Monday, May 24, 2010

Re: Wolfshead

/sigh... oh, Wolfshead... I haven't commented on this yet because it's just so ridiculous. Tobold had a good rebuttal to it, where he focuses on the game itself, but the biggest thing that no one seems to be getting is that it's the people, and not the game, that Wolfshead is lamenting, whether he realizes it or not.

...The current state of community in WoW is not what massively multi-player was supposed to be. Blizzard has given the notion of community lip-service as it has become a marketing talking point instead of something that should be a fundamental tenet of a real MMO. Just visit the official Blizzard forums or your local trade channel to experience the sophomoric angst for yourself for evidence of the abysmal state of community in WoW.

...I remember people who I used to play with back in good old days of EverQuest who migrated to WoW with me back around 2004-2005. Within months they had changed completely. They were too busy soloing to care about grouping. Why? Because they could — because Blizzard promoted it.

...In the absence of a legitimate video game press the responsibility falls on us the MMO community. Maybe we are the real problem.


Bingo. WoW isn't the problem, it's the playerbase.

Guns don't kill people, bullets do.

One of the most boring arguments I hear against WoW is how it was different in EQ. I can't speak on 'the good old days of EverQuest' because I never played EQ. What I can do is read, though, and almost everything I've read about the 'good old days' basically goes on and on about how much it sucked. You had to sit on the ground with your spellbook open, covering your entire screen, to regen mana. The name EverQuest was a joke, since nobody actually did quests. I sadly don't have the link to back this up, but I distinctly remember reading someone's recollection of EQ as saying they did maybe ten quests total. The quests were these huge things (which I'm not saying is bad), and nobody bothered doing them (unless they were attunements), because the way you played EQ was basically sitting around camping mobs.

Jesus Lord, seriously, fug you guys down in San Diego - I hate Ssra and I hate the Emp. Requiring 70+ people to camp the keys, at an EXTREMELY generous 2 hours per part, takes 18+ *days* of our time. I will not even go into the shards - you can take those sticks and shove them up your asses - the only fun part is training the zone after you get your frame and a zone disruption warning really is the cherry on top of that shit sunday. TEE HEE!!!!!

What's even better is that while killing the Emp takes 70+, VT is done with ~40 - and you're surprised so many guilds sacked half their members after getting power sources? Maybe you guys are blissfully unaware of how painful having 70 reasonably intelligent, funny, witty and engaging people clustered together at once becomes, but after 2 weeks of it non stop with the cross section of EQ, I've become some what of an expert on single digit frame rates and IQ's - oh yah, and drama.


Perhaps all this downtime led to people "interacting" more? Since there was fuck all to do, people chatted. Brilliant gameplay.

Huge guilds like Legacy of Steel or Fires of Heaven raided, and killed a bunch of horribly bugged/poorly balanced encounters. These encounters were so simplistic by today's raid boss standards that if Blizzard crapped out a new dragon every week it would be called shovelware.

Here's another memorable quote on the engaging raid experience in EQ:

Fix your goddamn buggy bullshit half-assed encounters. The amount of time we dedicated to get our keys to see this guy die and take a turn at the Emperor is just sick. To finally see Blood die only to have the ENTIRE raid DT'd (Ixo: "death touched", a.k.a One shotted, no matter what you do) from anywhere in the room was simply an insult. Blood dies, there are two earrings on the corpse, yet no matter where you are in the room, the Emperor DT's. So congrats rot on those. It's cheap enough to make a mob DT in the first place. But to have his agro radius extend to the entire room is ridiculous. So let me get this straight -- and this is how you guys envisioned this in San Diego: You spend months farming keys to get up to the room. Months farming Shissar Bane weapons (and the recipe is where?). You kill Blood while dealing with 8 other snakes in the room. And immediately after that fight you're supposed to engage the DEATHTOUCHING-FROM-ANYWHERE-IN-THE-ROOM Emperor along with the 8 snakes? Whoever came up with this sheer *fisting* of an encounter can go fuck themselves. Do me a favor so I don't waste my guild's time on this kind of jackass shit-fest again, send me an email at tigole@legacyofsteel.net when you decide to A) Implement an encounter that wasn't designed by a retarded chimp chained to a cubicle B) Get a Quality Assuarance Department C) Actually beta test the fucking thing and D) Patch it live. And please for god's sake -- do it in the order I laid out for you. Don't worry, I won't charge you a consulting fee on that one. And for good luck you might as well E) Pull your heads out of your asses. While you're at it rename the game to BetaQuest since you've used up you're alotted false advertising karma on the Bazaar and user interface scam of '01.

Fix the Emperor encounter. Fix Seru. Rethink your time-sink bullshit. Fix all the buggy motherfucking ring encounters (I suggest you let whoever made the Burrower one do this since that dude apparently laid off the crack the rest of you were smoking). Fix the VT key quest. Fix VT (just guessing it's fucked up considering your track record). Don't have the resources to fix this stuff? Move the ENTIRE Planes of Power team over to fixing Shadows of Luclin AND DO IT NOW. If you don't fix Luclin, you jackassess will be the only ones playing the Planes of Power.


Sounds fun.

Plus, these raiders were hardly paragons of upstanding citizenry. A random click of a page from Legacy of Steel's archive is basically a recount of the week's drops and who got killed. Don't pretend that they wouldn't have been including the gear's iLevels/GS if they had them available to show. That this obsession over gear is now known affectionately as loot whoring doesn't mean it didn't exist back in 'the good old days'. The conversations taking place during these magical days was hardly above the level of the "official Blizzard forums or your local trade channel" today:


Forced grouping is this other magical talisman held aloft and proclaimed to be missing from WoW, so people assume WoW is some antisocial wasteland. Call me crazy, but weren't there quests to kill Arugal while leveling in Tirisfal? I never soloed SFK until level 78, when I had two level 20 noobs hiding at the entrance getting triple XP as my paladin AoE'd down the entire instance. And this was only because I chose to level my noobs this way. I have ten alts. I've done SFK the right way many times over. There are a bunch of quest chains (Ring of Blood in Nagrand, multiple entire chains in Shadowmoon Valley, to name a few of the top of my head) that cannot be soloed. Run them if you have friends online, or don't if you don't. Offering a path to the level cap that doesn't REQUIRE palling around isn't a flaw, it's called catering to diverse playstyles (commonly confused with 'CATERIN 2 TEH CASUALZ').

...I remember people who I used to play with back in good old days of EverQuest who migrated to WoW with me back around 2004-2005. Within months they had changed completely. They were too busy soloing to care about grouping. Why? Because they could — because Blizzard promoted it.

Dude, if your buddies from EQ bailed on you, it's because they didn't want to play with you in the first place. If anything, WoW set them free to play how they wanted to. Grouping in WoW still gives obvious benefits over soloing, it just isn't the only way to play anymore. Not everyone shares your ideal of having only one flavor available to them. This seriously just seems so ridiculous. Do people stomp their feet and complain that Baskin Robbins offers thirty-one flavors of ice cream?

Blizzard has given the notion of community lip-service as it has become a marketing talking point instead of something that should be a fundamental tenet of a real MMO. Just visit the official Blizzard forums or your local trade channel to experience the sophomoric angst for yourself for evidence of the abysmal state of community in WoW.

The above snippet especially baffles me. Here's a newsflash: people are morons. Pretty much all of them. This isn't a new development, since WoW. You're seriously trying to blame Blizzard for people being jerks on the internet...?

Really?

Like, really?

If people clumped together in EQ, it was mostly because misery loves company. You could all endure the bullshit together, hold each other close, and weep over the hand you were dealt. Along came WoW (with Tigole himself lending a hand to make it 'not EQ') and suddenly there's a choice. "Keep slogging through bullshit" or "play a game". And this is bad, I guess.

It all comes back to the people, though. Blizzard just made the game, it's up to us to enjoy it or not. I don't find soccer interesting, so I don't watch it on TV. I don't complain that a huge portion of the world enjoys soccer, though.

I certainly don't go play soccer every weekend, and then bitch about how much fun I'm not having.

If everyone on my four square wants to play soccer instead, what can I do about it? Take my ball and go home? Because that's what it sounds like someone wants to do. And then that same person is complaining that people are dicks?

Really?

It reminds me of the joke where the guy at the picnic leans over to his friend and tells him that the blueberry pie must be delicious, because 11 million ants can't all be wrong.

I don't play Halo because I find it boring. It doesn't mean Halo is a bad game. When you come galloping by on your high horse claiming that everyone playing WoW is doing it wrong because ("after 11 years in the genre") you find it stagnant, you've become that annoying guy who just quit smoking, or just found Jesus, and can't wait to tell all the people smoking outside the bar on a Sunday.

Grats to you, dude.

Now fuck off. We're playing our game, and still having fun.

20 comments:

Drilski said...

You're a treasure; and absolutely correct.

Pitrelli said...

haha good read mate

and yeah I agree :)

Jan said...

Iso, I'm sort of disappointed by this post. I realize you're more criticizing Wolfheads "get off my lawn" rant than EQ itself. Yet you still pull up a bunch of rants from überguild megalomaniacs and rely on it as the sole descriptor of what EQ was.

WoW raids are hardly flawless. I experienced firsthand beating my head against Ragnaros night after night until getting worldwide first thanks to a timely patch... Followed by dozens of other guilds doing the same in the following days. Rinse and repeat with C'thun, except that time we'd been burned by burning ourselves out on an unwinnable Ragnaros, and we just waited for C'thun to get fixed before really throwing ourselves at him.

I don't really want to go rebuking arguments one by one though, but rather focus on one key element:

One of the most boring arguments I hear against WoW is how it was different in EQ.

It might be boring but it's also very true. EQ was an online community with a game attached, WoW is a game with an online community attached. So of course they'll please different people.

It so happens that some people wanted a game more than a community, but since EQ was all they had, they stayed. Once WoW came out, it was an alternative so a ton of people switched over. It so happens that those who did the switch and wanted community were disappointed.

EQ did everything to artificially bolster community: mandatory grouping, tediously slow levelling, extensive downtime, lack of instancing and smaller server populations being the main culprits. These elements made it less of a game and more of an online community, very much like a MUD with some pretty graphics attached.

But the thing is, it worked! With all these factors combined, the people who were in it for the community made a lot of good friends -- and some very personal foes. Neither of these are bound to exist or last very long in an instance party gathered algorithmically from 10 different servers. In EQ, people were stuck together for better or for worse.

Back to WoW's release now. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people left for WoW and found themselves pleased as punch from the better gameplay and ended up staying. Namely, most überguild raiders looking for a challenge found something much better thought out and polished. The emphasis on gameplay rather than community

The community players realized WoW wasn't nearly as strong on that front and went back, but the damage was done -- the EQ community was splintered, its population declining and servers had to be merged. It just wasn't the same, and SOE made it worse by desperately trying to make EQ more like WoW... Which was completely missing the point.

Anyway, even though I'm stepping in to defend EQ, I have to say I'm not part of its niche. I'd rather play WoW with a good, close-knit guild, a community as close to EQ as I can get. And since I don't have that guild at this time, I'd rather not play at all. :3

tl;dr -- EQ was an online community with a game attached, WoW is a game with an online community attached. Comparing them is pointless.

Gronthe said...

"Here's a newsflash: people are morons. Pretty much all of them."

I don't think I am, but I'm not offended in the least by the comment. I'd like to make a further point based on this, however, that games don't change people.

It's like the guy in the courtroom that says he stole from the corner shop because his mommy didn't love him. We got to stop blaming outside forces for our own choices. People switching to or starting to play WoW didn't change who they are. We are who we are and we control what we do and what we say.

Sure, tragic or monumental events can influence our lives and we may see things differently as a result, but certainly a game doesn't MAKE one a moron. You either are or are not, but a game won't turn you into one. So yeah, people are morons, just not quite all.

Randomaia said...

I came to wow from FFXI and let me tell you the forced grouping on there was a major handicap.

There must be better ways of encouraging community that that. From my own perspective it just made me resentful that it was impossible to achieve anything solo or in smaller groups than a full party due to derisory exp gains or mobs that were too hard to kill.

WoW is balanced around mostly solo quests and a party/raid model for dungeons and is all the better for it.

I can look at FFXI and say several things in there were better than WoW. for example, you could be a member of multiple linkshells (guilds) which gave more options with regard to social or raiding groups of players.

I recently had all of my characters booted from a guild because they had morphed from a social/friends guild into a semi-hardcore raiding guild and I had not logged on for a while.

If you are not getting what you want from a game then why play it. I moved all of my Chars to Argent Dawn into SAN and I'm much happier in game that I had been for months where I was paying subscription but not enjoying the game at all.

Damn, I guess there's a point in there somewhere but Blizard are going to build a game that will give them the maximum amount of sustained subscribers. I just hope they don't pay too much attention to the squeaky wheels.

Kiryn said...

I started my MMO gaming career on WoW, because I only just got a mac capable of running an MMO about six months after WoW came out. Some time later, I learned that EQ was free now, so I downloaded it and popped in to see what all the fuss was about.

The interface was really confusing and cluttered, and I couldn't seem to figure out how to strafe. Or even if there was such a key. I spent five minutes searching for a keybindings menu in case I needed to enable it or something, then trying to leave the room I started in (run forward, stop, turn, run forward, stop, turn).

I then gave up, and spent the next five minutes trying to figure out how to quit. None of the confusing menus had anything even resembling a "log out" or "quit" option, hitting the escape key did nothing, and the game was running full-screen by default and couldn't be minimized, so I couldn't even go search the website for help.

I was trapped until I remembered some guy on WoW Trade Chat making fun of some n00b for falling for the /camp command joke, which logs you out in WoW because that's what it did in EverQuest. Suddenly the "Camp" command in the options menu made a lot more sense. (But I don't want to make a campsite, I want to log off!)

Ixobelle said...

@Jan: I know what you're saying, and by basing everything I know about EQ to come secondhand, I am falling victim to only hearing the one side of the story. The same holds true for WoW. The only people you really hear (or get people excited) on the forums/blogs are typically posts like Wolf's... nobody perfectly content with the game is going to write up a long post about how "everything's fine, nothing to see here, move along" (or maybe I just did?).

Most of the stuff I read about EQ is rose tinted 'everything was great', or reminiscence of how horrible it was. You mention yourself how it was the tedium that forced people to band together ("mandatory grouping, tediously slow levelling, extensive downtime, lack of instancing and smaller server populations"). What a horrible reason for community! Because the gameplay is so horrible, we build deeper ties with one another?

Honestly, I would put the reason for tighter community in EQ under Internet Gaming Honeymoon Syndrome. It was one of the first pioneers in having people inline together, so people behaved like people. Now people are used to it, and just act like asses.

@Gronthe: I'll happily put myself in the moron column any day of the week. The instant people get all capslocky in AV and start demanding we "CHARGE NORTH AND ZERG THE BRIDGE YOU FUCKING NOOBS", I counter with "FUCK THAT, ZERG WEST AND GET THOSE HARPIES IN THAT CAVE!"

I'm not helping the situation at all. : /

@Randomaia: Link Shells were a great idea, but mostly because there was no alternative. People CAN form channels in WoW chat, and have multiple people join them for chatting, but the core functionality of hitting O and seeing who's online is lost... could you do that with LSs?

Garumoo said...

Hmmmm...

"Bingo. WoW isn't the problem, it's the playerbase."

vs

"Perhaps all this downtime [in EQ] led to people "interacting" more? Since there was fuck all to do, people chatted."

The thing about people is that they will adapt to their environment. Make one which rewards their crappy asshole potential and they will express just that, discovering new depths of asshole capabilities as they go.

oshin said...

MMO`s are like anything else in life that is long term, you have that intial honeymoon period where everything is insanely awesome. Think of it like when you first meet your girlfriend when your young, everything is super awesome. and then 10 years down the line you have a kid, shes covered in drool half the time and wants to kick your ass because you spent the day at work.

Or its like a job you enjoy when you first get it, but as the years drag on you realise its all about retard politics and dickwads of people.

In these situations one should evaluate the situation, sure some parts of your job sucks, but you enjoy most of it right ? Or maybe if you dont like it you should just move on. I dont think writing on your blog how jobs suck and that nobody must enjoy them makes much sense..

Thats my take on it anyway, you dont play say something like final fantasy 7 for 5 years, so likewise you dont see these kinds of posts about it ?

Larísa said...

"When you come galloping by on your high horse claiming that everyone playing WoW is doing it wrong because ("after 11 years in the genre") you find it stagnant, you've become that annoying guy who just quit smoking, or just found Jesus, and can't wait to tell all the people smoking outside the bar on a Sunday."

sign to this. I'm a bit surprised at the Hallelujah choir in the blogosphere around Wolfshead's post. He's a good blogger but that doesn't mean that he always is right about everything.

Genda said...

Bravo,

I disagreed with the overall tone and conclusion that Wolfshead presented as well. I also think he's a good blogger but memory of what games used to be needs to be refocused to realize that they wouldn't survive in todays market.

Good post.

Rhii said...

@Larisa - I guess I don't read the hallelujah type blogs, because the responses I've seen are more along the lines of "while [insert point here] has some merit, it doesn't necessarily lead to [conclusion here]." I like that the bloggers can say Wolfshead made some points, but they don't think it automatically entails the same bitter conclusion. Bloggers get a fanbase, but at least we're not all bots, automatically agreeing with everything our "heroes" say.

On the subject, I have some issues with community in WoW. Mostly because I've been in some online communities where the greater internet fuckwad theory was proven wrong. Players in WoW seem to be a little bit like feral puppies. Nobody ever sternly told them "no" and punished them for biting, and now they're 80 pounds and have run off the mailman and nobody dares to stop them.

It may be Blizzard's fault. I suspect the game grew out of control before they could get enough staff in place to police the community for glaring violations. It's a bit more difficult (maybe impossible) training an 80 pound cujo to play nice once he's learned that he can get away with biting. But I think it has very little to do with game mechanics or lack of innovation.

Rem said...

I rarely use this symbol speak, but sometimes it has to be done:

<3 Ixo

Tesh said...

To be fair, the social side is only one aspect of the ranting that Wolfshead puts up. It's the one that I disagree most with him on, for reasons similar to these... and that I'm an avowed soloist.

Still, there are a lot of other complaints that he has. The focus on loot, treadmill design, time sinks, insane grinds, slow innovation, player freedom and difficulty. He might be a curmudgeon on the social side, but there are some valid concerns in there, and they are firmly rooted in game design, not idiot players.

Khatib said...

EVE has the community he's missing, because it's so harsh a game, you have to rely on someone, and yet you have to choose who to rely on well, because anyone can screw you over. WoW has no community because gear stats matter more than the person at the keyboard for most encounters and to most players filling groups.

Dwism said...

getting harpies down first, is the only way to win AV!!

Ehm, now that is out of the way:
Thank you for this, wolfshead post bothered me on many levels, this is one (level) I do not have to try and explain.

Carson 63000 said...

I'm more than happy to read a blog post critiquing a game I enjoy. Chances are, even though I like the game, I'll still agree with some of the criticisms. And the ones I don't, may at least make me think.

But I just have absolutely zero time for the attitude present in Wolfshead's blog, and especially present in the massive thread it started on mmorpg.com forums, that if you find anything whatsoever good in WoW, then you're stupid, and wrong, and a moron, and an ignorant child who has no idea how much better things used to be.

Oh, and while you're at it, keep trotting out those tired old lines: People only play WoW because it runs on crappy low-end computers. People only play WoW because Blizzard already had a big fan-base when it launched that would buy anything they put out. Yeah, right, millions of people will spend five years playing a crappy game they don't like for reasons like that. Yeah.

As I said on the original blog: It’s so galling when other people don’t like the same stuff that you like, isn’t it?

Kensai said...

Man, i should come visit often.
I'm not going to lie now, my wow-mojo ran out and it will take some time for it to replenish. But here's what i know, after i'll play a bunch of single player games, i'll go back to wow because i like it. I have three more chars to level to 80 to complete my "collection", and i want to do that before cata. I've tried just about any spec, class and role currently available in wow. And i still like it and i still don't find it boring.

Because an RPG is basically what you make of it. Don't cry about the grinding if you grind. The last time i grinded was in TBC when i bought my first epic flying skill. And i hated it, and i never done it again. And because I'm a moron, i leveled more chars with all imaginable professions and i got to the point where i am self sustaining, i don't need to grind -- not even the AH -- and this whole world is laid out in front of me, and i feel i have the power of choice. I can choose to raid, pvp or dick around. Splash around with big breasted nagas, or mutilate them, or both. Check at war with those child-eating kaluak and club me some seals. Because, for fuck sake, if i were to spent 11 years mmo-ing and then feel sorry for it, i might as well go to a retirement home, play bingo with other old people and rant about the good ol' days. It's just sad. It's like you're killing your identity, saying it was all for nothing. Nothing is lost, everything transforms, right ? Even if the sole purpose of 11 years of mmoing was to convince mr. Wolf that mmos aren't worth it, it's still not wasted time.

Now, about WoW specifically, I know there are a lot of things that could use a lot more work, some things that shouldn't be there, and some infusions of new ideas. Yes, i think about "good old times" too, mainly about vanilla, where i felt there was a lot less gear focus, a lot less pressure and a smarter player base. But i don't delude myself, the changes in the game made me evolve and made me adapt or at least think differently, and it was for the best. Five years ago i couldn't conceive doing anything else than being a rogue, even less tanking or healing, and if someone would tell me someday i'd lead a successful raid, i would've been very very confused and aroused. But anyway. One million ants can't be wrong, that's dead on.

Look, i believe in idiocy. But, i believe idiocy comes in wavelengths. It's all about being an idiot with idiots of the same caliber. I believe izo is an idiot, but i also believe he's my kind of idiot. I believe he'll bark, spit and bite at assholes that put themselves on the "i'm ancient" pedestal, and more than that, i look forward to it, and i'll be cheering for him all the way. That's what community is. No, there's several thousand hertz difference between my idiocy and the idiocy of those people that require gear score for a shitty weekly raid quest. It's all about bunching up with like-minded idiots. There will always be loot whores, elitists, noobs, veterans, funny guys and etc. The point is, it's all about your choice. If you're antisocial, go play all by yourself. If you want lootz, ninja everything. If you want to be part of a "special" community, build it yourself.

Kensai said...

I just can't get why people get so tangled up and forget about this flexibility. Everything comes down the one's choices. There's a choice in everything, from not kidnapping baby wolvars in game, to not reading the dick jokes on the trade channel. Maybe Wolf's kung fu isn't that stronger, maybe he can't look away, but that would be a personality disorder, not a game flaw.

And then there's society. They tell you addiction is bad, denial is bad, that you need to put up with crap to be accepted -- no, it's all wrong. For me, WoW, like smoking, is more than an addiction, it's a hobby. 77 people could tell me i'm full of shit, and i'd still think i'm the last sane person on azeroth. They could tell me i need the best gear in order to perform well, i'd raid with a sombrero and still pull my weight. Everything comes down again to choice. Look, it's easy to be an asshole, that's why there are so many around. Not just in WoW, everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Some corporate capitalist pig is kicking a family out of their home, or some African dictator provokes genocide and millions of deaths, or some pug raid leader just ninjaed all the tokens from saurfang jr., it's a choice they're making... They're choosing to look out for number one. Is that something Wolf can get behind ? Run do not walk. It's not ? Stop bitching and find like-minded people, it's not like it's HARD, with all the blogging around. You can do a google search for "i fucking hate gearscore" or "wow killed the radio star" and i guarantee 70% of those hits will be people you can work with and have fun with. Sitting on one's ass will do nothing whatsoever to change the world, or one's perception of the world. That's how communities are born.

But anyway. Once again, fuck yeah Izo, you tell'em, tiger.

I think i'm done. Whew.

Ixobelle said...

@ Kensai:

AMEN

;)