. So if hunters can learn to kite and feign death in real life, maybe I instinctively know how to sunder armor and shield block. I do feel like I'd be pretty good at taunting.


the rpg genre has some serious flaws, which i am willing to overlook only in the case of three games (planescape: torment and fallout 1&2): part five

Chrono Trigger: I got stuck fighting Magus. Apparently I didn't get to the exciting part of the game. What I like about Japanese RPGs is the totally unintuitive way they approach puzzles. Bad translation doesn't help, but they just expect you to do things and don't tell you what they are. I like adventure games. I like puzzles. It's just that if you've got a non-linear world, you need to give your puzzle a few parameters like, say, a general idea of what you need to do to proceed.

Chrono Cross: I liked the part where it didn't have an ending unless you beat the game in a stupid, arbitrary way! To its credit, this was the only non-Pokemon Japanese RPG I've beaten. But that was mostly for Young.

Pokemon: The entire game comes down to "can I use a super-effective attack against his guy?" Also it basically forces you to level-grind, which is a pretty shitty way to pad out your game.

Freedom Force: I only really play this for the cutscenes. Boss battles pretty much come down to making the one hurt member of your team run around until he heals while the other guys use the same attacks as often as they can.

Icewind Dale I and II: It's better than Baldur's Gate, but, still, same shitty combat engine. Also I hope you like fighting the entire army by yourself, because you have to do that at least five times per game. But the army's polite and will let you chill out a few days in their base while you heal between encounters, so it's not so bad. It's the most hardcore RPG I've played, because if you don't have exactly the right party certain monsters will just mop the floor with you. In the second game at least you can multiclass everyone into Fighter for the extra HP. But there's a guy that's immune to basically all magic and anything less than +5 weapons. I gave up then because I only had one +5 sword.


rpgs suck if they don't have "planescape" or "fallout" in the title (except for fallout tactics): part three

Deus Ex: When you make a hybrid RPG/first-person shooter, basically what you are saying is, "let's make a terrible first-person shooter and then let them customize their character to compensate for it." Once you get enough skill points and good weapons, there's really no challenge whatsoever. Especially if you have a flamethrower, because nobody can attack you if they're on fire. Sometimes there's robots that you can't set on fire, though. That's why you have a rocket launcher. You can get a badass nanotech sword with a blade a molecule thick, but it kind of sounds like it's made out of paper. And it looks like a cheap plastic toy.

Deus Ex: Invisibile War: It's like Deus Ex, only with fewer abilities to customize your character and less to do. In the future everything will be oversimplified for the benefit of console gaming.

Bioshock: It stops becoming cool once you realize there aren't going to be any new enemies, and the bosses are the regular enemies, only with more hit points, and there's no challenge in the game because it doesn't penalize you for dying at all. I will give them bonus points for finally giving me the ability to murder Ayn Rand with a golf club, at least in spirit. Oh, and there's a moral decision whether to save the Little Sisters and not take their stem cells or harvest them for their precious stem cells, except the payoff's ultimately the same no matter what you do, because they leave you gifts if you don't harvest them. One day there'll be a game that forces you to make sacrifices to uphold morality. Of course, nobody would ever do that, because at the end of the day gamers would all rather save some gold than save the orphanage.

Morrowind: If I'm standing right next to someone and swinging my sword literally into their face, why doesn't that hit them? Because BethSoft hates me. The fun part is wondering when bugs will choose to corrupt your save file next!

Oblivion: Interacting with the environment would be more fun if your character wasn't the clumsiest person imaginable. He/she/furry just holds everything at arm's length, apparently, and always grips things loosely from the top. Somebody needs to make a mod that lets you break plates and stuff, since trying to move any object results in knocking over everything else nearby, but apparently they're all busy making disturbing sex mods. Props to BethSoft, though, for taking a really cool concept for a story and making it really boring. As to the scaling monsters: what part of you made you think the reason people play RPGs constantly is to have the exact same level as every monster you encounter?


all rpgs that aren't planescape or fallout are terrible: part two

Part two examines Bioware, the most popular American RPG studio. All Bioware games share the same flaw: they're badly written. Bioware can write excellent, memorable, and unique characters, but they can't write a plot without using every cliche they could think of. Bioware more or less originated the concept of freedom of choice in RPGs, which makes them better than Japanese RPGs where the plot has absolutely nothing to do with your input and you may as well be watching a TV show with menus. A TV show that makes you watch parts of it again sometimes. Over and over again. So yeah, freedom of choice is better than that. But Bioware only ever gives you three options:

1. "I will help you find your dog."
2. "I will help you find your dog, but only if you pay me."
3. "I will find your dog so I can kill it. Because I'm evil."

You will either become really good or really evil by the end of the game, because there are no benefits from being somewhere in between. Go Manichaeism.

Baldur's Gate: Let's just lump Baldur's Gate I and II together because I never got very far in them and probably never will. BECAUSE THEY'RE BORING. Baldur's Gate II is somewhat less boring at the beginning, but after the prologue it gets boring again real quick. The Sword Coast is a mediocre, standardized fantasy setting at best. At worst? It's boring, and then you get killed by an ogre because your main character's not a fighter and only has 3 HP. Yes, under AD&D rules, low-level wizards are terrible, have 1d4 starting HP, and can only cast one spell once before they have to go lie down for 8 hours. Assuming that kobolds don't ambush you while you're sleeping. Not to mention that the combat system involves people standing around swinging swords at each other without actually hitting each other. Sometimes they aren't even looking at the combat. Good parts: miniature giant space hamster.

Knights of the Old Republic: Not the sequel, though, that was by Obsidian. Yay HK-47 and Jolee Bindo and all that, but this is the start of a pattern for Bioware. From this point on, their games will all involve an ancient relic, have a humorously violent party character (although Minsk was the start of that, actually), and have a level that takes place in a spooky research facility. Combat consists of using your most powerful attacks over and over again, like a Japanese RPG only you don't have to wait as long for enemies to die. And the main villain has no personality whatsoever. His only distinguishing characteristic is that he doesn't have a jaw. Good parts: go play through the game as a Dark Side female and tell me you don't love Carth at the end.

Jade Empire: Bioware read Bridge of Birds and really liked it, I guess. Me too. Anyway, they tried to make a martial-arts-based combat system that wasn't terrible. They failed, because all you have to do is jump around a lot and poke the enemy sometimes. If you're a magic-based character, you can poke them from a distance. Meanwhile, whatever character you're traveling with will stand around and do no damage. Since Asian philosophy doesn't follow traditional views of good versus evil, you can follow the path of either the "Open Hand" (which is all about helping other people) or the "Closed Fist" (which is all about teaching other people self-reliance by killing them and taking their stuff). This is completely different from good and evil. Over the course of the story, you will discover an ancient relic that holds the key to saving the kingdom, meet a humorously violent mercenary, and infiltrate a spooky underground production facility for golems. CLICHE SPOILER ALERT: Your master is actually evil and you were following his plan all along. The best part is that the flashback that get told over and over again to you, the story of how the emperor and his brothers decided to end the drought by going against the will of Heaven and enslaving the Water Dragon, is actually more interesting and less cliche than the plot you follow in the game. Good parts: John Cleese plays a European explorer and you can duel him and then he gives you his gun which is called Mirabelle.

Mass Effect: I just beat it today. The plot involves an ancient alien relic. Lots of them, actually. Over the course of the game you will go to a spooky underground research facility, and you will pick up a humorously violent companion. Oh, and one main-quest planet you go to has a corporate experiment on an ancient alien race gone out of control, and then the next main-quest planet has another corporate experiment on an ancient alien race gone out of control. Also, there are basically no side quests. Well, there are, but they're boring and sometimes don't even have dialog or any choices to be made at all. Combat plays out like a really bad first-person shooter. Also elevators, inventory, no tutorial, etc. The dialog system is pretty cool, until you figure out that it's actually really shallow and basically giving you only good, neutral, and evil dialog options. Then you just pick one direction on the D-pad and stick with it for the rest of the game. Good parts: there's actually a few moral decisions that aren't completely straightforward! Wow! Maybe next game they'll make situations with more than two options of resolving them! I was a Paragon, but it looks like they've decided to make Renegade to be more of a "bad cop" than an "evil bastard." So that should be fun.


why all rpgs that aren't planescape or fallout are terrible: part one

Let's start with the Final Fantasies. The ones that I've played.

Final Fantasy I: The villain is named Garland. Also the combat system is terrible. I gave up after nothing interesting at all had happened.

Final Fantasy VII: It would probably have helped their dramatic generic anime storyline if the characters didn't look like Duplos. Not even Legos. Duplos. Also the combat system is terrible. I gave up after I got killed by a pheasant that turned my party to stone. In Square's defense, it was a giant pheasant.

Final Fantasy X: The main character has 1.5 pants. The story was actually kind of interesting for a while, except for the terrible dialog. You know the part I'm talking about. So it felt like I was watching a decent anime while simultaneously playing a terrible video game. I like how the leveling system is a board game! Also the combat is terrible. Also also: blitzball. I gave up after fighting Seymour again for the thousandth time. P.S.: The entire plotline where Yuna decides she wants to marry Seymour and retire is completely out of character for her, since, y'know, she's supposed to be totally dedicated to her quest to defeat Sin.

Final Fantasy XI: I've only watched people play it, but the combat (which is terrible) involves waiting for an hour to get a group of five guys together and then spend five minutes trying to kill a fish floating in midair. If you level up, you can fight the same fish, expect they call it something different.

Final Fantasy XII: I gave up before finishing the tutorial because I didn't actually own the game and I don't live with people who do anymore. I don't remember the combat being terrible.



So I keep forgetting which one is Roger Bacon and which one is Francis Bacon. Stupid other Francis Bacon.

Also, I posted my first drawing on Corrugate, after finally struggling with my scanner settings. Whee.



So I counted on Facebook, and it turns out that a little over 50% of the girls I've liked have been Asian. I think that might actually be pretty good based on the Earth's overall population, but still, Asian girls. My experience dating/trying to date Asian girls kind of tells me I shouldn't try to date Asian girls. Or at least not Asian-Americans. There's this one girl I like right now who's Filipino, but that doesn't count, right?


the emo report

So it turns out I don't have any really good friends in Seattle right now other than Nat. And since Nat's Nat, that means I don't really spend a lot of my spare time around people. Well, not people I know anyway. It's not like I go home and wander around a cold unlit maze of slick black hallways.

And when I get lonely, my first instinct is to play video games until I start to feel empty. Then I get kind of sad at being lonely. Not so much depression as soul-rending boredom combined with severe annoyance at being lonely. And then I usually go outside and wander around, because apparently my instinct when I'm left alone is:

1. Hollow myself out until I am an empty shell, filled only with insatiable hunger for something unknown
2. Follow the setting sun as far as I can and watch it die, drawing dark comfort from the cold wind on my face and the roaring surf in my ears
3. Go live in the deepest part of the woods (or north Seattle neighborhoods, if deep woods not available) and stalk and kill people, ripping them apart with my bare fangs

I don't know if that's really emo though, because I'm kind of happy by the time I get to part 2. And I've never really finished part 3, but if you hear about brutal, animalistic killings in Ravenna, you know who to blame.

Given as there's nobody in Seattle that calls me up and says "let's hang out" and all my attempts to date girls have met with gigantic obstacles and will probably continue to meet obstacles until I die alone or go live in the deep woods, it's fair to say my social life sucks right now. And gas prices combined with my limited budget makes driving up to Bellingham regularly kind of worrisomely expensive. So I might have to go with part 3, that or force Nat to invite me over to pet her kittens on a bi-weekly basis. Or steal them and raise them as my own.

Also this week: I lost my watch somehow, so I will eventually get a new one, but it probably won't be pink.


a mile underground and a million years ago

You should turn off all the lights and listen to this alone. Just do it. Trust me.



So today I went over to Nat's apartment to see her/her roommate's kittens, Ysa (which is probably not spelled like that but I will spell it like that anyway) and Stuka. Guess which one Nat named.

They were fucking adorable, in an extremely violent way (since kittens will attack anything that moves, including their own shadows and sometimes themselves). At one point I was on my knees and they were fighting on top of my back, like a furry version of Kronos from God of War.

a great bad thing

(This story was written for my writing class last year, as a companion piece to Raymond Carver's "A Small Good Thing," from the P.O.V. of the kid in the coma.)

Even in a very deep sleep, there are still dreams. Scotty dreamt of his birthday party. His friends all came into the room and sat down in a circle facing his chair. There was no one there that he did not want to be there, none of his mother’s friends’ children, not stupid Anthony, not crybaby Steph, and not Steven, who bullied him when nobody was looking. Everybody was looking at Scotty now. They were sitting on the floor with their legs crossed, holding their presents in their laps. Everybody’s presents were wrapped in shiny green foil, except for Jonathan’s present, which was wrapped in a duller orange paper. In the middle of the circle, Slug padded around. Her tail was hung between her legs. She was sad because nobody would play with her.

In clockwise order, each of Scotty’s friends stood up and gave their presents to him. His favorite present was from Jonathan, who had gotten him every Bionicle toy ever. His least favorite present was from Sara, who presented him with a stuffed lion, a stuffed alligator, and a stuffed hippo. He accepted with a gracious smile and nod, but he did not like stuffed animals. Stuffed animals were for girls and babies. After each of his friends gave their present, they would leave the room silently. Once Caitlin had given him her present and left, there was nobody else in the room. Scotty felt a little scared about this. The door opened up and Spiderman stepped in.

“I am Spiderman,” he said in a perfect voice. “I have a birthday present for you, Scotty. It is outside. Come with me and I will show you.” Scotty followed Spiderman outside. The sky was a pure white and the light off the asphalt of the street made Scotty squint. Except for Spiderman, there was nobody else around. “Look, Scotty,” said Spiderman. “I got you a rocketship.” In the middle of the street there was a big, silver rocketship standing upright on its tailfins. It did not look like any of the cartoon rocketships on the posters and pillowcases in Scotty’s room. It was sleek and pointed. There was an open doorway just above the base of it. “Do you like it?” asked Spiderman. Scotty nodded. “I will take you inside.”

Spiderman grabbed Scotty and launched a strand of webbing at the rocketship, using it to jump and swing to the doorway. He set Scotty down. The metal floor was cold to Scotty’s bare feet. Inside it was dark and cool. It smelled like a cave Scotty had been to on a field trip. He could hear a very low sound coming from everywhere. Spiderman told him to climb up the ladder to the cockpit. He did. He climbed for kind of a long time. He didn’t see anything but the ladder. He started to ache, but then he reached the top. He pushed himself up over the edge of the hole and found that there was nothing in the cockpit except for a beat-up old leather recliner. The recliner was bolted to the floor.

He turned around to ask something of Spiderman, but then he saw that Spiderman’s costume was now black. Pieces of it ripped, showing skin underneath. Spiderman looked rotten. Scotty could see through his skin in some places to his bones and muscles. Spiderman grabbed him roughly and threw him into the chair. Scotty was very afraid. Spiderman used his webs to tie him down very tightly. He could just barely breathe. He closed his eyes.

He opened them again. It was dim. He moved his eyes around. He heard his mother and father talking, and tried to look at them. He saw their faces leaning over him. Someone grabbed his hand and squeezed it. His mother kissed his forehead like she was tucking him in for the night. He looked at his father. Standing behind his father, he saw Spiderman, most of his flesh now rotting away. He closed his eyes very tightly and screamed. Suddenly, he remembered what he felt like on his first ever day of school.


feel good by numbers

Sunday I was walking around Capitol Hill and saw a poster for the Go! Team playing at Neumos, along with Bodies of Water (my current favorite band) and some other group I'd never heard of. It seemed really, really improbable that not only would my favorite band that nobody's heard of be playing in town, but that they would be playing along with another one of my favorite bands who are totally musically different. "Goddamnit," I thought, "I must've missed that and now I'll never get the chance to hear two of my favorite bands play together like that." But it turns out that the show was tomorrow. So I tried to call up people to go with me, but everyone who might've liked it was unavailable. "Fuck it," I thought, "I'll just go alone, and maybe meet some people that way."

I actually did meet a reasonably cool girl but was third-wheeled when her boyfriend showed up, unfortunately. And then I met a drunk girl who was kind of stupid and not very interesting apart from being called Lilith.

The group I'd never heard of was Team Gina, a really fun local lesbian dance-rap duo. They had some pretty hot beats and now I occasionally get lesbian rap songs stuck in my head.

Bodies of Water was amazing. Since you've guaranteeably never heard their music: they're like a gospel band for some dead, forgotten religion, joyous and triumphant with weird undertones of mysticism. The singer/keyboardist is a woman in a long, flowing hippie dress who jumps around like she's possessed, the drummer is an overweight middle-aged woman with a glittery butterfly vest, and the guitarist and bassist are nondescript men with glasses and beards. My best theory is that they're trying to summon some ancient god. They just might do it someday, too.

Also amazing: The Go! Team. They managed to make pretty much everybody in the house move, and then proceeded to set the air on fire. Also the lead singer is a pretty good dancer. Then they walked off, leaving a guitar humming loud on the drumset and the crowd clapped and chanted their name and they came back for a double encore. My ears rang for the rest of the night.


but not a good profile pic

Last Sunday, I was out at Alki drawing the Seattle skyline for my drawing class, huddling under an umbrella to protect it from the rain. A photographer noticed me, and asked if he could take a few pictures. So I said yes. And then he sent them to me later.



So I've decided to start a pictureblog. It's called Corrugate, and ought to update Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, probably mostly with photos because I have a huge backlog of those, but there will be drawings and maybe even paintings at some point.

EDIT: Now there's an actual link. Hoorah!


further evidence that i am the king of cats

Walking back from the grocery tonight, I stopped to pet a cat on the sidewalk. He had a collar, so it wasn't THAT impressive that he was friendly, but he let me rub his tummy, and after I started walking away, he started following me for like a half-block. Then he saw another cat sitting on some steps, and they had a pretty intense staring contest. After that he was a little more nervous and walked back home (presumably).

So fuck Tybalt, I'm the King of Cats.


i should inform you of this too, i suppose

So I'm no longer dating Nat. We'd actually both been assuming that was the case for some time, but hadn't seen each other for the past month and thus never really got the chance to break up with each other officially. So it was strangely non-awkward.

Presumably we are still friends, but it's not like I'll be seeing her often anyway.


i live!

So I've got internets now. And a router. Whee.




Well, I moved into my apartment in the U-District, but I currently have yet to actually assemble and organize everything, or, for that matter, get internet access. So I'm currently sitting in my car in the parking lot at UW, using their wi-fi on my laptop.


top ten nationalities, by attractiveness of girls (arbitrary)

1. Scandinavian
2. Irish
3. Japanese
4. French
5. Korean
6. Spanish
7. Chinese
8. Ethiopian
9. Czech
10. Salvadoran

American doesn't count.


CSI: Silent Hill

I've been playing Condemned: Criminal Origins, which is pretty creepy. Being able to beat psychotic homeless people in dark hallways is surprisingly fun. So is using a paper-cutter as a makeshift sword.

I think it's cute that the game gives you the option to turn off your flashlight. Because THAT'S a good idea.




The most important thing to remember about the San Diego Comic-Con is that it is ridiculously huge. It occupies the entirety of the San Diego Convention Center, a very large convention center that was specifically rebuilt to be able to house ComicCon a few years back. And now ComicCon has filled that convention center to capacity. As in, sold out.

My primary objective at ComicCon was to buy some stuff and get other stuff for free. Maybe catch some panels if there's nothing better to do. So first I decided to scope out the exhibition hall, methodically, row-by-row. That took me about three hours. Maybe I'm just really jaded, but I didn't find anything especially amazing. You've got your tiny artists' booths, your huge mega-corporate booths (Sci-Fi Channel's in particular is a weird squiggly alien plastic arch thing), booths selling comic books, booths selling expensive art, booths promoting organizations (which are generally the boring ones, although the CBLDF's booth was selling comics from Frank Miller's personal collection...), and, of course, booths that were constructed entirely out of metal racks covered in T-shirts, stretching high into the sky. Step into one of
those things and it's like you've entered an entire dimension of poor graphic design.

Although I saw a pretty cool shirt featuring Luke and Leia kissing above the words "Incest is Best." (It's true. But twincest is better.)

And there's also those booths that showcase good, albeit very Asian graphic design, selling overpriced-but-stylish T-shirts and pseudo-toys. At Dominica's behest, I visited the Tokidoki booth.

Although I wasn't entirely sure what I was supposed to do there. I ended up buying a T-shirt, which violated my moratorium on T-shirt buying. I have too many T-shirts.

Actually, I ended blowing most of my money on cool dice, RPG sourcebooks, and prints of Magic art, and not on comics. Although I bought a copy of "Tiempos Finales," which is arguably the finest Mexican-Lovecraftian action-adventure epic ever created. Sam Hiti = new favorite comic artist.

Alas, I only added four robots to my Con-robot-sketchbook. But three of them are crazy awesome, and the other one is Robocop in a birthday cap, so I'm not displeased.

This part is for Nat: I played in the Magic Amateur Championships, trying to take my Sliver deck all the way and win whatever I could. My strategy consisted of an early-game threat with Venomous Sliver and Sinew Sliver that could go explosive with the dangerous combination of Gemhide Sliver and Firewake Sliver. Homing Sliver allowed for a toolbox approach with Pulmonic Sliver, Necrotic Sliver, and Sliver Legion (which is surprisingly very good with Gemhide Sliver). My win-loss was only about fifty-fifty, though, so I ended up dropping in round 5 of 7 because I didn't want to slog through another couple hours and still not place. High point: Some guy used Glittering Wish to pull a Dormant Sliver from his sideboard and make my Slivers hibernate in hive-minded sympathy. But I had a Putrefy in hand. Also I almost poisoned a guy to death on turn 3. With Slivers. Sliver.

I went to only a couple panels: Worst Cartoons Ever, which lived up to its promise, and the premier of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, being a Terminator spinoff series on Fox. Featuring Summer Glau as a Terminator! The pilot wasn't terrible. Well, okay, the first act was terrible, but that turned out to be a dream sequence. And apparently they're just going to ignore Terminator 3, which is for the best. It seems like the second episode would be the guide of whether or not it'll be good, though. That usually seems to be the case.

I took some pictures, and actually took the chance to wander around the city a bit. I bought a new belt. This is my favorite picture (that I took at ComicCon):




I've made 100 posts.

  1. I come into being.
  2. I play Magic cards and insult Conner.
  3. Speculation on violent magicians.
  4. Outdated link, insufficient organ.
  5. coagulate.blogspot.com still exists, but hasn't updated since 2003.
  6. It would make for a killer musical.
  7. Cat Garza?
  8. I graduate and host a disease.
  9. I go to Europe.
  10. Fuck Rome.
  11. I ended up playing Magic on the beach at the French Riviera with a cute Korean girl in a swimsuit. That's the least nerdy Magic game ever.
  12. Paris: Pretty cool.
  13. Pictures never appeared, which is a recurring motif here.
  14. neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerd
  15. I probably should have asked that Czech girl out or something.
  16. no content
  17. I kind of stopped worrying about connectivity and stuff. But apparently I really cared about it.
  19. We Love Katamari was seriously my biggest comfort back in those dark, dark days. It's really happy and welcoming and comforting and basically served as a substitute best friend when I was depressed.
  20. spiders
  21. snow
  22. Another recurring motif: the evil that men (at Square Enix) do.
  23. Uh, whatever. But at least LEGO Sam Fisher is still cool.
  24. unicorns
  25. I have achieved no higher glory than this.
  26. Making New Year's resolutions by swearing oaths to foreign landscapes is a tradition for me now.
  27. Moral of the story: conservative Christian Chinese girls are ultimately no good.
  28. I've still never been to Ahn'Qiraj.
  29. Good use of color.
  30. The movie proposal is still kind of surprising.
  31. I'm not quite sure how Magic cards came in there.
  32. At least, unlike Michael, I have not lost my dorm keys on about three separate occasions.
  33. I used to take programming classes.
  34. After I've beaten him to death with his own dragons, I can safely say that Patrick True is no longer worthy of being my arch-nemesis.
  35. They got better at this.
  36. That means "huuuugs" in German.
  37. I will never write a sestina again. Not for lack of trying; I simply used up my capacity to write them. "Skirl" has a different meaning than I thought it did, but it still works the way I used it.
  38. Crysis is prettier than Nat Zhong.
  39. Staying up late at night watching bad movies is a good way to get projects done. Although what really helps me with writing is '30s movies.
  40. homosexuals
  41. Can't remember why I did this.
  42. I have the department store, end of the world, and prison listed as good short story ideas, but not the giraffe? That's easily the most entertaining one.
  43. My userbase is still unfortunately small.
  44. In addition to We Love Katamari, walking around Lake Washington helped alleviate depression.
  45. Nat: She likes airplanes. But I forget which one is her favorite. One time I gave her a rock. D:
  46. That campaign is dead, and I didn't even get to kill everyone. :(
  47. Black cannot kill enchantments.
  48. chinese
  49. I like this one. It's well-written. There should be more like it.
  50. This story sucks.
  51. I want to name my firstborn Eradicate. Decimate, if it's a girl.
  52. It's a historic moment. Wow.
  53. This story is good.
  54. I work in circulation.
  55. concussion
  56. Nat.
  57. This story is boring, but it was presented as a spiral. Or it would have been if the campaign hadn't died.
  58. Turns out he wanted to figure out what volumes I needed so he could get me the right one for Christmas.
  59. China Mieville wrote a book about Marxism, which I'm hoping has gotten all of the Marxism out of his system.
  60. Ironically, sometimes I have trouble getting out of bed.
  61. In my favor, indeed. ;)
  62. shit post
  63. It was kind of depressing.
  64. Aw, man, Portal still isn't out yet.
  65. Nicely impromptu.
  66. God is not merciful. God is spiteful and vengeful.
  67. I never finished that story. But it wasn't turning out so well anyway.
  68. I just like towers, okay? Also bridges.
  69. eeeeeeeeemmmmoooooo
  70. RoboRally: It's fun.
  71. Sure, okay. Outland.
  72. I think I might've thrown the pinecone away.
  73. This could work.
  74. fashion!
  75. resin
  76. I have a cooler mount now.
  77. They're almost surreal in full bloom.
  78. That's Nat, BTW.
  79. Shitty poetry is de rigeur on the Interblogs.
  80. It probably didn't help that I was wearing a bright blue jacket.
  81. You mean to make neutron star?
  82. I like the joke on Lymph Sliver. It really is quite seminal-looking.
  83. This is one of the greatest things I have had the privilege of hearing. Also on that list: hearing Young say "twat."
  84. Sometimes comics are unintentionally disturbing. Especially Gil Thorp, which is drawn by Satan or something.
  85. This one was a total pain in the ass to format.
  86. They should work on Otogi.
  87. Archons, Ghosts, etc.
  88. YOU FAIL
  89. Pirates desu kara!
  90. The worst part about living here is that you can only kill yourself once.
  91. Recurring motif!
  92. "Angry cat" is still a pretty good metaphor.
  93. Only look at this late at night. It'll be hilarious then.
  94. I heard the full length of that song today. It was good.
  95. 7th Sea still continues apace.
  96. Nat hasn't seen the zorse? What the Hell, Nat, I thought you were good at the Internet.
  97. It might've been Erica Cooper.
  98. Probably somebody I talked to at a party.
  99. You like my Wizard People references towards the end? Because I do.
  100. I recovered my license.


it's the future. we are in the future.

Today I got out of work and discovered that I'd lost my driver's license somewhere. I couldn't find it. But then I check my email and discover that I've got a message from some Asian girl on Facebook. "At last!" I think. "The mystery revealed!"

But it turns out she'd found my license and was telling me she'd turned it in to the lost and found at the IMA.

So that mystery is still unsolved.


deathly hallows spoilers!

According to J.K. Rowling, the last word of the book is "scar."

Possibly because the final paragraph is:

"Harry knew there was only one way to stop Voldemort from killing Upfish. He had to travel back in time. Back to the only time when Voldemort was vulnerable... "Temporus Reversi!" cried Harry, brandishing his wand over his head with a flourish. Sparks cascaded from his wand, big, magical sparks that suffused everything around him with a blurry, magical glow. Everything ran backwards around Harry, and the events of the past few days undid themselves before his eyes... Ron's marriage to Hermione and subsequent death, Snape's revelation that he and Dumbledore were the same person, Malfoy falling to his death from a conveniently-placed cliff, Ron's hypno-marriage to Bellatrix Gryffindor having recieved another million points for no Goddamn reason, all those magical creatures and objects with no real narrative value, Sirius Black's triumphant return from the Dimension of Death to kill 500,000 Death Eaters with an enchanted chaingun, Snape's revelation that he was a (magical) robot all along, even that one time the Death Eaters did something cool and totally evil offscreen while Harry was talking about Malfoy. All of this sped by faster and faster until it was just a magical blur, and then suddenly everything stopped. Harry was standing in an old-timey bedroom, looking down on a crib.* In that crib was a crying baby... a crying baby Voldemort! Harry steeled himself for what he needed to do. With a trembling voice, he incanted "Cru...cruciatus." And a bolt of magical green lightning spat from the tip of his wand, striking against the baby's forehead. But the baby was protected! Protected, dear readers, by love! Lo ho ho! A startling turn of events for our hero, for the spell that would have made short work of such a tiny member of God's kingdom of animals in the domain of Eukaryota bounces harmlessly off the baby's tiny, soft skull and strikes Harry straight in his! "Aargh," says Harry, as he disvaporates into a pile of ashes, ashes blown away on the wind and out the window. But we zoom in, only to see that on that most adorably evil forehead is now a tiny symbol, the symbol of Harry's ultimate defeat by the Dark Lord, he who can't be named, because he doesn't even have one yet, because he's a baby: a little finely-carved lightning bolt-shaped scar."


Also, I like Electric Six's Gay Bar. But you might have already known that, or at least suspected.

* I typoed "crab" instead of "crib," which would have made for a much funnier ending.


internets: always watching

Good God, Wikipedia, how do you know these things? If you're going to list my major, shouldn't you at least have a citation?

The IP traces to Denver.


i think i'm being targeted by the triads

So Wednesday night apparently this Asian girl asked for me at the front desk of the library. But I wasn't there. And I have no idea who it is.


the punkest animal ever

The zorse. I want one, ideally as a unicorn WARRIOR STALLION.

the new world

Because I am a nerd, I am starting a blog to document my 7th Sea campaign. It is called The New World (both the campaign and the blog) and can be found at http://novusmundi.blogspot.com.


whatta gal

So I turn on the radio and I immediately hear Neko Case singing "Go on, go on, scream and cry / You're miles from where anyone will find you." She makes the best country music.


so i should inform you of these things if you don't already know

1. I got into the Drawing and Painting major. It was surprisingly/eerily easy.

2. I am renting an apartment in the U-District, starting September.

3. I am sort of dating Nat, which is like a cross between petting an angry cat and playing Ninja Gaiden, but in a good way.


square enix: i still hate them

This is probably the most ironic thing anyone at Square could have said: today's consoles are overengineered and you need a deep knowledge of gaming to play games on them. Because Gears of War is really complex and intricate, while Final Fantasy games are instantly accessible to non-gamers.

Square Enix is basically a dead studio, though, since all the good people that worked there are off at Mistwalker.

Although why do they have dog-picture desktop wallpaper?


moustache! whillikers!

So everybody I've lived with knows this already, but Brad Neely, who did Wizard People, Dear Reader and some kind of song about George Washington, has been doing plenty of other animations. Which mostly aren't quite as good as Wizard People, but, really, that's kind of hard to top.


arr p

So after watching Pirates of the Caribbean, I have this strong urge to run an ongoing 7th Sea campaign over the summer. Involving pirates, of course. Mind you, I would probably end up abandoning the Mage campaign, which is kind of sad but not that sad. Because pirates!

I'd also be up for running Legend of the Five Rings, but that kind of goes without saying.


and now i test you!

Take my quiz!

Fail, and you are disqualified from being my friend.


i've been living a lie.

So I've come to realize that these years of playing World of Warcraft off and on have blinded me to the truth: I like the Starcraft universe much better. Thank you, Starcraft II, for helping me realize this.

To compare:

Warcraft (pro): the undead are kind of cool, and I like the stuff they're doing in Burning Crusade.

Starcraft (pro): EVERYTHING

Warcraft (con): too many dragons and elves, orcs and humans are boring.

Starcraft (con): NOTHING

Winner: Starcraft.


hell, it's about time

So this is probably only interesting to me and maybe Megan - maybe - but Jet Set Radio Future is finally backwards compatible on the Xbox 360. Oh, and so is Panzer Dragoon Orta. Psychonauts, JSRF, and Panzer Dragoon were basically the games I wanted to see on the 360 - and hey! There they are. That's very nice of you, Microsoft. Apparently they've been up there since April and I just haven't noticed. Probably I don't check that list obsessively enough.


my top ten most beautiful women

Ever since Mitch mentioned his "top ten most beautiful women" and then never bothered to list them all, I was determined to outdo him. Well, actually, it's my "top ten most beautiful women that I don't know in real life" because otherwise it'd probably get kind of awkward and involve somewhat insulting comparisons to first-person shooters.

There's no particular order because i don't want to bother taking the time to rank them, but they do divide up into three distinct categories.


Jewel Staite

Kaylee definitely gets my vote for prettiest girl on Serenity, although admittedly the other girls are married, crazy, or whores. I believe "ebullient" is probably the right word for her. Not that I've seen her in anything that isn't Firefly, though. Apparently she's a singer?

Bai Ling
I first saw Bai Ling (pictured on the right) in Lost, where she had the hair you see in this picture. She was really pretty, in an extremely odd, Asian way. Actually, she kind of reminded me of some kind of stinging insect, like a sexy alien wasp. She just has a really alien-like bone structure and a long neck. Also, she apparently likes to be photographed and it's not too hard to find pictures of her nipples, which I guess is a good thing?

Katie Sackhoff
A.K.A. "Starbuck" on Battlestar Galactica. She really appeals to me in a very butch sort of way. She's a fucking badass and not even death can kill her.

It seems that I'm fairly likely to be attracted to lesbians.

Clea Duvall
Speaking of lesbians... well, okay, just bisexual. But she played a lesbian once. I think she's mostly on this list because she managed to overcome the fact that, when I first saw her (in Carnivale) I had difficulty accepting her as being a person because her face is just that weirdly-shaped. But I'm over that now and I'm kind of a fan. Although I've only seen her in Carnivale and Heroes. Oh, and an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Audrey Tautou
I almost forgot about her. How could I do that? It is unforgivable. Audrey Tautou is absolutely the most adorable girl on the planet, ever, a statement that will absolutely never come back to haunt me. I believe she was created as a cross between Audrey Hepburn and a kitten. Also, Amelie is one of my all-time favorite movies, and, by extension, so is A Very Long Engagement, since that's basically just Amelie set in WWI.

Joan Blondell
I think I saw her in maybe Gold Diggers of 1933 first? I don't know, all Busby Berkeley movies are fundamentally the same. Anyway, I found her to be extremely cute, for some reason. It probably helps that her picture on Wikipedia is nude. Obviously she got less attractive as she got older, but now she's dead, and lovely forever. Or at least she's left a lovely skeleton.

Salma Hayek
I suppose I should probably choose at least one mainstream actress. I nominate Salma Hayek, who is much too attractive to be playing Frida Kahlo.


Neko Case

Once, in debating whether Neko Case is a better country singer than Johnny Cash, I resorted to the argument that Neko Case is hotter. This is true, and she probably has the best country singing voice of all time. If her lyrics are any indication, though, she is possibly insane. That's okay by me. One time I Googled imaged her and found out that the second result is her wearing a mesh shirt with nothing underneath. I feel as though I can die and be reasonably fulfilled now.

Leslie Feist
Is there anyone I'd rather have whispering things into my ear than Leslie Feist? Yes, but, as I mentioned before, I'm not going to get into that here. I was looking for someone on Facebook named Leslie and found that Leslie Fiest has a Facebook account, and is a UW alum. I thought about adding her as my friend, but if she rejected me I figure I'd be disallowed from listening to her music. Also: She's "In a Relationship." With who? With me... IN THE FUTURE?


Actually, this position is a four-way tie between Jen Wang, Vera Brosgol, Erika Moen(pictured), and Liz Greenfield, all of whom are about my age, reasonably cute, and amazing artists. If any of them ever wanted to date me I would immediately drop whatever/whoever I was doing and go for it. This seems unlikely, as they all either live in other places or are a lesbian. Not just any lesbian. A lesbian with a boyfriend. There's still a chance, right?

Naturally, I read all their LiveJournals. Apparently Jen and Erika are going to be living together? Somebody needs to write slash fiction about this. Dammit, now I'm trying to visualize that. It's very... artistic.

Gaius Baltar is the most beautiful woman ever.


apparently i'm updating every eight days now

So this Family Circus strip made me laugh audibly, but probably only accidentally.


sky, on pokemon

"It says it needs sunshine and happiness to evolve, and I don't know what those are!"


whoops, haven't posted in about two weeks! better post something about slivers!

I am very sorry to all those who are offended by slivers.

Future Sight brings with it (hopefully) the last six slivers for a while. The entirety of Time Spiral block has been pretty much one giant slivergasm, and I'm trying to form a mental picture of that and it's really disturbing and spiky.

Here are those six slivers. Slivers... from the future!

Frenzy Sliver: What I like best here is the flavor text. "A creature that will inevitably escape our control and multiply endlessly, becoming a horde of millions that swarms over the land ravaging and destroying everything? Sounds like a good idea. I'll see if I can stick that into this month's conjuring budget."

Homing Sliver: This card is really useful for toolbox sliver decks. Like, ludicrously useful. Also, it looks like it's doing the limbo. The magical limbo.

I just noticed that the artist's last name is "Hairsine." He must've gotten teased a lot about that in high-school calculus.

Lymph Sliver: Oh, so that's what a slivergasm looks like. Eww. It's nice that it pretty much shuts down a lot of board-sweepers. Noting ruins a sliver's day like a Pyroclasm.

Mesmeric Sliver: It's '90s tribal tattoo sliver! All slivers you control gain Retro. (They are ironically cool.) Of course, the problem with Fateseal 1 is that it doesn't really do a whole lot, because even if you move that problem card to the bottom of their library the next one might be worse.

Sliver Legion: You know how Coat of Arms pisses people off? And you know how sliver swarm decks piss people off? Try combining those.

Virulent Sliver: It's colored like a poison-dart frog, which is cool, and it's small and its ability stacks. So this guy's pretty mean. Unless your opponent has Leeches, and then you're fucked. Wait, what does Leeches do again? Nevermind. That's the worst hoser ever. Wait, nevermind.

Honorable Mentions

I suppose that makes up for them not reprinting Metallic Sliver. Huh. Too bad it isn't a sliver itself.

Vedalken AEthermage: Apparently, in the future, blue guys hate slivers. But not enough to actually kill them.


Since pretty much everyone I know has Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, I got a DS and Pokemon Diamond.


today i heard someone providing b-movie-style exposition on their cell phone

"You mean to make plasma? The fourth state of matter?"

He should have followed it up with something like "You're mad!" or "You'll doom us all!"


fuck herons

I was taking a walk down by the fisheries building when I saw a blue heron fly down to one of the ponds and begin spearing the fish through the net. I tried to sneak up on it and take a picture close up, but every time I got close it'd fly away, so I couldn't get a good shot. And this was all in the rain.



Every day you’ll be alive until you’re dead.
On that last day you’ll stop.
Until then – You aren’t.

That titan isn’t inside us any more.
And when the network fails us we have no place.
Just you and the wind.



Well, I was going to go to Sakuracon on Sunday to go see Young, but then she decided that she'd go home and see her parents. Stupid working on Saturdays.

To make up for a lack of substantive posts that aren't about World of Warcraft, here's some pictures. I sort all the pictures I take into six categories, and each of these is my favorite picture in one of the categories. Can you guess what they are? Probably not
. Can you guess where/who they are? Probably easier.



The cherry trees are in bloom in the quad, so it looks like fluffy clouds are covering the lawn. Really gay, pink clouds.


outland, part two: the zangarmarsh

The road from Hellfire leads to the Zangarmarsh, a lush, alien mushroom forest in contrast to the barren red of the Peninsula. It looks a lot like a cross between Morrowind and Myst.

The local Alliance outpost, Telredor, is built on top of a giant mushroom. Sadly, although it implies that they've carved into it, you can't really go inside. I believe the name is a reference to Morrowind - Telvanni plus Redoran. House Telvanni was pretty cool. They gave me my own mushroom palace. According to WoWWiki, some people have difficulty not dying while taking the elevator up? How do these people manage not to die in real life?

The wildlife here is pretty alien. Fen striders resemble jellyfish crossed with Martian war machines. Fen striders are awesome and I wish they made them as mounts.

Also: sporebats! Sporebats are cool too.

There's also a race of mushroom-people, who live in a town called Sporeggar. They're pretty nice to you, also they accept mushrooms as money.

They grow out of pods, apparently. And the giants that live there are mean to them. Basically everyone picks on the sporelings. Poor sporelings.

Actually, there's quite a few things going wrong in Zangarmarsh. For some reason, ogres are chopping down mushrooms. I don't think it ever explains why they're doing this. It's probably just because they're jerks.

Also, the naga have migrated here and set up big pumps in every lake, draining the water for their own insidious purposes. Again: why? Why do the Naga need so much water? Just to be jerks.

The northern lake has already been sucked dry. The lights on the mushrooms flicker in and out in a sickly kind of way.

All this water flows into the gigantic Coilfang Reservoir at the center of the big lake, which is one of the new dungeons. Again: why do they need to do this?

They built a massive drain at the center of the lake that sucks in a lot of water? I guess? And all the other pumps empty out here... Seriously. Why.

Who's that handsome girl on her handsome steed? It is me!

Next: Terokkar Forest.



So Sky's roped me into doing concept art for an MMO he wants to... make someday, I guess. Anyway, I've been looking through fashion shows as research, and I've come to the conclusion that I really like John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier (who apparently did design work for The Fifth Element and City of Lost Children) and Christian Dior. Oh, and Manish Arora is cool too. Anyway, here's some of the cooler/weirder lines I've found:

John Galliano Autumn/Winter 2007 ready-to-wear
Manish Arora Autumn/Winter 2007 ready-to-wear
John Galliano Autumn/Winter 2007 men's
Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2007 couture (Origami dresses!)
Christian Dior Autumn/Winter 2006 couture (which is one of the weirder fashion designs I've seen)
John Galliano Spring/Summer 2006 ready-to-wear (Weirdest models ever)
Manish Arora Spring/Summer 2006 ready-to-wear
Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2006 couture (Very anime-ish)


404685.64224 sq. m

I like the concept of an alternate-reality Hundred Acre Wood. I'm not sure what it would entail, but I'll work on it...

Update: Clearly Winnie-the-Pooh takes place in the same reality as The Velveteen Rabbit. Also, apparently Christopher Robin apparently abandons the animals at the end of the last book, so clearly any future stories would have to entail their quest to find the Nursery Magic Fairy (which Rabbit knows about because, being an actual rabbit and not based on a toy, he knows the Velveteen Rabbit) and become real. And since it's in England, I would imagine that the Green Man and other faeries could get involved.


between winter and summer

So today is officially the first day of spring, according to me. The cold winds of the past few weeks have left us with warmth and sunshine. To commemorate, I skipped class and went out to Lake Sammamish. I got a pinecone.

I also got into 2/3 of the classes I want next quarter. I'll see if I can sneak into that other 1/3 on the first day of class.


outland, part one: hellfire peninsula

Having seen the majority of the content in Burning Crusade, I think I can now state that it is one of the more interesting and original fantasy worlds in recent years. They're moving away from traditional Tolkien-ripoff fantasy with plots about elves, dwarves, and a hundred Goddamned dragons and going more towards a trans-dimensional conflict that has a very science-fictional feel at times.

For those that don't follow the Warcraft story: it was revealed in Warcraft III that the Orcish invasion of Azeroth through the Dark Portal was the result of the machinations of the Burning Legion, an army of demons working for the corrupted creator-titan Sargeras. In Warcraft III, they begin the next phase of their invasion, creating the Undead Scourge to soften up the opposition and then finally coming to Azeroth in person and just ruining shit. Fortunately, with the help of the overly popular Night Elves, they were defeated.

The majority of the plots in World of Warcraft dealt with comparatively conventional threats: dragons, undead, elemental lords, evil dwarves and trolls, etc., etc. But the Dark Portal, after it was reopened in Warcraft III, never really closed. So Burning Crusade takes WoW through the Dark Portal, to the Orcish homeworld of Draenor, now shattered and crumbling from demonic corruption and various magical explosions, and simply called the Outland. It is an opportunity to fight the Burning Legion on their own turf, to assault their advance positions and maybe begin to figure out a way to take the fight to them. Blizzard's been hinting that a lot of the Warcraft plot from now on is going to involve fighting the Legion across dimensions and worlds (there is little distinction between the two in the Warcraft universe), so, as weird as Outland is, it's only going to get weirder.

I hit level 70 (the new level cap) and got my flying mount a few weeks back, and I realized that I could basically just fly around and take pictures. Therefore, this is a first part of a series documenting the more interesting parts of Outland. With pretty pictures!

The Dark Portal, entrance to Outland, as viewed from Azeroth-side. By the time I got there on the day of the release there had already apparently been a massive battle. There weren't many people there, but that entire ramp was littered with corpses.

The Dark Portal, Outland-side. Hellfire Peninsula, the first zone, resembles what Outland looked like as of Warcraft III. When you first come through the portal, you enter onto the Stair of Destiny, a sanctuary where Alliance and Horde cannot attack each other. Not that we would've, back then, there was a definite air of camaraderie, both sides working together to help fight the Legion rather than senselessly fighting each other. Of course, the peace didn't last long. But between that and the dozens of people all questing at the same time, it felt like the momentous event it was intended to be, the heroes of Azeroth gathered in one place to fight side by side. Everybody was a newbie again.

Just at the base of the Stair of Destiny, a massive battle rages between the forces of Azeroth and the Burning Legion. Since the way forward is blocked by ridiculously high-level demons, you have to take the flight path around rather than walk to your next destination.

Thrallmar, first outpost of the Horde in Outland. Note the sky: those beams of light crossing it are the Twisting Nether, the dimension that connects the worlds together. The fact that it's visible here would seem to be a bad sign; the barriers between Draenor and the Great Dark are collapsing. I can't exactly go pay a visit to Thrallmar, seeing as how it's Horde territory and all; shortly after taking this picture I got shot down by a patrolling bat rider. It hurt.

Honor Hold, fortification of the Alliance Expeditionary Force that went through the Dark Portal in Warcraft II. Many important NPCs from that game are here. I never played anything except Warcraft III, so I'll just have to take everybody else's word on that. Periodically Infernals fall from the sky onto this place and the guards have to fight them off. Good times.

Draenor slowly collapses into the Great Dark. Bits of it float, perversely sustained by whatever force keeps the planets fixed in space.

Shatter Point, another dramatic example of the collapse, is the staging area for the Alliance's bombing runs. Bombing runs are always fun.

Alliance cannons and Horde blade launchers face off against each other in a perpetual stalemate over the Path of Glory.

The Path of Glory is the road the Orcs took when they marched out of Draenor to attack Azeroth. Not visible in this picture is the fact that it is made out of thousands of Draenei skeletons. The Horde all but destroyed the other races on Outland while under demonic influence.

Hellfire Citadel, once the stronghold of the Fel Orcs. Well, it's still the stronghold of the Fel Orcs, actually, they're just under different leadership. Illidan, the corrupted Night Elf Demon Hunter, has taken control and made the Fel Orcs into his minions. This is the first dungeon in Outland, and the first wing of it is harder than Hell. Fucking dragon.

The Burning Legion's Forge Camps and Invasion Points both pump out machinery and supplies to fuel the Crusade and serve as portals to bring in more demons. There's a lot of these all over Outland.

This is a Fel Reaver. The scale is a little difficult to tell here, but he's huge. He did not want to stand still while I took his picture, either. Fel Reavers are the Legion's special way of welcoming you to Outland. There's a couple of them just wandering around Hellfire Peninsula, waiting to squash you into a thin pulp if you're not paying attention. I mean sure, they shake the screen with their footsteps, and they let off an unearthly metallic scream when they get close, but sometimes you're just busy to move out of the way. And then you die in about two hits.

This is the Pools of Aggonar. It's not actually a very interesting place, I just liked the picture. If you look closely in the background you can see the remains of a demon. His taint corrupts the once-pure waters, or something like that.

Next: Zangarmarsh! (The most fun-to-say zone.)