This post was inspired by the Keen Gamer’s post – it’s a great read, go enjoy!
This post is about one of my favorite accomplishments in my MMO gaming – and his post reminded me of that. It’s a not a world first, not a particularly heroic moment (finishing off A’lar while the rest of the raid was wiped) and to you it may not seem like anything special at all. But it was to me – and MMOs need more moments like these. I say that while realizing that game designers are working hard to remove anything of the sort. I am talking about solo taming a pet in a 10 person dungeon in World of Warcraft specifically. Generally, about having challenges and uniqueness in games exist at all.
Back before hunters were EZmode in World of Warcraft (did such a time exist?) you had to tame the right pets to get the right skills to train onto them. There were three Bloodaxe Worgs in LBRS that had Bite 8 and Furious Howl 4 – it was the ONLY mob in the game with Bite 8 (at the time). They were deep within LBRS. Originally, the only way to get it was to stable your pet, and do the entire 10 man LBRS run without a pet and when you arrived at the Bloodaxe Worgs make sure no one damages them while you tame. This was problematic (obviously) and entire pet training runs were ruined by AOE happy mages. Always the mages fault. (I tried 3 times in groups, and mages always screwed it up.)
Like most things in MMOs someone found a better way. I don’t know who sorted out that with the use of a couple invisibility potions, smart pathing, patience and gratuitous use of feign death a hunter could do this solo. (I used some speed potions too). The solo hunter Bloodaxe Worg taming became a thing. While there were suggestions and guides it still wasn’t easy. It took me a week to sort out, a lot of failed attempts and tons of fun. When I finally did it the feeling of accomplishment was one of those rare ones that are now given out by the hundreds on everyday playing sessions now. There was no achievement, no narrator slapping me on the back – no bells or whistles, no over-celebration. Just me and my dog with Bite 8. Other hunters hat-tipped me when walking by. They all knew what it took to get that pet. Class respect. Some asked how, and I even ended up taking some other hunters on the same run – it became a thing I did with my hunter. I was good at it. I made friends through the experience.
Now, of course, pets are quite different and you don’t need to do anything like that to get a skill-up – its all homogenized. Bite 8 wasn’t “mandatory” and there were a couple ways to do it if you really wanted it. It’s just one of those great gaming memories where I felt like I earned something and was proud of how I earned it. No quest arrows, no add-ons, a fun and exciting challenge with a reward at the end. The way questing and MMOs should be. In the 100 levels I played in WildStar (tops level 19) there were plenty of rewards while questing but really – I can’t recall a single challenge. No situations in any recent gaming make me think that I had to behave interesting or think outside the box – follow arrow, follow rotation, get praise/loot/xp rinse and repeat. Sure, games may have challenge at end game raiding but the same old argument for years has been made – if the challenge and fun starts with the end game, why not just make the game the end game?
I still appreciated (and did it all the way up through Mists of Pandaria) pickpocketing for epic loot. I actually got the epic throwing knife that way. While less of a challenge of completion and more of grind, it was zen-like. It was also something only rogues could do. That made it special, and a badge of honor if you got one. Not a necessity, or a NPC purchase but a special action that only your class could do and only for people who had the patience to see it through. I never did get my main hand epic via pickpocketing but I spent hours trying – and for me, it didn’t feel like wasted time.
These little “badges” tend to get tweaked out if easily abused or game breaking but I believe game designers should be working harder to add in more challenge and uniqueness for the individual, classes and races. Something they can hang their hat on that may be a little outside the norm. The stealth runs Keen Gamer spoke about is a good example (didn’t they remove these to prevent boss farming with druids and rogues?) and it feels like a lot of fun gaming activities get coded out in order to be “fair and equitable” to the rest of the player base.
Do you have a favorite nuanced event you recall fondly from your MMO gaming past?