Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Times They Are a-Changin'

Cynwise of Stormwind waxed a bit nostalgic yesterday for the Good Ol' Days of WoW. Well, what he talked about was the impending sense of pressure he had felt to try and experience as much of the world of Azeroth before the Cataclysm changed it. What he had not anticipated was the amount of change that happened to his own character:
Cynli [his Druid] was one of many attempts by me to thumb my nose at Heraclitus. All things are change, that ancient Greek philosopher maintained, and yet I tried to step into the same river over and over again. I was upset that Cynwise had changed beneath me, that not only had the foundations of the world been torn asunder, but my vehicle for experiencing them had, too.
He also struggled through the game itself after Cataclysm, trying to enjoy it. But in the end:
 I thought I would love Cataclysm, but I didn’t. I don’t think I really even liked it very much, as a whole.
Time marches on, and all that. I eagerly anticipated Cataclysm, as well; I even bought the Collector's Edition. But then in the months leading up to the release of the expansion, I became involved in real life activities, a new relationship, etc. Certainly no fault of Blizzard or the game, but my interest diminished slightly. And then the Cataclysm "hit." For various very practical reasons, players didn't experience the cataclysm itself, only the aftermath. But I think an opportunity was lost, an opportunity to involve the player community, maybe like the opening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj. I don't know.

The World was different, and my new girlfriend and I explored it together, she for the first time, and I to see what was new and what was unchanged. I was disappointed to be honest. I never got my main, Rowanblaze the priest, past 81; in fact I'm not even sure I got her to 81. I never experienced Hyjal or the Firelands, it didn't interest me any longer. I finally unsubbed after spending months only running through lowbie dungeons with a small group of friends. We got up to Scholomance—and The Sunken Temple, I think.

Meanwhile, every other company I game with managed to piss me off yesterday evening, or I was already irritated. I'd love to love SWTOR, but the atrocious customer service of BioWare(!) has soured my taste for the game. Sctrz said she was bored with it last night, I seriously doubt we'll still be playing SWTOR by the end of this billing cycle.

So we tried something different. Guild Wars 1 had funky mechanics that I was willing to try out, but then discovered that because Sctrz and I were on trial runs, we couldn't group up. And I could not talk in general chat to ask someone for help. She downloaded STO, which took forever. I still don't know what she thinks of the game after playing the tutorial and the Azura mission. Meanwhile, Perfect World Entertainment is forcing all STO players to get PWE accounts and merge their Cryptic accounts; which is fine, except they screwed up the merge process by reserving people's screen names in such a way that the individual cannot retrieve the name. Hopefully, this will be fixed shortly.

I look at news of Mists of Pandaria with mild interest, but I don't honestly think I'll re-up. To paraphrase Cynwise, it would not be the same river.


  1. Humans are naturally resistant to change, that's just a fact of life.

    I try to keep myself aware of that fact, and overcome it by attempting to embrace change. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes I am not.

    I always find it humorous when RPG players, especially the MMO variety get their panties in a bunch over change.

    The very POINT of an RPG is CHANGE!

    You get XP, you get new gear, you get new skills, you get new mounts or vehicles, new weapons, you go to new places, see new things, fight new monsters that have different attack patterns than before. The entire game is change after change. Your character at [Insert Level Here] is different than when she first loaded into the world at Level 1, and you play her (new skill rotations, new travel routes, new gameplay focus) differently than when she was first created. CHANGE!

    Every expansion to every MMO ever also alters (another word for change!) something about your character. Maybe a whole new skill tree setup, or simply new skills, or a whole new system added (Legendary Items in LOTRO for example) to focus on in addition to your character's own stats and progression. That's all change, and something that we love after the mild trauma of the first day of the expansion passes and we've adjusted to it.

    Now, having said that, I can certainly see where Cataclysm would have been a two-sided coin of stress. On the one hand, you're getting an all-new world to explore for the first time but in the same game you love! But will they get it "right" for you? (Apparently, for a lot of players, they did not?) And of course, nostalgia kicks in. It's great to receive that much new stuff and see how a virtual event changed the whole world. But on the other hand, you can never go back and visit the old world. Even though you probably didn't anyway after all these years (except fast-leveling alts) but at least you had the option of riding your mount back into some old zone where you had a fond memory and putting some of the details back into that memory. Now it's all gone, and your memory is just that: a fading memory.

    But on the whole, I still see it as a positive change in the big picture of things.

    However, I read Blue Kae's post and some others where the SWTOR server merges caused them to lose their character name and/or Legacy name. That is in no way, shape or form, a positive change for the customer. The pixels may be the same, the stats may be the same but the player just lost a sense of identity both for himself and for his character. If I hadn't already quit SWTOR I probably would have quit over a forced name change too just because my character no longer is the same person without that name. From purely a logical perspective, the name should be a small change, right? After all, I got to keep all the effort I put into the character. It isn't some expansion-level change; the character still plays exactly like she did the day before. But for players like me who do create an identity for our characters instead of just roaming around as "xXThunderN00b666Xx" the simple change of a few letters, arguably the fewest pixels of all, is far more traumatic than losing the entire world of Azeroth 1.0...

    1. Oh agree that change is inevitable, in games, and in life. But that change is not always good, as you have pointed out. I rarely complain just because there were changes, but post-Cataclysm WoW just didn't hold my interest. The same way neither LOTRO nor AoC held my interest.

      Strangely, while I spent a good 4 years playing WoW pretty solidly, and through two expansions, I haven't anything else nearly as long. I'm getting back into STO after over a year of being unsubbed, and barely playing for months before that.

  2. I think you're right about involving the player base. The Cataclysm was something that happened to us, passively. The elemental invasion event was a lead-in which promised more than what we got. Deathwing torching Stormwind and Orgrimmar would have been great! Random elemental invasions with no hope of survival! A plague-like device where the Twilight's Hammer 'recruits' players virally, like the Scourge invasion!

    I know a lot of it was cut for development reasons. But I've had a terrible time connecting with this expansion's story. I enjoy playing my Warlock well enough, but I'm trying to capture my joy with the play style now because I know it will be different in a few months.

    Nice post! Thanks!

    1. Thank you! :) Your post was a great jumping off point. I had a hard time getting into tthe story as well, harder than you obviously. I couldn't fit it in to the post, but I love playing a warlock, I just never any past 60-something. Of course, I never got anything besides my mage and priest past 70.

      I think the cinematic intros have shown a steady drive away from the players as the center of the story. And I think it's unfortunate.

  3. With your strong interest in storytelling you are planning on trying The Secret World, right? Especially since you seem to be at an MMO loose end...

    1. Much like Tish Tosh Tesh, my interest in subscripions games in general is waning; but I do have a TSW beta key for this weekend, so I am going to try it out. And proably that GW2 stress test next Wednesday.