The post title is stolen shamelessly from @neowolf2 on Twitter. Titles don’t get any better than that right there.
Last night, my son had his first band concert at the school. He has been playing the saxophone since the school year began, and he did wonderfully. The band played several songs as a group, broken up with solos and duets. He had a duet with a kid playing a clarinet, and he had to totally carry the clarinet player. If it was a scenario, the clarinet player was trying to run it as a healing spec.
His band class is a before-school extra thing, it’s not part of the normal school curriculum, so he is in a class of about 20 kids, each with different instruments and spanning four school grades. There were three saxophonists this year including him, but next year the other two will be off in High School, so he’ll be big man on the sax circuit.
Seeing him up there, with his serious ‘business time’ face focusing on the sheet music… that makes everything worthwhile, I swear.
Enough of that, it’s time for some Cub news around the World of Azeroth!
Mists of Pandaria is turning out to be a difficult expansion for Alex.
In a pure sandbox game like Minecraft where you are given all the tools and left to go nuts, he has a wonderful time. Just a few nights back he opened up a world where he made a black onyx pyramid that stretches to the heavens, and added a series of roller coaster tracks over and through and under mountains, rivers and the pyramid itself. Including glass blocks so you can see the water you were riding under. He did this with powered mine cars, tracks and switches. Then he took some rides. With nothing but a bag of tools and an open world, he builds shit that knocks my socks off.
In other games, like the new Luigi’s Mansion game on the 3DS, he’s also having a blast. It is focused along one path, and you play the path or you don’t advance. The challenge comes in executing what you have to do each step of the way.
He’s very good at those kinds of games as well.
World of Warcraft is turning out to have too little direction to show him where he has to go next to find a small area filled with stuff to do, and if he does stumble on an area it’s hard to tell what it might be for, what the start or end is, and what the eventual rewards may be.
That would be fine if there was more pure sandbox stuff in WoW, but there simply isn’t enough freedom in the sandbox to let his imagination run wild. Have you ever tried to interact with the environment? They’re getting better at having things that can spawn you can pick up, but for the most part, the assumption is to not bother trying to interact with trees, rocks, sand, buildings, torches, windows, wild animals (except to kill them), etc. If they added sandbox tools, would we know? We’ve been trained to ignore the environment and focus on the critters to kill and people to give us quests or buy our trash.
It is what it is. He is still too young for the game, and I don’t expect a game designed for mature audiences to have to tailor its play to a ten year old. That WoW is as accessible as it is already amazes me.
I mention this because there are plenty of times I feel it, too. I remember when I first reached level 90 in Pandaria, and I felt adrift. I knew a lot of stuff was out there… but where to even begin? What would be the most fun? What should come first? I felt lost enough that I had a major disconnect with my character. It felt almost as if, there I am at max level, there aren’t any more breadcrumbs, there aren’t any obvious things to focus on… guess the game’s over, and I won?
Where things are now, with the scattered quest hubs and nothing to send you out there TO them, he logs in, flies around aimlessly, does a few pet battles, browses Mogit to look at gear sets, reads through the Dungeon Journal memorizing the fights and looking at gear, and then he tells me yet again that he wishes Blizzard would go back and add in entries for all the OLD raids into the Dungeon Journal.
I agree with him on that point. I’d really love to see the Dungeon Journal updated with pictures of bosses, spell effects and loot tables from all the old raids. Really.
He likes WoW, don’t get me wrong. He likes his Worgen Death Knight.
He’s just having a hard time finding a loose end of the sweater to start unraveling to reveal all the fun that is still to be had out there…. somewhere.
He needs some guidance. Something to say, “Hey, you haven’t done this, you wanna give it a try? You’re able to do it, you could handle it with no sweat. Go for it!”
I try to fulfill this role when I can.
For example. When Cataclysm was the fresh hotness, the Cub really wanted to run the Halls of Origination, play around in there. He wanted to ride a camel into battle against bone-winged undead.
It wasn’t so much that he wanted to run it, like go go go get valors get golds get drops get gone and do something else. He wasn’t on the progression treadmill where content is the job you do to earn the valor cash to buy gear.
U bai gear? Yes, we all bai gears.
No, he wanted to explore, to take his time, experience all of that celestial wonder. He wanted to, and this may shock the heck out of you, he wanted to go do a five person instance as a fun adventure, exploring all the little nooks and crannies.
Cataclysm was a long time ago, but all the content is still there. Much like Minnesota, it’s flyover country now, but it’s still there.
He was logged in, drifting along looking for something to grab his attention, and I mentioned to him that part of the joys of being so well geared at level 90 was that when it came to old content, he is now, to quote Goldeneye, Invincible!
Yes, that video is appropriate. It’s true, right up until the point where it ain’t.
I told him he could darn well go and solo the Halls of Origination.
YES! Go forth and explore all the things!
So he did.
He had a lot of fun in the Halls of Origination… until he reached this one room with, I don’t if you’ll remember this, four elementals you have to kill in a room filled with fast-spawning groups of ads? Yeah, the frost elemental will ice trap you, freeze you in place. Fine if you’re Unholy with a perma-pet, but for a Frost or Blood DK, kind of a pain. When you’re soloing, it’s mighty funny.
Still, he got through it all and won, he rode a camelback, he fought and won against some beautifully constructed five person instance design. That place is begging for a revamp as a 10 person raid.
That inspired him to do more instances, and he had some fun doing them.
Still and all, that is where we are. The Cub is having a good time when he can find something that is fun to do, that is small enough that he doesn’t have to maintain enthusiasm for it over several weeks of dailies. If we can identify something that has a beginning, a middle and an ending over one or two days, he’s all over it.
When we can’t come up with something he can go out there and have fun doing that doesn’t require logging in and ‘doing your chores’ day in and day out, well, that is when we break out the Minecraft.
There is ALWAYS something to do short term in Minecraft.