Friday, May 29, 2015

The End

This is my last blog post.

What better day to use than my high school graduation and 5th blogging anniversary to post this?

An invitation from the very first Ravenwood Ball
Five years ago, a fun site named Diary Of A Wizard hosted their first Ravenwood Ball. I had been posting on the site for a couple weeks and decided to give this fun event a try -- mostly just to gawk at "famous" wizards, to be honest. While there, I met Malorn Willowsmith, the Sorcerer of the Spiral. He ended up giving me the boost I needed to get started in this community, and before long, I was tweeting like a madman. And, well, blogging like one. Seriously, I would not recommend visiting my 2010 self. Anyways, just over a week ago, Malorn came back to Wizard101 -- trying to finish what he started, so to speak. The approach to never quitting won't work here, though. I can't just go off to college and leave this blog here as a graveyard, with some random last post ranking a few things across W101 and P101. I owe whatever readers are left and whomever may read this in the future a full goodbye post brimming with nostalgia and all that jazz. And here is where it begins.


December 2nd, 2008. It was a dark and snowy evening. My friends had been talking about a game, and I went to the computer after dinner to try it out. I beat Unicorn Way on an ice character named Andrew Pearlward, yet I couldn't even figure out how to exit the game. So I shut the computer down and asked my mom for a $10 monthly thing that would get me into Cyclops Lane. Somehow or another, that happened.

Fast forward two years. Wizard101 had been more than a hobby for me ever since I got back into the action earlier in 2010. Through the community, I was brought into a Skype chat in the spring of 2011.  How that happened, I can't say. The memory has disappeared -- I just remember awkwardly testing out all the old emotes at first. Wizard101 was the common bond behind us all, but the conversation topics often deviated to other elements of our lives. As to be expected from a strange group of young teenagers, there was plenty of drama for awhile. People came and went. Four years in, though, it's pretty settled down now.

These friends mean everything to me now. Honestly, I have no idea where I'd be without them. I never really made any concrete friends during high school or did anything spectacular, so the fact that I already had friends to come back to -- if on the internet -- was a huge morale boost at the end of the day. With any luck, I'll be able to meet some of them in person one day, all thanks to the Spiral.

It may be hard to believe sometimes, but you're definitely the glue behind the chat. None of us would still be here if you hadn't been around. Thanks for being a super sweet and amazing artist and for just being you!
  • Amber Rosepetal: Savior of the Spiral
I'm really glad we've become better friends over the last couple years after some weirdness early on. Whether lurking or talking, you're always willing to lend a listening ear. Thanks for being there in more ways than one.
Way back when, it was cool to have you as a random W101 friend. Thanks for joining the community instead of fading away. It's really cool that we're still good friends and that I introduced you to even more friends!
  • Jennifer Dreamsinger: Awesome Blizzard
You were a really close friend several years ago, and it's great to see you back! I hope you stick around as different chapters of our lives begin.
  • Mary Dreamshade: The Pie-Loving Necromancer
Thanks for... I don't know, being crazy half the time? And for being my best friend for all intensive purposes. The fact that you still hang with your introvert pals and create new inside jokes all the time is really appreciated.
  • Quinn Dragonwhisper: Fin & Quinn
You need to be in here just so I can thank you for being multitudes smarter than I am when it comes to college and other subjects. I was stumbling in the dark in regards to those matters. Have lots of fun in the Windy City!

  • Also thanks to Donna Spellthorn, Talon Thunderblade (whose blogaversary is also coming up!), and Jessica Fairyheart for popping in to chat on occasion. You're all super cool in tons of ways too. And thanks to those who don't come around anymore, from Ben Frogstone - the one who first added me in - to David Titanrider to Garrett to Peter to Samantha. Lots of wizards have made an indelible mark on my memory, and the list would be waaay too long if I included every awesome W101/P101 community friend. However, I must also say thanks to Samantha Daisyleaf and all her sweet gifts I've received over the years. Arlen Dawneyes would not have been the same without his bat wings. :)


To conclude, a few words on the future beyond this blog.

Just to clarify one thing, nothing is going to be deleted. The blog has been capped at 373 blog posts, but those aren't going anywhere. The other pages of the blog may actually continue to be updated ("Wizard101 Reagent Maps" and "Cast of Characters") beyond this post. I don't want to abandon such a large and helpful project, and it would be nice to continually update on my in-game progress apart from actual blog posts.

I will post any updates to these pages on my Twitter account (@arlendawneyes) for all to see. So, yes, I plan to remain in the community on a somewhat inconsistent basis. When new content comes out in both games, I will play it, but I probably won't be online as much beyond this summer. Either way, the end of the blog doesn't mean the end of questing and other fun activities.

Aaand... there really isn't much to say beyond that. This is The End, but check back periodically for progress in my reagent mapping and so forth.

For the last time,
Happy Farming!

Or as my Skype self would say,

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Revisiting Top 10 Lists

While perusing some old posts for my latest post on the Labyrinth, I stumbled across an entry from August 2010 that was actually pretty interesting -- Top 10 Lists. Given that David Letterman just retired, I feel a post full of my favorite things across Wizard101 and Pirate101 is only fitting. And so, I bring you another "Revisited" post, although this time, there are going to be some pretty different lists.

Top 10 worlds in Kingsisle games
- For the sake of argument, I'm leaving Skull Island and Wizard City out of qualification, as I wouldn't know where to rank the real hubs of Wizard101 and Pirate101.

10. Aquila (P101):
It has its share of frustrating long quests. The mythical monsters, though. And that Odyssey-inspired trip and final showdown with Antinous... great stuff. As long as you don't bide all your time here in the two years since Pirate101 released it, Aquila is quite interesting.

The saddest moment ever.
9. Khrysalis (W101):
Speaking of long and frustrating quests... despite being a grueling challenge most of the way, Khrysalis seems to have an unlimited share of moments that are purely epic. We put Morganthe out of her annoying misery, and, well, Khrysalis has Dyvim Whitehart. Enough said.

8. Krokotopia (W101):
I've come to appreciate this world over the years. Yeah, it's mostly nostalgia. After all this time, though, the pyramids retain a sense of familiarity and mystery at the same time. I've been looking forward to questing through the land of manders and crocs once again.

He doesn't need two arms
 to be the coolest dude ever.
7. Marleybone (P101):
We can't get enough of the Armada, from Beachhead to Trafalgar. All the same, the admirable Admiral Nelson does win in the end. Apart from all the war stuff, there are some very intriguing Radicals, gang members, and sweet little orphans to deal with.

6. Avalon (W101):
I really like how Kingsisle somehow managed to make every area completely unique, even as you would think this world would be pretty straightforward. The whole missing sword plotline is annoying, yet I'm always amazed by the characters and settings just around the corner.
It's the island greeting that we send to you...

5. Celestia (W101):
Admittedly, some of my love for Celestia may stem from just making it there after all those months of impatient waiting in 2010. It really does mark an interesting turn for Wizard101 as a game. Almost nothing was the same afterward. Celestia, though, just felt like a magical underwater adventure.

4. Grizzleheim/Wintertusk (W101):
The longer, the better, in this case. Grizzleheim is kind of boring, it's just the scenery that's so amazing. Wintertusk is mercifully shorter while retaining that beauty and adding an extra challenge. Still, lots of memories were made at Jotun and the Raven$ (ever realize that certain bosses in both GH and WT have always been relentlessly farmed for gold?)

3. Mooshu (P101):
Somehow, Pirate101's Mooshu adds an entirely new dynamic to this amazing world. And not just at Moo Manchu's tower. We get giant turtles, Shiruko Neko, and villains with names that would be better served at the Chinese restaurant downtown.

2. Marleybone (W101):
The Orthrus in its natural habitat. Yep: Mooshu.
Okay, if the sidewalks haven't been nerfed enough for everyone else to love this world like I do, just go through it again. Steampunk dogs and cats and rats are all engaged in late night shenanigans. It's Sherlock Bones versus Meowiarty. I could go on all day.

1. Mooshu (W101):
I looove the setting, the way we get drawn into the story, and just, I don't know, ninja pigs? The Tree of Life will forever remain my favorite dungeon for the secret bosses and really ethereal pre-dawn feel. It's a struggle to come up with a bad memory, frankly. Mooshu is so mooving.

Best Wizard101 music themes
- For this list, I decided to deviate from the Top 10 style, instead compiling 32 of my favorite themes (30 from Nelson Everhart, 2 from Nick Jonas) in the game, and breaking down my absolute favorites bracket-style. There were a few decisions I had a really tough time deciding (denoted with an *asterisk), so I went to former blogger Alia Lotuspetal for a second opinion. Winners of the first round are bolded, winners of the second round are projected on the right, and the final four are underlined.

Avalon Wyrd vs. Avalon Haunted*
                                                                                              -- Azteca Zultun
Azteca Zultun vs. Azteca Haunted

Dragonspyre Main* vs. Dragonspyre Buildings
                                                                                              -- Dragonspyre Main
Austrilund vs. Nastrond

Grizzleheim Dungeons vs. Grizzleheim Main
                                                                                              -- Grizzleheim Main
Grizzleheim Battle vs. Grizzleheim Pet Derby 

Hametsu Village vs. Yoshihito Temple*
                                                                                             -- Yoshihito Temple
Hive vs. Khrysalis Main 1*

Khrysalis Shadow Combat vs. Khrysalis Combat 2
                                                                                             -- Khrysalis Shadow Combat
Krokotopia Main vs. Krokotopia Dungeon 

Marleybone Main vs. Royal Museum*
                                                                                             -- Last Wood
Last Wood vs. Sardonyx

Tyrian Gorge vs. Shadow Palace
                                                                                            -- Shadow Palace
Scotland Yard vs. Floating Mountains

Shoshun Village vs. Temple of Storms
                                                                                            -- Wizard City Tower
Wizard City Tower vs. Wizard City Dreamworld

I was all but done with this list when I realized that I completely forgot Celestia. Oops. Just as a side note, I'm adding my favorite Celestian theme as the #5, which happens to be a pretty accurate placement.

5. Floating Lands 
This is the one area where the music just initially stood out to me. Never mind that it's the only above ground area in Celestia... me from 5 years ago loved this tropical ditty.
4. Last Wood
In this theme, Dyvim's homeland is evoked very well. I can see all the pretty flowers and streams of Khrysalis' Last Wood mixed in with all the blight brought by the Shadow.
3. Yoshihito Temple
As mentioned earlier, the Tree of Life is my favorite dungeon, and this brings back those memories more than anything else. It's also an appropriately beautiful and somber theme for all the spiritual undead stuff going on in this area of Mooshu.
2. Wizard City Tower
If you need a break during Golem Tower, just stop and turn the volume up for a bit. This theme seems to incorporate jack-in-the-box tunes, Marleybone's steampunk, and Celestia's angelic feel. It's like the hidden masterpiece within Wizard101's free content areas.
1. Azteca Zultun

I only really paid attention to this theme in the summer of 2013, months after Azteca was released. Then I made a point to fully immerse myself in it. You can almost feel the imminent despair amidst the current thriving life in the jungle. It's a bit of a shame that the Apocalypse theme, while also beautifully haunting, takes over the entire world after the completion of Xibalba. I didn't love questing here, but the second half of Azteca is very nice in its own way.

Coolest fish
- Difficulty, type of fish... none of that matters. It's all about how cool they look. And yes, I'm going with the bracket of 32 species again. (Compiled with help from Duelist101's guide and Swordroll's guide)

Black Catfish vs. Be Mine Fish
                                                                           -- Codfather
Boss Hog vs. Codfather

Cold Cod vs. Doodlefish/ette
                                                                          -- Ember Parrot
Ember Parrot vs. Errol Fynn

Execushiner vs. Frankenfish
                                                                          -- Freshlava Smelt
Freshlava Smelt vs. Gargoyle

Hard Albacore vs. Jackson Pollock
                                                                          -- Hard Albacore
Kid Carp vs. Krokotopian Eel

Mistletoe Angler vs. Musushi
                                                                          -- Musushi
Ninja Fish vs. Origami Fish

Polar Bearracuda vs. Rainbow Trout
                                                                          -- Polar Bearracuda
Rambo Fish vs. Royal Gurnard

Rune Fish vs. t Bass
                                                                          -- Sharkspeare
Samurai Fish vs. Sharkspeare

Shamrockfish vs. Stormacuda
                                                                          -- Todd Pole
Todd Pole vs. Vampire Squid

4. Todd Pole

3. Musushi
The silly little beard and ponytail make this really difficult little guy worth catching.

2. Freshlava Smelt
This new fish has a really sleek orange look, like it's brimming with steel and lava. Also, I really like the screenshot on the right that I took.

1. Codfather
I didn't exactly expect to settle on Codfather from this list. He's just, you know, the Codfather.

Top 10 Cool Companions (so far)
- As a disclaimer, none of these companions will be Buccaneer or Musketeers specific, as I have never played those classes. Hence the "so far". Sorry, axe and gun wielders.

10. Goronado
The only companion I don't have among this list, I feel the need to include him because he just gets stuff done when I see other pirates use him. And, you can only unlock the ability to pay for him via a Heart of Darkness showdown. That's pretty cool.

9. Iago
He's just another Privateer-only dude, but he's also a knife-wielding unicorn. Those three words give him a spot here.

8. Bonnie Anne
Ah, let me just admire my appearance in the mirror before blasting this guy behind me. That move is pretty sweet. Not to mention her really interesting Radical background.

7. Sarah Steele
A fencing mouse is bound to have a lot of good qualities: cute, nimble, and deadly when necessary. Sarah has a nice bit of alliteration going on in her name, too.

6. Kan Po
This kickboxing goat just becomes so much more intimidating when he's out battling baddies. He really packs a much-needed punch for Witchdoctors.

5. Hawkules
Unbridled egotism aside, he did trap the Minotaur and smash the heads in of many Aquilan beasts. Strength and a really punny name goes a long way.

4. Mormo
He's really cute! Especially when he summons all those little versions of himself. But I suppose he doesn't want to be known for that.

3. Shiruku Neko
Not only is she a ninja, she's a ninja cat. Plus, you have to save her master from a ninja curse. This is the one Pirate101 side quest that absolutely cannot be skipped.

2. Subodai
My post about the parallels between the Mongols and the Amber Horde spurred me to create a Swashbuckler, which resulted in this follow-up post about Subodai. One of the most expansive and most interesting empires is represented well in this awesome horse barbarian.

1. El Toro
The man - or bull - behind the mask, El Toro does everything with a flourish. It's a little weird that he married his stepsister, but the whole father-son dynamic we have to salvage humanizes this great hero quite a bit. In battle, his skills are integral to every class. He's the most interesting hero in the Spiral, to say the least.

Four of those was more than enough :P
Happy Listing!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Labyrinth, Revisited

Nobody likes the Labyrinth. At first. You have to go back for the obsidian chest and, for some, a level 48 spell. It's like the catchy song you don't want to hear at first, but end up listening to on repeat. 

Just snake (snake snake snake snake) it off.

In all seriousness, the Labyrinth used to be hard. I rated it #5 on my list of hardest dungeons before Celestia. It is still rather long, though. Imagine 7 bosses in a row in Khrysalis. By level 150, that dungeon would be a breeze, albeit a lengthy one.

Though no one's really going out to farm for level 45 gear, the Labyrinth is still a surprisingly nice place for loot. Love pets? Vladimir Darkflame drops three of them. Two of them are crowns pets: the Death Leprechaun and Pale Maiden, the latter being retired from the Crowns Shop. 

Rare statue? Yep.

New jewels? Got them.

It's a pretty neat place to fish, too, although there's only one unique species.

Bottomless cliff fishing. What could go wrong... right?

There's also plenty of weird phenomena going on in this otherwise calm area where criminals walk the streets. Kind of sounds like Gotham City, really. It's when you get behind the gates that the Labyrinth becomes a little bit of a freak show. 
It has...

Boss clones. 

Mobs invading your personal space. 

Like, really invasive mobs. I can't fish and kill you at the same time.

Lastly, I felt like Lord Spike - my old Orthrus who still holds a place in my heart and blog banner -  needed some closure. I paid a visit to the old owner of his dog collar.

Ranulf, the red-faced... whatever the heck you are.

You could even say his face glows after being hit with cartoonish vomit.

I then observed another weird phenomenon when I logged off and came back.

Yep, the dungeon restarted. And I was still behind the gate.

Locked in with the personal space invading monsters?!? This was too much. I had to log off.

Curiously, I couldn't seem to replicate the glitch. I guess it only happens after you beat all 3 floors of Ranulf's tower (and you can only be a Myth wizard to do that). Perhaps it's for the best though. Imagine being roommates with those discolored trolls and minotaurs.

Last but not least, I had to take this opportunity to do the Labyrinth's reagent map. I wasn't exactly looking forward to it, but I did get that Wyrmkin statue and neat jewelry from all the repeated battles.

Voila. Red-faced Ranulf approves, I guess.

Happy Crafting!