World of Warcraft
I quit World of Warcraft a while back, when my wife stopped playing, and a few of our group drifted off to either do their own thing, or who stopped playing as well. Rift had just arrived, and compared to the feeling of potential danger in Rift, the push-button simplicity of where I was in WoW wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I drifted away, but with no animosity. I have no love nor any hatred towards WoW, and that’s all I can say from a pseudo-emotional standpoint. I may return some day, but it’s not on my radar, not even with the announcement of their next xpac.
Some people have been less subtle in their opinions of the Mists of Pandaria, I suppose, expressing sarcasm, hate, demented torture fantasies involving pandas…you get the gist. WoW elicits strong feelings in all kinds of MMOers whenever it shows up to the party, whether those people are hardcore WoW raiders, current first-timers, lapsed players, or the dozen or so people who’ve never even tried the game. Obviously, current players have a stake in whatever is going to be directly affecting them in the near future, but many people have asked why lapsed players, or non-players in general, care what is going on with WoW.
World of Warcraft has really transcended it’s origins as a product, and has become a concept. A creature of pure thought, in a way. It’s pervasive…TOO pervasive for a lot of people, because it’s continued presence casts such a long shadow over the genre, the industry, and popular culture, and whether we’re playing in Azeroth or not, we all have to contend with that shadow whether we like it or not.
While I don’t have any animosity towards WoW, I do think the general MMO genre would be better without it: each xpac extends the game’s life so that it can continue to be blamed by rage-haters, or continue to be a template for a “poor man’s WoW” (Allods, RoM, etc). So long as WoW exists, and keeps pumping out xpacs which are carefully milled by the artisans at Blizzard in an effort to retain their ginormous player-base, other companies will continue to try and reach for their brass ring, or will at least be accused of doing so. The longer WoW is in operation, the longer it looms over everything, and the more people will inevitably draw parallels between WoW and any other MMO that releases.
And that’s really kind of a shame, because it seems that the MMO community is divided along WoWers and non WoWers, even when WoW is not directly involved. The general chat channels of any new MMO will fill with WoW-related arguments. Any screenshots of a new MMO or any discussion of the mechanics of any new MMO invariably turn to whether it is like or unlike WoW. When it’s “like” WoW, it’s a strike against it. Whenever a feature or visual is deemed “unlike” WoW, it might as well be a bullet point on the back of the box for all the garland that the anti-WoW community festoons upon it. Being “like WoW” is a crime, and being “unlike WoW” is apparently really, really hard.
That’s also a shame, because that means that no MMO can be allowed to stand on it’s own merits, partly because of the incremental creep of innovation in the genre, thanks to risk-adverse capitalization, and partly because of the fickle “we don’t know what we want, but we know what we don’t want” community. Human beings have an almost genetic imperative to catalog and compare two items that show even the slightest similarity, be it good or be it bad, so being the most visible object on the horizon from any vantage point, WoW invites the most comparisons, 100% of the time. That means that no game can be accepted solely based on what it brings to the table, only in how it’s different or similar to World of Warcraft.
I can’t speak for the legions of people who have voiced their displeasure with the Mists of Pandaria. I really don’t think I’d want to, anyway, as hate tends to fuel hate when it feeds on itself. I do believe that this expansion’s downbeat tempo marks the dénouement of World of Warcraft, and that Blizzard is attempting to bring the calm before the storm that will be the game’s epic conclusion. Just look at Blizzcon itself; Blizzard doesn’t believe in subtlety, so it might be that MoP is going to be your last rest-stop before the crescendo that will be as earth-shattering and bloody as Blizzard can make it. After that…what? Will WoW go F2P? Will it cede the stage to Titan? At some point, WoW will end, and there will be no more expansions designed to keep the players paying. WoW’s presence will never fade, but at least at some point it will cease to grow. Maybe at that point some other MMO will become the template, or maybe we’ll return to the wild-west days when MMOs first started showing up, and no one knew where the next steps would take us. I think we could use that uncertainty, a genre without a roadmap, or without someone to chase behind.
It looks like the battle is on amongst the foot-soldiers: Rift versus World of Warcraft. Whether it’s an actual battle, or more like rocks against the Great Wall Of China is for future generations to determine (actually, about a year or so, I guess), but right now, things seem to be heating up.
The first volly (or folly, as I had originally typed in a pique of Freudian fat-finger) was fired by Trion, who launched with the tagline “We’re not in Azeroth anymore”. Aside from the trite and overused meme-flavor of the statement, it was a direct shot across WoW’s bow, both as an attempt to distance Rift from WoW, and an announcement of intent to take WoW’s dominance head-on by invoking it directly. I believe that this was the understanding of almost anyone who saw this tagline. It wasn’t veiled in any way, really, and opened the doors to what we’re seeing now.
Yesterday, I was contemplating a post on the nature of trolls, when I came across this thread on the WoW themed site MMO Champion. In short: a contingent of Rift players who found their way to MMO Champ were trying to convince the admins that Rift was getting big enough to warrant it’s own sub-forum. The admins and other non-Rift players were against the idea. It ended when the thread was closed by admin Bouboiille who had this to say:
The others: Stick to a single thread in the video games forum, seriously, most of you won’t play that game anymore in 1 months.
In other news, Captain Cursor, Guardian lore lead for Trion, posted to his blog this afternoon a badge that someone at a WoW themed blog created for other WoW themed bloggers to use to signify that there were no Rift posts on their site. In fact, the badge-creator linked to another post titled…get this…”Stop talking about Rift already”.
I guess this is a good place for Trion and Rift to be, in a way. They launched well, got good press, lots of players, and it seems that they’re actually encroaching on WoW’s domain to the point where WoW bloggers are yelling “enough!” Technically, after X number of years of WoW being the “de-facto” generic term for “MMO”, I think this is a sort of comeuppance, but on the other hand, if you blog about one game for so many years and suddenly switch without warning (or at least dilute your content), I can understand how your dedicated readers would get bent out of shape.
So we entered into a discussion about permanence on Twitter this afternoon. I firmly believe that a lot of longtime WoW players aren’t so much worried that Rift is going to result in the shut-down of WoW so much as they are worried that their guild-members, friends and possibly chunks of population will migrate to Rift. The “Stop talking about Rift already” author hits the nail on the head, I believe: Like WoW, Rift launched as a solid game at the right time. People bored with Cataclysm and Blizzard’s long release cycle have a viable contender to examine, and there’s a chance many might like what they see…more then they like grinding dailies and waiting for raid drops again and again.
As a long time MMOer, I can understand that players who have dedicated themselves to a single game have an investment of time, of money, and of blood (through friendships made therein). It’s difficult to imagine leaving all of your accomplishments behind. It’s even more difficult to feel forced to leave it behind if your support base migrates en masse to a new game. It also means starting at the bottom of the ladder. No more epics. No more end-game. You have to get back to work in an unfamiliar world where the mechanics – though similar on the surface – need to be learned to be mastered.
But really, WoW community. You’ve had the cat-bird’s seat for many, many years. You can’t blame people for getting excited about an alternative – we might even whisper “competitor” if we want to fan flames, although I think it’s far to early for that discussion to be had in serious circles. These complaints of “too much Rift talk” are really childish, when the rest of the non-WoW community has had to deal with a never-ending onslaught of WoW centric memes, sites and general pervasiveness. I’m not trying to be confrontational here, but really…it’s about time.
I heard about Xtranormal.com this afternoon while eating lunch and listening to the radio while my dog sat nearby, wishing he had some toaster waffles. The news story was about how people were using Xtranormal movies to express criticism, anger, and to engage people who are normally too “on edge” to enjoy a normally civilized discourse on a particular subject. That’s why silliness is employed.
Of course, being a gaming centric blog, and remembering an earlier idea of reading forum posts out loud in a dramatic fashion, I thought that a mash-up of the two concepts might work. Or it might blow up. I knew straight where to go for the most absurd, inflammatory posts in gamerdom: the World of Warcraft forums.
[gigya src="http://www.xtranormal.com/site_media/players/jwplayer.swf" width="499" height="301" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="height=301&width=499&file=http://newvideos.xtranormal.com/web_final_lo/c8e7c672-3ac2-11e0-ad45-003048d6740d_8.mp4&image=http://newvideos.xtranormal.com/web_final_lo/c8e7c672-3ac2-11e0-ad45-003048d6740d_8.jpg&link=http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/11170440&searchbar=false&autostart=false"]
The original post can be found at http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2089112070.
Let me know what you think of this format? Humorous? Chuckle-evoking? Rock stupid?
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about the travels of Amarin the Draneii hunter. Let’s just bullet-point these, shall we?
- While we waited for Cataclysm to release, it was decided that our new alts would roll on Argent Dawn. Not wanting to be locked over on Rexxar while everyone was twinked on AD, I ponied up the $25 and transferred Amarin to AD. During transit, however, she seems to have come down with a case of amnesia, and now insists on being called Amerae. Go figure.
- Cataclysm has been kind to Amerae. The hero board in Stormwind has directed her to level-appropriate locations which have been a great help in making sure she’s on track, and isn’t wasting her time giving sponge-baths to murlocs in lower-then-appropriate zones.
- I’ve hooked up with the Guardians of Azeroth once more, as they’ve become more active thanks to the release of Cataclysm. This has brought a series of developments, including (but not limited to):
- A heavy focus on guild leveling. GoA reached level 3 the other night, so we now have bonuses to XP and mount speed. We’re hard at work on the critter kill achievement. I smell mass extinction in the world’s future…
- A guild-specific group of folks to run dungeons with, for guild XP
- Dedicated pool of people who are far more knowledgeable about the game then I am
- Participated in my first WoW battlefield. We won two games, the last one an epic come-from-behind win, thanks to an incompetent flag-bearer on the opposition side, and the lighting fast reflexes of the flag-bearer on our side. It was OK, but I still prefer Warhammer Online’s ORvR.
- Dungeon running has been curbed, mostly due to the fact that people are doing other things with the Cataclysm content. Amerae has been knocking down quests in zones that I’ve never been to before, which is a treat for me.
- Amerae is level 60! According to Mindstrike, this means I have won Vanilla WoW. For me, it means I finally get a flying mount. It also means that this is the highest level character in any MMO that I have ever had…ever.
There’s some other odds and ends that my situation has got me thinking about. The first is that it’s kind of weird to have a level 60 character who plays like she’s always played, but who is now questing in some pretty epic looking zones against some epic looking enemies. I’ve completed the Blasted Lands, and have since moved into Outland. To me, Outland seems like everything should be far above me: huge NPCs, lots of very war-esque settings…yet I’m still running around with McCreary, kicking ass and taking names. It’s like the gameplay is stuck in a rut, but the visuals try to convey the advancement by ratcheting up the feeling of urgency and danger. I’m just not feeling it.
And speaking of not feeling it, I’ve never been an alt-aholic, although I recently bought all x-pacs for my wife, and have been playing the game with her on occasion with several other characters. However, she doesn’t seem all that involved in it. If this doesn’t change, then I think that once I get Amerae up to the level cap and have gotten my fill of the other classes and races, I’ll be mothballing my WoW account. I’ve come to appreciate the sheet magnitude of content in the game (because it’s very good at ensuring that you have an opportunity to experience as much content as you like), but I don’t think I’d want to plow though it all again. There will never be another “first slog” through the game, and any attempts to follow in my own footsteps would only be for the sake of doing so.
Here’s a short one. It came to my attention upon logging into World of Warcraft after The Shattering patch went live that everything has, in fact, changed. For me, this meant that the quests I had in my log were all gone thanks to the destination areas now being…uh…wiped form the map. I then realized that I am actually one of the lucky ones.
See, not being a min-maxer or even someone who gives a fig about stats, gear or anything that requires research, I essentially have nothing to relearn. I can just pick up and go. Some people, however, aren’t so fortunate.
Think of all of the class guides, zone guides, and dungeon guides that have been published to the web thoughout the years. Useless. All of the strategies that people have come to rely on, the ones that they memorized to the point where they could execute them in their sleep, effectively removing risk from their reward…all unusable. Zones have been recategorized and redistributed so people have to relearn a massive chunk of prior knowledge.
In short, take pity on your long time WoW friends. While we were off experiencing the wealth pf experiences that the MMO genre has to offer, they were gorging themselves on the same meal for years. For them, it will be like they moved to a new game, ao they’re bound to be scared and confused. Take good care of them, dear friends, in their time of need.
It’s been a while since we last checked in with Amarin, our lovely Draenei hunter and her sidekick McCreary. Let’s see what they’re up to.
Amarin is now level 25, creeping close to 26 thanks mostly to the random dungeon runs she’s been doing with the venerable Rengence. In fact, it seems like most of her time has been spent running these dungeons. They’ve been into Razerfen Kraul and the Stockades recently. In the former, it was with a group who were either new, or new to the instance (as Amarin was), but in both cases, the randomized folks who joined us were good natured, competent individuals (though Rengence had to explain to one tank what “sword and board” meant…). This is in direct contrast to our first outing, and to the conception I had that PUGs sucked nuts. Granted there hasn’t been a lot of event conversation, but the fact that everyone’s been decent to hang out with is heartening. Although I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Amarin runs into the PUG From Hell.
In sadder news, Amarin has reached the shores of Darkshore. As stated in a previous post, this is one of the zones I despise because it’s of lower level, and is one of the ones I remember from previous play-throughs. I can’t wait for this place to get trashed in Cataclysm, from both a revenge and a general interest standpoint. To console Amarin, I took her to Darnassus and got her bow training, so she can use her new Precision Bow.
Finally, Amarin hired a financial advisor, Jalicia. It’s her job to invest Amarin’s good fortune in the market in order to grow her portfolio. Things have been on an upward trend for Amarin, having earned a good deal of gold thanks to Jalicia’s acute business acumen.
I sat down at the desk last night and found that Mindstrike was online and in World of Warcraft already. I had no purpose in mind when I sat down, so I jumped in and we jumped on to the voice chat and decided to see what we had for shared quests. We had a few in common, and set out to knock a few out. Even still, questing wasn’t lighting any fires, so we queued up for a random dungeon.
We missed one opportunity because we were in a bad place for the inevitable respawn (thankfully someone else bailed and canceled the whole thing), but the second time around we were assigned to Shadowfang Keep. I had never been there before (and being a ranged character, the close quarters makes me not want to go the again), so I was initially very interested in the experience. We ended up with myself (a hunter), Rengence (a paladin), a warrior, someone else who’s class I forget…and another hunter.
Mindstrike mentioned that there would be competition between the other hunter and myself for any good gear, but that situation didn’t have time to reveal itself because it was clear from the start that this other hunter wasn’t going to be long for the party. He repeatedly demanded that people NOT kill level 18 wargs so he could tame them. We complied the first time, but in the heat of subsequent battle, weren’t able to restrain ourselves from taking down others (I wonder what he wanted with a whole littler of wargs…). He became increasingly insistent as time went on, eventually bordering on terse and flavor-of-angry demands. He eventually decided to show his displeasure by soloing several mobs while the rest of us were tackling other mobs – you know, keeping with the tank and healer. After he died and started mouthing off about getting a rez, a vote was taken to boot his ass. We got a more friendly druid in return, and life was good after that.
Having never been a fan of PUGs due to these kinds of horror stories, I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty insulated from crap like this, and always laughed at the stupid things people were reported to be doing. Now that I’ve seen it first hand, I totally understand how frustrating it is for the rest of the party when you get paired with someone who has no interest in being a team player and actually blames others when their reckless behavior leads to them to death. Mindstrike was more openly perturbed then I was, which I found pretty amusing since he’s been a WoWie since launch and has encountered this kind of behavior far more often then I have. I guess it’s something you never truly get used to, but I took it with a grain of salt. This might have been the first time, but I am sure it will certainly NOT be the last that I encounter this kind of behavior.
As an aside, I also have a respect for the power of the WoW dungeon finder. We were able to kick the hunter and were instantly rewarded with the druid in the span of a heartbeat. Our tank was good natured, joking around and even offering some gentle ribbing as we progressed (she even threatened to leave us to the final boss after she had won a valuable loot drop…but then lol’d). But again, it did give us that dud of a hunter, so I guess it’s not omniscient.
According to Xfire, I’ve played 11 hours of World of Warcraft in the past 7 days. I’m not exactly sure, but I think that’s some kind of a record for me. Though some take exception with Xfire’s tracking, I’ve used it religiously for years, and so far, WoW is in third place behind Vanguard at #2, and EVE Online at #1. But I digress.
Amarin is now at level 21. She leveled 4 times in the past 2 days, 2 times each day, and she still hasn’t left the Draenei starting zone.
First, I’d like to introduce McCreary, Amarin’s new bear companion. Since I didn’t have the cash, I had to let go of Rawr. No hard feelings, man. Amarin knocked out several quests with McCreary, and the two of them headed off to Wyrmscar Island this evening to search for a missing sailor.
Wyrmscar is basically a giant graveyard, mostly for dragons, but there are some dead humanoids there as well…mostly underwater. The sailor that Amarin was sent to find – who was actually dead and a lot more transparent then the last time his friends saw him – sent her and McCreary out to sea to give a steel-edged wedgie to some deceased shipmates, but they intrepid duo had to carve a swath of destruction through some Naga that were milling about aimlessly on the seabed.
Since this dead sailor was pissed at being shipwrecked and then, you know, killed because of the Naga, he wanted to use Amarin as his instrument of revenge. He sent them south to a small island to destroy the statue of Azshara, Naga Deity, and her main squeeze Atoph. The Dranei-Ursine tag team easily steamrolled these punks, and were able to put the dead to rest (even though it’s an MMO, and NPCs never permanently rest).
But all was still not well on this island, since it is home to a lot of angry dead folks. Next up was Prince Toreth, former dragonrider and the current holder of the Mister Diaphanous Night Elf pagent crown. He was all ticked off over the treachery of Deathwing (he who wrought the Cataclysm) and his Main Man (Dragon) Razormaw. Toreth wanted Amarin to take out the various spirits of the dragonlings around the island, collect some missing bones from the owlkin on the mainland, and then burn them on the highest point of the island. The result: a confrontation with the foul Razormaw, who was promptly whipped like butter, amidst a flurry of GFX glitches. It’s a shame Amarin and McCreary weren’t around 10,000 years ago when Razormaw made Toreth and the rest of the inhabitants of the island DEAD.
Like a satisfying novel, the weekend bloodletting ended with a fine epilogue. Amarin obtained her Elekk mount (mini badass mammoth), but unfortunately McCreary has to walk (or ride in his Pokeball, or wherever it is he goes when not stomping around). Just as Amarin was about to turn in for the evening, her iWhisper rang with a message from Theramora and Drorascus. They were going to queue for a random dungeon, and asked if Amarin wanted to tag along. I hedged a bit as I had been playing for several hours at this point, but Theramora assured me that it would be quick, so I jumped on board.
We ended up in the Deadmines. Of all the places we could have ended up, we ended up in the one and only dungeon I had done several times in previous incarnations. Go figure. But our little 5 man (where at least one was a woman…who is pregnant with twin boys, so I guess it was really a 6+1 Man with Room for Error) plowed thought it. Amarin scored 2 new swords (since she can dual wield now) and some new armor, and dinged 21 on the bottom levels of the ship. Her Random Bag ‘o Loot contained a cloak, but it was more suited for a magic user (Theramora said she wished she had gotten it instead). Unfortunately, it was BoP, but it gives better armor then Amarin’s previous cloak, so it’s better then nothing at this point, right?
I haven’t seen Mindstrike online since Friday, so I don’t know where he’s at, and Jinky is still fighting Blizzard’s IVR system in the hopes of getting his Battle.net account back. Cross your fingers, Internet!
Unfortunately, I’ve gotten off track on my World of Warcraft reporting. I’ve been so busy, you know, doing stuff, to actually record what it is that I’ve been doing, so I’ll try and remember it from…uh…memory.
Amarin is now level 17 and the proud owner of 2 pets: the original nightstalker, and a new crab named Chipper. She’s still hanging around Bloodmyst isles, doing quests against the Blood Elves and collecting a lot of body parts from various creatures. She’s at the point now where necessary drops are few and far between, either that or the mobs that need to be harvested are few and far between. It’s taking a lot longer to complete a single quest then it used to, and that’s starting to push my buttons. Sure, if it were handing out XP like candy from the back of a windowless van, people would complain that it was too easy (sorry, easy-er), but there can be a trade-off between maintaining momentum and giving people a run for their money.
She’s picked up skinning and leathercrafting, because those two fit well together, and are useful to a hunter, and I only recently discovered that I was eligible for an upgrade to Journeyman for each, which came complete with new recipes. So much for paying attention. Most of the gear she’s sporting came from drops and is better then what she can craft, so she’s mostly creating junk greens for sale or somesuch, and to boost her skills and to make it feel worthwhile that I selected the tradeskills I did, so much as they are.
Amarin did get the quest to leave the isles for Auberdine, which is not something I’m looking forward to. Last night Mindstrike and I were discussing that there were just some zones that we aren’t looking forward to revisiting. For me, it’s the Wetlands, Darkshore, Redridge and Westfall. I spent WAY to long in those zones, since I never got past level 30-something in prior incarnations. Though I never played WoW for very long, it says something about Blizzard’s design ability that I can clearly remember to this day how much those zones annoyed the hell out of me.
As soon as I hit level 10, I send Amarin down to the coast and started on the quest chain that would eventually allow me to get my hunter’s taming ability. I’m not usually a pet person; I have enough to keep track of re: my own safety, but I’m pretty pleased with the way World of Warcraft handles it’s pets. I like that the pet has it’s own mini-hotbar.
My first task was to tame a barbed crawler and return to the trainer to show her that I had done the deed, whereupon my second task was to cook my newfound pet in copious amounts of butter as the trainer and I traded stories over the campfire. I don’t know if I was learning how to tame pets or if I just did her food shopping.
Next, I had to train a greater longstrider that lived north of our little outpost. These dino-birds are the missing link between veloceraptors and chickens and yes, they do taste like chicken. We ate a lot that night.
Finally, I had to tame a nightstalker. I wasn’t too keen on eating this guy, so I let him loose before returning to the quest giver. She seemed to take my word for it and granted me the skills needed to tame and to take care of a pet of my very own.
I decided to go with a nightstalker for the time being, seeing as how I had eaten to other potential choices and didn’t want to have to regard any pet as either protection or sustenance in the future. Plus the cat looks pretty badass. I would have taken Crusty Bob, but he wouldn’t give me the time of day.
I was sent to talk to the pet trainer deep within the Exodar. I like this place, as it is pretty evocative of the general WoW aesthetic: bright colors, sharp edges and that oh-so-maligned cartoony look. Once one stops bitching about it, it’s actually quite pleasing. It could be worse, though; it could be brown.
Rawr (my patent-pending name for my nightstalker companion) and I hit the bricks to help the stillpine tribe show some rabid owlbears who was boss (answer: me). We also took down some murlocs up north. Who’s GGWWWLALALALALAing now, bitches!?
I only crested level 11.5 tonight, but I achieved my first major milestone as a hunter, and I’m still enjoying the experience. In other news Mindstrike rolled a new Draenei pally on Rexxar, but had to leave due to wife aggro. Booo. RL aggro