Tag Archive: Blizzard – to – remove

I Hate Mila!

Mild mannered bloggers over at Are We New At This? and High Latency Life are tackling an important issue in blognation. Why all the hate on WoW? I mean, it has eleventy (.2) billion subscribers! Something must be going right over at ActiBlizzEnron. It is a curious (and good) question in many ways. Chris Cavelle tries to calm the masses and instead suggests we all enjoy some Mila instead.

Thing is, I hate Mila.

I mean, she was talented in that 70’s show, but her newer work in film has just been so much shallower.

I always have preferred red-heds to brunettes

I think she is losing weight, and I prefer curves to stick-women

The kids these days may like her, but I prefer a classier ladies – like Kate Beckinsale

Too much photo-shop

(See what I did there?)

All joking aside (and I really don’t dis-like Mila) and light-fun-poking at the topic – personal tastes leads to criticism – constructive or not. While I prefer to read opinions that are constructive, people are going to write what they feel like. WoW is held as the ‘standard’ in MMO’ing, love it or hate it. Their design decisions, as proven by the whole failed-wow-clone design cycle syndrome, has impacted the direction of the genre for many years. Current and Ex-players like to wax  their opinions on that impact, and the secret desire for every gamer to have every game “made just for me” ™.

Just like everyone critiques every speech, decision, and outfit worn by the POTUS due to the perceived impact it has on people’s lives, they do the same with things that impact their hobbies. Perhaps that isn’t an entirely relevant analogy, but you wouldn’t be able to guess the difference in importance reading some of those constructive criticisms (including some of my own.)

I played WoW for many years through the ups and downs, and had my fun with it. I’ll no doubt pop back in next expansion to see if it’s improved (for my tastes – important qualifier – I know many like it just as it is, even if sub numbers are shrinking). I think personally, I “hate” on WoW because the experience doesn’t work for me like it used to. And because I still secretly want to play it, I complain about it. So I can still be involved in the discussion somehow.

Of course, if you wade through the mass of WoW ‘bashing’, you’ll find some great gems in there that would indeed improve the game – and not just for whomever the author may be. You can see Blizz pushing for some (perhaps) real big changes (dissolving the holy trinity?) and adding features they swore up and down they never would do. Who knows, maybe Blizzard will Transmogrify their development. Will be fun to see. And bitch about. 🙂

Never fear my friends, I predict WoW complaining will drop to an all time low on December 20th.

 

World of Warcraft Tanky McTankertons

Last week Crabby McCraberton wrote a WoW Dev Blog on hotfixed changes to threat in World of Warcraft. Basically, they are removing (or working towards removing) threat as a variable in gameplay. They feel there are enough variables for tanks to worry about. This came on the heels of tank-bribery, CC changes and other mechanic adjustments to make tanking less stressful, and hopefully create an influx of tanks.

I always believed the whole idea of threat and tanking to be silly beyond reason, but understand there weren’t many other creative ideas in play to replace it. This of course sparked an article, and mostly-wow-type-level-of-discussion on Wowinsider.com on whether it was time to “kill” tanking.

I think it is, and have thought so for some time. Whether or not that is actually possible in WoW itself – or if the devs would actually be innovative and do that – is doubtful

My personal experience in MMO’s has mostly been as the healer. I had a natural affinity for it and the challenges that went along the responsibility of making up for players mistakes. On my 17th (or was that 18th?) return to WoW, and my solo nature of advancing my character after the advent of the dungeon finder tool, I decided to give tanking a shot. The insta queues for tanking and subsequent rewards for doing so actually work out wonderfully for a solo-MMO player – assuming that you have the requisite patience, modicum of “skill” required, and thick skin to enter the LFD. My playstyle (30 minutes here and there) meant I could log in, instantly get a group, accomplish something, and logoff. As a DPS toon, my first 30 minutes was spent waiting in the queue.

I came to really enjoy tanking. It fit my style and playtime, and I became pretty good at it. Problem for me was that I didn’t *love* the class I was playing (Paladin) so I levelled up my Druid and tried him tanking. Same result. Loved tanking, not the class. OK, will try levelling my warrior – sigh. Just don’t love the class! So while I spent a few months improving queue times for my DPS/healing friends, I couldn’t settle in on a class liked to tank with.

My favorite class in WoW, heck, even one of ‘all time’, is the Shaman. If I could ‘tank’ with my Shaman I would probably still be playing today. The class style and totems just really works for me.

That puts me firmly in the belief that if you give a player the option to play what class they want to play, and the way they want to play it, those holes may be finally plugged. Just sayin’.

I haven’t been following it closely,but my understanding is that GW2 won’t require the trinity and as such, may be worth picking up – if indeed there is a class choice that resonates with me.

 

 

Can We Teach A New Dog Old Tricks?

Blizzard seems intent on taking a new direction in Cataclysm – making the game more challenging. I’m very curious if the follow through, and if they do – even more curious if they stick with it.

The basis of the change, without going into too much detail, is making CC required in instances again as well as making healing more challenging. What is surprising to me is that WoW today has been built on accessibility and easing the game every step of the way. I wrote recently how my Shaman had managed to beat pretty much the most challenging of bosses in PUG’s. The game has hit its high subscriber base from designing every class to be competitive in any role it can assume.

I’ll give a brief history of my experiences in WoW and how I have seen things change, and then chat about whether this move is possible, advisable, and/or sustainable. After the break.

My first raider in WoW was a druid, back in Vanilla. Back then druids were few and far between (no Tree or Boomkin form) and I secured my spot on a raid team for one button, and one button only – Innervate.  Back then raiding was such a challenge, mana was at a premium, and my main job was to replenish the mana of the core healers – usually a priest. My Vanilla experience was a full time mana battery with healing capabilities. Most characters had one clearly defined role and spec, and if you wanted to raid as that class, you stuck by it.

TBC fleshed out the characters a bit more, but dungeon runs were still a challenge. Going in without your guild (because you knew the strengths and weaknesses of the players) rarely happened. Heroic Shattered Halls was a complete cluster f*ck if you didn’t have the right CC, and the right players responsible for that CC. While characters became much more well rounded, content access was still at a premium. Our casual guild (who raided hard) was ranked as a top 10 guild on the server at one point, and we hadn’t even killed all of the bosses.

Wrath finalized the current path. Nearly every spec of every class was end game playable, and the content was the most accessible it has ever been. Still a shortage of tanks and healers, but enough people could fill those roles well enough that a 20 minute wait was pretty much the longest wait for a DPS only class to get into some content. The dungeon finder is out, and in full swing, and a group of 5 random strangers across multiple servers can easily dominate the hardest of 5 man heroic dungeons. PUG groups form day and night for 10/25 man ICC (the end game of Wrath), many with heroic mode toggles. More people experience the most content available in WoW to date.

While that history is a severe simplification, all roads travelled by Blizzard have led to an easy to play, moderate to master experience. I am curious why they want to make the game more challenging since their success seems to have hinged on that mantra. Regardless, this is the vision they are working towards for Cataclysm. Spending 5 years training a playerbase to play a certain way towards the easy path, and then changing to make them have to relearn their expectations is, by all accounts, a very interesting goal.

Now, perhaps I only found Wrath to be extremely easy because ‘I learned the hard way’. Players who entered the game end of TBC, or WRATH, only know the ‘new’ way. Through hundreds of dungeons and raids, I have literally seen CC used a handful of times. It’s just not necessary. I have met rogues that don’t even know what Sap is. Mages don’t Poly (even in an emergency – it’s not a natural reaction to immobolize the mob anymore to try and recover). It has been completely removed from the game, and by recent accounts, is something people are going to have to pick up real quick on launch day. Will it succeed?

I applaud Blizzard for trying something new and attempting to inject a bit of challenge into their playable game. I just don’t understand the motivation. By keeping the absolute end game (Lich King) still very difficult to kill they have seemed to keep the hardcore raiders pleased. By allowing the rest of the player base to defeat most of the other bosses, the more casual component seems to be pleased. So, at this stage in the game, why alienate your core subscriber base? You tought these players to play one way and made it easy for them. Now you are going to make them struggle through a 5 man dungeon. Is this good design?

I’m looking forward to watching how it all plays out.

Lighter Topic

I am part of a WoW guild. I have spoken briefly about it in the past in a few topics, but nothing major (you know, the one I used to be GM of, yadda yadda). It’s going through a change right now, and the people that founded the guild are mostly gone. It was a great guild and will be interesting to see as a “casual” player what happens with it. They are working on their 4th GM right now. I have a Guild post lined up for the future. This is of lighter fare.

I still read the boards, and Clawdia/Orvie updated a thread that was/is kinda cool. It’s in private guild forums so I can’t link it.

Since the guild was formed at the beggining of Burning Crusade, we have had 12 kids born into guild members. Hell, that’s a solid 10 person raid group (with rotations, even). It’s a fun thought – a group of adult gamers grouped by an in game tag sharing parenting tips for newborns (after they read the Yogg-Saron strats, mind you)

Puts things into a fun perspective when gaming and real life collide.

Can the End Game be the Game?

MMO gamers seem to be lamenting the fact that everything starts at the “endgame” in current mmo-land. The grind/level mechanics exist mostly to slow you down to getting to a point where you can start having fun. While that sounds back-ass-wards, the common argument in support is traditionally “Developers can’t create enough content to keep up with the players”.

I don’t disagree entirely. Developers can’t create the current type of content to keep up – or can they? I am not going to get into alternate schemes (where players are the content) or anything crazy or off the wall – I’m just going to look at our good friend WoW and understand where all their content – and developer hours – went into their game. After the break of course.

World Building: End Game in WoW, to narrow it down to the final two instances, are indicated in the map below.

If you are generous, you can expand around those dots a bit, but honestly the entire game is funneled into those two spots (which are really just entrances into instances, anyway). That is an awful big waste of programming dollars, don’t you think? Especially for a game whose 95% of “end game” content exist in instances anyway? (Depending if you count Wintergrasp as “end game”, or the Argent Tournament).

Quests: The WoW quest system, while mired in mediocrity (typical escort/kill/collect) is a HUGE part of their development costs. WoW currently has 8027 Quests (searchable at wowhead.com, at least). How many of those are “endgame”? 223. WoW has 7804 planned obsolescence quests. While you could argue the quest system is just a means to an end to GET to the endgame – how many 5/10/25 man instances could you build in place of the 7804 one off quests?

Instances: WoW has ~80 pre-cap instances, (when you count instance wings and heroic modes) and only 22 targeted for max level. Isn’t that split in reverse? Shouldn’t there be 20 instances before the cap, and have 80 instances when you hit the cap – wouldn’t that make it harder for players to “run out of content” fast when the game truly begins?

Arenas/BG’s: Pretty much all instanced except for a few world ones – but think about how many we could have if resources were allocated to play the game for fun from the outset, not just burn 5 days /played to get to (slim) endgame.

I could link to various posts of mine and others who believe the level and time to level gap needs to close, keep the relative power closer from first level to final (so everyone can play together, regardless of how long each have been playing) and there are still plenty of carrots to dangle if you like grinding through achievements, etc. I just can’t help but wonder of developers focused their time and resources at the true “endgame” how much content would we really have there – especially if the majority of content that we just use once per character and throw away, was spent on end game materials.

Just a thought.

Skills Baby

Suzina over at KTR posts about a couple recent gaming experiences in LOTRO. It’s a good read for several reasons, but mostly because it captures the essence of what is great about MMO’s – success and failure. I shared a snazzy yet true golf analogy in the comments section about “hooks”. MMO’s live on hooks. 

Psychochild made a comment in the thread about the beauty of Suz’s post (we are tight like that where I can nickname her unashamedly.) and that those are experiences you can’t have in single player games – and my first reaction was that he was right, followed up with a “wait, is he?” The answer is yes and no. Suspense suspended after the cut.

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Tuesday Smorgasboard

It really doesnt.
It really doesn’t.

Lots of little gaming going on. Will touch upon them.

1) LOTRO revisted: While I am trying to organize friends to go through the trial, nothing concrete is set up although a little interest and a couply people hopping on Brandywine. I said this before and I will say it again – the fact that LOTRO doesn’t allow you to play their two new classes WITHOUT buying MoM is a terrible design decision and puts me in a bad mood immediately at the character creation screen. I wanted to test drive the Warden for the trial again – it made my list of favorite fantasy classes although I only got to level 10. My beef with this is that the characters start at the exact same spot as the previous character classes so not having them available upon start is just a silly money grab. I am trialling the game to see if I am going to resubscribe – let me choose the character I want to play. The high end zones included in MoM have no impact on the class selection – it will be months before I even get to MoM – so let me play them dammit! To be fair, they do  have a 10 day trial for MoM – but on the welcome back weekend I can use my old box (that I paid for). Maybe I do want to resub, and maybe the game is fun enough to buy the expansion (when I get there) – but it will be awhile before I get there, and I want to do it as one of the new classes. We are off to a poor start, me and LOTRO. So I rolled a Champion, and if all goes well I am going to have to drop $40 bucks on an expansion and reroll to a character class I want to play. Shame on you, Turbine.

More random stuff after the break.

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UI Add-ons are bad?

Vacation was nice, thank you for asking. Coming home from vacation is always a bad experience. The plane feels a bit more cramped and the voicemail and email inboxes are a lot more full. I actually tried working through my vacation, dilligently keeping up on my inbox every morning. IHASLAW #1 – for every email you send you get five back. Lesson learned.

Blizzard recently announced a big change to their UI/Addon policy, banning people from making money off off of their hard work created upon Blizzard’s hard work. While hardly a surprise, WoW has a gigantic Mod community. That community, for all intensive purposes, has made and shaped the game – usually for the better. “Must have” community mods become part of the vanilla UI over time. I have long been of the thought that mods shouldn’t exist in an MMO space – players shouldn’t have the ability or the right to change the basic UI (apart from cosmetic). It creates extra work for the typical player who “needs” those mods to be competitive (hello, Arena mods) or even beat unbalanced and rediculous encounters (hello, Decursive pre-Burning Crusade). Simply put – if your game requires players to provide changes to your code to make the game playable – or more enjoyable – then it is a failure of code. More after the break.

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Six Shooter Screenshots are Serious Business

Tagged by good friend Tesh over at Tish Tosh Tesh, us periphery folks are now part of the fun. Like Tesh, I’m not going to follow the format as directly. Unlike Tesh, I don’t keep a lot of my screenshots so finding any was quite the effort. I have two problems with screenshots – I uninstall a lot of games when I am done (despite having enough storage capacity) to keep things tidy and organized on my PC (something I am sure my wife would appreciate me doing in real life org skills, you should see my desk) and usually when I take a screenshot it is quite by accident. This would have made for some great screenshots if only I had saved them. So, after digging through old files, here is what I managed to find.

Pics after the break.

 

This was my old WoW Raid UI as a shaman. I *think* it is clean compared to many I have seen out there, but of course I haven’t seen any new ones in a long, long time. Healing is serious business in raids, as we all know.

Ah, DAOC! Waiting for some stinking Albs to leave the comfort of their little Emain Macha fort to taste my giant 2 hander. Of course, I could just be “scouting” for my team, relaying enemy troop movements and such, because of course that is serious business.

I must have taken this out to flex my almighty serious business ePeen – yes, I’, #1! I’m #1! I may blow that up and frame it and hang it above my desk.

Ah, Eve. I have never subbed to it but have done many trials. It is such a sweet looking game! Pity I never had the chance to screw anybody over in it. I guess that’s where the real fun is in that one. Conversely, I have never been screwed either. In Eve.

This is what happens when you try to Revive an enemy in BF2142. Notice the lifeless body, limbs limp to the sides. That isn’t just from poor animation or graphics techniques either. Tip: use a gun. Much easier than a first aid device.

My first real raiding main in WoW, the resto druid. This was taken recently after I did a nostalgic tour of WoW on my old favorite character. This is the entrance to UBRS (no longer locked) which was the first “guild run” I did while looking to join the guild I ended up being a GM of for BC (we were Grey Rangers in Vanilla WoW). I am amazed at how WoW, for all of it’s simplicity and low requirements, still has such great environments.

Sadly, that’s IT. That is basically all of the screenshots I have on my new PC after 10 years of hardcore MMO gaming. I have thousands of pictures of family and friends (due to my wife) – I have never been a big picture person to begin with. In keeping with the spirit of screenshots I am going to tag Pope and GTB since both haven’t updated their blogs in a while, and I am especially curious what Pope’s Law School friends will say if he follows through and makes a gaming post. Besides, everyone else I read has already no doubtedly been tagged.

Thanks for the push Tesh!

 

Monday Mourning – Nov 17, 2008

To be honest I don’t get what most people hate about Monday mornings. I tend to work weekends, so there is definitely no rest for the wicked at ihaspc. My to-do list on Mondays is as long as any other day but I tend to ease into everyone else’s typical work week – check blogs, prioritize tasks (I know, the irony, considering that comes second) and catch up on emails. Usually Multitasked. I decided Mondays will be my little themed post where I ramble off a bunch of randoms. What better way to “start” the week?

RIP – Burning Crusade: Much how mauve is the new pink, Burning Crusade is the new Azeroth. Empty. Of every class except Death Knights. If you play by your tune and have a healer alt in the 60’s now is the optimum time to level that toon up – there are hundreds of Death Knights begging – and paying – for healers to work with them through instances. One group offered 100 gold for a basic Ramparts run. Of course, his name was Chucknorus so you might hold out for 200 gold. With everyone in the mad dash to be the first 80 (most classes/races have already hit that mark on server firsts on Whisperwind) I wonder if destroying old content areas such as Azeroth and BC gives Blizzard cost savings on server loads, etc. – that resources normally held to hold high populations in those zones. Perhaps abandoning that content is as much a business as a stupid move? On a side note, how in the hell is the Wow Armory service STILL in beta?

More after the break.

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Epic Win, Epic Fail.

Alternative title: So close yet so far.

I finally got by the WoW queue on my server and was able to experience the Death Knight class. The hour and a half quest chain in the Death Knight area was without a doubt one of the best Blizzard gaming I have ever enjoyed. The quests were fun, the storyline and lore were well done, heck, I was reading books on the ground in Ebon Hold. So how does Blizzard follow up the best hour and a half of gaming they have produced in a long time? With Epic Fail, of course! More after the break.

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Blizzard to get Bailout Package!

Sorry, working on my Fox News type headlines.

With all the fun stuff going on in the markets, it’s nice to see the US banks getting a 700 Billion bailout package while continuing to freeze credit lines and stop lending credit altogether. It’s a good thing these guys didn’t help create their own situation with terrible lending practices, or that would be a kick in the nuts to the average citizen. (I did my major in Economics, so before you call me a complete noob, I do understand how it works. It is the perception that is going to piss off the average person.) The no strings attach approach is very short sighted though. Next up? The big 3! I wonder if the unions will go on strike if they don’t get a pay raise once Ford, GM, and Chrysler get their loans from the US government. (At least they are loans. Hey, it made the US people 300 million when they loaned out to almost bankrupt airlines, so this one has a chance of being sensisble. *chance*.)

In completely unrelated news, Blizzard got their 555 million dollar bailout package today, cleverly codenamed ‘Wrath of the Lich King’. Those financial folks crack me up with their fun little names. Let’s see if the servers hold.

Random Post

Haven’t been updating as much this week as I have been doing crazy other stuff. Playing games. I have been moonlighting in Fallout 3, the L4D demo was released for preorder customers yesterday, and I have still been trying to re-find a comfort level with WoW. Some general thoughts about the three in this random post.

Fallout 3 : I am having a hard time getting used to it. I can’t find a mob respawn point anywhere. It’s so strange to kill something and have it stay dead, it’s body still there 4 hours after I return to the same spot. Strange. I spent the first four hours being a goody two shoes, and I believe the constant exposure to radiation caused me to ‘snap’ and in a fit of rage I killed everyone in Megaton (except my trusty robot butler). My goodie-two shoe-ness prevented me from doing it the easy way, by blowing up the atom bomb in the center of town (I disarmed it previously for the town Sherrif) so I had to shoot/hack everyone to death. I actually felt bad doing it, almost sick to my stomach. These were the people I was just helping moments ago, and now I am shuffling through their pockets and homes for anything of sale value. I am going to go wander in the wastelands a bit and see if I can find a new home base, hopefully I won’t slaughter them all this time. Wait.. what? People are hunting ME for being so evil? Since when do my actions in games have any meaning at all? Better work on getting that Karma back up. Here, poor thirsty guy sitting on the ground, take a bottle of non-radiated water. Taste good? Good. [head shot] – let’s see if you have anything of value on you, now that you are dead and don’t need it anymore. DAMN YOU RADIATION!

F3 has really reminded me how awesome it is in a game where your choices have an impact on the world. Being good opens different quests, so does being bad. So does staying in between. It is refreshing to have to think about my actions before I perform them. I have finally seen through the lies in the claims that MMO’s are persistant worlds. F3 is, literally. Now if google would make a plugin so I can chat with my friends while I play without having to alt-tab, we have a superb 2008 MMO here.

More after the break.

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Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I am enjoying WAR. It hasn’t quite turned out the way I had supposed originally (or even beta tested) but it has enough good to stick around for a while to see how it all turns out. This little piece is going to comment on where I think WAR went wrong, but not in any micro or specific ways. More of the general attitude and design decisions from the top down which has put the game in a precarious position. A position they put themselves in but am glad to see they are making the move. MMO developers have a giant elephant in the room that they ‘don’t want to compete with’, but rather expand on the space that WoW has made mainstream. The MMO development cycle isn’t much of a mystery – see who is in the market, see what they do, and build from both their successes and mistakes. The mistake that WAR made was confusing what made WoW a success and what makes WoW a failure. They got it all backwards. They developed WAR with the good of WoW for the players, and the good of WoW for the company. These two things are competing resources and a delicate balance is much needed. What is often good for the company isn’t always good for the players – players want change with their new MMO’s. Let me further explain, after the break.

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Keeping Levelling on the Level

Please note these are all assumptions on the math based on my experiences.  I am even going to use handout materials.

This is what the leveling curve in WAR seems to be. Each level gets incremently longer. While you breeze through the first 10 levels, the levels as you push higher feel rediculously long. While it might take you 2 hours to get from level 22-23, it takes 4 to get from 23-24, and 7 to get from 24-25. Add to this, the issue that there is not enough content to push through those levels and many hit the leveling brick wall in WAR. I am sure a lot of players love the challenge – maybe I would too if the content kept up.

WAR leveling

This is what the leveling curve felt like in WoW. Yes, it was more hours per each level, but nothing major or as rediculous as in WAR. The increments were manageable and the difference from 20 to 21, and 21 to 22 flowed logically – more time, but not an exorbent amount of more time. It had a natural, fun feel to it. Not the painful, punishing feel from WAR.

This is how I would like to see leveling done. Equal increments for each level. You would definitely have to change the way your character starts (not just with 2 skills, start them with a fair handful of handy tools – picture level 8-10 skillset to start). While this is a major change to the landscape of how we level in MMO’s I believe it would make the leveling game more fun for everyone, and remove the brick wall and seemingly endless grinds we are all forced to deal with.

If MMO company wants a player to spend 8 days played to level their character to max rank, and have designed their game to be meaningful from level 1 to 40, why NOT have 4 hours per level of good old fashioned fun? I would trade that in a heartbeat for the 10 minutes to level the first 5 levels, then 20 hours to level 1 level later on. It rewards consistent play and the player will always know they have a new level waiting for them around the corner, instead of waiting for them around 2143 corners (all left turns too, at that). WoW took away the pain of leveling from EQ, WAR has put it back in – only it is cleverly disguised in the much later levels. In this day and age of MMO’s catering to the casual, why put the grind back in? A level leveling system would keep both camps happy – the hardcore get their levels the same way, but the casual can enjoy the ride as well.

Corrosion

My 3 year old son is in his “why?” phase. I knew this day would come, and have spent the past three years preparing for it. I refuse to give in and tell him “because I said so”, or “stop saying that”, and have mentally prepared myself for when he goes off on the “why?” chain. I break down each question to a more micro level until it borders rediculous. A typical exchange between the two of us goes something like this:

  • HIM: Dad, why are those two people kissing?
  • ME: Because they love each other.
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: Because they met, either at a bar or a wedding or something along those lines, were both completely bored out of their minds, maybe had a bit too much to drink, and became interested in one another enough to get to know each other better
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: Probably because most people in society define themselves by the partner they choose
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: Humans have a natural instinct to preserve the species through reproduction, regardless of how overpopulated we have made the world
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: At our core, we are just made up billions of cells that each perform a specific function, who a long, long time ago decided to hook up with billions of other little cells that performed a different function. Forming these little cell communities it was learned that more could be accomplished including the most important thing of all: survival. Now, when one set of billions of little cells happens upon another set of billions of little cells who has traits that seems to increase that chance of survivability even further there is a mutual attraction to ensure survival of the fittest. Strength in numbers, afterall, sonny-boy.
  • HIM: Oh. I see. Do you love Mommy?
  • ME: Why, yes I do
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: …

[note: I really should insert something very clever here, such as she is my sould mate, or at bare minimum how she puts up with my often questionable hygiene practices – however the exchange was shared for a specific purpose, not to gain brownie points with my wife. Besides, the brownie point market is cornered by Prada, and I do not want to hedge in on their specialty.]

I know where he gets it, because I am always as interested in the “why?” as I am the fact. When Zubon made the comment that MMO’s compete for his dollars (and as such he has less leniency for post-beta product expectations) I wanted to understand better why I have much more leniency. To do that, I went back and revisited my MMO history and when, and why, I moved from MMO to MMO. Doing this will hopefully shed some light why there always seems to be two camps when it comes to MMO “issues”, so perhaps we can better define these camps – but more importantly, answer “why?”

Why does a new and shiny MMO corrode into old and dull? My first traditional MMO was Everquest – a game that I beta tested. I played EQ from release through the Shadows of Luclin expansion. My experience in EQ was a bit different than most, as I solely played on the testserver (through the item wipe – yay!). Back in the day EQ was magical, and the community I became a part of there was rediculously strong – part because it was the first 3D mmo for a lot of people but also because of the nature of the testserver. While I still make the odd post on my old guild’s website, the posts are typically months in between (but still fun to see people connecting). I still really enjoyed EQ when I left, but time limitations and always falling behind my in game friends was frustrating. Add to that, many people moving on to DAOC, the population dwindled as my time became more valuable, and it was time for me to visit new shores.

I joined DAOC about a year after release, and because of my past positive experience on the EQ testserver rolled up on Pendragon (which was also where some of my guildmates in EQ had gone for the same reason). Shiny and new still wasn’t quite as exciting as when EQ first launched (you never forget your first, right? What was her name again?) and toiled in guild leadership for the first time, in the Pendragon guild ‘Legends’, which was the leader of the Midgard alliance. Many years and RvR battles later and stomaching through the Trials of Atlantis expansion (after the developer inspired destruction of the Pendragon population), the game wasn’t fun for me anymore. My lone Shadowblade without the benefit of his Left Axe anymore, standing at the Emain Macha milegate waiting for something – anything – to kill or die to began talking to himself which surely wasn’t healthy. My co-gm and steadfast friend, Loremon, had left long ago to a new World (of Warcraft). Bile, my shadowblade parter extraordinaire no longer stood with me at the milegate as he was off getting some sort of real job, and Mehlan and his puppy were off driving a motorbike somewhere. Torrential was still around, but he was already planning for his funeral, and the blue color of alliance chat became less about defeating our enemies and more about how much ToA ruined DAOC, or even worse, how possible it was to solo or two man a keep – since that was all that was on the server at the time. While Loremon was resolute on having me join him in WoW, I was never quite ready when he asked. I finally was.

World of Warcraft, again, about a year after launch, was okay. The world didn’t WOW me like the previous two (pardon the pun?) and it was so simple comparatively to my previous two major MMO’s I almost felt my intelligence was insulted at first. It took me a while to shine up to WoW and the busier I became in my professional life, the more I appreciated it as it really worked for my schedule. I rolled a hunter a first (before I knew that everyone was already a hunter, and that no one needed – or wanted one – tagging around for anything back in those days) got to max level in a guild that Loremon was in – and then realized there was nothing for me to do. About that time, Loremon left (damn you!) and while I was with a good group of people, because of the solo nature of WoW I didn’t really know any of them. Everyone solo’d up to max level than began to figure out what to do in a group. There were no true bonds made, and I was ready to hang it up. I started reading boards, and learned how important (and rare) Druids were at the time – Innervate was one of the most important skills in the game back then and I decided to roll a druid, get to max level, and see the other part of what made WoW supposedly special – the end game raiding. The casual and bond-less guild I was a part of fell apart, and I made my trek solo again (not surprisingly), got to where I wanted to be, and began searching for a guild. My needs in a guild were a bit different now, being, uh, old – and I was very specific on what I wanted. The first time I posted on the WoW server boards “Level 60 druid, looking for guild” I received 20 replies the first day. Druids were indeed in demand, and for the first time in my WoW experience, I felt semi important. I joined the Grey Rangers, and it was a perfect fit. Not a bleeding end game content guild but a “hey, there are actually people like me playing in this game” guild. People mattered, families mattered, and the game and progress mattered – but the latter was third on the list. The leadership of that guild had it figured out real nice, and pretty much instantly after I joined that guild WoW turned out to be a good game. Funny how that happens. BC expansion was on the horizon, and the guild changed – we had recruited so many people and different camps had formed on in game expectations (to fill out a 40 man raiding roster) and at that time a small group of people decided they wanted something different when the expansion came with the new reduced raid size. Ascension was born, I somehow greased enough palms to be voted in as it’s Guild Master, and after a rough start and a lot of organizing and hard work with a ton of help from a lot of amazing people, we hit a great raiding stride – suddenly WoW was an AWESOME game. After being a GM for what seemed like a very long time (although much shorter in reality) 18 months into the expansion my professional life became rediculously busy, and while I didn’t have the time to do my GM job properly I somehow made it work – but inside I knew my time was coming. I had no excitement for the WOTLK announced expansion, the idea of levelling again the same old way, to get the same old loot rewards to face the same old raid bosses with maybe a twist or two to mechanics had zero interest for me. The people still did (do) but I couldn’t justify playing a scheduled 15 hours a week anymore with a young family, work overwhelming me, and additional responsibilities in game, so I stepped down, and let my subscription run out.

I did toy with a few other MMO’s during the WoW phase, notably DDO and LOTR but neither did it for me. I beta tested over 15 titles from 1998 to current, but the aforementioned titles are the only games I truely played.

My little personal history lesson has showed me one thing – I leave games when I am ready to, regardless of what is out there on the market. Perhaps that is why I have a lot of leniency for new games coming out of beta and going live, because I am not looking for the new game to “beat” my current experience, rather, I am looking for a new experience – one that fits my current personal, professional, and entertainment needs. My question to you, my esteemed readership (of 5?), is what makes you leave your current titles for new ones?

Why?