Sunday, November 16, 2008

Welcome Back to WoW

I'm back in WoW. It's not a huge momentous occasion, but this weekend I actively played WoW again for the first time in a while. I'd log in from time to time to check my mail or repost some herb auctions, but haven't actually done any real playing in a long time. This weekend, however, saw the delivery of a package from to my doorstep with Wrath, a vanilla WoW battlechest (+TBC) and 2x 60 day game cards. I "recruit a friend"-ed myself, and got busy leveling a Warrior and Priest in tandem, and transferred the trash-o-listic Warlock that Frybread from NotAddicted gave me to an actual server to with the intent of "playing some WoWzorz" (getting my WoWz on?).

Warhammer was an interesting side excursion, but it just wasn't WoW. I don't have a problem with Warhammer in any way... compared from where I was on my opinon of it in beta, they've come a long way, made an enjoyable game, and I really like the art direction or the armor sets and some of the areas. Combat just felt clunky, and more often than not while my guild was running around taking a keep or something, it just didn't feel like any of it was very important. That isn't to say a night of WoW fills my soul spiritually, but it just feels... right. It's similar to snack foods: Mochi is a wonderful Japanese treat, and the country loves it. Hooray for them, but I'll take peanut M&Ms or a chilled Snickers candybar over fresh Mochi any day of the week. It's what I'm used to, and the comfot of the familiarity is... uhh... comforting?

Following that analogy, I had reached a point where I was eating 8 or 9 candy bars a night, every night, and it gave me a stomachache. I ended up botting in WoW (I'll have my computer eat the candy bars for me!), was banned, and lost my main three 70s. It sucked, but at the time I was relieved to not have to eat any more candybars for a while. Then I ate some Mochi, and it was different for a while. The whole candy thing is getting silly, and I actually just ran across the street and bought a Snickers bar since I was thinking so much about them while writing that last part. It's out of control.

The one other thing Wrath did for WoW was brought a lot of people from my old guild (Exhumed on Daggerspine) back into play. Many people had quit playing, or burned out, but Wrath brought them back, and I actually got an email from one of my old guildies asking what happened to me. They've transferred to Cho'Gall, but many of the old crew is trying to reform a new guild there, and it feels good to be back with the familiar voices in vent.

I have about 3 more days of gametime on Warhammer, and logged in this weekend to clear out my mailboxes in case I decide to reactivate it later, but I'm pretty sure I won't. Tom Phoenix has asked me to write up a final impressions kind of thing for WAR, but I think this post kinda sums it up. There was nothing wrong with WAR, it's just that there's more right with WoW. Whether or not I can avoid getting back into the death-grind of raiding full time (and resorting to botting for flask mats) is the big mystery, but I think having a kid is going to make that impossible. I just can't commit to sitting down for 6 hours of playtime in a row anymore, so I think that problem will solve itself. : /


David said...

What shipping option did you use with play-asia? I chose economy air and my WotLK hasnt come yet, even though I got a mail last Monday (11/10) saying it shipped.

By the way, have you ever met a Japanese WoW player in-game? Or, gasp, IRL? They seem to be out there...

Unknown said...

I felt the same way when WAR came out. I was excited to do something else. However WAR only lasted two weeks. The game wasn't any fun really. I had to get really really drunk to start enjoying it.

WoW 3.0 and beyond is amazing. I'm no WoW fanboi either. I was very vocal about how much the BC sucked. WotLK got it right though. Everything is super fun again. The game feels like less of grind then ever. I'll have to wait until end game to see if it is consistent but so far so good. The first time through the Nexus I had four orgasms, one per boss.

Hatch said...

"I ended up botting in WoW (I'll have my computer eat the candy bars for me!)"

For one shining moment, this line made me imagine a world where we were all so busy eating candy that we actually had reason to automate it. What a wonderful world that would be.

But it also makes me think: no one would want to automate candy eating, since the joy is supposed to be in the actually act of eating the candy, not in being able to look back and say "I ate 20 candy bars last night, I win!"

So far (and from what I'm hearing about endgame), they've made Wrath a lot easier than WoW used to be. Partially in a "nood-friendly" way, but more substantially in a "get rid of annoyance" way. They've been constantly dropping the holdover-from-EQ grindy bullshit in favor of more fun content. Yeah, Penny Arcade and others joke that "welcome to this epic new kill ten boars", but in all seriousness, leveling in Northrend has been a JOY, not a grind. Wrath, for me at least so far, has recaptured a lot of the joy of eating the candy that I felt when I first logged in all those years ago.

funny coincidence: the word I have to type to verify I am not a bot posting this comment: "epical"

Rich said...

david: i have yet to meet an actual japanese WoW player, though I have met several americans living in japan thru wow (usually military).

preston: yes! I'm actually slowly consuming northrend, and enjoying it, too. one of my main friends ingame is getting anxious because the rest of the guild isn't leveling fast enough (hiya, Tragedy!), but what's the big rush? assuming this is the expected release schedule, we'll be in northrend for a while.

I'm smelling the flowers, and leveling RAF alts on the side.

Hatch: while yes, the candy bars are meant to be enjoyed, that was the biggest issue i had with raiding. I've compared it to mario before, and will do so again (briefly):

if you had to sit on the couch and spin the wiimote in circles for 4 hours before you were allowed to do the 'run, jump, fly' fun part of the game for 30 min, no one would play mario. but running jumping and flying (raiding) in wow requires you to sit still on the couch and just spin the remote (farm mobs that require no skill, only time) for 4 hours beforehand.

I automated the spinning, and would manually run, jump, and fly ;)

Hatch said...

I don't have anything against automating the grind.

The responsibility is on the designer to make the game fun, not on you to enjoy whatever they feel like forcing you to grind through.

I just want Blizz to make the grind fun enough that I'm not wishing I could automate it. With the story and extra polish they've invested in the new zones and quests, I feel less like I'm twirling my wiimote and more like I'm jumping on goombas.

I at least feel like in Wrath they are going "hey, look, we know that killing these boars is boring. So why don't you watch this little cut scene, or use this special superpower with a cool animation, or get a pet to help you do it? Here, we'll make the questgiver a major lore figure, or, say, a GOD, and then they'll help you fight the boss at the end!" It's like they are waving their hands around trying their best to entertain you while you grind, and that's what they should be desperately trying to do if they insist on structuring the game the way they do (and at this point they are certainly stuck with this game design). It's like watching House in another window while I level, only Blizz is the one declaring that "it's never lupus".