Updates: Currently slacking off

Friday, 26 June 2015

The confederate flag controversy.

The new craze sweeping "progressive" circles is anger at the use of a confederate flag because sometimes unsavoury people use it.
The fact a mass shooter is a fan of the old confederacy is irrelevant.
This to me drives home a very important point; these are people that DO NOT CARE about real issues.
They care about political point scoring.
The confederacy lost the civil war, and the victor writes the history. We however are not seeing the historical revisionism of a victor in war.
We are seeing the historical revisionism of a generation one hundred and fifty years removed.

Slavery in the south and historical racism of southerners is being invoked to generalise and demonise people long dead, many of whom do not deserve such treatment.
Now, moral relativism shouldn't be used to excused or justify current behaviour, but it can and should be applied historically.
To do any less is to disregard context, which is disastrous when trying to understand history.
This is made even more galling by the whitewashing of American national history at convenience.
The star spangled banner is soaked in the blood of slaves, natives and "tyrants" (you know, the British government pre revolution that was more popular than the current US congress and whose other holdings don't seem to be all that dystopian. Worst tyrants ever. This is said understanding the historical context that there were no moral sides and the revolution itself probably contributed to the later dismantling of the Empire. It's just funny that the tyrants spoken of by Americans abolished global slavery 50 years before Americans even started)
We are talking about a nation which celebrates past presidents that PROUDLY owned slaves, thought it indeed their moral duty to "educate the Negro" and whom in modern thinking might also have been rapists (having sex with a slave. I'd call that rape, even if consensual. A slave's consent seems rather ineffectual even if we recognise that not all slavery is the same level of evil)

The past crimes of the North are ignored or disregarded because "the confederacy" are the bad guys.
Only they weren't.
Just as during the revolution there were good, moral people on both sides.
War is messy and no side has a monopoly on evil. (yes, this applies to my revolutionary rant. The British are well aware of how big a bastard our nation could/can be. We teach our own history warts and all)
The confederacy had many racists. There were slave owners, and those who would kill a man just for wishing to escape slavery. The North had racists too.
The South did not lack celebrated generals and politicians though.
I will focus on the man most associated with the confederate flag.

Robert E Lee is renowned for his role in extending the war and causing no end of trouble for the North.
He was also a deeply compassionate man, who believed the moral teachings of his time and culture.
Not that slavery was cool bro, but that slavery damaged the white man more than the black man, pointing to the state of Africa (large swathes of which remain not overly pleasant to live in. I expect Africa to emerge as a global power within the next century myself, but much like the middle east internecine war holds back many nations) and that slaves benefited from their slavery.
Perhaps that is a little short sighted of him, but the Christian teachings of the time were exactly that.
These were people convinced beyond all doubt that slavery was the will of God.
To me, this is not an argument that the people were evil, but that religion makes people do things that they would otherwise not do.
His conduct after the war and statements made before and during proved the man one of discipline, duty and honour. Not malice. He was still a slave owner. Still oversaw punishments and captures of escaped slaves, but did so because those were the moral teachings of the time. Not because he hated them.

When Lee became president of Washington college he vehemently opposed violence against the Federal government and black Americans, to the point of expelling students for attacking a local.
He did oppose the vote for free black Americans, but argued not from hatred, but from the opinion that they lacked the education to vote intelligently.
He would have preferred mass emigration of ex slaves to their homelands, a cause championed by his wife and daughter.
He was also a leader in establishing state schools for black pupils.
A complicated man who by today's standards would be fairly racist (but not violently so) but in context of his culture was fairly progressive.

I believe that when the confederacy is thrown under the bus the only thing served is a political elite with no interest in solving problems, but only in whitewashing history, finding scapegoats and escaping the responsibility to do anything meaningful.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


I am a great believer in multiculturalism.
The joys of shared experience become magnified when you appreciate the divides between people.
Also, for the curry.

Sadly,  when cultures share a space there will inevitably be a clash. Tension. Bigotry.
Human nature is inherent in us, no amount of education will remove it entirely.
So, why promote something that results in so much harm?
Simply, the benefits, the joys, the growth; it outweighs the negatives.
Without the mass immigration after World War II the UK would not have recovered so far or so well.
The deaths of a generation of young men could not be ignored. Those men, those heroes, could not be replaced but their sacrifice had to be justified.

However, multiculturalism does not mean simply inviting unique cultures in to sit at their place, isolated from wider society, so they can be marveled at like an animal in a zoo.
Integration is an essential part of the process.
Not a loss of our unique qualities, but a willingness to engage beyond ourselves.
To do otherwise is to remain an alien, to isolate and disenfranchise. To be nothing more than a token to be used by ideologues claiming to represent you.
This has been done time and again in my beloved nation.
Immigrants from all over the old empire, the common wealth coming together with a shared history, a heritage of shared sorrows and blood.

The cultural isolation offered by modern identity politics proponents eliminates or diminishes the benefits while exasperating the negatives.
It writes out differences in stark relief, condemns integration as cultural genocide (much like the racists they are supposed to oppose) and describes the enjoyment of other cultures as "appropriation."
To me "cultural appropriation" does nothing but attempt to shame people into self segregation. Negroes and Whites need to have their own fountains, because social justice. It's no different.
It is a sickness that raises the fever of a nation, breeding discontent in every demographic and serving only to isolate us from one another.
It is anathema to real multicultural values.

Identity politics is not the only culprit in the growing tensions between native citizens and migrants.
The loss of social housing has resulted in private tenancy servicing most people.
In many areas landlords show a marked preference for specific immigrant populations.
Understandable, on a personal level, as being close to those with a shared culture is comforting. As a strategy within a civil society, it is disastrous.
Cultural ghettos form with members of these communities isolated from the wider population. Such homogeneity results only in tensions between "outsiders" and these small communities and a lack of integration which I find essential for immigration and multiculturalism to operate effectively.

I often find that issues such as these are avoided by mainstream thinking.
Honestly, I believe the blame once again resides on identity politics and the liberal elite that manufactures it.
An appreciation of diversity and acknowledging the power of inclusion to improve society becomes corrupted by the guilt of "the majority"
Many sincerely believe they are simply "checking their privilege" but in actual fact they are merely reinvented "white man's burden"
The motivation behind much social justice thinking in the modern West is no different than that of the historical Christians that just wanted to bring civilisation to the Barbarians. (that means people of colour, mostly, if you were wondering)
It is very much a form of racism. It advocates judging people on their physical identity, while also claiming physical identity is a social construct.
Moral relativism based on race, gender and ethnicity.

We need to work to break this fever.
Celebrate our differences. Celebrate EACH OTHER.
Equality should not mean moral relativism.
Multiculturalism should not mean cultural segregation.

Monday, 22 June 2015

"Colour blind" does not mean "ignorant of experiences"

I see "colour blind" referenced by the social justice mob in a dismissive manner.
Identity politics demands we are hyper aware of ethnicity, in some hope that this will make up for whatever historic slight is percieved.
I believe that these people do not even begin to understand what those of us that will declare ourselves "colour blind" are saying.
We are not Stephen Colbert in full on satire mode mocking the desperation of Republicans to be taken seriously.
The strawman this displays is a notion so silly only an idiot bases their opinion on it.
So; what does it ACTUALLY mean.
In essence, it is taking on faith the words of Martin Luther King.
That a man should not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.
How this has become an unpopular position I do not know, considering how well regarded the man is in politics of every stripe.
If you try to judge people on their actions, on their personality and on their merit, you are in essence being "colour blind" in the context of a culture that might otherwise discriminate.

What it does not mean is that you must become ignorant of the experiences of those with a different background.
I can treat a man as an equal and disregard our cultural differences in terms of judgement while still being aware of them.
I can welcome a Jew or a Muslim into my home, afford them every courtesy I would extend to anyone else and be aware that offering a bacon sandwich might not be sensitive.
Equal does not need to mean "identical" especially in a social context.
I can understand that a black guy might have experienced that are really shitty without resorting to treating him differently.

Indeed, I can empathise directly and am told that it "doesn't count" because it "wasn't racism" and "wasn't institutional"
Amusingly, the group that calls for empathy because of identity politics lacks any empathy.
How did I experience things I would deem similar?
I was a poor ginger kid, goofy and nerdy. I was scrawny and unpopular.
Typical loser nerd sob story, indeed.
What treatment did I receive?
I was mocked for my appearance, my intelligence and my lack of social competence.
I was regularly assaulted in the streets, in the schoolyard, in the halls and classrooms. By groups and individuals.
When defending myself I was punished equally to those that attacked me. This might sound reasonable, but compare a grade A pupil being threatened with expulsion to identical threats made to an F student that barely attends classes anyway.
I had my property damaged or stolen, at least once I has a window on my parents house smashed and I would routinely have stones thrown at me.
Yup. All this happened to a young white man in a fairly mixed race council estate in the UK.
I was bullied badly enough that my own classmates "adopted" me and would quite fiercely defend me if "outsiders" attacked me.
So, I know something about being treated as a social pariah and target of abuse.

Does this new awareness make you percieve me differently?
Does it justify treating me differently?
Are you less willing to disagree with me, less willing to call out improper behaviour from me?
The answer to all of these should be NO.
You can offer me empathy without treating me differently.
That is the point.

Colour blindness does not mean losing our diversity or our appreciation of it.
It does not mean ignoring the experiences of our brothers and sisters in this world.
It just means that you judge each individual on their merits as an individual.
This is something I hope everyone will eventually come to understand and champion.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Joss Wheden: Everything both right and wrong with feminism.

Feminism, whether you believe it right or wrong, has earned itself a bad reputation.
Many proponents argue that the "bad" feminists are not real feminists, or do not/should not reflect on the wider feminist movement.
Others pretend that there is no problem at all, or that it's actually an elaborate conspiracy to discredit equality by a nefarious patriarchy.
I would make the case that feminism is complicated.
It has good elements and it has bad elements.
I believe that Joss Wheden, oft celebrated as a positive feminist role model, is the perfect reflection of both sides of this.

His work, at first blush, contains all manner of empowered women and feminist themes.
He's unafraid of nuance, of showing female vulnerability or flaws and displays remarkable empathy for his subjects.
Yup, you guessed it, I am a Whedon fanboi.

He also shows a similarly remarkable capacity for wilful blindness and an assumption of ill intent in others that he refuses to accept when levelled at him by other feminists, dismissing them as radicals even as he parrots them to target others.
An apologist in every sense. Willing to join a chorus with those he dismisses as "fringe" or "not real" feminists and cashing in these brownie points to justify his position when criticised by these same people.
Any vitriol, venom or outright harassment is deemed "just a normal part of feminism" and ignored, while criticising similar, identical or even less extreme behaviour from those falling outside of the feminist umbrella.
The stark relief of his repeated defamation of those that make PRECISELY the same points he occasionally makes about the worst excesses of feminism but declaring themselves against it show a hypocrisy I find distasteful in a man I respect for his works.
For all that feminists protest that "Not all feminists are like that" even the most populist and popular feminists are ready to dismiss any criticism as an attack on all of feminism.

Amusingly his work encompasses many of the criticisms of modern feminism and societal perception of women as well as all the best aspects of empowerment, including the right to be flawed, broken or wrong.
One of my favourite Wheden characters was the unapologetically villainous Saffron.
Introduced to the audience as a victim she uses gender stereotypes to her advantage to manipulate the crew of Serenity and hide her intent. She uses Mal's altruism against him and remains critical of him when he shows very human flaws.
How a man can be so aware of this pattern of behaviour to create a well rounded, deep character but lack any awareness of it being abused in real life I do not know.

Some might say that I am leaving out the evils of radical feminism or the misguided idiocy of feminist ideology, but I don't see these things as the real problem.
Being wrong is an important step to take on the road to being right, so feminism being based on flawed principles is something that can be fixed.
Likewise, radicals, extremists and morons will be involved in every large scale human endeavour, so cant really be credited with "ruining" anything by themselves.

No, the real problems remain the lack of integrity, self awareness and self criticism of those that are widely championed. The self styled moderates that allow extremism to flourish and refuse to condemn it, that refuse to engage in criticism of their own ideals or acknowledge when they are at fault.
To me, Wheden reflects this in abundance, no matter how true his devotion to equality.
He truly encompasses everything that is good about feminism as well as everything that is bad.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Toxic masculinity: a symptom of a wider problem.

We often here the cry of Toxic Masculinity in recent years.
If not those exact words,  it will be some variation of how men are to blame for a cultural or social problem.
Teach men not to rape.
Wearing inappropriate t-shirts (because people should not have the right to wear what they want to, right ladies?)

I think this is all a symptom of an aspect of human nature we could do with acknowledging, addressing and hopefully fixing.
The fear, distrust or hatred of men.
Sounds a bit far out there, doesn't it. A conspiracy theory about how the poor white man is oppressed?
It really isn't. It's not about systematic or cultural oppression, repression or suppression.
It's just a way of describing how society at large treats men.

First we must acknowledge the thing that prevents discussion of the subject.
The thing that has people scoff and laugh and mock.
That is, perhaps oxymoronically, most people (including those feminists we see deriding men and masculinity so often) love men.
They love the men that they personally know.
As a society we celebrate the men that touch our lives personally. We love our sons, our brothers, our fathers and uncles. We love to hold up heroes and point out the virtues of "good men."
How can we talk about societal neglect of men, cultural hatred of men, when this is true?
And that's the point. We love OUR men.

It is "other men" that are the problem.
Men we don't know are a danger.
Men we don't know are suspect.
Men we don't know could do us harm.
Simply put this is a bias that only effects men. It especially effects men from certain minorities, ethnic or racial.
Women simply don't have this bias against them.
A woman will rarely experience another human being frightened by their mere proximity. They will never need to worry about how they might be perceived by a stranger, or by a police officer, or by parents and staff at their children school.

None of this is because we're evil, or hateful, or because men deserve it.
It is not "because culture"
It is because we're animals.
It's an understandable principle both bred and socialised into us because it has been a FANTASTIC survival strategy for the entire history of our species and in many others.
The thing is, we're smart animals, so we should be able to learn to do fucking better.

When we tolerate the sort of open and explicit misandry done in the name of "equality" we are manipulating people with the most base of our emotions.
It devalues those it is attempting to protect as well as those it maligns.
Remember, those men you do not know do belong to somebody.
That stranger in the street is somebody's father.
The man in the playground is a doting uncle.
The man arrested for manspreading is somebody's son.
Not all men are good people, so of course caution is understandable and necessary, but we should be careful that caution doesn't become bigotry.
The monsters in the world are a small minority and they are not effected by posters telling them to be less monstrous.
Don't judge all men by the actions of the monsters.
Try to judge them as you would judge the men you love.
Then we might take the first step to overcoming the stigma that masculinity is often stuck with.

To those reading that wish to cry misogyny, or declare one more important than the other.
You are the monsters in this world.
Misogyny is awful, equality of opportunity and universal human rights are a great thing.
Misogyny is simply not a serious problem in the West, nor in many other places. We already seek to redress sexism targeting women, and that's a great thing. You however condone sexism against men and declare it either less important or even nonexistant.
Your equality is supremacy wearing lipstick.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Gun ownership

The classic American debate.
Wherever you fall on the debate, the truth will remain that Pandora's box is already opened. There can be no gun free USA.
The argument however remains divisive and lacks any sense, especially from the pro-gun advocates.

First up, it's extremely naive to believe an armed population is somehow going to stop tyranny.
It's an argument I see constantly, and yet those most vocal about it never DO shit about their own corrupt and abusive government.
Congress is (and has been for a while) less popular than the British during colonial rule.
Where's the revolution, boys and girls?

Why not look to other nations with mass gun ownership. I don't see much democracy and free association going on.
Plenty of civil unrest, war and violence though.

This is not an argument for gun control.
It's an argument against bullshit justifications for gun ownership.
Banning guns in the US will never work, stop pretending that is the end goal for gun control.
Banning guns may not ever be the correct response to gun crime, but regulations and restrictions are not the same as a ban.
There is no need to parrot meaningless rhetoric as your argument to keep your precious guns.

Gun ownership doesn't make any individual bad, and obviously those that legally own a firearm are not the criminals, but widely available guns certainly incentivise their use and make them more accessible
If you like to hunt or sport shoot, that's awesome. If you like to collect? Great.

If you think owning a gun makes you safer? You are an idiot.
I get the idea of self defence, but it's largely an illusion. There really is no such thing as safety.
We live in a world of 7+ billion people.
Even the most well armed and skilled individual can be overcome with numbers, and numbers the human race has in abundance.
Using a gun as a safety blanket strikes me as silly.

For every instance where gun ownership makes you more safe, there are many in which it makes you less safe.

A reasonable and rational person will weigh these risks and decide, and that I can respect.
Anybody that imagines their sidearm is going to prevent government corruption, or their arrest (lawful or otherwise) is frankly delusional.

Anybody that thinks good guys with guns are a necessary counter to bad guys with guns really does not know how life works.
The fantasy of being a hero and shooting the bad guy is a great one.
It's understandable.
Hell, I even admit to it myself, and I think "death by cop" is absolutely justifiable (even if we remove the cop. I think criminals forfeit the right to their safety even though I'm a bleeding heart. A criminal is not as deserving of respect or empathy as a non criminal, though bloodshed is always best avoided)
Perhaps home or personal defence really do justify gun ownership and I'm simply a cynic, but what I do know is that an untrained individual with a gun that is stored unsafely and poorly maintained is not a person I would trust to use it properly.

Gun ownership and gun control are complex issues.
When politicians declare arbitrary kinds of guns illegal they do a disservice to the conversation every bit as much as the nuts that think a rifle will end tyranny.
I only hope that sensible voices win out in the long run.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Self made fortune: How wealth is a colloboration, no matter how hard an individual works, even alone.

As in the previous post, I wanted to discuss the idea of wealth and how only society has enabled individuals to amass and protect it.
In most instances this is FAR too complex to even approach an explanation of in short form. The dependence of everyone on the systems we have developed over the vast expanse of human history if a marvel to an inquiring mind.
I will choose to pick my favourite example, as it is simple in the extreme and inarguably those that gain success with it have done all the work themselves.
I am talking, of course, of writing.
A best selling author will probably only make a modest sum, but occasionally a writer will hit the jackpot, finding fame and fortune.
The thing they sell to the masses is an idea. Perhaps an idea in long form, but it has no other value.
Now, this author that has achieved such success has earned it. They did the work and deserve the credit, but even still they rely on a system so heavily that whatever price they pay in tax is a small price for what they gained.
Let us begin with the direct help a writer will receive and likely pay for directly with a share of the "profit" or as a service.
  • The professional editing of the manuscript
  • The physical printing of the book
  • The promotion of the book
I don't think anyone will argue that the publishing houses are an integral part of a professional writer's success.
Now, some take a significant portion of the proceeds from selling books, but I do not imagine a single instance of self publishing working better in terms of audience reach (perhaps crowd funding would be more financially rewarding for many aspiring authors, but with less possibility for commercial success)
The book is a physical object, the production of it is reliant on so much infrastructure, labour and human invention that books were an object of immense value for most of human history; not something to jot down a yarn on for the general public. From growing the raw materials to making the paper and ink, to the manufacture of machinery need for this and for the printing... No one person could accomplish all of this, no matter how awesome their book.

But this is only the beginning.
It would take a very long time for a writer to deliver copies of their book to every buyer and so we have.
  • Transport of the books to retailers
  • The infrastructure allowing this transport
  • Safe storage of the books
  • Retail outlets that stock the book
  • advertisement of the book (related to the above promotion of the book, but not limited to it)
So, now this author, who is selling their raw intellectual property is reliant on all this in order to have made their fortune.
Except there is more.
Who exactly is the audience for this? It is almost certainly not written in a language created entirely by our hypothetical author? How is the author even receiving value for this idea of theirs? Did they emerge from the womb with such ideas fully formed as if by divine inspiration?
  • The education system (without which, there would be no audience)
  • Human culture (without which, the ideas would have no context)
  • Language (who would understand it if it didn't use some form of shared lexicon)
  • Communications networks (without this, the idea wouldn't spread to become popular)
  • Currency (how you get paid)
  • Law enforcement (how your stuff doesn't get nicked)
  • The courts (how you enforce contracts and ensure fair play)
In a very real sense without the systems in which we all live, the ideas of our author would have zero value. They would be worthless or nearly worthless.
Even this one VERY limited example is of such complexity that my short explanations barely do it justice. I'm shining a beam torch in a cavern.
Imagine how much more reliant on our systems other endeavours might be.

Always keep in mind that no man is an island.
Without society, without our communities, shared culture and even (*cue dramatic music*) the state, there would be no support to hold up the successful.
If the world operated best on "enlightened self interest" (an oft invoked excuse for selfishness) as the only way forward, why are the most dominant species ALWAYS communal? Why indeed do humans find the best success in groups? Could it be that cooperation and the altruism required to make it work is... pragmatic?
Put away the childish objectivist or self serving attitudes.
Realise that meritocracy, liberty and personal success are not antithetical to the principles of community, but that community serves those principles (or damn well should do)
Remember, those decrying the state and the payment of taxes are in a very real sense the most reliant on the things those taxes pay for.
Without "the state" a poor person remains poor; a rich person *becomes* poor.
Who should have the largest incentive, the largest responsibility, the largest share of the burden to preserve these systems?
History reveals that throughout all times until recently those with the greatest wealth realised they had the most to lose. Noblesse oblige was about true "enlightened self interest" as much as it was a moral imperative for those in power not to abuse their status.
In short, those that benefit most from the system should be footing the fucking bill, not finding excuses to put that burden on others.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A political allegory: The chairmaker.

Politics is a harsh mistress, and misunderstandings are responsible for much of the bad blood.
I hope to alleviate some of the ignorance with a story.

A man makes the best chairs in his community.
Everybody can make a place to sit, or sit on the floor, but the chairs this individual produces are better than any other.
Now, in order to make a chair he must secure and mature the wood, assemble the chair and either use it, or find somebody that will exchange something of value for it. (amongst many other tasks)
Operating on his own, only a small amount of his time is taken producing the thing he is best at. Much of his chair producing time is taken up by tasks he is perfectly capable of, but perhaps not the best at or which anybody could do.
And so, our intrepid chair maker asks another to chop down trees to produce the lumber he needs. He allows others to do the less skilled tasks involved in the production of the chair itself, he allows another to sell the final product.
He is now a job creator. An entrepreneur. He found a market for chairs and he fulfilled that need.
Perhaps he expands his business by training others in his methods so that he has skilled help. Perhaps he patents his ideas and allows others to use his ingenuity.

To me, this chairmaker represents the ideals most people want to support, whatever politics they choose. I do not think I would hear disagreement from conservative, libertarian, liberal or socialist on this matter.
The man is entitled to the fruits of his labour, and he got there through merit.
What I will suggest is that many believe they are supporting the chairmaker against the evils of those workers perhaps jealous of his success, or of the state body overseeing the lives of all, but they are not.
The man who owns the land the trees are grown on, the building the chairmaker works in , the home he lives in. That is the person supported by populist policies on the right, that is the kind of person most usually claiming the title of "job creator"
Not a person that makes, produces or envisions. Just a person that owns things.

A socialist, on the other hand, believes that work has value, ownership does not.
Should the chairmaker exploit those helping him produce his chairs, he makes an enemy of socialist ideology, but he is not inherently so.
I'd suggest that such a "business" as I have outlined is *entirely* in keeping with socialism. Each contributes, each is afforded a share of the fruits of their labours.
As much as the chair maker here is responsible for the livelihoods of many, without those helping him he would not have achieved so much. The point being is that large endeavours require cooperation and inter-reliance.
Any billionaire or multimillionaire that declares themselves "self made" is entirely delusional. (the caveat being that many are aware of the reality and are simply being poetic, which is awesome)
They were reliant on the system they made their fortune in and on the work of those they employed. No man is an island.

If you personally believe that capital (the wealth one possesses) is more important than the work one does, then you do not support the chair maker. You do not support those that create the wealth.
You support the parasites that add no value to the system.
I often hear admonishments that capital gains tax is essentially taxing a person twice, as they already earned the money.
I think this is laughable and makes no sense to a rational mind.
What these people are suggesting is that money which is earned by your money is worth more than money you earn through work.
In a very real sense they are suggesting that the ownership of wealth has more value than the production of wealth.

Now, does this mean investment is evil or worthless?
Of course not!
But due consideration much be made as to the value of investment over work.
Should buying the labour of others be worth more than the labour itself?
We live in a capitalist world, and capitalism has proven to be a very successful tool that works well in many situations.
Socialism aspires to build a better mousetrap, but social democracies prove that socialists have always been willing to embrace the ideas that work.
Bear that in mind when you hear from political ideologues how compromise is evil.
Who would you trust? A political philosophy willing to embrace what works, or one which demonises all opposition at all times?

Regardless of your preferred politics, support the chair maker. Don't blindly support rhetoric on claims of how much it will help those intrepid chair makers of tomorrow.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Fanfic, the final.

The Unknown Paladin

Part Three

Steel clashed and the mightiest spells of our assembled host shot towards the gargantuan Gronn. His sons had done little to prepare me for the sight of him, barely contained by the vaulting cavern of his home.

A mighty giant, the bone protrusions erupting from his flesh enhanced his fearsome appearance, muscles and sinew thickly knotted limbs as large as several Tauren, measured hoof to horn. Viscously curved claws tipped fingers thicker than a stout leg. Teeth, broken and jagged but undoubtedly deadly jutted from his massive jaws, glinting in the torch light and dripping saliva.

Truly a God and King above Kings in these sundered lands.

The fury of the bestial God-King seemed boundless, as did his vitality. 

No wound or searing flame, nor fierce touch of elements seemed to weaken the creature. Instead, in the brief moments since the fight had been joined in earnest, he had appeared to grow, unfolding his massive bulk to meet the threat of an army.

With my blessings and the constant succour of my healing the brawlers kept their feet, nearing death only to be restored by a fist of glorious magics.

The glint in Gruul’s eye was not fear; such would be unknowable to the monster. Rather he seemed to delight at the invaders, gleeful to vent his wrath at such puny foes. Energy coursing through a body ancient and wasted by repose, stirring power long untapped and unchallenged since vanquishing the Black flight.

A hideous laugh echoed through the cavern, raining down sweeping blows as the desperate bear fought to keep the giant’s attention. A slightly built cadaver, a scout of questionable abilities danced around the thrashing fists as glancing blows crushed the unwary.

How the forsaken fool hoped to harm a god with tiny, poking envenomed blades I would never guess, but the desperate flurries were just as effective as anything else. Not very effective at all.

Blood flowed freely from dozens of gashes on Gruul’s legs, arms and torso. They did little to trouble the fiend. His growth was now clearly visible, and his strength multiplied with it.

A massive rumple took me off my feet, disturbing my tenacious grasp over the Naaru’s power. Looking around as I struggled to my feet I saw the less capable of my fellows prone or running from similar quakes, as Gruul shook his home with tremors.

Throwing a shock of potent healing magics at the tiring bear I too ran from the quake. Mid step the world froze in an instant. A surge of power flooded the room, filling my entire being.

The sweet taste washed away the bitterness of the twisted Naaru’s magic.

Not arcane, nor fel. Not even the dilute tang of elements harnessed by the Shaman. This was pure, more so even than the Sunwell.

A smile touched my lips at that blasphemy.

A wall of sound broke the moment as I was thrown towards the stalactites hanging far above.

Nausea rose and was conquered as the natural order of things resumed. The sweet taste left and the swell of the light filled my being once more.

With distaste another shock of the foul stuff left my fist, this time directed inwards. The fall had not been pleasant.

Casting an eye around, the room darkened imperceptibly. Gruul towered above, seeming to throw his fist through syrup.

The world darkened.

A step took me out of the monster’s shadow.

The world darkened.

Throwing all my weight forward in a terrific leap...

The world darkened.

... I came crashing into the troll priest, hastily shielding herself with a hushed word.

Again a moment in time extended onwards, Gruul bellowed a full throated laugh as he stamped a massive foot.

The world shattered.

The last seconds rushed through my mind, no longer slowed by Gruul’s trick.

Beyond the troll I could see the shadowy mass of a forsaken. One I recognized. That incompetent fool mage, still bursting with his stolen magic. The petrification Gruul had effortlessly cast on an army, he had just as easily smashed. The force of each shattering extending outwards wreaking terrible destruction through the forces arrayed against him.

I would not run so hastily again, being so close to the troll maiden had nearly ended me and the touch of her shielding magics around me did little but vex me with my own foolish haste.

Gruul now towered, forced to stoop beneath the cavern ceiling and breaking stalactites with every move.

The chaos of falling rock went largely unnoticed with the constant tremors and the desperation to bring the beast down before the whole of the mountain range fell upon us all.

The festering buffoon had followed me, grinning as he called for my blessings even as he sent a bolt of flame from a flailed hand.

Blessing bestowed, I glowered briefly at him, turning my attention back to the viscous melee. More had fallen as Gruul gained in size and strength, crushing those unfortunate enough to be caught beneath his indiscriminate strikes.

A soundless explosion reverberated through the cavern, and silence reigned. The magic burned in my hands for release, but no words could issue forth. No sounds of the carnage, nor the wails of the injured.

The magic flared as sound rushed once more into the world.

But too late.

With one staggering blow the bear was floored, Gruul raised a foot to finish the dazed druid. Tugging at the power of the Naaru, ripping power through the ether into me I extended my hands, palm out. 

The laying of hands would once have drained a paladin of every ounce of strength and life, but Kael had taught our people well that a desperate act could hold untold rewards.

Ripping at my belt pouch a cool bottle came immediately to hand.

A tiny vial of blue liquid.

In the back streets of Silvermoon, or in the ruins where the Wretched fought for their meagre, warped existence in decrepit slums, a single drop from this vial could buy the head of any elf in the city.

Bitter magic, foul and plain. But it infused me, reinvigorating after the exhausting spell.

The bear had regained his senses, and my mighty effort had given the others time to react. Bellowing a challenging roar the druid seemed to enrage, growing in size and sweeping his massive paws in a berserk effort to mangle a foe so far beyond his capabilities that the blows may as well have been swats at flies.

Gruul’s amusement seemed to wane. Perhaps the efforts of our motley army were finally having an effect, though the Gronn seemed to grow still more massive.

A roar again echoed through the cavern, and I braced, quickly throwing flashes of healing magic as I waited for the inevitable.

Glancing around, I could see the less stupid of my fellows bracing themselves. As one we flew in arcs towards the hanging stalactites.

Hitting the floor in a roll, I was ready.

The world darkened.

Luck favours the wary and a dark alcove awaited me a short run away.

The world darkened.

Throwing myself again in a marvellous leap I rolled forward. Momentum threw me forward faster than my legs would now carry me as I...

The world darkened.

... crashed into the dank stone of the cavern wall.

The world shattered.

I could hear cries behind me as I quickly closed a fresh gash on my cheek.

The torch light showed the cavern floor was littered with bodies. Few were still conscious, crawling to their feet to continue the battle.

Gruul paused briefly, possibly according some measure of honour to the bear once more prone before him. A foot viscously stamping the life from the druid ended any conveyance.

Turning his fierce regard from the melee Gruul eyed the rotting moron of a mage, gleefully bending to pluck the unfortunate from half a room away.

The end had come. These puppets had failed at the last hurdle.

The taste of Gruul’s power only magnified the torment of my defeat.

This left only one course of action, a slim chance that something could be salvaged yet.

Running forward I shrouded myself in a divine shield, wrapping the trapped Naaru’s considerable power around myself.

Gruul turned his attention from me to hurriedly maim and kill the last of the invaders.

Falling to my knees before the Gronn God I knew I must beseech him for whatever mercy he might have. I would not be an ineffective servant, and perhaps I could win the power I sought under a new master. Not the end I wished, with the captive giant humbled before the assembled people of Silvermoon, ready to crown a new champion. A new regent. But service could have rewards.

My King. Spare me that I might serve.” With a swallow I saw that I had the entirety of his gruesome attention, and the magic protecting me would not last long. “Your court is dead, your bastion in ruins. 

You could make good use of my power. The Naaru’s Light bends to my will, and with me as emissary there are worlds beyond this you could crush under heel!”

Gruul considered my words well, a smile touching that monstrous countenance.

His laugh once again echoed through his home.

Gruul not need unworthy runt. Die!”

Raising a fist the Gronn kept his gaze fixed to mine. The faintly glowing bubble of divine energy surrounding me did not feel too invulnerable.

The blow shattered the already failing barrier with ease.

It ends here. Not glory, not the pleasures of the arcane. Just death.


The shade of the unknown paladin retreated from the mouth of Gruul’s cave, the crunch of bones echoing throughout Blades Edge, a warning to any who would invade the home of the Dragonkiller.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Fanfic, continued.

The Unknown Paladin

Part Two

An argument seemed to rage amongst the colossal ogres.

Such a vulgar language, but thankfully easy to decipher.

Laughably simplistic actually. How such a force that dwelled within could waste time with the disparate tribes of its brethren in these accursed mountains was a mystery. The Dragonkiller could walk out into the world and bring armies to their knees, with or without his sons. Instead his puppet King raged at rebellion and the strange whispers of a new ogre power rising.

Soon those problems would be meaningless to them all. Death held all the answers they would ever need.

The scouts we had sent forward returned. We would have to take down the council to get to their master. Just as I had predicted. Still, the news that more ogre sentries also lay beyond was fresh. I doubted the foolish creatures would give us any trouble, even if they heard the massacre of their King.

Our fighters split, a small team of healers staying with a single warrior at the mouth of the tunnel into the wider cavern. The foolish mage, recovered from his most recent end thanks to one of my fellow healers, advanced on the council of ogres. Still oblivious to their impending doom they did not notice the suspicious shadows invading their stronghold. Our scouting party had confirmed our strategy. The bear-commander had scried out our course true, somehow. The inferior races often had their uses and this shape-addled creature knew well enough how to fight.

Not so unlike the ogres before us, and seemingly as easily manipulated.

The mage’s hands burst into flame as he readied a massive ball of flame. The first attack, and our signal.

The conflagration grew in size as it travelled, soon warning our quarry of our presence.

Too late for them.

More parties thrust forward from the flanks, each drawing a single opponent.

Divide and conquer.

Simple and hopefully effective. The king rushed towards the mage, roaring his fury as his own magus threw torrents of flame at the hapless wizard. Laughing, a towering Tauren took aim through a massive gun and fired a round into the King's face.

Through no magic I could detect the King's rage was instantly redirected... at the warrior standing nearby my group of healing specialists.

The Light surged through me as I bent it to my will, shaping its holy energies to help the foolish shield bearer weather such an onslaught.

Not even my mastery of the Light could accomplish this alone. The troll priest and a walking corpse of the same caste stood at my shoulders. Aiding my endeavours with their own paltry magics. Vessels for a power beyond them, begging for the guidance of that which I controlled. Pitiful light-lovers unable to see that they worshipped a power that should be at under their heel.

Still, they achieved their purpose; to bolster my own masterful efforts.

The warrior could not lock horns with his opponent. The King of the ogres was no paltry foe, for all his servitude to a greater power. He towered above us, horns of his own sprouting from flesh in a grim imitation of the Gronn he served. Instead the beast-man thrust forward his shield, striking the towering monster with mocking blows even as he fended off attacks. It did little to trouble the thing, but such a massive body held a small mind, easily distracted from those he might destroy with little more than a glance.

A gargantuan Felhunter could be heard baying further inside.

A weakness overcame me as its very presence began to drain the arcane flows of power from around it, such an abomination should not be loose. Fortunately we had practitioners of the fel arts amongst us. That they were inept was an unfortunate consequence of their inferior ancestry, but even as my resolve began to falter the feelings receded. Finally the hounds of the legion were contained.

Shouts sounded from further inside the cavern. Even with a span of rock to conceal it, I could feel the magic. Such magic. One of the creatures had erected an ethereal barrier, and even still had strength left to bend it’s crude powers into a healing spell more potent than any I could call, save perhaps at the expense of my very life.

I willed the spell to its end, the thought of such arcane might coursing through the air came as a thrill, intoxicating, almost able to satisfy the lust that burned within. But the barrier fell to a massive onslaught as my allies redoubled their efforts. A startled cry cut through the sounds of fighting instead, satisfying enough in its own way. A wail soon after told of the fate of the unfortunate ogre.

Such a pity it could not have been crippled but left alive. Silvermoon would have feasted for weeks on such vigour.

For a price.

With the first member of the ogre council defeated even such dull creatures as these balked, seeing their own doom. The High King let out a booming roar.

You not kill the next one so easy!”

The bluster sounded hollow even to my ears, standing bare feet away from his deafening shout.

Soon, two resonant thuds told of two more of his followers joining their friend in oblivion, almost in tandem. The cadaverous mage had done well keeping the ogre magi occupied, the buzz of energy told of the great struggle. The repeated theft of the ogre’s spells had come in useful, though I might wish the festering bastard would choke on them. Under other circumstances I might have fed the ogre its tormentor, for its enslavement would have been a prize above almost any other.

Entry to its master’s den could further my cause more.

The needs of others could not deter me in this.

The mass of my savage companions mobbing the last of the council quickly overcame its defences. Only the King remained to thwart my designs.

The massive ogre paused at this, seemingly defeated, before his shoulders once more squared in defiance.

You will not defeat the Hand of Gruul!” The glint of madness in his eye hinted at what was to come as a berserker rage descended.

Lifting his hammer high he swung it wildly, soon blurring into a maelstrom of destruction. The brawler of a Tauren held his shield to its best effect, struggling to keep the vast ogre’s attention. Blood pooled and the ground became slick, but still the brute raged until his maddened state seemed to make him glow.

With a bellow far more bestial than even an ogre's usual grunts he paused his mad whirlwind, throwing aside his immense hammer he charged into the heart of the raiders to rend his enemies bare handed. Limbs struck my fellows as one unfortunate was torn apart in seconds. Even could I tell apart the barbarous races at a glance, never would I hope to identify the victim; such was the devastation.

With the might of the Naaru bent to my will I fought to counter the assault, others of the healing arts following my example. Even Kael himself would marvel at the efforts of my allies as they continued to attack the crazed giant, worthy tools for my goals.

Summoning forth holy energies to assault the beast I cast them forth, hoping to add a final shock, ending him. The effort was sadly wasted as his death rattle sounded. But one last curse could he voice before the light faded from his eyes, barely a whisper, but heard by all.

Gruul will... Crush you!”

The monster’s threat could not be easily ignored.

The Dragonkiller awaited and the combined might of the ogre nation lived and died on his whim.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Fanfic: yup, I am that much of a nerd.

The Unknown Paladin


Part One.

The maw of the cavern stood before us, the corpses of the fallen ogres beneath our boots smelled sickly sweet with spilled blood and charred flesh. Soon decay would transform these hills into a fetid wasteland. Would Draenor, the promised land of my people, ever find surcease from ruin?

My companions called out for my blessings. Little did they know the power that I bent to my will, striving against the might of the captive Naaru, twisting the Light to do my bidding.

I felt the invigoration of divine magics course through me as the priests wove their spells across the party. A nearby Troll smiled serenely as she called forth the light. Had she abandoned her heritage simply to beg the light for its gifts? Savages and blood enemies they may be, but pride in her race should come before obeisance to an illusory ideal. My thoughts left me as other magics joined the electric surge through my body, fuelling arcane lusts I could not control.

The power was magnificent. Why else would I align myself with the feral brutes and treacherous former humans? And as for my sin'dorei peers... They mattered only as far as I could use them. Kael'thas, who would be King of a ruined people, has taught us even in his betrayal; use those with power enough to aid you, they can be discarded at will.

Our commander, a towering Tauren too often taking the form of a massive bear roared for silence, our numbers a veritable army at his command. Those within knew we were coming, undoubtedly, but in their arrogance they could be defeated. Orders were given quickly and quietly in the hush. The ogres inside were no easy targets. If they would only mount a true defence of their stronghold few forces in this world or those beyond could hope to overcome them.

Fortunately, they were fools.

A bestial face turned to the intruding light as we entered. Even in those inhuman features I could see the recognition flare. Intruders. As many of its kind, the warrior classes, it charged towards us. Before it could reach the fragile magic users the bear-Tauren distracted it with a sweep of his massive paw. Cruel claws kept the creature's attention focused away from its doom, as I forced the Light to seal the bear's wounds.

A figure of the doomed ogre's brethren loomed nearer as its corpse hit the cold stones. A priest wreathed in shadows looked on, oblivious to our wounded as he prepared a fresh barrage for this new threat. His Light-loving fellows and a druid, taking a bastardized treeform in homage to the World-tree, Nordrassil, wove their spells. Beyond, a paladin long out of Silvermoon twisted his power to the same ends, aided by a haggard shaman. Who knew the trials he had faced in this realm of sundered elements, what bargains he struck to invigorate our army and keep them whole.

The bear charged, followed by weapon waving lunatics that called themselves warriors. The shadows held more surprises for the ogre as rogues plied their skills, blackened blades never glinting in the poor torch-light as they went to their grisly work.

Intelligence bordering on reason showed in the bestial face as it bellowed for help from the denizens residing further within before narrowing it's eyes in concentration, raising meaty fists in the air.

I could smell the magic coursing through it.

I longed to drink deep from that well of power.

Sadly, my duties would not allow it and those duties promised the reward of greater magic to come. This morsel of the arcane would do my corpse no good when my distraction cost us our lives. Every healer present focused on the bear, to do less would ensure his death and risk my own. The air was so filled with the aroma of magic I could barely resist as the ogre healed itself with a potent spell. An undead mage cast forth his own arcane weaving... And the spell was his.

There could be no true God to allow an abomination such glorious energies. Sweeping my eyes across my companions I saw these thoughts mirrored in my Blood Knight brother's visage.

Pummelled, kicked and bashed the ogre succumb, crashing to the floor, denied the help it had so desperately called for, as it was deprived of its healing magic.

The far more pleasant smells of a campfire and strong ale came to me through the all pervading sweat and blood. Two of the massive ogres. Not on guard, for we had dealt with the two sentries. Caught unaware, they would still not go down easily.

Even from this distance I could see we were dealing with the brutes. No spark of intellect showed as they stood warming themselves, oblivious to the small army that assailed them.

A Tauren warrior stepped forth hefting a large shield onto his forearm. Shoulder to shoulder with the bear they advanced, and then burst into action, separating the ogres away from each other and our main group. Fire and ice arced through the air, fierce strikes from arrow, bullet and blade pierced flesh as we healers struggled to keep our brawlers on their feet.

With a sudden roar an ogre turned, charging into our ranks. One blow from its vicious axe cleaved a mage in two. The same mage who had been bathed in the ogre's potent restorative magics minutes before. Perhaps a God was directing things, I thought, a wry smile touching my lips. Another of our number was felled before our bestial commander once more took charge of the errant ogre. As it was lead away from our clustered position its companion gave a last bellow of pain and slumped to the ground. Alone it faced us, unswerving in its bravery... or stupidity, before it joined the others.

Creeping forward we could see the High King himself, his full council assembled on some unfathomable whim. They dwarfed those we had bested.

This would be fun.

Monday, 1 June 2015

The Holy Trinity (of MMOs) Part Two: Diversity over Inclusivity.

MMOs have tried to become more and more inclusive.
The more inclusive an MMO is, developers reason, the more subscriptions are attracted and perhaps you'll have a hope of recovering the investment.
Considering the expense of developing an MMO, this is completely understandable.
It is entirely incorrect though.
World of Warcraft has it's massive share of the market not because it is so easy to play, not because everything can be done by everybody.
It is so big because it changed the nature of MMOs. It required communities to develop in order to see large parts of the game. Those communities attract more interest and increase subs.
It is the community behind the game that powers Warcraft's massive popularity, and those communities were built when the game was not inclusive at all.
As inclusivity had increased, communities have suffered, as Blizzard can attest with a decline in server populations as people migrate to greener pastures and whole servers die, all the while the subscriber base remains high.

I believe whole heartedly that what needs to be offered is diversity of play, rather than inclusivity.
Many ways in which to play the game, not an ambiguous crap heap than anyone can dive into and "complete" with little effort.
That is where the trinity comes in.

For the last several expansions Tanking has become more simple and far easier.
Anyone arguing with this point is an idiot, I'm sorry.
Blizzard themselves have admitted as much and with sound reason.
The Looking For Group tool requires FAR more tanking players than any raid team can provide.
1 tank and 1 healer for each 3 dps. Fine if every guild is a 10man, but in the modern 20, outdated 25 and archaic 40man, that ratio is impossible to maintain.
And so, tanking was made easier to attract more players to the faster queues, lowering queue time for everyone. As anybody using the LFG tool can attest, the queues are still not friendly for a damage class.
Their design philosophy also wants player experiences to be fairly short. 20 minutes in a dungeon, not the 2-3 hours of vanilla, or 1hour+ of burning crusade.
The old requirements of Crowd Control classes meant Blizzard addressed this by giving most classes a CC ability, and then removing any need to use them in almost all content. Only a limited selection of classes could use Area of Effect abilities to clear a lot of monsters quickly, so all classes were given access to AoE. Players then dedicated their play time to finding ways to make all encounters reliant on these new damage abilities, as the raw damage output was exponentially higher.
All of this served to kill the diversity of classes and options for players, replacing it with being inclusive.

It might be fun in the moment to see big numbers, but people become bored very quickly of doing the same things again time after time.
Blizzard does an exceptional job of designing Boss encounters that remain engaging and challenging, but this in and of itself is self defeating. As a long time raid and guild leader, players are trained to play poorly by the game outside of high end raiding and expect to compete immediately without effort. Newer players are simply not made ready for endgame with the tools provided by blizzard, but must be plunged directly into the fire to be tempered. A frustrating proposition for all involved.
Add to this the latest tool for finding a raid, and for many joining a community is simply not worth it.

So, how to "fix" the problem and build content that is engaging and encourages communities to flourish.
  • Remove ubiquitous aoe
Players should need to target the thing they need to attack, not just point in the right direction.
At the moment we have MMOs build around players spraying and praying in the general direction of danger. When they are finally required to target monsters tactically, it becomes an exercise in herding cats.
  • Restoring the Trinity
Design specialisations around their job in the raid.
Tank specs should be designed around controlling the behaviour of monsters, damage reduction and raid utility. If a tank is required to track a complicated rotation and many dps ability cooldowns in order to be effective they are not playing a tank, they are playing a glorified dps.
Healing is largely unfuckupable, though I think more hybrid roles are awesome (this is the one area I think Blizzard has done remarkably well, with healers able to switch to fairly substantial damage on the fly)
Damage classes should specialise and vary. Build classes that can do certain jobs very well, and put content in that makes them useful. Kiting, Crowd Control, debuffing, AoE. This should be that persons role in any encounter. Make some classes/specs more difficult to get right, some easier. Give people options in playstyle and don't stress perfect balance or the fact a VERY limited part of the player base will exploit.
  • Crowd Control is FUN and USEFUL
Making Crowd Control ubiquitous was somewhat necessary for Blizzard, as mages were essentially mandatory in even 5man content.
Unfortunately, at the same time they gave everyone (including tanks) easy AoE and made crowd control entirely redundant. Players then refused to CC in order to see big numbers and "increase speed" and complained when content was too difficult, which saw it nerfed repeatedly over every expansion since.
CC was not broken.
People still played and ENJOYED burning crusade 5man content for the WHOLE EXPANSION.
That has not been true since.
Making groups play strategically gives a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
  • Attunements are not a bad thing.
Perhaps a little controversial, but attunements don't make people groan, they provide a structure so people know what they should be doing. Now, developers keep making the mistake of making attunements a PUNISHMENT, but they do not need to be.
Wildstar screwed up by making it's attunement so time intensive, and forcing players to play through the same content when they had already done it all because of an arbitrary restriction. (seriously, having to go and repeat scenarios for the 5th or 6th time in order to advance a quest is frustrating. Attunement should direct play, not dictate it)

Burning Crusade was onerous in the extreme.
Having to run dungeons to Revered reputation to get a key to enter heroic... it was a bit much after doing it on your main.
It did however ensure that people were committed and new what to do (generally)
Later in the expansion attunements were relaxed and a perfect medium was reached (imo)
Rep grind and familiarisation on a main character and that unlocks the content for your whole account.
Scrapping the attunement for the later raids?

Then we hit The Frozen Throne and it is all thrown out of the window and we see the start of the decline of group play.
Developers need to keep in mind two things when planning endgame content.
First, attunements can be used to direct players to the content you built for their exact level of gear. This limits the frustration your playerbase feels at failure and more importantly, having the deal with those unprepared for the content you find yourself in.
Second, it gives a sense of achievement. It advances your character in a very real sense. Think of it more as just another item they can equip; it's the whole point of the game!
Don't use attunement as a stick to beat people. Use it to funnel players to where they are able to play well. Make it about personal accomplishment and skill, not a time sink (or in the case of the long term "legendary quests" Blizzard has been doing, please allow players to catch up when new content is released. It is endlessly frustrating to have people behind and unable to catch up because the content isn't regularly cleared any more)
  • Encourage community play.
MMOs live and die on their community.
Give people incentives to play in and be active with a guild (whatever it may be called)
This one is tough, but I think it is entirely possible.
Of course there should be options for solo play (I actually enjoy it, strangely enough) but emphasise group play, especially ad-hoc, if you can manage it. Public Quests were a great idea, and they work very well. Prompting people to join together automatically is a very good concept I wish was used more (even allow people to flag themselves as potential "leaders")

  • All content should be endgame content.
The fact that content becomes obsolete is so strange to me.
It does not need to be this way.
In my opinion, the best game to demonstrate what I mean is Eve Online.
You enter the game and despite being able to do very little, everything you do can be used by the most jaded veteran towards their goals.
The most easily obtained crafting material remains relevant to everyone, meaning no content becomes obsolete and new players can engage with whomever they wish and accomplish shared goals.

Another principle to consider is level adjustment.
Allow players of wildly different levels to play the same content.
If you can allow the high level player to receive loot relevant to them, great (Neverwinter does this) but regardless it will serve to bring people together, which again is the core of building a real audience in an MMO.


These are just the ramblings of a mad man, but they are the conclusions I arrive to after 15+ years of playing.
"Inclusion" has been poison to MMOs because it demeans everyone. Diversity (of available playing options) will serve the same end, without needed to dumb anything down in an attempt to expand the target audience.
I live in hope we see this in future franchises, and I wait with baited breath for my appetite to be whetted by a truly engaging MMO.