Top 5 Wings of Liberty Moments + A Writing Rant

I originally planned this post to be a massive rant on some recent writing-related frustrations, but I don’t think anyone wants to read a thousand words of my bitterness, so I’ve cut it down to a smaller rant at the bottom of the post. In the meantime, let’s talk about something happier.

Top five Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty moments:

Heart of the Swarm is just around the corner, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to look back at some of the better moments from Wings of Liberty. I’ll focus on the campaign, since multiplayer experiences vary from person to person.

5: Ghosts of the Past trailer:

Under normal circumstances, saying that I like the trailer for a game more than the game itself would not reflect kindly on the game. But when it comes to Ghosts of the Past, it’s because the trailer is just that good.

I love a good trailer, and Ghosts of the Past is one of the best I’ve ever seen, easily the equal of anything Hollywood has put out. Ghosts of the Past is everything a good trailer should be: it’s epic, it’s intriguing, it’s emotional, it looks pretty, and it has a great score.

Dear God, I wish they’d do a Starcraft movie.

4: A Card to Play:

I love Blizzard’s style of story-telling, but I will admit that — barring a few notable exceptions — their stories generally don’t have a lot of depth or originality.

The cinematic “A Card to Play” from near the end of Wings of Liberty is a quintessential piece of Blizzard story-telling. Is it cliche? Yes. Is it borderline mindless? Yes. Is it cheesy? Yes.

Does any of that stop it from being ridiculously awesome?

Not for a second.

3: Outbreak:

Outbreak is a simple idea for a mission, but it’s incredibly fun. Each night, you are assaulted by thousands upon thousands of Zerg zombies and can only huddle behind your defenses and pray you see the dawn. During the day, you have a brief window to strike back at the Zerg while the zombies are in hiding.

This was the first mission in the campaign that I found significantly challenging. I was hovering between normal and hard at the time and had been mostly facerolling my way through the campaign, but Outbreak had me on the edge of my seat. I barely survived each night, and the days were a panicked frenzy of trying to hunt down the Zerg while I could.

Needless to say, there was much punching of the air when the victory message popped up. It’s one of my fondest memories from my first play through of WoL.

2: Bar Fight:

Although I have traditionally been a bigger fan of Warcraft than Starcraft, I will say that Jim Raynor is my favourite Blizzard character. In fact, he’s my favourite video game character period.

At first, I’ll admit I wasn’t feeling the same love for Raynor in WoL. He just didn’t seem to have quite the same charm or heroic spirit. But this was entirely intentional on Blizzard’s part, a crucial part of his character arc that only made it all the more spectacular when the old Jim we know and love came roaring back.

Behold the glory that is… Raynor.

“Now that’s the commander I been waitin’ on.”

1: In Utter Darkness:

I’ve already written at some length about the mission In Utter Darkness. I consider it a masterpiece of the art of game design. It’s an incredibly fun mission, and it’s also a powerful and emotional story, and those two factors feed off each other to create an experience that is far more than the sum of its parts.

I’ve replayed In Utter Darkness more than any other mission from WoL, and it just doesn’t get old. No matter how many times I play it, it always seems to end too soon. There’s always that moment of heartbreak as you realize you can’t hold off the Hybrids anymore, and there’s nothing left to do but stand back and watch as all you’ve fought tooth and nail to defend is torn apart before your eyes.

I don’t doubt there will be some awesome moments in Heart of the Swarm, but I really don’t see Blizzard doing anything to equal In Utter Darkness.

Of course, it would be nice to be proven wrong.

Rant:

The life of a freelance writer is fraught with hardship. The Internet is essentially the Wild West, and there are legions of people out there trying to rip us off. Nearly every day, I am faced with obvious scams or jobs that pay so low as to be analogous to slave labor. Many employers won’t pay at all, listing only “exposure” as their compensation.

I do my best to prevent being ripped off. I avoid anything that looks suspicious, and I take all reasonable precautions to avoid being cheated. But still, bad guys slip through. In the two years I’ve been freelancing, I’ve been cheated out of hundreds of dollars.

A recent incident was perhaps the worst to date.

A new client hired me to do some editing. I did so. They then decided they wanted me to give up on fixing the old content and just write some new stuff. I agreed, but asked that I be paid for the work I had already done.

They refused, and they fired me for asking.

I sent them a series of polite but firm emails insisting that they pay for the work completed. They responded with several increasingly irate and belligerent messages stating that new content was what they’d wanted all along — despite my quoting their own statements to the contrary — and went on to question my ethics, my professionalism, and my intelligence.

It gets worse. This was a World of Warcraft writing gig, and they required me to reactivate my sub, which I’d cancelled in anticipation of Heart of the Swarm. (As an aside, I have no idea why, in retrospect. They didn’t end up asking me to do anything in-game.) They originally said they would reimburse me the cost, but they refused to do so once they fired me.

This makes this the first job in history I’ve actually lost money on.

I don’t have a point to make here. I’m just really angry. I’m angry that it’s so easy for people to scam writers and so hard for us to get any justice. I’m angry that I can’t warn the next poor writer these scum are going to cheat.

I see no difference between these people and a mugger on the street, other than that only one is likely to go to jail. They have stolen from me by refusing to pay what I am rightfully owed. They’re common criminals, nothing more.

I’m also angry at myself for falling for this. They seemed legitimate and professional at first glance, but I guess I should have been more careful.

New article:

On a more positive note, my latest article on WhatMMO is More Great MMO Players of History. The last one was so much fun I couldn’t resist doing another.

I really do think George Custer and Leeroy Jenkins are kindred spirits.

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6 thoughts on “Top 5 Wings of Liberty Moments + A Writing Rant

  1. Ugh. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience with a shady client. Works the same way in the art world. Everyone wants something but don’t want to pay for it, or think you want to show your work in their gallery or on their website for free because it’s “exposure.”
    Ha!
    If they found me, I already have enough exposure, so pay up! πŸ˜€

    Only took a couple of times for me to get ripped off before I stopped doing it. My time and my work are worth something, and if you don’t want to pay then the door is that-a-way.
    So what I do now without exception (and you might want to consider for your own work) is 1) get a signed contract spelling out exactly what is to be done and the payment for it and 2) get half the payment (non-refundable) up front before I start doing anything.
    Any changes/modifications are written out and signed by both parties with any additional compensation clearly stated.

    Yes, it can be a pain but I look at it this way – any legitimate client who wants to hire me will have no problem with a contract or paying half the cost up front.
    If they don’t or hedge about it well, that’s usually a Red Flag and I won’t take the chance.
    The only exception I make is if a registered charity organization requests a donation (a painting or something) for a fund raising auction or something. Even then they usually offer either a percentage of the sale or a tax donation receipt for the amount.
    I could kick myself now thinking about all the money I lost back in the day because I didn’t think I was professional enough to bother with a contract or demand fair market value.
    I found out pretty quick that if I don’t act and work like a professional, no one else will believe it and I’m a sitting duck for scammers.

    Do writers have an organization like artists have CARFAC? They not only make sure you get an exhibition fee, but also have a lawyer on retainer so you can ask a “free” question or get contract advice.

    TL;DR: Insist on a contract and get half the payment up front before you start anything. It’s also a good “weeder” because a legitimate client will do it – scammers will not.

    • A contract is something others have suggested. I will consider it, but my concerns are A: that I don’t know enough about legal terminology to do it properly (although I do have a client who’s a lawyer, so maybe he could help — he’s a pretty nice guy) and B: it wouldn’t stop someone determined to scam me.

      I do require partial upfront payment for larger projects. I could expand that to all projects, but it honestly doesn’t seem that fair to request money before I’ve done anything. Certainly, I know I would balk at such a request if I were looking to hire someone.

      But, perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures.

      I’ve done a little looking into writer’s organizations. The ones I’ve seen require membership dues, though, and the cost would likely be equal to or greater than what I lose to scammers.

      • It’s perfectly fair – businesses, service industries and trades do it all the time πŸ™‚
        I’d ask your lawyer friend to point you to a “generic” type contract used for your work – like a standard “model release” – essentially fill-in-blanks.

        Even if the work requested is a minimal amount of payment, toss them a contract and watch the reaction. The bigger the squawk, the more I’m suspicious.

        Think of it as an honesty test. It’s not 100%, but it’s better than nothing.

        I don’t know about writer’s organizations, but the art ones usually require a membership fee of some type. I look at it as an investment – a lot of work I’ve got over the years has come from the “network” – quality work that actually pays, and some of it quite prestigious – which looks better on my CV than some nobody’s “website.” πŸ˜€

  2. Excellent post on Starcraft–I remember my daughter and I raptly watching every cutscene in WoL (my son had already spent two days playing it through) and feeling like we’d just been punched in the gut when it ended–and yeah, I fully confess to crying as a character I’d really grown to like kicked the bucket. A few annoyed moments over some of the changes in the lore–especially the fact that they seem to largely have ignored “Brood Wars”–but overall, excellent gameplay, a real and epic sense of impending doom and a great continuation of the series. If only I weren’t so horrid at multiplayer…

    I’m so sorry to hear that you were treated that way, and that writers have to go through crap to this degree– a friend of mine goes through similar things as an online writer, though not nearly as bad. I remember the online art community being wildly outraged when a (now infamous) game developer released an advice column essentially advising game devs with limited budgets to go to sites like DevArt and a) hire student or developing artists who didn’t know their own worth and b) to use scammy, cheaty tactics with them (it was implied that you would only pay them only when the game started making a profit and maybe not even then). Exposure? HAH.

    I’m disappointed that you went through the same thing. I currently only do my own thing as fanart though I am currently working on something between friends, but I say, you are doing what you love, and more power to you for doing so. A contract sounds like the way to go, though I wish I could offer more advice than that. Hope it all works out for the best πŸ™‚

    • Just wanted to clarify something I said–I quoted what one game dev suggested doing to developing artists looking for work and then said that you want through the same thing. You didn’t exactly go through the same thing–you are an experienced writer who stood up for your rights and got a lot of flack for it. Good for you, I really admire that. I apologize for not checking my posts more thoroughly before putting them up there.

      If I hear of anything more that might be helpful, I’ll pass it on.

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