Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The WoW Disease?

Hiya. I've read a couple of posts lately that have gotten me thinking about why I'm feeling so lethargic about WoW lately. I feel it, my husband feels it, and a couple of my other friends. People that used to log on regularly aren't logging on as much it seems. I have been attributing it to RL and other things going on as you might have seen from my posts, but really I do think there is something more happening here.
To see what spurred me on in this post please read The Pink Pigtail Inn - The Honeymoon is over.... and Screaming Monkeys - The Cataclysmic WoW Disease.
There are some others I've run across like this - Pondering, End-game Motivation and yet another Screaming Monkeys - WoW Crossroads.
Ok...needless to say there are a lot floating around the blogosphere.

Dis-ease. That is what I feel these days. I don't feel any sense of adventure or urgency when it comes to WoW and I think there are a couple of reasons. What it boils down to is that Blizzard has decided what the path is supposed to be. We are shown the path. Pointed down it with huge landing lights and glaring shiny things. The experience and adventure is removed to make it more "friendly", be it casual or not, to the general public. There are few challenges and fewer choices to make. While I totally understand all the pros and cons it has become sterilized for my protection.
Many of these topics were discussed in the blogs I've noted, either by the author or by comments left by others on the articles.

Bring the Player
I have long since thought that this practice was good in theory but not in game.  It's great that we all want to play, and we all want to be thought of as good players. We also don't want to be excluded from a raid simply because our class does not bring a specific buff. I agree with that idea. However that is my play style. I believe that regardless of the composition of a team a boss should be able to be taken down. Now, whether that happens as world first, realm first or after months of working on it is up to the guild. If you are part of (or were part of) a guild that raided full time and had exemplary expectations of its members and their abilities, or if you expected to comply with guild victory comes first, then that is your choice and you expect that you may be benched for a certain fight because of your class choice. I believe that "bring the player not the class" mentality that Blizz began implementing in Wrath was a mistake that led to a range of long term problems. the main one for me being class homogenization.

"Tool Kit" - I wish that healers (for example) didn't all have to have the same "tool-kit". I would love my disc priest to be a wonderful tank healer or raid healer where I could excel at that specific niche.

Buffs - The array of buffs that now override each other or cover such a wide range of things is just wild to me.  Take for example Mark of the Wild. The stats this now covers are just across the board. That doesn't leave a lot of room for choice if you have buffs like this that cover everyone. Another example would be pally buffs. Where I used to have to think about what class needed which buff of the four, I now have to put little to no thought behind what I'm casting on whom or why.

I think the idea that we'd all like to bring a person as opposed to a class is great, and might make us feel warm and fuzzy, or that we're making better choices; in the end it just makes us all the same.

I play my warlock because I enjoy that style. I enjoy what I bring to a team. I want to retain that specialness that makes me what I am within the context of the game. By making me like everyone else the specialness is tarnished.

Talent Trees
What I'm referring to specifically is how you cannot put any points into another tree until you have reached the bottom of the tree you have opted in to.

If you are min-maxing or doing any kind of theorycrafting there was always just one preferred spec for each class tree that was out there. For instance if you wanted to maximize your combat rogue there was really only one good way to do it and it was the way everyone else was doing it. Be honest. We all know that when push comes to shove we all went back to elitist jerks to see what we needed to do to maximize our dps. In the end we all wound up the same anyways. Looked at from this point of view, the changes to the talent trees make sense. If we were all doing the same thing anyway then what's the beef?

What this eliminated though, were the folks that wanted to think outside the box. The hybrid specs, and the "crazy" people who wanted to go out and test other ideas to see what they could do, or at least get away with. All that cool crazy weird shammy tank stuff.

You now have a very limited way in which to move through a talent tree, and a limited number of ways to be original if you want to. The "free" talents or "fun" talents aren't really that much different from what we used to pick. I myself have maybe 3 points I can put wherever. But in the end those 3 choices don't add up to a lot either.

Questing - Life in the yellow lane
There is a lot to say about this topic actually so I'm going to try and pare it down. I found that while leveling my druid was quirky and fun it was lacking in difficulty and choice. Blizz seems very very sure that they have found the bestest way to quest through the game. They are so sure, that they have pretty much mapped out your quest experience for you. Something Asa wrote as a comment to Ionomonkey's post that I hadn't thought of was that all the quests are yellow. There are no red or orange quests. There are no group quests. Hell, there are not even any really difficult quests. I found that whenever I had to fight an elite I was given 1 of 3 things. A) a companion(s) that would fight with me  B) an object that would reduce the elite to a regular and make them easier, or C) the elite would stop fighting at about 1/2 health and give up, or would begin the fight at 1/2 health. All of these mechanics are there to allow someone to solo quest the entire game. It has also been seen as a definite nerf to anyone questing with another person as a team. You either don't feel challenged or you are getting separated by cut-scenes on a regular basis. Both of these scenarios I've experienced.

Leveling alts can be daunting to say the least. Which is why I found leveling my worgen so refreshing. It didn't take nearly as long and was easy to get through, as well as provided me with new and unique entertainment. I vassilate on this topic because I had fun but somehow it seemed too easy. Is easy ok? Yes sometimes it is. I wanted an easy leveling experience. I think I miss the challenges though. I miss the elite ogres in STV. I miss the difficulty level of some of the quests. I miss having to ask for help in general chat or finding a group to complete something....but at the same time I don't. I have done that a lot in my leveling/questing career in Azeroth, and numerous times. At the same time those are the times that I most remember. Whether with fondness or anger they are forever embedded in my memory banks.

The 80-85 experience is something of a different animal. New places new faces and new mechanics. I have touched on these in a few posts prior but lets go over a few.
Phasing: awesome and not awesome, again I go back and forth. To experience it was really cool at times but as I look around me I realize I can't see anyone else, and therefore have no connection to anyone else. It was also very difficult to coordinate some quests with other people even if you were doing the exact same one at the same time. One of you would inevitably pop into a phase before the other.

Lonely - Generally during my quest experience I would only see 1 or 2 other people and almost always Alliance. I rarely ever saw Horde, it was almost as if they'd disappeared off the face of the planet. The biggest exception to this was Deepholm. The zone hub is both factions and it was common to see everyone hanging out there. Other than that I quested in a bubble. The connections of playing with others now only come from major cities and trade chat and my guild chat. I don't feel I have a connection to the people I may be questing along side of. I'm just making my way along and once in a while I think "oh hey, there's a druid over there doing what I'm doing". For me it was mostly a good thing. I enjoy solo questing a lot. On the flip side it no longer feels like an MMO, and at times it's hard to believe that there are actually other real live people playing. I wonder how the quest experience feels on a PVP server?

Between the forums, Ghostcrawlers "heroics are hard" blog post and the myriad other news and blog sites talking about this one, its easy to understand why some folks are saying "OMG leave me alone!". Let me say I have hardly set foot in any dungeons. I have probably been in a total of 10 heroics. There are two reasons for this. One was my own impression of what they were going to be like. Being a warlock I knew I would be expected to CC. Doing it after not doing it for so long is scary. I love it and I hate it. If you fuck it up it's a horrible feeling of not making the grade. If you succeed there is no better feeling than being able to complete a dungeon well and feeling like you are good at playing your class. Second is the horror stories I hear and read. Both from my guildmates and from other blog and forum posts. The absolute icky-ness of having groups fail one after another is enough to make me wait for nights I can go with guildies.

Time is another issue. I was around during vanilla and I remember how long it took to do a dungeon like Scholomance and I embrace that. I just can't seem to find the time and the inclination in the right amounts at the same time these days. More a problem on my side then Blizz's, I don't mind taking 2 hours to do a dungeon if it's fun.

Fun. Hmm that's a good question. Am I having fun right now? I am if I'm playing around. Leveling alts, seeing zones I hadn't visited in a long time or playing with guildies. Other than that I'm not feeling compelled to do anything. There is nothing driving me forward right now.

One last topic -

I have not spent an exorbitant amount of time on this, so perhaps the lack of skill up is my own doing. It's been kinda coming along like my leveling and gear has been. What I've found is you better have a gathering profession, alts with gathering professions, or lots of spare cash floating around for purchasing mats. The amount of volatiles it takes to make some of the higher end items is a little out of control. Specifically the problem I am having is tailoring and being able to make one piece of cloth such as Dream of Azshara. This item takes 30 volatiles once a week. You might say that's not much every 7 days. Without a gathering profession that's a lot of fishing or a lot of money for me. To make the other pieces of dreamcloth it takes 30 of all the other kinds of volatiles out there as well. So now me and my guildies spend our time farming mats and doing dailies. Bored much? I can choose to spend my time this way or not leveling my professions as quickly. I realize that's my choice but it's a strange one. I have never had this kind of a roadblock in my crafting before. Every week so far I've found myself in a position to make one piece of cloth. Needless to say, so far I have 3 pieces total, and the only reason I have those is because I brought up my engineer and my husband has been sending me volatile life on occasion. Either the drop rates for these mats needs to increase to meet the demand that is in the recipes and patterns, or the amount required needs to change. I have a feeling, that like all other WoW endeavors, this too shall be nerfed over time. The question is do you want in on the ground floor or not.

So that's my take on why WoW has become a bit of a drudgery lately. I'm not on the verge of quitting or anything. I'm still logging in nearly every night. My priorities have just changed. I heard on a podcast recently, and I can't recall which one, that this is the expansion for alts. I am beginning to believe that's the basic truth. If it wasn't for all the professions I've skilled up I think I'd delete the remaining four 80's I have and reroll them just to have the leveling experience and enjoy the game. Hey Blizz! I need more toon slots!

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