Back when I first got the game, I read that disclaimer on the box.
I imagined that the game itself would account for about 95% of the actual experience, and the amount of interaction I would have with other people would only be about 5%.
I based this impression off of my experiences with another MMORPG, City of Heroes. In City of Heroes, I was able to solo pretty much all of the content I was doing, and without crafting or a marketplace, interaction with other people was purely at the player’s choice.
I was in a guild, but it was purely for social reasons. You didn’t really need other folks, and with darn near every real quest taking place in your own private instanced dungeon, interaction with others was at the street level while farming random thugs.
Well, I think you all know how naive I was.
I’d say that, as awesome as the game itself is, World of Warcraft is massively affected by the other people around you.
I’ll leave behind the whole issue with a guild. It’s obvious that if you choose to join a guild, how you experience the game will change dramatically based on how good a fit your guild is with what you want to do.
You want to run instances all the time? If you’re in a guild with 3 other people online at the same time as you, you are likely to feel the game is dead and boring. “Sigh, PUG or PvP? Or maybe another alt?”
On the other hand, if you are in a highly active guild, you may feel the game is way too hectic, that all the things you are asked to take part in place too many demands on your time.
Or maybe you’re the third bear, and everything is just right. Awesome!
But you control that part of your game. No one can make you stay in a guild you’re not happy in. If you can’t find just what you want on your server, heck, you can try and start your own.
But what about the rest of the time? What about the affect complete strangers can have on your game experience? How much control do you have over that?
I would like to describe two contrasting experiences I had this weekend, that took place about 15 minutes apart from each other. Keep in mind, I play on a carebear server. Consensual PvP only.
This weekend, I blew off all Druid activity to concentrate on playing my Priest. I was at level 64, and sick of it. I was done with Zangarmarsh, and had all of Terrokar Forest to begin. Time to level, damn it!
I was working on the Quest chain concerning the Shadow Council, which starts at Private Weeks (Alliance). The first thing you do is put on a disguise, wander into Grangol’var Village and talk to the bad guys there. As long as you stay out of the way of the Shadow Council hunters, you’re good to go. Wander around and talk to folks, gather info, and report back to Private Weeks.
The last part of the quest is to fight your way back into Grangol’var Village, slay 10 Shadowy Executioners, 10 Shadowy Summoners, and their leader, Shadowmaster Grieve.
Everyone else is in the village walking around, but Shadowmaster Grieve is in the one large structure. I cut my way into the Village, burning my way through everything that stood before me. I took no breaks, I simply killed and drank water, killed and downed Mana pots, killed and killed. I had a blast, and left a trail of broken, melted bodies behind me.
Unlike every other time I’ve been in the area, I had the Village to myself. It was kind of nice, I was getting the quest done fast. I burned a straight path into the building, lined up on Shadowmaster Grieve, verified that all my buffs were still active, my Mana was good, and started my Mind Blast cast for the initial pull on Grieve.
A player, mounted on his Elekk, rode straight into the structure over the dead bodies I had left behind, all the way into the center of the one large room where Grieve and his buddies sit, and was AOEing before he had even dismounted, nailing everything before my cast time was up, tagging everything so he got kill credit no matter what happened.
I interrupted my cast, since I was damned if I was going to pull aggro after he tagged Grieve and finish the fight for him, and watched as he downed the leader.
Now, I’ve done these quests twice before, on my Druid and my Hunter. I’m well aware the boss is on a fast respawn timer, so I’m only out 3 minutes. But I’m irritated. I was into the groove, I was having fun and enjoying myself, and wham! Bam! Dead stop.
I whisper the player, who was Alliance (notice I said he was on an Elekk), and asked him why he felt the need to run in and AOE instead of just grouping with me for it, after I cleared the path for him?
His reply? “I didn’t see you, w/e” and then he put me on ignore and left. That’s right, He put ME on ignore.
Yeah, whatever is right. But here is the funny thing. The guy was in Divine Might, a guild I had actually been in for a long time before Burning Crusade came out. It’s a damn good guild, with a very well deserved reputation on our server for mature, intelligent players that are into progression. I’ve been gone from that guild for over a year, but my time there was a very happy one. Great people. But every guild has it’s share of asshats, and they are usually smart enough to only show their faces to non-guildmembers. So, hey. Whatever. For all I know, that was one of my old ‘friends’, him on an alt and me on an alt, neither of us recognizing the other. Yay. A moment of extreme irritation, but screw it. Settle down for 2 minutes, get the respawn, and head back out.
Fast forward 15 minutes.
I’m in eastern Terokkar Forest, and I’ve got a quest called the Firewing Liaison, that I got from Allerian Post (near the Blood Elf area).
Deja Vu… I need to cut my way into the Fel Orc stronghold to the southeast, and then into the single large structure, where inside I will find the Firewing Liaison, Lisaile Fireweaver, and I need to kill her.
There is another quest along with it, Thinning the Ranks, to kill 10 Destroyers and 6 Backbreakers, while I’m there.
Yes, it’s the EXACT SAME QUEST. Are you shocked? Yes, I know. Who ever heard of Blizzard having the same types of quests, over and over, just in different areas. Ah, but I digress.
So, down I go, and once again, I buff up and get into the groove. I burn my way into the Fel Orc Stronghold, and melt faces straight up to the single large structure. I slaughter everything on my way inside, and face off on Lisaile Fireweaver. I make sure my Mana is topped off, my buffs are live, and I get all set…
And two players burst into the large structure on their mounts.
One is level 70, and they are both Horde.
And one of them does a /salute, the other /waves, they both dismount, and they stand back out of the way against the wall to wait patiently while I take care of business.
I stopped casting when they came in, and I laughed when I got the /salute. I saluted back, set myself, did my Mind Blast pull, brought them in, feared the group, burned down Lisaile and played the rest like ping pong balls, bouncing and burning them down.
Once the room was clear, one of the Horde gave me a /cheer, they both moved over to the ledge to wait for respawns, and I /waved again and moved on out of the building.
Two very similar situations. The only difference between them was my feelings on interacting with other players casually met in the game.
One of those players I would never group with or help in the future, and if I didn’t already know Divine Might is a great guild, I’d think pretty poorly of them in general based on the way that player acted. Unfair to judge a group based on the actions of one person, I know, but that’s how it is. Everyone is, at all times, an ambassador for their guild. What you do, for good or bad, will reflect on your guild.
The other two players, if they had been Alliance, I would have buffed, chatted with, and thought extremely highly of their guild in the future, and offered to help them with quests if they needed it. I would have been on the lookout for players of their guild to help if I saw them asking for it. That’s how I roll. I see people do nice things or just be friendly, and I watch for them and their other guildies to do nice things for in return.
I did walk away from that encounter with a smile on my lips because it is always fun to meet friendly folks in the game. It really enhanced the whole experience for me, especially in contrast to my earlier encounter.
Game experience may change during online play…. words to live by.