Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tweet Tweet!

Well, I'd promised myself before I wouldn't do it, but now that I'm more involved with the Community, I suppose it was inevitable. I got a Twitter account.

I don't really know why I ever had an aversion to Twitter. I guess it's a good thing that I finally got over it.

Like I said, now that I'm more involved with the Community, I figured being on Twitter only made sense. Not only am I better able to keep up with what is going on now, but I have a good way of making it known when I have a new blog post. Because I noticed a glitch on various Blog Rolls where my site doesn't appear near the top until 24 or so hours after I post something new. Normally, this wouldn't bother me, but since I've been gone for a little over a week, I wanted people to know that I am still blogging.

It's actually kind of exciting, immersing myself even further in the workings of the Wizard101 Community like this. I feel good about it. See you around!

Until next time, Ponder on!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Music of the Day: Land of Beauty

Hi everyone!

I know, the posting has been sparse these past couple weeks. As you know, I was out of town from last Wednesday through Monday. Upon returning on Monday, I attempted to log into Wizard101 and, for some reason having to do with the patcher, couldn't connect. On Tuesday, I began having problems with the Internet itself; then everything worked itself out and I got in some play-time Wednesday night, only to have my problems resume yesterday. I think I have everything solved for good at this point; the fact that I'm able to watch a video on Youtube is a good sign.

Anyway, I asked you all before leaving to vote on what you wanted the next Music of the Day to be, and the answer was overwhelmingly that of the Jade Palace- a piece I have named Land of Beauty:

(Credit for the video goes to Youtube's kellybro.)

I think my favorite aspect of the Mooshu music in general is the almost constant combined undercurrents of sentimentality and melancholiness. With this piece, the main goal is to sound as beautiful as possible via plucking strings and playing flutes, thereby illustrating the beauty of Mooshu itself. The fact that the entire piece only requires three or four instruments (no big band like the Marleybone musics) is an indication not only of the simplicity of the world- the people of Mooshu, in their appreciation of its beauty, have only devoloped as much as is absolutely necessarry, and no more- but of the fragility that is beauty's constant companion. The afore mentioned sentimental undercurrent, which becomes obvious every time the strings take over, tells you that you are in a world that is heavily steeped in history and tradition, and isn't changing any time soon. And while that history has had its ups and its downs, the people of Mooshu perservere, successfully overcoming whatever challenges have confronted them in the past. But now a new challenge has arisen- a plague of problems which has encompassed all the land, hanging over it like a dark shadow. Different peoples in different areas of the world are sick, war-weary, and depressed. Mooshu is in greater danger than it has ever been before, and many wonder if things will ever get better again. It is this sad, melancholy, and even somewhat violent world which you have entered for the first time. And yet don't realize that right away. There is a short, bell-like beat at the beginning of the piece, which "strikes" you auditorily in the same way that the sheer beauty of Mooshu, even inside their Spiral Temple, strikes you visually. As you first set foot into the Jade Palace, the lovely flowing melody of the flute helps to sweep you away in the bright blue sky, the slight and comfortable breeze, and the lush green grass. Although staccato-like, the string solo that follows reinforces this. This feeling of beauty, of happiness, of sentimentality continues until you are about halfway through the piece, ending with a subtle, quiet string solo. This is immediately followed, however by a lower-pitched, somewhat violent melody, in which a loud low drum is obvious. Then the flute resumes, and the strings, and you feel happy again, but as the third of the string solos plays, sounding off what will later be established as the Mooshu them, you can't help but what wonder if the situation here is in fact as troubling as it has been in other worlds. The piece finishes with off with no real melody, but it doesn't matter. By this point, you've gotten already gotten the message: Mooshu may easily be the most beautiful world in the Spiral, but even here, things are not what they seem.

Until next time, Ponder on!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Wizard-less Week (And Music of the Day Poll)

Hi all!

Just want to say that my family is going on an RV trip for a few days, so from Wednesday the 17th to Sunday the 21st I will be in a location without Internet. In the meantime, please answer my poll on the right! I plan on doing a music review either Monday or Tuesday of next week, and I thought it would be nice to have my readers decide which theme to discuss. The choices are the Jade Palace theme, the Celestia Combat, and the Dragonspyre Combat. I will also review the new houses next week, which I am really excited about, but I have yet to see them.

Until then, Ponder on!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Something's Fishy

Okay, not the cleverest title in the world, but still appropriate :)

So I was over on Homework in a Graveyard, and I noticed an interesting pet Widget which actually occupied me for a good five minutes. I've been looking for a cool little Gadget to add to the blog, so...

I'd like everyone to meet my new pet fish, Alistair! Just scroll down to see him. He's a rather intelligent fish; he follows your cursor! Unless, of course, you decide to click some food into his tank. Anyway, if you're ever bored one day and happen to be on my blog, Alistair is always looking for somebody to play with!

Until next time, Ponder on!

Music of the Day: That Which Is Marleybone

Hey all!
So this is the first in a series of reviews/celebrations of the many amazing music tracks that Nelson Everhart has composed for us to enjoy as we play Wizard101. I've mentioned before my grand appreciation of fine instrumental music, including the music of Wizard101. Music of the Day is my way of giving readers some insight into the way I view the "universal language."

The honor of being the first Music of the Day goes to a particular favorite of mine from Marleybone. And if you're wondering, I came up with the title :)
(Thanks to Youtube's Deathshard for the video)

Ah, yes. Few tracks, even within Wizard101, seamlessly combine such a range of vibes or feelings, easily flowing from one to the next to the next. The piece starts off with a quick transition from high to low, as if something heavy is falling. It lands, hard, and right away you wonder, "What have I gotten myself into?" In the next instant, everything is very slow and quiet, but not in a nice way. No, this slowness and quietness is rather unnerving. You feel lost and uneasy. Something isn't right. And yet, something about the piece seems very easy and happy. As the music picks up tempo, and undulates in a rather wispy fashion between high and low pitches, you wonder if it is you, and not the environment, that isn't right. After all, you've been in dangerous situations before, and it's been a long time since you've felt this on-edge. It's as if someone is telling you, "I know something you don't know." And they are laughing at you, because of it.
The music suddenly becomes very low, loud, and ominous, like a thunderbolt. And with that bolt, suddenly everything seems to make sense. The piece slows down again momentarily, then picks up and flows, nice and easy, for a few moments. But that someone is still laughing, and although you understand now what is going on, half of you still feels tense. The other half, however, is excited and intrigued at the realization of your peril. It is laughing as well.  Then it occurs to you, this easiness can only last so long. And you are right. The chords break, the fluency ends, and for a moment, everything is mysterious again. Then the Marleybone anthem kicks in, and you smile, for you know that you are no longer in the dark about things. You know that this is Marleybone. And in Marleybone, there is a certain veneer of nobility and easiness which often hides the mystery, peril, intrigue, and high adventure that exists within the world. The thunderbolt strikes again. This time, there is no momentary slow-down. Almost immediately, the fluency from earlier plays again; however, it is not so nice and easy this time. In fact, it quite dark and ominous, proof of the peril beneath Marleybone's veneer. But you don't care. You can handle it. For you have had this adventure before, and you are quite looking forward to having it again.

Each of the themes described above- mystery, peril, intrigue, adventure, uneasiness, easiness, nobility- is almost constantly present in the general atmosphere of Marleybone. Hence, my title. For although this does not necessarily emulate Marleybone as a whole, like the anthem, it does succeed in recreating each of the individual aspects that make Marleybone magical. It is that which is Marleybone.

The piece is also a great example of how instrumental pieces (good ones, anyway) can tell a story. And although I have given you my interpretation of that story, the best part about the piece is that you can interpret it in whichever way you wish. You may or may not use my view of it as a springboard, but whatever you do, you are nevertheless correct in your interpretation.

Thanks for reading :)

Until next time, Ponder on!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ravenwood Motto


So right now I'm trying to decide whether my next post should be a review of one of the many amazing (and some not-so amazing) music tracks to be heard in Wizard101, or of one of the world wallpapers. In the meantime, I present you with a translation of Ravenwood's motto: Veneficus Iunctum. En Magus Nos Fides.

It translates as: "Wizards join. In magic we trust." Not too difficult.

Latin is a bit of a hobby of mine. I've studied it in school for three years (getting ready for a fourth), and I'm pretty good at it :)

I was going to translate the Pigswick motto as well, but I couldn't find a banner that I could easily read anywhere. The words were not very legible in any of the pics I took. I love how the motto is a Pig Latin version of Latin, though. Very clever.

Until then, Ponder on!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We Are the Champions!

Hi all!

No real new post today. Just wanted to mention that I finished Wysteria last night, and also to share a few shots that I took while finishing up what is likely only the first chapter of this amazing world:

Pigswick Tournament Champion

My newly aquired Spiral Cup!

I must say, Pigswick Academy on Wysteria is a wonderful place. I felt nice and cozy there, and some of the professors were quite interesting. In the end, however, Pigswick has nothing on the Ravenwood School of Magical Arts. That is my true home :)

Until next time, Ponder on!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fun Night Last Night :)

Hey, I'm posting two days in a row! Yay for me! Lol :)

So after completing my barbarian costume:

Wolf Barbarian- I ended up changing from Fire colors back to blue and white later.

I headed down to the Life School, arriving nice and early for the port bus to Kestrel Shadowthistle's party, held in her Life house. It was pretty fun- nice and simple and not too big or crazy like some parties. We did a little scavenger hunting, and a lot of chatting. We also attempted to take a picture of the entire group, although I'm not sure how well that worked out :) I got a few good pics, though:

The blue and white version of the wolf suit pretty much ended up being my costume.

I also made some new friends, including Kestrel, Talon Thunderblade of The Heroic Pyromancer,  Victoria Spiritblossom of The Smart Allec Wizard, Arlen Dawneyes of The Two-Headed Wizard, and Donna Spellthorn of The Diary of a Life Wizard. I also met Thaumaturge legend Kevin Battleblood. In short, I had a great time :)

The party ended around 11 o'clock EST, after which I logged onto the test realm to get a little more of Wysteria done. I'm making pretty good progress, having gotten underway in Tanglewood Way last night. A lot of people seem to be finishing within a few hours; however, I've been pacing myself such that I can get at least three nights' worth of enjoyment out of Wysteria :) And with the multitude of side quests there, something GH is, as I said yesterday, lacking, that's not too hard. Nothing particularly blog-worthy happened to me in Wysteria last night, but I will mention that I really liked the Library Archives. Like most of Wysteria, they have a surprisingly cozy feeling. They also remind me somewhat of Harry Potter.

Also, a shot of the map of Wysteria, illustrating what I discussed yesterday about the possibility of opening more and more of the world over time.

Will we see more of Wysteria in the future? Come to think of it, the same could be said of Marleybone:

I'd particularly like to see some of the actual streets of Marleybone.
While I'm posting, I'd also like to give a shout-out to Kestrel's fantastic writing skills- displayed on her other blog, The Musings of a Wizard, and to her keyboard playing :)

Wow, I'm kind of big on smileys today. I must be in a pretty good mood :)

Until then, Ponder on!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wonderful Wysteria!

Before I go praising Kingsisle immensely for their wonderful work on the new paralell world Wysteria, which is currently up on the Test Realm, I'd like to note that my Extracurricular Activities Reviews, which I started a couple weeks ago, will be put up at my convienence, instead of adhering to a schedule of any kind, therefore allowing me to devote my time to (currently) two other, more meaningful projects, one which is W101 related and one which is not. I'd also like to apologize for the lack of posting over this past week. Still getting the hang of posting regularly.

At any rate, Wysteria is an absolutley fantastic world! Unlike Grizzleheim, which can feel a little skimpy or lacking at times, mainly in the way of story, KI has put together an amazing and intriguing storyline for Wysteria- from the wizard tournament, to the history and concept of Pigswick Academy, from the mystery of the Spiral Cup, to the problems on Pegasus Place and Tanglewood Way, from the snobbishness of many Wysterians, to defending Ravenwood's honor. Not to mention that we learn of the existence of two other worlds with magic schools- Weirwood and Mirage- which I imagine we may visit someday! I don't want to give too much away, but I must say I am thouroughly impressed!
Along with the story, the landscape of the world itself is fun and well put-together. It has a certain cozy feeling, particularly Pigswick Academy, which I appreciate. It seems to me as though the world is loosely based on Renaissance Italy- considering the design of the buildings, with balconies and terraces, and the fact that it is inhabited by the Pegasi- a piece of Greco-Roman folklore which would have likely been revived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In fact, when I looked up at one the buildings yesterday, I saw a balcony which reminded me of the famous line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: "But, hark! What soft light through yonder window breaks?!"

Definitely Renaissance Italy, although there is also a bit of a Spanish flare

I also looked at the map of Wysteria, and found that it does not, at this point, show the entire world. Could this mean KI is planning to add on to Wysteria in the future? It would certainly make sense. Imagine, when a character reaches level 25, that they go and do the current Wysteria storyline, along with Marleybone and Grizzleheim. Then, when they reach level 35, they go back, and do a second, unrelated storyline- essentialy a sequel. This continues throughout the character's advancement, with new adventures to be had in Wysteria every time a player reaches a level ending in 5, with the difficulty of each corresponding to the minimum level. The same is the case with Grizzleheim- each area opens up at a different level, regardless of where you are in the quest line. Hence, if you were to reach level 35, and then play exclusively in GH until you finished Mirkholm Keep, then you would be unable to continue to Nidavellir until you reached level 40- you would have to resume the main story. The same would be the case with Wysteria- the main differences being that each visit would not contribute to some larger story arc (or maybe KI could make that work) and that each area is created and released by KI one at a time, over time. This gives them more time to work on the story and the design of the new areas, creating not only better main quests, but more side quests. Therefore, some of the mistakes that were made with Grizzleheim are prevented- the story is ultimately more whole. It's funny, because when I first came to understand the concept of the paralell world, I thought KI would do well to create a second paralell world, before adding new chapters after Dragonspyre/Celestia.
Again, I am very impressed with Wysteria, and would like to heartily congratulate KI for a job well done! Here are a few shots I took of little pieces which I particularly liked.

That's Malistaire's scepter sitting in the middle window. What is it doing in Wysteria?

The Brunching Club (top left) is a spoof of a classic 80's comedy called The Breakfast Club.
I found that particularly entertaining.

The professor of Frost- Quentin Burble. I love that he is a gobbler!
Although, knowing the history of Pigswick, I'm not surprised.
And finally, my new favorite NPC is  Professor Velma Pepper! I was absolutely blow away when I realized how KI had decided to design her; she is the classic, quintessential steampunk chick- from the leather jacket and gloves, to the cool-looking electric device in her hand! She even has a pair of goggles hanging around her neck! Bravo, Kingsisle! We needed a cool steampunk NPC!
Notice the Resonating Omni-Audio Graph to her left

I am, I would gage, about halfway through the main story at this point- perhaps a little less- although I have seven different side quests at the moment which I want to attend to before continuing the main. I may get on the test realm tonight; however, at 9 EST, Kestrel Shadowthistle's Summer Blowout begins! I'm off to cut the grass now, but once I finish I'll be logging on to complete my Barbarian outfit, as it is a costume party. In other words, we have to dress as something we are not. I usually dress and act the part of gentleman, so I figured the opposite of that would either be a Barbarian or a slob, and with a wide range of Grizzleheim clothing to choose from, I knew Barbarian would be easier :)

Until then, Ponder on!