Posts Tagged ‘ WoW ’

Dig A Little Deeper, Come A Little Closer

Said the dragon to the knight from the depths of its lair.

Let’s talk dungeons.

You all know I’m a former World of Warcraft player, an active raider even (why do I feel like I’m saying I’m a recovering alcoholic?). I played WoW because it was fun and I got to hang with my friends. A couple years ago, however, I played WoW because it was INSANELY fun and I got to conquer gods with my friends. (If you’re wondering though, this was my proudest moment, I was raid leader for that and we were still 25-strong.)

Anyway! Guild Wars is great, and Guild Wars 2 looks even more great. Even in the midst of my excited anticipation, however, there was still a part of me that mourned the passing of Tigerfeet the Raider. There’s something about talking with other people, adrenaline running high as everyone concentrates on performing to the best of their ability, failing, failing, and finally the rush of SUCCESS when the Big Bad of the moment finally falls. It’s the euphoria of accomplishment shared with friends.

Guild Wars Classic has this to a point, but the majority of the boss fights do not leave me feeling like I have accomplished something epic, though Dhuum at the end of the Underworld certainly comes close. The activity I’m missing can best be described as a carefully orchestrated dance to stay alive. WoW’s heavily scripted battles are often maligned as predictable and compared to a guided theme park experience.  I at least found them exceedingly fun.

My explorer was satisfied by wondering “What’s he going to do next”. My competitive side was satisfied when we finally worked through the difficulties and conquered the boss. Since these encounters were scripted, once we gained a little experience (practical experience, I’m not talking about arbitrary numbers attached to your character) we would take that knowledge back with us and try again, eventually becoming proficient enough individually and as a group to overcome the challenge.

While reading Jeff Grubb’s article I started smiling. (Two dungeon modes? Yes Please!) As I kept reading my smile broadened, (dynamic changes within the dungeon? Absolutely!) and when I reached the end and read about the massive scripted bossfights my smile broke into an enthusiastic grin. (HELL YES!) This is the challenge, the experience I’m looking for. This is the manner in which I want to catch Tyria in a headlock and wrestle her to the ground.

The dungeons also remind me of a point I’ve made about Guild Wars 2 in the past. For every amazing and revolutionary step forward ArenaNet takes (dynamic dungeon content), they offer in the other hand a treat of the ‘familiar’ for players of older MMOs (scripted boss battles).

It’s so easy to get angry and feel betrayed when a tried mechanic is implemented in a game that’s touted as being original and revolutionary, but please, think about it.  A game can be new and fresh without all of its parts needing to be so.  I can build a beautiful new wooden floor out of salvaged barn lumber, for example.

If ArenaNet were to turn away every idea and mechanic that had been used in games previously I truly believe that Guild Wars 2 would be less for it. I respect a company that can get excited about the new and unique things its doing while still being happy to offer more familiar mainstays when they work. And that’s exactly what ArenaNet is doing with the dungeons. As we say here in the Midwest, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Of course, a bit of spit shine polish doesn’t hurt.

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Like Poking At A Sore Tooth

So my husband bought Cataclysm and resubscribed.  He succumbed to peer pressure.  By all accounts, when word spread that he was coming back to WoW there were over 100 people included on the mailing list.  Apparently he was so fun to game with that a mailing list was created to announce his return.  You can imagine my surprise.

The thing with us is, we don’t game together.  This is by design.  We’ve tried and we invariably end the evening on opposite ends of the house sulking and angry.  Maybe it’s a product of differing playstyles, or maybe it’s a personality conflict.  I suspect it’s both.  When we were both playing WoW we both played as tanks (in separate guilds), he as a warrior and me as a druid.  Tanks in WoW are expected to posses a certain amount of leadership.  Draw whatever conclusions you wish.

So he now has Cataclysm.

At this point I must admit to a certain amount of jealousy.  Jealousy over his computer (the fact that it works and isn’t over 8 years old) and jealousy that he has something fun and exciting to do while I wait for Guild Wars 2.  There’s a million other reasons and counter-arguments that chase each other around my mind but it all boils down to that little kernel of unhappiness.

So out of compassion (for he’s not a bad man, and I love him dearly), he encouraged me to check out Cataclysm on his account.  He even made room on his already over-full roster so that I could have two characters on the server he frequents.

I made a goblin hunter, and then I made a worgen rogue.  I spent the next few hours playing the worgen.  I worked my way through the beginning story, found myself confused and lost only once when I had trouble finding a cellar door (wth happened to Wowhead?), and then erupted into the world at large (I think).  The phasing technology that was premiered in Wrath of the Lich King was kinda neat there, and it was cool to be able to turn around and see part of Gilneas descending into the sea, but I’ll be damned if I could tell if I was in The World or some crazy half-persistent limbo.  I don’t like being in limbo.

I wanted to play until I reached a major city (every race has one) but eventually I became frustrated and gave up.  I don’t know if it was a result of the download (nice job on being able to play and download, but Guild Wars beat you to it by 5 years) or something that’s intended, but my map won’t fill in.  This sounds like something inconsequential, but it Bugs The Hell Out Of Me.

So I happily walked away from the worgen (who is now sporting a top-hat and looking sillier after every new armor piece) and did something else for the rest of my Saturday.

Sunday evening my husband encouraged me to give it another go and I fired up my goblin hunter.  I didn’t play the goblin for as long (long enough to find myself shipwrecked), but I found the goblins, simply, /fun/.  In a game that has been compared to a drunken frat party, goblins are the tightly spinning dynamo of ludicrous at the heart of everything that makes you want to /facepalm.

But in a good way.

My feelings towards WoW are obviously mixed.  I think it’s over-priced and definitely over-lauded, but I also spent a solid year as a hardcore raider.  During that time I met some wonderful people with whom I still talk on occasion.  I learned what it is to lead, and I learned my own limits.  Such lessons are invaluable and will follow and aid me even into Real Life.  I started a gaming blog and through that, have met even more new and wonderful people.  In truth, if it wasn’t for WoW I would not have eventually switched my focus to Guild Wars.  I would not have joined Ryan on the Relics of Orr.  There are hundreds of “would not have”s, so I’ll cut the list there.

Like any profound learning experience (I’m not unaware of the irony and geekiness of calling any experience obtained in virtual space a ‘profound learning experience’, but nevertheless it was), the lessons are invaluable, and should be treasured, but I begrudge the pain of having to learn them.  There’s a pull there for me that I don’t want to succumb to.  Raiding hard-core and on a schedule (as any hard-core raiding must be done) put stress on my personal life.  My husband and I both have been on either end as well.

Gaming for us must be casual, it must be spontaneous.  I was worried that giving Cataclysm a try would draw me back and lash me down.  Thankfully, that has not been the case.

After playing 12 levels of worgen, and 6 levels of goblin I’ve come to realize (in my heart of hearts, for I already knew this in my head) that it wasn’t the gameplay that kept me tied to WoW, it was the people.  In the vacuum that I was, playing a new race, in a new area, in a game that has become so different from the one I used to play, I found my interest wavering.  While the game is different enough to be interesting for a time, it’s still terribly the same.  Almost all quests are fetch and carry, kill x of these, go here, do that.

There are some notable exceptions.  As a worgen I had to defend a wounded man from incoming unsavories, as a goblin I got to run down looters with my car and provide entertainment for a company party.  But those glimmering moments weren’t enough to keep me interested through the pages of quest text.  I wanted to know the story, but I do my reading on the couch or in bed, not sitting upright in my husband’s uncomfortable computer chair.

My tolerance for quest text is all but exhausted.  My patience for being led by the hand from point A to point B has come to an end.  I find more enjoyment from the simple act of planning a public rail system in Minecraft than I do from slogging through the Same Old Quests in WoW.  And they really are the same.  By reading the quest text (I do every now and again) I see they have more relevance, but the actions are the same.

There’s nothing there to keep me.  My husband’s online friends are not mine.  My old account has been through no less than three hacks since I deactivated it.  My druid is a night elf now through no action on my part, and it’s altogether too much trouble to try to sort out and pick up the pieces.  That might all sound like specious excuses until I load up my worgen or goblin, play for a little bit, and remember that yeah, it’s not really worth it.

I Choose To Ignore You

Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you little number. Yeah, you, the little one hanging out by my character name. Yes, you, the level marker.

You gave me grief when I talked about Guild Wars Classic to World of Warcraft people. They told me, “Level 20 is max? Well that’s a crappy game. It’s so short!”

I say no, it’s not short. The game doesn’t begin until you reach maximum level. But they just couldn’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that you (the level number) just didn’t matter very much.

Nobody seems to complain that progression in Legend of Zelda means acquiring more weapons and (in some cases) sword skills. I grew up on games where the farther you got was how far you got. Your worth as a player was not based on an arbitrary number. Even in the original pokemon which had levels you were marked on how many you acquired and how well you managed your team to defeat ever more difficult opponents. Anybody could do it at max level, but it takes skill to do it with a lower level team.

I don’t understand why MMO gamers put so much value on levels as a means of character progression. Levels do not make a Massively Multiplayer Game. Massive amounts of players do. I know this might be a concept as radical to some as oh… say… walking three blocks to the store instead of driving. It might take some getting used to, this idea that levels really don’t matter.

To that end, that’s why I believe ArenaNet has chosen a high level cap. Disregarding the (lack of) leveling curve for the moment, the tiny number accompanying a player through their gaming life will be a comfort to many. It’s not going to have as much importance as it does in other games but it’s still there. Like milk in a sippy cup.

Through instant max level and skill PvP and the (not much talked about) sidekicking system new-to-Guild Wars-players are being introduced to solid foods. While you might be very attached to your milk I urge you to try something new. You ain’t tasted nothin’ yet!