This Isn’t Where I Parked My Game

So, the casuals are ruining WoW for everyone.

(No wait. That’s a miserable opening. Let me try again.)

So, the hardcore players are ruining WoW for everyone.

(Actually, that’s crap too. Let’s give it one more try. They do say third time’s a charm and all that.)

So, WoW has changed. Some people like it, some people don’t and all people are talking about it. Now I firmly believe that the definition of hardcore is “anyone who plays more than you” and that the definition of casual is likewise “anyone who plays less than you” and I always marvel about how you have managed to find that perfect balance between success in WoW and success and happiness in life-that’s-not-WoW. It sort of reminds me of when we get together for family gatherings and everyone in the world except the person talking is a shitty driver who should have their license revoked and/or be sentenced to a firing squad. Perception, people. It’s all about perception.

WoW and life balance is an overarching theme of this blog and I will freely admit that I play more WoW than I should. I ignore my family/friends sometimes because I’d rather do this raid or get that level or farm for the other rare pet. I have knocked off work early to rush home and play, I’ll admit that. I’ve neglected the household chores on saturdays and spent all day in front of the computer. I’d say I spend on average as much time in WoW as I do at work, on any given week.

That being said, I don’t feel I’m addicted. Or at least, if I am, it’s a manageable addiction. I don’t get grouchy or twitchy when I can’t play Warcraft. I don’t play even when I don’t really want to play. I try to budget my time better and I purposely make leisure time to do things that are not WoW. So I think I’m a moderately hardcore player. I play a lot, I spend a lot of time out of game thinking and reading and writing and talking about WoW and I am competative and goal-driven when I do play.

If I fall around the 7.5 mark of a 1-10 Hardcoredness scale, I can also say that I know lots of players in and around a 2 or 3 and a few that are pushing 9 or 10. We have a pretty good spectrum in our guild, and we do our best to accomodate as many of the different styles of play and measures of dedication to the game. The people who just don’t give a crap enough to get their act together and be conscientious, capable, team-oriented raiders with the rest of the guild frustrate me, but no more so than the people who play 12 hours a day, get all the gear and levels and arrogance that goes along with it and cause a month-long drama-rama. I don’t think either hardcore players or casual players have ruined the game. I don’t think the game is ruined at all!

What I think the game is is mature. The WoW-playing community has changed. It has expanded, it has grown and it has grown up. Gamers in general are more discerning, they want prettier scenecery, more life-like characters and more intersting game worlds to explore. I think for the most part that Blizzard has done a very nice job of changing the game to reflect the maturing tastes of its subscribers. On the whole I think that gear is better looking, quests are more engaging and original, dungeons are more interesting and involved and boss fights have new and intersting mechanics.

(zomg please don’t post about how many ‘kill n critters’ or ‘go over there and get me Y random doohickies’ style quests there are. There are still some lame-o, grind-tastic, boring, poorly designed or just plain broken quests. I’m talking a general trend in game design here, don’t kill it with details.)

I like the new graphics, I like the new quests, I like the new dungeons and bosses. I like the idea of dual specs – I think that is a huge change for the better. I like the idea of 10 and 25 man versions of the same dungeons. I like what they have done in terms of world PvP, in terms of the (ugh!) rep grinds and for the most part I like the achievements.

For the most part.

I understand what Blizz has done in implementing the achivement system in order to give the more hardcore players something a little meatier to work with. However, I really think that they have fallen short of the mark. Yes, you can do dungeons and bosses with less people, more adds, no deaths or other convoluted circumstances and if you manage to overcome despite the odds being stacked against you, you get that fancy ding! sound and light show. I like that. What I don’t like is that the achievements don’t cater to my ego enough. Not enough! My ego demands more recogniton! Getting the best gear from the hardest dungeons and a rare pet and an expensive mount is all about chilling in Ironforge or Shattrath or Dalaran and having every lowbie and sundry player who walks by you check you out and be jealous at how awesome you are. Achievements need to cater to that gamer ego more. More titles. More mounts. More more more! If I am so awesome that I can get these achievements, I want everyone to know it!

The other thing that pisses me off about achievements is the points system. I have heard in the wind that there may come a time that you can spend the points on mounts/tabbards/pets/gears etc etc and lawdy I hope that never comes to pass. You can spend PvP/arena points on PvP gear so everyone can see how awesome a PvPer you are. You can spend raiding tokens on raid gear so that everyone can see how awesome a raider you are. If you can spend achievement points on gear (or other items) then my points that I have earned through performing death-defying feats in raid dungeons will be worth exactly the same as someone who did all the holiday achievements or got a lot of noncom pets. That does not feed the Hardcore Ego, and it does defeat the entire purpose of putting in the raid achievements in the first place.

As I said above, our guild is a spectrum of players and that spectrum is (to a large extent) a reflection of the specturm of WoW players in general. There are people who log on once a week and there are people who only log off once a week. I know from the standpoint of a Guild Leader that is pretty much an impossible task to please all of these people all of the time. But we do try. We do things for the casuals and we do things for the more hardcore and I think for the most part we succeed. Our guild has changed and grown since it’s inception and I think we’re a more stable, more successful and more mature guild than the awkward, knobble-kneed little fledgeling we were two years ago. And I know Blizzard is in the same situation. They have the same spectrum of players and play styles to keep happy (read: paying subscription fees) and I actually think they have done quite well. The game is better, the game is more acessable at all levels of play and it has a nicer, more polished, more mature feel to it. This is a game that changes and adapts and grows. It’s not a one-hit wonder.

I applaud Blizzard’s efforts to make the game better for everyone. I think the WoW universe is a better one today than it was even when TBC was released. I think that there is more fun to be had in it for everyone, and I think it will keep on getting better and better.

Except for the BM hunter nerfs in patch 3.08. You can fold those till they’re all corners and shove them! *grumble*

7 Comments

  1. Esdras said,

    January 28, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Hmm i agree and i disagree at the same time.

    I like the fact that general wow player seems more grown up and mature but i dont like the fact its went as casual or as i would say Too casual.

    I just think its far too easy to get things.

  2. oriniwen said,

    January 28, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I would have to disagree with you. I think that on the whole the game itself has matured more than the players. I don’t think the game caters excessively to ‘casual’ players (I’m thinking of people who play 5 or less hours a week) and I don’t think that the game is now “too casual”.

    I also don’t think it’s too easy to get “things” (I’m assuming you mean raid gear). I know for myself and my guild that while 10 man Naxx has been on rhe whole relatively easy for us, I think that’s more a reflection of our skills as a guild and as a raid team than a conscious effort on Blizzard’s part to nerf raid content into oblivion. Yes, 10 man Naxx is easier than Kara was. But we’re a better guild too. We’re still having issues in 25 man Naxx, just like we were in the final stages of SSC/TK/BT. Imposs is a better guild, so the raiding is easier.

    Part of the maturity and longevity of the game means that there are players who have been playing since beta and have grown with it. And with that comes the perception that these new players, these young whippersnappers have no respect for their elders and no appreciation of how hard we had to work to get where we are. I can find quotes going back to Victorian times where adults are bemoaning the state of “young people today.” It’s a pretty common thought process.

    When I was in highschool (zomg this statement will date how exceedingly old I am) there was a popular song that said “when you grow up you will fantasize that when you were young, politicians were noble, prices were low and children respected their elders.” So now that we are the ‘elder’ gamers, we look back with a coloured nostalgia about how we had to quest uphill both ways, barefoot in the snow to even be able to get a glimpse of the map that Naxx was on and now people have it just handed to them.

    What I think would be a good test is to take a group of folks who only started playing WoW when WotLK came out, and see how they are doing in 10 man Naxx, then compare that to how Imposs fared in Kara. I know of one guild that is doing this on our server and the first boss in spider wing on 10 man is kicking their ass all around town, just like Attumen did to us when we started.

    Its the Children of Wrath that I want to hear from. How hard is this game to you? And how polished and professional does it seem?

  3. January 28, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I’m actually going to hop in and answer the question, even though I’m one of Azeroth’s original (you could say beta, even) children.

    I’m with Oriniwen on this – the game has matured into something that caters to all playstyles. It has challenges and content for every skill level, and I’m one of the people that has gone from hardcore to semi-hardcore (I’m a casual player with insane amounts of competitive drive) over the life of the game.

    I think Blizzard has done a great job in trying to make the game accessible and challenging to everyone. It’s still in a trial phase, but that’s all these games are – a series of trials and errors until they get it right.

    I’m optimistic. Blizzard has released some excellent games so far, and I’m not going to let a few speedbumps ruin my game enjoyment.

  4. January 29, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Please also remember that Naxx, OB, etc are all the opening Instances. Will the next instance be easy? I really doubt it. Will the casual players be teabagging the Lich King twice a week 6 months from now? No way, not going to happen.

    The “casuals” had a few months of uber-play at the end of tBC when the instances got adjusted, and yes, they had fun in BT. But saying that Blizzard has now adjusted the game to be kasual-krazy is (a) yet to be really seen, and (b) why do you even care?

    If a casual player can concentrate on a single toon and get some good rewards and get to see more content – that is a good thing. It’s not like the hardcore players are not getting loot and points for their time – its just that the effort has been scaled more in favour of spending less time online.

    If you want a real challenge start correcting the grammar in wikipedia; now that would be a hardcore challenge.

  5. oriniwen said,

    January 29, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    @ PixEx: I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater either, and I’m not sure why so many people are.

    @ Typhoon Andrew: When the new raid content comes out, I am hopeful it will silence a lot of the QQ crowd. And I think part of Blizzard’s thought process is deflect some of the criticism that comes their way. A lot of people get up in arms about video game addicton and point trembling fingers at Warcraft as the devil incarnate. So much so that Warcraft actually has a warning of sorts when you log in – two of the ‘pro tips’ you see when you log in are aimed at getting people to play less. So making content attainable with a smaller time investment fits right in with that theme of showing the world they weren’t out to make some soul-stealing product that chains people against their will to the computer.

  6. January 29, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    “So making content attainable with a smaller time investment fits right in with that theme of showing the world they weren’t out to make some soul-stealing product that chains people against their will to the computer.”

    What makes me sad is that they feel responsible in this manner, and have to do so in order to maintain good PR. That’s one of the issues I have with today’s society – so ready to place the blame on everyone but the real problem.

  7. Tristan said,

    March 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    You know how I feel about this. But I think if they didn’t have content for people who played competitive I would probably end up quitting. I can’t thrive without that challenge.


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