One of the things I love about World of Warcraft specifically and social multiplayer video games in general is the way we are actively building a cultural history.
A video game environment used to be pretty personal. You played a game, and the most social it ever got was people watching you play on the TV set in your living room. You want to share what yuo’re doing, you tell people later.
Now, streaming and Twitch and all sorts of stuff. Why play a game when you can watch the streaming video of other people having fun? Or something.
But in the middle, in MMO land… groups of people getting together, forming guilds, linking with typed chat and voice comms, and sharing experiences.
Experiences that happen to you… but not really you.
It’s your avatar, and no, we’re not wired in to feel it’s pain. Yet. If it ever does happen, we know who will be driving it.
Still, your avatar, and you’re invested in what happens to you, but you can’t actually die when you screw up by the numbers.
You can do something galactically stupid, and look! it ain’t intensely personal and private anymore. Oh no, you just shared that with all your friends. They saw it. Some of them took pictures and laughed.
We’re growing our culture as we go. Things happen often enough in game that it’s the new normal. We take it in stride, and move on.
But how would the squares, those sad types out in the real world react to some of this stuff?
Thats the best bit. As time goes on, we become the new normal. What we get used to, and how we talk about it, gets absorbed into the outside world.
People will start adopting our terminology and ideas, even if they’ve never played a game before. Suckers.
What is the most contradictory new concept we’ve created?
I think it’s obvious.
Standing in the fire.
Think about it.
The entire concept of standing in the fire, just wtf.
In the real world, you stand in the fire, you catch on fire, and you have no choice stuffs start moving.
If your body can move, and you catch on fire, there may be a split second where your nerve endings haven’t reported latest events, but just as soon as you catch up to OMIGOD PAIN HURTS your body already moved you. The challenge is to stop moving, drop and roll. Your body doesn’t like that plan, it wants to run around screaming.
Standing in the fire? Not something that happens in the real world.
Only in a video game can ‘you’ stand in the fire and not even notice.
But you still take damage. And your friends, who are there playing with you and who might be responsible for keeping you alive? They’ll notice. And as history has shown us, they won’t be shy about letting you know that something might be happening to your nether regions, and perhaps, just maybe, you should do something proactive about it.
“Hey, Dipro? Get out of the fire. Get out of the fire. No, really, you’re standing in the, just holy crap dude, don’t freaking debate about it, just move, you’re on fire.”
It’s only one little thing in the game, but it really shows the difference between a virtual world and the real one. How can you not know you’re on fire?
Only in a video game, ONLY in a video game do you need someone to tell you to get your butt out of the fire.
The idea of someone just standing there with their feet on fire, totally oblivious? Someone so stupid they wouldn’t even move if we set them on fire?
That’s out there. We gave that to the world.
I’d love to see a title added to the game, from a tracked achievement – Character took more than 50 million cumulative damage from standing in environmental damage. Title awarded? “The Hotfoot”.
Alternate title, “The Hotstepper”, but that’s only because I’d like to see a character named Hossenfeffer the Hotstepper.
What else are we creating in our artificial game worlds? What other new cultural baggage are we creating that will seep out into the real world, stuff we take for granted but is unique to life in an MMO, stuff we might not even be noticing?
I love how this concept is enduring. Not just the standing in the fire, but the standing in the fire oblivious while your friends yell at you.
Case in point;
Throne of Thunder.
Looking for Raid.
Wing 4, boss 3.
I have never seen more people standing in the fire than the first week of Lei Shen in the Throne of Thunder LFR.
After your first phase 2, when a pillar is destroyed and that entire quadrant of the floor is arcing with big old glowing blue lightning?
Yeah… it’s blue fire.
The first week Wing 4 came out on LFR, and our guild was in there typing over and over;
“The floor is on fire, get off of it. Move. It’s on fire. You’re standing in fire. No really, move out of the blue lightning. No, don’t drag the boss in that quadrant, it’s on fire. The floor, it is on fire. It’s pretty blue fire that hurts, stop standing in it. Hello? Fire check? Still burns. Move please? Please?!?”
Standing in the fire. An enduring legacy we leave to the generations that come after us. God help them.
If I were the sort given to introspection, I might be worried at the direction my Warcraft gaming has taken.
I started this journey full of life and hope, an Elven Druid devoted to nature, given to the wild fury of the storm, a tiger to my foes, a stalwart bear to shield my allies.
Over the years, the journey found me seeking a companion to travel alongside, sharing each new vision we came across, me and my pet against the world, both of us excited to see what might lay on the far side of the mountains, under the cloudy skies.
But now… now, I just don’t know.
I’ve been exploring the darker side of life, playing with fire, taking my meals in the shady side of the streets. Hiding my light in the bushel of the Slaughtered Lamb, and isn’t that a creepy place to hang your hat and drink your draughts?
It’s hard to imagine sinking any lower than consorting with demons, even if your version of consorting involves some real consort-type action. What’s that? Nothing on the telly and 1-800-SUCCUBUS on the magnet by the fridge? Sounds like just another Warlock Saturday night.
Yeah, it’s hard to imagine sinking any lower than that.
It’s only hard until you’re faced with finding something to do on a Saturday night when you’re going to be a long time dead.
My Hunter looks forward to spending many a fine evening camped under the stars, massive dinosaur by his side. He will be there all summer long, a panda and his dino, toasting bacon, marshmallow and chocolate smores over the fire. The breeze feels mighty fine.
My Warlock is full of nervous energy, trying to claw and scrape her way towards power and wealth just as you’d expect. Always in sight is the need to deal death and destruction on an ever-larger scale, and when the Twin Emperors in old Ahn’Qiraj died in a millisecond this last weekend, all she could mutter was “Could’ve used a bit more oomph in the fire there. Could have cut a bit deeper. I can’t be having with any dilly-dallying on the fire.”
She’s never satisfied. Nothing is ever good enough, and a Valor Point left unearned in a week is simply unacceptable. There must always be more… more striving, more goals.
There can be no stopping until the stars themselves know what it is to wither and die beneath her crushing will.
But while she has the ambition and the will, she lacks the power to rain death and destruction on her foes at the scale she desires.
That might be a good thing, at least to everyone but her, but don’t tell HER that. She gets cranky.
As strong as her desires for destruction may be, even she pales beside the depths to which I have now sunk.
I’m dead, Jim.
I have spent the last week getting my undead groove on, aiding my sons Worgen Death Knight to take his first, fateful steps into LFR.
I say aiding, but it’s me on the reigns as he loses himself in Skylanders Giants and the new Luigi’s Mansion for the 3DS.
A dead Worgen, skeletal fleas nibbling on rotten ears, coated in a rime of frost, steeped in an unholy mixture of foul pestilence and rotting blood worms.
It doesn’t get any lower than six feet under. Does it?
Through this week, my playing has accelerated as a few horrifying truths have come clear.
Dear lord, Death Knights are so ridiculously overpowered I feel ashamed to log in.
No, wait, seriously now.
My Hunter has been on a few raids with lots of trash, and I don’t sit on my hands, mark you. I know Beastmasters are powerful on single targets, but I have still tried to support the team with the best AoE I could do.
I think my Hunter reached nearly to 99k once on the fourth boss in Heart of Fear. Once. At the peak of my iLevel 494 gear.
I ran Mogu’shan Vaults once all the way through a few weeks ago on the Death Knight, didn’t win any usable rewards. I ran it again this last week, and also worked hard to get enough Valor to purchase an iLevel 522 necklace. That finally qualified the DK to enter Heart of Fear.
Last night, I ran both halves of Heart of Fear for the first time ever, and capped the evening with the last three bosses of the Terrace.
First night even qualified to get into Heart of Fear, and that was with some crap gear cheating my way into the raid sitting unequipped in my bags.
I was worried, of course. Will my DPS be so poor that they boot me? I don’t want to be a drag on a team.
Let me put it this way.
On that fourth boss for Heart of Fear, Wind Lord Mel’jarak, I had 116K DPS, and fourth place on the chart.
That’s not a typo.
ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN THOUSAND FUCKING DEE PEE ESS.
And that is as UNHOLY. I keep hearing as to how Frost is so awesome, because y’know, Howling Blast means it has strong AoE.
That’s bullshit, that is.
It makes my power-mad Warlock weep bitter green tears, it does.
And for questing? I got Alex set up with a Blood spec, because the Dread Wastes were tough for him leveling as Unholy.
I fired the ol’ DK up as Blood and started rolling tide across the Isle of Thunder and, well, shit.
You know why I like questing as Blood DPS?
I like it because I can kill anything, I don’t have to pay attention, and I end every fight with full health.
I feel dirty.
Who knew the soil of the grave would leave me feeling so unclean?
Yeah, that’s what it is.
I was wondering aloud upon the incredibly bullshit OP nature of the Death Knight in guild chat last night, and Arrakeen remarked that there are few things in game quite as annoying as seeing a Blood Death Knight in the Brawler’s Guild, ignoring mechanics and gutting it out past the enrage timer.
I had to laugh. I think I saw the same fight.
“Oh no, you probably just saw one of many.”
You know, when a class is really overpowered, I always have just one thing to say.
Good on yer, and now let’s see some of that love spread around, all right then Blizz?
I’m sure it will last just as long as the next patch balancing, when somebody else will rise to new heights of WTFdom. It’s all good.
This trend of mine can’t continue. Where will it end?
For one thing, I can’t imagine what I would have to play to sink down any deeper than this.
I mean, I already HAVE a Hunter.
And no, I’m not race changing to Night Elf.
Or Blood Elf either, nice try.
And I absolutely draw the line at renaming him “Lolgalass”.
A large part of the guild queued for the second part of ToT LFR last night, but had to date only cleared normal Throne of Thunder through (and including) Tortos.
I say only, but I haven’t even set foot in Throne of Thunder Normal myself yet, so yeah. That wasn’t to denigrate their progression, but to nail down how much of the raid they’d had a chance to see so far.
As we approached the trash leading up to bird brain (my name for the third boss of the second part of ToT), Tom entered our vent channel. He wasn’t queued with us, but he’d done it in the morning in LFR and wanted to hear this.
He was damn near chortling over how much he loved the trash before the bird brain.
“Some of the best trash in the game”, was one spontaneous review, and “Wait until you see the snails!”
How the unholy hell can a snail be a viable trash mob?
I mean, a snail. Shell, slime and slow, right? Wavy eyes on long tendrils? We are talking snails here. Shrivel when salted? “Oh no, it’s Crazy Snail! Quick Tom, break out the Bat Salts!”
Yeah, I made a bath salts pun. Sue me.
We worked our way through the trash after the second boss, mostly spiders on ramps.
Where the heck… Ah hah! There, at the top of a ramp we beheld our first snail. Er, Gastropod.
Yep. Huge freaking snail. There has to be a catch here.
Is this a ninja snail? Does it vanish, only to pop in and bump you gently from behind with it’s soft, slimy snout?
Maybe it’s a lightning snail, and blazes a swift trail, achieving ludicrous speed to pounce on resto Druids and munch placidly on their leafy heads?
Mind control snail? It takes over Warlocks and makes them devour the Gastropod while talking with a French accent, resulting in acid indigestion?
Nope. But getting closer.
I know! Slime Slaughter Snail with extra Mucus action!
Ding ding ding ding.
So, okay, a snail. What’s the big deal?
Tom says, “check out the buff on the snail.”
I mouse over the Gastropod, and sure enough it has a buff.
Anything it touches (10 yard range) it, ahem, eats alive.
You’re being eaten alive!
2 seconds remaining
And after that two seconds, boom, you are DEAD.
In the words of my Dungeons and Dragons youth, no Armor Class, no Saving Throw.
Oh, hell yes.
I had to test this.
Rades, this is proof you don’t want me on your raid team. I saw that buff, and the very first thing I had to do was run over and stand in front of it.
Well, maybe you’d understand.
That’s right, it slowly, SLOWWWWWLLLYYYY approached me, and then killed my butt. Instantly.
Which didn’t help my raid team any, but had me howling with laughter at home. Oh, if only you were left with a 15 minute green cloud and the flavor text buff “You’ve been slimed!”
So, if it kills everything it touches, how can you possibly fight this most terrifying of terrestrial snails?
the way it works is, it fixates on someone, putting the big eyes of doom over their head, and then slowly slimes it’s way towards the fixate target.
This was massive fun, and I’ll tell you why.
It can fixate on Hunter PETS.
It fixated on MY pet. It fixated on BARRY.
Greatest thing ever.
As soon as I saw the eyes appear over Barry’s head, I popped him on passive so he’d run back to my side, which took a few seconds because apparently Barry really wanted to eat the snail, but whatever. I actually think Barry is just stubborn as hell. He seems to have an attitude.
After a suitable amount of cussing and swearing, Barry finally returned to my side and I was able to lead the damn snail around and down and over the ramp away from the rest of the raid… or most of the rest of the raid, who tended to spread out to cover all available space like an avalanche. That let everyone else stand back at a distance and drop a ton of bricks on it from safety.
Not everyone who got fixated had the same thought.
Oh yeah, there’s more than one of these badass snails.
I saw more than one player with eyeballs over his head back slowly through the center of the player group, DPSing as he went as though he were trying to burn down an Undying Shadow from Ziang in the Spirit Kings encounter.
One does not simply burn down a Gastropod while kiting it through the raid.
Unless you’re doing it for fun, but that’s another story.
New drinking game… every time a fixated player kites a snail through the raid, you down a beverage of choice.
We wiped on snails a few times.
It was so fun! Best damn trash in history.
I’m not even going to go into any more exposition.
I’m gonna let you think of all the ways having a super-high health mob that insta-kills anything it touches and fixates/chases a player (albeit slowly) can be used for good… or evil.
Thank you, Novalas, for reminding me I was going to write about the joys of Gastropodony. And for posting that awesome picture of the Gastropod Siege of Orgrimmar.
Last night I ran the second part of Throne of Thunder LFR on my Hunter. I also did Galleon and Sha of Anger.
Ended up with a 496 ring and two iLevel 502 drops. No, not the bow, but really when enjoying an embarassment of riches, who cares?
Contrast that with last week, where I didn’t so much as sniff a drop. Or Cassie, who ran the first section last night, used a coin every kill, and also didn’t win new loots.
Random is random.
It’s funny, I remember one of the core tenets of video games when I was growing up in the ’80s, which was that digital logic programming couldn’t produce truly random results. At some point, there had to be a seed, and from that seed all pseudo-random gobbledygook must follow.
Duplicate the seed, and you repeat the sequence related to that seed. The secret to beating video game ‘random’ sequences was discovering that hidden, secret seed or how the system was programmed to respond to your actions.
I wonder sometimes if that is where some of our legends on influencing loot drops comes from. That old faith in an underlying structure, a belief that nothing in a video game is truly random, and that things are programmed to respond to our input, to react to our actions in some way, and if we could just nail down what the repeatable response would be, we’d know what to do to influence events to fall our way.
I sometimes wish that our wild theories on how to influence loot drops or ‘random’ events really, well, WORKED.
I loved the mystery in Vanilla WoW of wondering if we the players, by our actions, could somehow influence, say, when Onyxia would deep breath. People in raid would come up with strats for what the players had to do, and they were serious. Stand over there, DOT early, don’t DOT until 15 seconds in, all Mages stand in the center, etc. Some of it was that Onyxia wasn’t tauntable, so tanks had to be allowed to really build up threat before people started doing damage, but other things were just… attempts at seeing if player actions in weird ways would affect when Onyxia would do something.
There is a part of me that wishes there really was some chance that filling my bellybutton with blue mud, dancing naked in the rain widdershins to the wind and rubbing my tummy with one hand while patting the top of my head with the other, I could increase the chances my Gun would drop from Lei Shei by 10%.
It would give me the illusion that I could somehow influence my fate.
I’d even welcome the inevitable “blue mud is unbalanced, nerf blue mud” forum posts.
I’d like to think that there were secret, behind the scenes things that players did in their ordinary gameplay that would have unforeseen and unknowable effects later in the game, on loot or bosses, when you least expected it.
You could call it karma if you like, but I am not suggesting that there be any way to track it. It would ruin things if there was a clear link between cause and effect. Part of the fun would be in thinking you’ve discovered a secret trick that always works for you, you don’t know why nobody else has discovered it. It didn’t work for someone else? They didn’t do it right!
“Hey, I don’t know what’s wrong with your group, when me and my four Druid friends formed a raid and made a stack of Reindeer, Ashes of Alar dropped from Kael’thas right after. I’m telling you, you need to try it. Did you have five? Maybe you didn’t have enough Druids in your stack.”
It would be so much fun if there was a gentle suggestion from the devs that, should you do things of a positive or friendly nature in the game, your kindness would be returned to you in ways you could not foresee. And that it was coded right into the game to track random acts of kindness, just like tracking achievements. But without any way for the player to see what is or is not tracked, or what they have or haven’t noticed to create some ‘perfect guide’ to gaming the karma system.
I know people in the game already who enjoy taking items, wrapping them in gift paper and sending them to friends, just to cheer them up. Or who offer tips instead of criticism, support and encouragement instead of unloading with venom.
People that do the little things that go into being a positive person in public rather than a depressing pain in the ass.
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we were told that keywords, phrases, even trends of typed chat in the game contributed to some kind of karma system?
Such a terrible dilemma. To troll people and rant in trade chat, swear and yell at noobs, post ‘anal’ links and risk reduced loot chances or increased damage done to YOU by bosses (or enemy players in PvP!) or, as the alternative, pretend to be nice to court unspecified but presumed real karma rewards, even when you’re a nasty little shit in real life.
It’s fun to contemplate. It really is.
Thinking about these things, and how it would be fun to experiment with the results in a live setting, it all just points out how glad everyone should be that I am not a game developer.
Because I’m telling you, straight up, i’d implement the system and not tell any players until the game had been out at least 6 months, and then track social behavior changes.
Lab rats or players… well, as the saying goes, eventually developers would grow a fondness for the rats.
Also, there are some things you can’t get the lab rats to do. One word? Achievements.