Tag Archives: World of Warcraft

Skeptical Plays: World of Warcraft [PC]

Earlier last year, I found myself returning to the World of Warcraft, a game which I had walked away from in disgust nearly five years ago.  I had not planned on staying, and in fact, nine months on, despite my currently active subscription and daily play time… I kind of still haven’t.

Despite being a socially awkward misanthrope with zero people skills, MMOs for me have always been about the people, and most of my enjoyment had come from being able to meet and interact with like-minded fans of the genre. However relating to (and fitting in with) the rest of the community has always been one of my biggest issues, and even after years of my clumsy attempts at socialising, I still have not managed to find myself a static group of friends to play with, nor a guild where I felt truly welcomed or at ease.

Part of this comes down to my hatred for the game’s focus on loot and gear levels, and this ugly, obsessive, all-consuming greed that seems to bring out the darkest side of its community.  I despise how elitist and excluding its players can be; how groups and guilds pick people for content and memberships based on their characters’ item levels, with no consideration at all for the personalities behind the gear on-screen.

This, is further enhanced by my hatred of the modern day’s approach to end game, with its singular focus on repetitive, short, fast paced raids.

Part of me miss the old Vanilla days, back when dungeons and raids were long and gruelling experiences.  Random groups were much harder to come by, and as such they were taken more seriously by the players.  Folks were more likely to play nice, since failure due to a lack of teamwork (or being kicked due to assholeary) would usually mean another three plus hours of shouting “Looking for Group!” on the chat channels.

Many older players would look back on those days with disdain, but me?  I loved them.

It is an obsolete style of game-play which is no longer plausible today, with the modern day fast paced dungeon designs and the advent of randomised queues. However back then random Pick-Up-Groups were where players liked myself went to bond with like-minded folks, sharing common goals.

We did not have the cross-realm features back then, so it meant we would repeatedly encounter and group up with the same set of players over and over. It was how people build up their reputation within the community; how folks developed mutual trust and respect; and how strangers, became brothers.

Wanting to become more connected to the game and its community, I have gotten in touch with an old contact from my list in-game, and have been for the past month grouping with her and her guild, chatting and levelling, and helping with raids.

Unfortunately I am sad to report that my time spent with them only served to further highlight my frustrations with the game.  I miss the olden days, where entire guilds would get together in-game regularly for social events (cross-guild events even), and groups would run around laughing, joking, questing, and exploring the lands together.  It is a stark contrast to the game I see today, where it is filled with people who would only log on for raids or loot.

I find myself surrounded by friends who are reluctant to help out with content just because they already have the loot or the achievements they needed, and their participation would not benefit them in some way.  This self-serving nature is a common trend I am seeing, and it is particularly heartbreaking for me.

Furthermore,  I find myself once again in the position of being excluded for content for one reason for another. Being excluded by random strangers is frustrating enough, but it is decidedly worst to find yourself on the outside looking in when supposed friends are involved.

Not sure if it is the skeptical or the misanthrope side of me speaking here, but I am starting to feel that perhaps all people are inherently greedy and self-serving, and that perhaps I have been wasting my time all these years, trying to find true camaraderie and friendships in these online games.  That perhaps I should just become a vegan, and go hug a tree (or a dolphin)… or something.

I just don’t know any more.

Anyways I am mainly writing this post as an excuse to post some old screenshots.  But who knows, I MIGHT come back at a later stage and do a proper blogging thing where I report on what I have been doing in-game.  As always, I guess, only time will tell.


Patience, Grasshopper

Personally I find it comforting, seeing a few online titles clinging on to the old good subscription-based model of gaming, from the older titles like Ultima Online and Fallen Earth, to the more recent titles like DC Universe Online, Final Fantasy XIV (kinda), and the upcoming Rift.   The market has changed a lot since the early days, and is now dominated by a whole new generation of gamers, with a whole new outlook and a whole new set of demands.

Games are fast becoming more bite-sized and faster paced, with the market becoming dominated by micro downloads in the form of DLCs and Apps.   The old all-you-can-eat subscription-based model is quickly falling out of favour, with demands for the F2P models on the rise.  Today more and more online games are either being released with as F2P, or in the process of converting to.

While I am personally not a fan of the à la carte style of the F2P models, I can certainly understand and appreciate their appeal.   However what I fail to understand is just why people are so negative towards subscription-based games, especially games that are new to the market.   It annoys me seeing all the complaints about the apparent lack of content, especially when compared to older games on the market, and how the sub and the game should be avoided until it becomes F2P.

Unlike in the past where players were in it for the long haul, and their main focuses were socialisation, exploration and role-playing – it seems to me that a lot of players nowadays, especially the more vocal ones, have the tendency to bypass a lot of the content.  Contents such as the lore, the side quests, the exploration, and the socialising – instead focusing on power-levelling to max level, and what they perceived to be “endgame”.  And when these players don’t find the same max level gear and raid instances popularised by established games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest, they post angry negative comments on forums, complaining about how the game is NOT worth paying a subscription for, how they would NOT go back to the game until it goes F2P, and then rage-quits before their subscription payments even starts.  It is highly ironic that a lot of these very same players, would make the same complaints when they are introduced to F2P games, and would rage-quit those to go back to their reliable subscription-based World of Warcrafts and EVE Onlines.

In my opinion, this not only have a negative impact on the ongoing development of these newer games, but also affect the stability of the communities that plays them as well.  I say stop with the negativity!   Have a little patience and give the developers a chance, support them with subscriptions and give them a regular source of income to work with.  Give them a chance to develop proper contents for their games, instead of focusing their time on item shop fluff, or rushing around looking for their next projects. Subscribe for a month or two at least and enjoy the games for what they are.   It will not only give the studios a chance to polish and grow the games, but will also tell the publishers that the games ARE worth keeping and maintaining.   Remember good things can take time – it’s true for cheeses and wines, and it’s certainly as true for our online games.


The End of The Journey

Many people now live in a state of constant worry.  And indeed, the concerns are more than valid.  With things like killer bees; the impending zombie apocalypse; ninjas, dressed as clowns; and of course, clowns, eating ninjas.   I myself however, am more worried about the current state of gaming.   One trend that I am noticing more and more recently, is the abandoning of the “journey”, the downplaying of the levelling part of our games.

There is a saying which goes “what matters is not the destination, but the journey itself”, and that, is exactly how I feel when it comes to MMOs.  For me a large part of the gaming experience comes from the leveling parts of these games.   The gradual maturing of your characters; the exploration of the lands; the revealing of the lore and stories scattered around the worlds; and last but not least, the meeting of new people along the way, and the resulting new bonds and friendships that develops.

It seems however, that my way of thinking is in the minority.   Nowadays many gamers and developers are starting to see the leveling part of gaming as an obstacle.   Instead of enjoying the leveling, and seeing the journeying, the whole adventuring experience as being the fun itself, many people now sees it as the being means towards the end.   The means, towards the goal, the means, towards the “fun”.   Parts of me cries every time someone complains about leveling taking too long, or when I see people grind rush to max level, and then complain about a lack of things to do.   To me, these gamers are completely missing the point of gaming.

Unfortunately, as I have mention this is not just the attitude of the gamers, but the developers as well.  Look at Age of Conan‘s offline leveling system; the increased XP gain in World of Warcraft; the rested XP and XP potions offered in numerous games; and last but not least look at Warhammer Online, where you can actually BUY levels.   Many games now offer some type of fast leveling system, not to mention the various fast travelling and other zone skipping devices on offer.  Systems and devices, which not only allow, but indeed encourages the bypassing of the adventuring part of the games – the journey, if you will.

As more and more gamers and developers adopt this attitude towards gaming, I have to wonder – what does this mean, for gamers like myself?  Is this the end of the road for us, the lonely travellers, the hardy adventurers of the lands?  Is it finally time for us to throw down our swords?  Is this… the end of the journey?


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