Tag Archive for WoW

Allow me to retort…

Ten Ton Hammer’s WoW site has posted The Top 5 Reasons World of Warcraft is the Best MMOG.

JuliusAs the title of my post says, allow me to retort.

They say: You are never alone in Azeroth

But you are alone… so very alone. Sure, every zone on every server has players in it, but most of them won’t talk to you, largely because they don’t need to. With the game being so eminently soloable, why bog yourself down with socializing? WoW has become the epitome of the alone together, or together alone, style of play. If you aren’t in a dungeon or on a raid, all those other people are just background.

They say: Endless content means endless fun in Azeroth

Even more, they say that most games give you a single quest chain that goes from zone to zone. Easy to hold against a new game… but WoW is nearly seven years old. And still… have you played it recently? While there may be many zones to choose from that are appropriate for your level, especially after Cataclysm, there still remains only 1 real quest chain to progress you through the story of the zone. Skip some quests and others won’t unlock, you have to start at the beginning of the zone and play through or else all is lost. And once you get to the top, unless you like starting over and forcing yourself to play classes and races that weren’t your first choice, you’ll start repeating content, endlessly. Welcome to the grind, leave your fun at the door.

They say: The value for your money is insane compared to modern standards

All MMOs, even ones that aren’t WoW, are insane values for your money. Once you’ve bought in to the $15 a month fee, you can play as much as you want. The question really is, what sort of value are you getting for your time? They choose Netflix to hold it up against, and for pure money, if you still subscribe to both disc mailing and streaming, WoW is cheaper. But if you go with just streaming, because honestly if you are a real MMO player then you’ve got a DSL, cable or other high-speed connection, now Netflix is half the price. And what will you do in WoW? Dungeon Finder? Battlegrounds? Like with the previous item, unless you like playing Alts, you’ll be repeating the same content over and over. With Netflix Instant, on the other hand, as long as you don’t crave watching only the newest releases, you can watch movies and TV from all genres. A little horror, some action, a romantic comedy with the significant other, a TV show you missed that all your friends say you should have watched, cartoons for yourself or with the kids, documentaries, and so much more. If you want, you can even repeat content over and over on Netflix. Every December I watch a couple dozen Christmas movies on Netflix, I’ve seen them before, but they’re still good. Value is where you find it.

They say: There is nothing like community

I can almost agree here. WoW’s community is HUGE. Which enables you to find a niche of it you enjoy, surround yourself with them and isolate yourself from the rest of the people who are out to ruin your game. Don’t want to play with spoilers? Too bad, the community is going to ruin that for you unless you play alone with all chat turned off. Want to role play? Better get on an RP server and then find a group or guild that likes to RP the same way you do or else you’ll find yourself at the butt end of jokes or power players. And for Pete’s sake, stay the hell away from the cesspool of the official forums… unless you like that sort of thing, in which case, go, join in, and accept that other people will hate you. Want to raid? Be prepared to play their way and install the add-ons they demand. Oh, and while we are on add-ons, what about PlayerScore… the add-on that lets people judge you before they even get to know you. There is nothing like community, but there is nothing like community. This is one of those strengths that are weaknesses deals.

They say: The game is the most complete experience available

The game is polished for sure. That’s what Blizzard does best. And leveling is easy, whether you want it to be or not (you might enjoy the low-level game, but you’ll need to repeat it with other characters, be overpowered for it, or actually consciously disable your experience gain to play it). And the classes are all well-defined and have their own flavor and niches… all which boil down to tank, healer, dps. The dungeon finder works by putting a tank, a healer and 3 dps characters together. And when you use it, forget about actually seeing the dungeon. Go go go! If you stop and smell the roses, you’ll find yourself booted out of the group. In the end though, I can’t disagree with this final point. WoW is the most complete experience available. It is filled with tons of good and tons of bad. You can enjoy it, and it’ll break your heart. It is fun and boring. It is everything you want, and everything you want to avoid, all at the same time, mostly because Blizzard wants to cater to everyone, despite everyone wanting something different, some in direct opposition to each other.

In the end, you should decide for yourself if World of Warcraft is worth playing, and I say this even to the people who are playing it right now. It is easy to play, almost, one might say, addicting. But ask yourself, “Is this really how I want to spend my time?” If it is, that’s fantastic! Do it, no judgments, as long as you’ve made that decision consciously and with forethought. But if it isn’t, do yourself a favor and step away, cancel (actually cancel, don’t just “not log in” while still paying for it), try some other games or some other activities. Make sure that if you are playing WoW it is because you want to play WoW, and not just because you haven’t taken the time to think of something you’d enjoy doing more.

There. I’m done preaching.

Dragon*Con 2011 … is done.

If you were eagerly awaiting my day by day posts for Dragon*Con that I’ve done for the last few years, I’m sorry.  I decided this year not to do them.  I probably could have, but instead chose to focus on actually being at the con.  To find out what I was doing there, head to the MMORPG Track website and find the 7 posts I did about our programming.

Personally, I had a blast.  Our Saturday WoW Meet & Greet (the Darkmoon Faire) and the MMO Gathering of Heroes party were insane.  Lots of happy people and I was very proud to have helped make that happen.

Hotel reservation already made for next year (yes, the Sheraton and Hilton are taking reservations already) and I look forward to a year worth of planning to make 2012’s con even better.

Too much carrot, not enough stick

You might have noticed a lack of my Sneakin’ Around and other WoW related posts.  I’ve cancelled World of Warcraft again.  The truth is that I absolutely loved playing in a strange way, but not enough to feel like a $15 a month charge is money well spent.  But what really drove the nail into the coffin was the constant feeling like the game was broken.

It isn’t broken.  Not really.  But I play MMOs for two things: community and immersion.  The enemy of both of those things is leveling.

It was almost impossible to play without leveling at an absurd rate.  The experience rewards for quests are so out of whack that I can’t finish a line of quests, finish a story, without being horribly overpowered by the time I read the final mission.  That boss who is supposed to be hard to fight isn’t when I’m now three to five levels higher than him.  My other option is to chase quests that have the most challenge and ignore the story.  Abandoning quests just because they go green made me feel bad.  “Hey guys, I know was helping you with your problem, but, ah, I’m gonna move on to the next area now. Hope things work out!”

And lets not forget that unless my friends and I played dozens of alts, we could almost never play together because missing a single gaming session could leave you five or more levels behind your friends.  Slow leveling of old games never felt like work to me, but constantly playing catch-up in an attempt to just be able to effectively group with my friends did.  I supposed I could do what most other people do and just accept the fact that we’ll even out at max level, but the prospect of playing for 85 levels as filler until I get to the real game doesn’t entice me to want to log in.

The reality here is that Blizzard has seen that people are generally happier when they are “progressing” and rather than allow people to actually work for and earn things, they just lowered the bar so that you practically can’t log into the game without gaining something.  And most people seem to want that.  They’ve become reward junkies, the constant dinging of achievements and levels and other random things bringing them joy.  But to me, it’s all empty.  I’ve got over 50 levels and dozens of achievements on one character, but I look at him in the armory and don’t feel any attachment to any of it.  I didn’t really earn it.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t hard earned achievements in WoW, there are plenty, at the high end.  However, the 85 level escalator to get there is full of Fool’s Gold and cubic zirconia.  And I think escalator is the right word to describe the ride.  You get on and it is pushing you forward and if you’d like to stop, you can’t, but you can stay relatively still if you run backwards, working against the flow.

Where am I going with this?  I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I only know that playing World of Warcraft simply doesn’t get me what I want from an MMO, and I don’t think any of the offerings coming down the pipe will either.  I want a game, where I’m playing the “real game” from the moment I exit the tutorial, and I want that real game to have as few restrictions as possible, to let people make their own rules.  A guild should be a guild because the people want to be a guild, not because raids require X number of people with Y number of tanks and Z number of healers and a DPS output of greater than N.

Back in my EverQuest days, I used to tell people all the time that it’s “not just a game”.  And maybe that’s what I want most, to feel like it’s more than a game, and WoW, with its flashing lights and rapid rewards feels very much like just a game.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-05-22

  • Monday… we meet again. #
  • … putting limes in coconuts… #
  • Canceled 2 days ago, I already have a 7 day free trial "Come back to WoW! We miss you!" email in my inbox. Strike when the iron is cold! #
  • Recommend me a javascript framework to learn. jQuery? Dojo? something else? #
  • Life is like a box of chocolates… delicious and finished too soon. #
  • Phone companies that lie to their customers make my job harder. #
  • The Xbox suspension/banning forum is pure comedy gold thanks to the snarky staff. http://j.mp/jyoZCD #
  • @krystman Juliet tends to be the most snarky. #
  • From this day on, our Slim Jims will snap just a little bit more quietly. Rest is peace, Randy. #
  • What the… Boondock Saints 2 is horrible! #

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Sneakin’ Around: Fortune and glory, kid.

Am I being watched?

I'm not stealing. I'm discovering.

For some reason, and I don’t know why, I keep thinking that you need level 30 in order to take up archaeology in Azeroth.  But it’s level 20.  So, basically, I needlessly scraped my way through 10 levels on daily quests, random non-violent tasks, and mining/herbalism when I could have been scouring the world for artifacts.

I feel like Indiana Jones.  Not because of archaeology itself, which is quite possibly the worst designed trade skill/crafting ever put into an MMO.  On my other characters, the ones who fight, archaeology is boring and stupid.  You wander around in a zigzag path hitting the survey key until you get an artifact, which you then pick up.  Repeat.  On the rogue, however, it reminds me fondly of my days in EverQuest as a monk, feigning my way around zones, checking out cool stuff.  Kaens has to carefully make his way though the dig sites and wait for just the right moment to perform a survey.  Luckily, with sneak and vanish, I can avoid most of the dangerous creatures roaming the land.

While previously playing the rogue felt like a fun job, with archaeology in the mix is finally feels like an adventure.  Now I just need a hat and a whip.

The single best part about archaeology is that I don’t have to interact with any NPCs at all except for when I need training.  Otherwise, I just go to the places on my map and I am able to craft my own stories and my own adventures.  This might be the most fun I’ve had playing an MMO in a long time.

Level 32 and surveying…

Sneakin’ Around: Finding Dungeons

In a companion piece to yesterday’s rant on using the dungeon finder tool, playing a character who doesn’t kill means that the tool is useless to me.  So at least on this character I’ll never have to deal with that frustration.  The dungeons, however, aren’t useless.  For example, Wailing Caverns has a quest for picking up serpentblooms, which are ground spawns, so that means I can do it.  The trouble is that I have to actually go and find the dungeon.  I suppose trouble isn’t the right word, since I actually enjoy the exploring.

I know where the Deadmines are, but taking a peek at spoiler sites tells me that there aren’t any quests there for me to do as they all involve killing stuff.  Ragefire Chasm also appears to only have kill quests.  Shadowfang Keep as well.  I’m betting that most of the dungeons are going to be this way.  But many of them will also have herbs and ore to gather and mine.

In the meantime, I’m still traveling the world… just yesterday I ran all over Loch Modan looking for lost pages, which I found, and then I was ushered off to the Wetlands.

26 and roaming…

Sneakin’ Around: The Bling is the Thing

So, being a rogue who doesn’t kill things can be very hard.  Not only because people are constantly asking you to kill things, but even when they don’t want you to kill them they sometimes just want you to beat them up, just a little.  And let me tell you, fighting with a fishing pole is not easy.  Well, unless you get a big fishing pole.

It turns out that in Duskwood there might be a crazy worgen who needs my help, and after they promise me I won’t have to kill him, I agree to go beat him up a little and then shove a potion down his throat.  I mean, I don’t want to kill people, but I’m not against applying a little pressure, for the greater good, of course.  I head down to the farm where this guy is hanging out and he jumps me.  I take a few swipes with my rod and reel, the only weapon I have, and he’s just not having it.  I run off to save my own ass from a beat down.

I make my way back to Stormwind to unwind at the Pig and Whistle, and to do a little cooking and fishing to calm my nerves.  I gather my daily fish catch and go to see what they’ll give me for it and I’m shocked when I get handed this ugly, gaudy, horrendous looking fishing pole.  The thing looks like a goblin made it.  Covered in gems and sparkling like the sun, I can barely stand to look at it, but I can’t look away.  But I pick the thing up, trying not to show the disgust on my face, and I nearly drop it due to the weight.  I break out in a smile that practically outshines this gods forsaken rod.

Ugly Fishing Rod

Yes, those are wings. It has two of them.

I head back to Duskwood and down to the farm, the worgen jumps me again and I brain him with my new fishing pole.  His tongue hangs out the side of his mouth and he is probably seeing stars as I shove the potion down his gullet.  I collect my rewards, I do a few more deeds for the local, and as they increasingly keep asking me to kill things I bid farewell to that dark and musty forest.

Armed with my new (ugly) rod and a 300 fishing skill, I decide to go find Booty Bay and see how I can do in the fishing contest there.  After one attempt, I realize it’ll be a while (and a flying mount) before I can seriously compete for the grand prize, but I spend some time fishing and chatting with the people, and hoping to pull up one of those rare fish the robot is looking for.  I don’t, but there is always next week.  And the week after that.  And the week after… well, you get the idea.

Level 25 and angling…

I’m on a Boat

I'm on a boat.

Everybody look at me 'cause I'm sailing on a boat.

I always hated Thousand Needles because the race track was just so stupid.  Some people think Cataclysm has done a lot wrong with World of Warcraft, but look at me… I’m on a boat.

The last time I wrote about my worgen it was over here, January 14th and I’d just made my way out of the starter zone which left me at level 12 or 13, I forget.  Maybe it was 14.  Doesn’t matter.  What matters is that as of last weekend, just five weeks later, I’m level 47.  Sure, you say, “Five weeks?! Why aren’t you at, like, 70?” but keep in mind, this is 47 without really trying.  I’ve spent much more time on my rogue who doesn’t kill, and so really this is level 47 in a total of 72 hours played.  And at least half of that is standing around chatting with people, role playing and browsing the auction house.  I’ve made it to level 47, heard the DING! of a level gained 46 times and I feel absolutely no sense of accomplishment whatsoever.  Every time the rogue makes a level I feel like I’ve conquered something, like I’ve crested another hill.  With the worgen, it’s more like, “Shit… I leveled again?  Didn’t I just level like twenty minutes ago?  Well, fuck, all my quests are green, and where did all the exclamation points go?  Did I outlevel another quest hub before I finished it?”  I feel like I’m missing the game, like I’m being pushed toward some end game, hurried along so that I don’t have a chance to get bored or to notice whether or not I’m actually enjoying playing.

In a few levels I won’t have anything left worthwhile in Thousand Needles.  The kills will be trivial, and the quests will be all gone, and the only real herb here is Stranglekelp, which gains me no skill and people aren’t even paying much for these days, but I suspect that I’ll return here because it’s the only place my River Boat works.  And ultimately this is where my biggest conflict with WoW comes in… there are some really cool and awesome places in this world, and you don’t get to stay there.  Why can’t I spend my days on the river fighting pirates and monsters?  I mean, I suppose I could, but the game doesn’t support it.  There are daily quests for fishing and cooking and other things, but why doesn’t each quest hub have a couple of dailies to making hanging around even mildly interesting and rewarding?

Not to go off on a tangent, but face it – this entire post is a tangent (a nice Friday sojourn off into rant land), but with the advent of the daily quest, why isn’t this mechanic used everywhere?  We all know that killing monsters is a pointless pursuit in WoW, they’ve hamstrung the exp on them so much, and quests are where the action is, and daily quest exp scales with level, so why not have a handful of quests in every hub where you can get one or two a day and continue to level doing whatever the hell you want?

No.  Instead, I have to make yet another zone useless and leave it to probably never return.  The empty husk of a world that necessitated The Cataclysm in the first place.

Oh well, at least for now… I’m on a boat.

Sneakin’ Around: My Country for a Horse

Kaens in leather.

It was the only clean outfit, or something like that.

I need a new look.  I suppose I could always go with the dinner suit or the dress from last week, but I’d rather not.  To the left you’ll see a picture of me in my adventuring attire.  It looks like standard leather stuff, and that’s the problem.  I need to find a way to look less like I’m itching for a fight, while still retaining some stats so that I can survive the occasions when I’m trying to run away from one.

Browsing my way through the auction house, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that remaining in leather is going to be hard if I want to get a look that I like, and might instead have to go with cloth in a few areas.  Obviously, as I level I will have more options, but for now I can only wear what I can wear, restricted by level, and so I am limited in my choices.  Still, there has to be something better than this.

Another issue I’ve been having is that my desire to leave town was bottoming out.  I mean, in Stormwind I can safely earn a few thousand exp every day and never have to worry.  But I decided to venture out and checked in with the Hero’s Call board to see where I should go for a level appropriate challenge.  I suspect I’ll constantly be back tracking, looking for old low level quests to pad out my growth, but I wanted something exciting and challenging.  The board said to go to Darkshire in Duskwood.  So I flew out to the logging camp and then headed out on foot.

I love exploring, but sometimes, running on foot through places you’ve already explored can be boring, but what option do I have?  Anyway, after a long trek there, I discovered that like much of the world the people of Darkshire just want me to kill stuff.  Everyone, that is, except Abercrombie.  He had a great series where I was sent out to deliver or gather things and everything was going swimmingly until he asked for some ghoul ribs, which you can’t find just laying around.  I was very disappointed to not be able to continue working with him, but on the bright side, I made a couple of levels and got past 20.

The horse.

My feet thank you, Abercrombie.

Level 21 and riding high…

Trains Suck

With the new EverQuest Progression server opening this week, the gaming blog-o-sphere is all atwitter about it.  Some are praising it, some are just enjoying it, some are coming to terms with their inability to play it anymore, and some downright hate it claiming that it ruined its own lands and it won’t ruin theirs.

The funny thing though is that very little about the game is actually broken in such a fashion that everyone agrees.  Except the boats.  They’ve been broken in some form or another since the original 1999 launch of the game.  Everything else though is subject to opinion and preference.

Take combat for example.  Some people are complaining about how slow it is.  The fights are long and players don’t actually do a whole lot.  Spells have long cast times and abilities take anywhere from six to ten seconds to pop back up.  Of course, I’ve been complaining for a long time now about how combat in new games is too fast.  They are over very quickly and I’ve always got another button to hit, another ability to use, another spell to cast.  I don’t have enough time to be social unless I stop playing.  The old slow combat, however, allowed me to talk to my group, my guild, the zone, and hold private conversations with several friends.

There are no maps and no floating quest indicators, which some people say makes the game too hard to play since you don’t know where you are going or what you are doing… unless you explore and read and, you know, remember stuff.  I actually don’t plan on playing on the new EQ Progression server because I’m actually enjoying playing WoW for the moment (of course, I’m playing WoW in a manner completely alien to many folks), but also because most of the people I enjoyed playing EQ with aren’t going to be there either, and it’s the people who made EQ worth playing.  However, I did drop into game and rolled up a monk in Qeynos, just like the old days, and you know what?  I still knew the world like the back of my hand.  I knew where the vendors were and where to find quests, and more importantly when I didn’t remember, I remembered how to find out: you target NPCs and hail them to speak to them and find quest text, and then you just do what they want.  No indicators, no tracking, you write down on a piece of paper on your computer desk what they are looking for and who they are and when you find the stuff, you bring it back.  Even better… you don’t have to actually be on a quest to get quest items.  In WoW and other new games, if there is a quest for gnoll teeth, you have to get the quest first and then go kill gnolls.  In EverQuest, you can go kill gnolls and get the teeth (which are NO DROP) and then find a quest guy who wants them.  How cool is that?  Imagine if in WoW you could be hunting raptors and some other player says, “Hey, there is a guy in the Wetlands who wants ten of their hides and he’ll give you some coin for it.”  You say, “Cool!” and collect the hides, then go find the guy in the Wetlands.  To me, that is much more awesome than killing a bunch of raptors and getting no loot, then finding a guy who wants hides, so you go back and kill raptors in the exact same spot you were before, but now they magically have hides they didn’t have before!  What?

Another example that comes up in the “I can’t believe we played like this” side of the discussion is trains.  The act of someone dragging mobs on you, either by intent or by accident, that then stop to fight you while the other guy gets away.  Yep, trains suck.  Nothing in the game is worse than having your day ruined and your group wiped by some idiot’s train to the zone line.  But you want to know what is totally awesome?  Surviving trains.  Your group already had a mob to fight and now you have three, or five… the enchanter start mezzing, the monk snags one to off tank, the ranger pulls one out and roots it, and the cleric is screaming for everyone to stop getting hit because he’s running out of mana… then… one mob dies, and there is this clear moment when you realize that everyone did their jobs without being told, they worked as a team and your group is surrounded by mobs just waiting to die and you are more than happy to oblige.  I spent entire Saturdays in zones with a buddy or two breaking trains.  Be it out on the lawn in Unrest or after Kunark down in Sebilis, trains were thrilling and exciting, and they just don’t happen in new games anymore.

Trains don’t suck.  Not for everyone.  Some of us want that game.  A game of danger and thrills, of social interaction and interdependence of classes, where quests are things you can do at any time and not just when someone flags you for them, a game where travelling to another part of the game means something more than having to stone home later or riding on a griffin for a couple minutes, but nobody is making it anymore.  Are they?