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Gilneas – The City That Blizzard Forgot

Back in the long long ago, the before time (ok, December 2010), Blizzard released World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and everyone got all excited as they usually do. Then people got upset that their favourite race/class got downpowered, then they became happy that they could fly in the old lands for the first time, and that kept them busy for a while.

Alliance fanboys played rolled up Worgen characters and played their way through the new dedicated starting area.  They were amazed to see an amazing cod Victorian-Gothic land with some fantastic architecture and landscape, and of course, big fucking werewolves.

From the brooding darkness of Gilneas City, to the grandeur of Greymane Manor, the Gilneas starting zone is wonderful. It is a series of well thought out quest chains, stunning cutscenes, and… well then it ends. The character getting shuffled off to Rut’theran Village on Teldrassil, and Gilneas is never spoken of again.

Unlike the Goblin (and later Pandaren) starting areas, which are off on separate islands that can’t be returned to, Gilneas is on the Eastern Kingdoms mainland. You can go back there, but it most will have no reason to. There are no quests, no NPCs, no… anything, except a stunning and forgotten zone.

This makes is idea for roleplaying in, and, if you are in to such things, modifying to add quests and NPCs (but that is a subject for another day).

So… onward…

Get to Gilneas!

Well, to put it bluntly, one does not simply fly in to Gilneas.

Horde characters have a flightpoint at The Forsaken Front in Silverpine Forest, which is just north of the wall. (You might be lucky enough to have the Forsaken Forward Command flightpoint in Gilneas itself, but its not guaranteed).

The closest that Alliance players have to offer is Chillwind Camp in the Western Plaguelands, which is a long flight/run over/though Hillsbrad away.

Because of this faffery, if I were to be modding Cata WoW to add new content in Gilneas, I’d make it suitable for Level 60, as by that level the characters can fly in to it. Or, I’d make portals to get there. But I’m clearly not doing that as it is Against The Rules.

No matter how you get there, get there if you can.

Gilneas City

For now I’m just going to look at Gilneas City itself. The surrounding zone is the subject of another time.

So I suppose we should start with a map.

The city, as you can see, is roughly circular and split in to five areas, which I’ll look at in turn, highlighting all the usable buildings and other features of note.

Merchant Square

  • 1-10 denote open doors leading to small single room areas, large enough to hold maybe one NPC and some clutter.
  • 11 is a small graveyard.
  • 12 is the ruined market square.

If I were doing anything here, I’d put traders in the buildings and the square, and maybe a mourner at the graveyard.

Military District

  • 1  leads to a cellar full of cannons and cannonballs.
  • 2 and 3 lead to stair up and over the the roof, connecting to each other.

Greymane Court

  • 1 leads to a tunnel that exits out in the main zone.
  • 2 & 3 are entrances to a small inn like building with a bedroom upstairs.

Cathedral Quarter

This area is a bit dull. There are no buildings to enter, just two large areas full of tents with Alliance banners by them.

Light’s Dawn Cathedral

The Cathedral is just one large room. Maybe you could stage a rock festival in here, or even a wedding.

The End

So there’s your quick tour of Gilneas City. I’m sorry there are no actual screen shots, but if you want to see it go visit it yourself.


Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Blackpool

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” (IMDB, Wikipedia) is not actually a bad film. It is entertaining, quirky, and stars Eva Green and Samuel L. M. F. Jackson. So what could I possibly find fault with? Well the clue is in the title: Blackpool.

Not that Blackpool by itself is the problem; I love Blackpool, its my second third favourite place in the world. The problem is the film’s utterly bobbins depiction of the Promenade.

Ask the average person what they know about Blackpool, and they will probably mention the Tower, the Piers, and the Trams. So, logic tells us that if setting a part of a film in Blackpool, the three things you don’t want to get wrong are: Tower, Piers, Trams.

Cocking those up would be like leaving some special effects guy in charge of large and unruly genetically engineered lizards.

Ah, you are thinking, he’s just reusing an old Buzzfeed joke for no reason. Nope, actually I had a reason for that. While I lay a lot of the following criticisms at the door of the script writers(s), I feel the VFX team are also complicit, as they should have been the ones to yell “READ A FUCKING MAP!” Although, had they done that, they’d probably have cut down their work load and been paid less. Mercenary bastards!

So, ignoring a massive amount of the start of the film (which isn’t set in Blackpool), we start at 1:35:22 with the ship arriving at the pier.

Ok, starting with the most glaring error: There is no pier opposite the Tower.  Directly opposite the Tower is the Tower Headland, which has the Comedy Carpet (not actually a carpet) on it. See theis Google Earth thing:

The nearest pier is North Pier, which is a couple of hundred yards to the north. It looks the same for most of the length, but the entertainment complex at the end is missing. And the land based complex is different.

Also, if you look closely, none of the seafront building look the same. And the church tower is on the left instead of on the right.

Anyway, enough of that. Let us move on to the ship landing at the pier.

The North Pier deck, with a CGI building and tower.

Now while a ship landing at the pier happened frequently in the olden days, at the time the pier had a landing jetty which extended it length considerably (never mind the missing entertainment complex).  These days it just would not be possible.

Look what happened the last time a ship got too close to the sea front:

Click if you need to know more

Anyway, they get off the ship and go into a Ghost Train at the end of the pier. One that curiously wasn’t there in the long shot.

Yet when they time-shift, and look out again they see this:

Which is obviously Central Pier (the only one with a Ferris Wheel)

And completelty the wrong shape for the pier seen before. This will come back again…

In the meantime, we have this… kite girl on a rope hitting the tram power lines.

There are a lot of problems with this. First in my mind is that the power lines are too close together. Second is that the 600vdc power would easily earth over a damp rope in winter, thereby causing severe burns to her abdomen and hands, and also probably kill the lad holding the rope. Thirdly, for safety reasons, an incident like this would cause the power to be automatically cut over a large stretch of the line. So she would not be in danger of being hit by the tram.

My contact at Blackpool Transport admits that they hate this scene.

So, back on the pier(s) 1:39:55 gives us this:

So that Central Pier, shortened (see above).

And towards the end of the film we have this:

This shot not only misrepresents the buildings on the sea front, but appears to bend the coast round. The perspective is all to cock.

And then this:

The shot doesn’t even come close to matching the skyline from the first shot.  And we’re back to North Pier (minus the end bit).

We’re at the end now. Have we learned anything?

Well, maybe that authors, scriptwriters and VFX people should actually visit places before they write about them and try to CGI them. Two days in Blackpool could have prevented this. Or ten minutes on the phone to someone living in Blackpool. Perhaps asking the hotel staff about the area might help.

I’ll update this later in the year with some “boots on the ground” photos to clarify bits.,

Rail Franchising in terms that even small children can understand.

Congratulations, you’ve built yourself a natty new model railway. And now you want to play with some trains. Well tough shit, cos that ain’t going  to happen.

Daddy says that you can’t own the track and operate trains (apart from the track-cleaner once in a while).

Daddy has decided that the right to run trains will be auctioned off to your friends. They will pay him, take all the fun, and blame you every time something goes wrong.

But its not that simple. A while ago, Daddy sold off all your trains to four of your friends: Angelo, Evan, Peter and Freddie. Freddie ended up with most of the goods wagons and a large number of the the locos. The other three got all the passenger stock, grouped by type.

Freddie is allowed to play with his trains, as he won’t affect the fun of anyone else. The others, however, are allowed to own them but not play with them.

Daddy has decided that he’ll allow Francois, Dietrich, Hans, Hikaro, Richard and an a lot of others to play with the trains. But, they have to make sure that Daddy, Angelo, Evan and Peter all get some fun. Daddy wants his fun guaranteed. With ice-cream.

So, Francois rents some trains from Angelo, Evan lets Dietrich use some stock, and Peter lets Hans and Hikaro play a bit. Each sets their own price. And it is steep. Its ice-cream, with raspberry sauce.

So now, for example, we have Francois paying Angelo for the train, and also paying you to use the track. And both of you have to pay Daddy.

Then, Freddie turns out to be really called Friedrich, and he convinces a lot of the other children to let him play with their passenger trains. He then stop playing and lets his dad take over.

Francois, Hans and Hikaro then get bored and let their dads take over.

We are now reaching a situation when the fathers of the other children are now playing with your model railway, and taking all the fun.

Richard, however, stuggles on. Despite two massive messes he somehow seems to keep control of two of the best lines. He had a bit of a wobble when part of his playing was to be taken away, but he cried to Daddy and was given it back. Richard also plays with toy spaceships.

Along comes Jeremy. He decides that he wants you to have control of of your own railway and all the trains. Everyone, for some reason, thinks this will be a bad idea.