Why So Serious?

The announcements about World of Warcrafts upcoming Patch 4.3 keep rolling out, and once again I find myself putting what is said together and thinking, “who comes up with this stuff?”

You ever hear this old joke?

A manager is speaking to a gathering of employees. He tells them that because of the costs of restructuring, the downturn of the economy, and the need to stay competitive in the marketplace, there will be no raises or profit matching bonuses this year. Then he tells the employees that sales have continued to grow at record levels, making this the most profitable quarter in company history. Then he stops, looks over at his secretary, and says, “I told you to put the United Way employee donation drive announcement between those two.”

Sometimes, that’s the way it seems with Blizzard, isn’t it? All these announcements and press releases and interviews and revelations come out, and individually they all make perfect sense and are clearly meant to generate excitement and buzz, but when I put them together without the filler, the message gets kinda… mixed. Or misleading. Or, and I’ll be blunt, self-serving corporate bullshit.

Make no mistake. Content does not come out for the sake of content to please the player. Blizzard does not have a crew of men and women creating and changing code for World of Warcraft in the backroom or in their basement for fun, rogue coders ranging wild and free adding whatever they feel like at their own pace.

No. Everything that gets added or changed in game comes out after planning meetings, time to market discussions, and cost/benefit analysis is done.

If you see content announced, be it new raids, hot gear, rules changes or a new Legendary, you should know that there was a meeting or series of meetings behind it.

In those meetings, there were overall objectives to meet. “What can we do to improve retention of existing customers? What can we do to attract new customers? What can we do to encourage existing customers to not drop payment for the few months before new content comes out? How do we get old, tired, bored customers to come back again? How do we handle the cynical and bitter?” 

I’m sure there are additional concerns in planning meetings, but you get the idea. Committing programmer and quality testing resources costs money, and before that money and time are committed, there will be an expected return on investment.

So, back to the mixed messages. The bullshit messages. The upswing of excitement tempered with the “but why can’t we do x?”

Or, to put it another way, Why So Serious?

Transmogrification, or ‘mogging’ as it’s now called, was announced to great excitement on my part. In almost all ways I’ve been delighted with the very idea. It has succeeded in one assumed goal; I am revitilized in playing World of Warcraft, because this has challenged my ‘collector’ instincts to go out there into old content and gather pieces of gear together for that ‘neato’ set. It’s also brought renewed attachment to my characters, fulfilling my desire to customise and personalize my avatar so that I’m not just Huntard #4590786. Sure, I’ll still be generic Big Brown Bear Butt #75876, but the non-shifty among us will finally get to look cool while we kill stuffs.

We’ll even get to dispense with clown suits in Outlands, and for once in our lives, if we don’t WANT bare belly buttons in our plate armor, we won’t have to put up with it.

Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

The mogging announcements and the questions that came out of the community (and the Blue responses) give us some food for thought. 

Let’s take a look at some of these discussions, shall we?

From this article;

We have an obligation to players and to our hard working artists to keep the game from looking too silly. I know looking ridiculous is fun for some players, but World of Warcraft was established with a design that the game overall kept its silliness in check. That’s one of the reasons we resisted adding a feature like Transmogrification for so long.

So weapons that look like fish, for example, probably won’t be available as source items for Transmogrification, even if one is technically a dagger and has stats. There are a handful other weapons with “silly” models (such as frying pans, brooms, etc.) that may or may not be allowed — it’s still under discussion.

From this article;

Fishing Poles cannot be transmogrified.
Fishing Poles cannot be used to transmogrify.
There may be individual items that are excluded from being transmogrified on the basis that they were originally added to the game as absurdities. (examples: a weapon that looks like a fish, or a chest piece that is invisible)

Going off of what has been said, mogging will allow players to wear armor and weapons that are effective in combat while at the same time present a player-chosen appearance.

But Blizzard is also saying that they do not want players to have total freedom in the choices available to them. Things that Blizzard deems ‘silly’ are not permitted. The reason, the sole reason, is out of a self-imposed obligation to the players and to the artists to keep the game from getting too silly.

Err. Wut?

We as players are being given the freedom to take the disparate ‘clown suit’ clashing appearance of items, items that are individually best in performance but look like shit visually when all mixed together, and pay gold to have them all look like matching or themed sets we choose.

Many players will certainly take advantage of this.

But we are NOT being given the chance to truly let our own attitudes or humor or sense of satire shine through. We do not have freedom of personal expression in how we do this, unless someone chooses to mog their gear to intentionally pick items that clash as horribly as possible, going for a circus clown look.

And the reason given is to keep things serious.  

Let’s put ourself in that hypothetical Blizzard meeting. The one where the suits are looking for the cost/profit analysis before giving the green light to coders to even begin implementing a new feature like mogging.

When mogging comes up, what does Blizzard get out of it? We can see the cost in coding time, and we can see the fun aspect as players, but where does Blizzard see a profit?

In terms of retention, perhaps a little. Mogging will provide an opportunity for customization, and the act of customizing will bring us to invest more of ourselves into our characters, leading at least some of us to feel a closer investment into WoW. 

But is that all?

What about attracting new players amidst all the competition out there in the MMO world, with all these shiny new games?

If you have not played an MMO before, and were comparing screenshots or looking at in-game videos on Youtube, wouldn’t Blizzard come out looking a little better if their characters wore more cohesive and attractive gear with amazing looking weapons?

Wouldn’t screenshots of boss kills look a bit better if everyone stood out more and looked… planned?

The impression that potential new customers would have is that you can look cool in WoW, something that mismatched armor appearances and clown suits worn for the stat benefits don’t provide.

As an aside, why don’t they currently provide them? Because whoever the design team is for gear sets, as talented as they are and as kick-ass as the work they’ve done over the years is, the people putting stats on those gear items have forced players to choose between style and substance instead of having both in one package. And talking about why that has been the way it has would make for another fun discussion.

Back on point, when you consider screenshots and the new player attraction point of view from a Public Relations / Sales (corporate suit with no sense of humor)perspective, the decision to ban silly looking items from mogging becomes self-explanatory.

I’m a blogger, so I’ll say it anyway; if Blizzard is trying to entice new customers with images of epic battles and high fantasy, competing against games with more cohesive high fantasy art styles (and more realistic looks with higher polygon counts) they don’t want to have videos floating around out there of top flight raid teams killing Ragnaros while wielding fishing poles, frying pans, baseball bats and pitchforks, with a main tank beating Rag with a fish.

It would happen. Why would it happen? Because we are, the most of us, gamers playing a game, and we gamers as a class have this annoying tendency to enjoy the silly, the absurb, the satirical and the loony. We often like Fawlty Towers, Red Dwarf, Monty Python, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and other things that poke fun at the too self-important or deadly serious.

We are Not So Serious. We ARE the people who think tanking Ragnaros and beating on him with a dead floppy fish would be hilarious

Blizzard knows this. And at least one aspect of policy makers has chosen to pre-emptively block it before it can become a problem.

Who in Blizzard would worry about this? After all, I know that part of what brought me into the game was the light-hearted nature of the art, the stylistic sense of the game, and yes, pop culture references and more tender moments.

In game non-combat pets are an example of the heart of the game that drew me in. Things that spoke to me of people making a game that loved what they did, and knew what fun was. People who knew how to have a good time. I felt I could trust people like that to continue to support a fun game to play.

Would tanking Ragnaros with a fish main hand hurt Blizzard? Would it detract from our enjoyment of the game? I submit to you the argument that if it would, it would do so to the same extent that the entire quest series in Westfall parodying Horatio from CSI: Miami does already.

I know there are some players that do not like having that type of pop culture involvement or sillyness in the game. But it’s in the game already. Clearly, there is a faction within Blizzard that DOES have a sense of humor, DOES know how to have fun, and also knows how not to take themselves too seriously. And who have tried to explore that sense of humor while staying within the boundaries of a very smart and intelligent world setting with amazingly rich lore.

This isn’t War and Peace, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, or On War.

This is a video game, and as such, we the players get in there and mess around.

Who plays World of Warcraft?

People who have so much fun that we take the serious aspects of the game like dying in the Ring of Fire and make Johnny Cash parody songs, or look at the insane farming requirements to open the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj and make parody videos of it, or just take the brilliance of Avenue Q and set one of their songs to a video about what those nice people in your guild are really like.

So someone put sillyness in the game, someone I would wager is a gamer at heart and knows how to have fun.

But here is a new feature, and we’re told that there is now an obligation to prevent sillyness. Apparently, we wouldn’t be showing the proper respect for the material and the artists hard work if we killed Ragnaros by beating him to death with floppy dead fishies. 

I call bullshit on that one. 

So why? Why risk a downside of player irritation at being restricted? There has to be some benefit that outweighs the negative.

Maybe someone can suggest another in the comments, but the only one I see is the possible PR benefit from having movies with Oh So Serious players beating raids and doing PvP in badass looking matching gear sets, sans fish. 

It’s an idea only a suit would have; to assume potential players of a fantasy game with Orcs and Elves (and Gnomes), seeing characters fighting with fish, would be TURNED OFF and walk away saying “Hell no, that shit is too damn silly for me. I’d prefer a nice game of SimAccountant”.

It is, to bring this back to my earlier corporate joke, the equivalent of a proposed picture of all the company employees for the company website or newsletter. Human Resources or Public Relations people come out to hand out t-shirts with the company logo on them for everyone to wear, arrange everyone so the ‘pretty’ office people and managers are standing prominently out in front or on the sides to kind of mute the grubbiness of the production staff, and generally manage the situation so the picture taken presents the image they want to show, and if it happens to resemble reality, well, that was an accident.

It’s one step up from doing what my last company did, and just hire professional models to portray the company employees on the company website, leading employees to ask each other, “Who the hell is that, and when did we hire them?”

Seriously Blizz, Why So Serious?

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Bigbearbutt of Ironforge!

A bit of an announcement here.

Today, I began a new journey in my professional career, one that I’m ever happier about.

Today, I am Bigbearbutt of Ironforge.

As some folks may know, my last employer notified the plant I was at that the whole shebang was going to be shut down, packed up, and relocated to another state, “sometime early next year”.

As much as you’re used to seeing me be grumpy, I’m not given to dumping on employers, past or present. As long as they consistently paid me as we agreed upon for the work I performed, I have no true gripes. 

Still, knowing that your plant is going bye bye in the near future is no fun, especially in a tough economy.

Fortunately, unlike so many people who have been laid off without any warning at all, I was given enough lead time that I could seek out something new while still getting a paycheck. A blessing, a true blessing, and one that I am very grateful for.

It meant that I’ve been able to seek out the perfect new job with a company that I really wanted to be a strong part of.

Mind you, my last job was just like that… the problem wasn’t that the job was poor, the pay was low, or the business was unsuccessful. The problem was that Iwas SO successful in cutting maintenance costs and increasing equipment uptime, and the sales team was able to continue to grow the business to utilize all that uptime I was providing, that the building HAD to move to find room to expand.

It was just unfortunate that upper management felt that the expansion and investment in the business should take place in Illinois instead of Minnesota.

Yes, I was offered the opportunity to relocate. I chose not to. See? In many ways you could say that it was my own choice to put family and our home ahead of employment, and risk not finding the right position elsewhere in time.

I was willing to take that gamble.

I rolled the dice, and, well… I roll twenties. But you knew that. 🙂

I’ve got a new job. The job kicks ass. It’s what I’ve done for years, which means I’m damn good at it. No stress hoping I can learn fast enough to pull this shit off. Maintenance Manager, walking into an operation and bringing order out of chaos.

That’s right. Bringing order out of chaos. It’s what I do, and screw the Black Blade of Antioch.

But even better, I’m doing it at a company that’s been around for over a hundred years, with people that, the more I talk to them, the more I know that they give a shit about the future of the company, AND the people that work for them. And it’s a company where if you don’t do the job, if you don’t pull your weight, it shows… and you’ll be out on your ass. No dead weight hiding in a back office. The President and the VPs are all out on the floor pitching in, and that’s a damn nice thing to see.

I’m at an Iron Foundry, a no-shit, pouring-hot-molten-metal-into-molds, sparks flying, badass iron foundry. 

I am no longer in the land of hair nets and clean room medical standards. I’m in the realm of “let’s pour 45 tons today, and take a sledgehammer to the scrap to dump it back into the induction furnace” kind of place.

It’s a good feeling. And it’s even better when I talk to the management types and feel, instead of the disgust I’ve held for a long time, a sense of pride that these are the people I’ll be working with.

Err… take from that what you will concerning my last employer. Okay, so I’ll dump a LITTLE bit on them.

So.

Bigbearbutt of Ironforge. It’ll do for going on with.

Oh, who am I kidding. It kicks ass.

There is SO MUCH in WoW to talk about, I know, I know! …and I’d love to be doing it right now. It’ll still be there when I get back on target, give me a few days.

I’m not going away, and I’m not shuttering the door. But hey… between the school year starting up for my son, projects around the house, and starting a new job, as you can imagine posting is going to be on a bit of a scattered schedule until I get back on top of things.

All I can tell you is, I’ll still be here.

I hope you will be too!

Is your butt this big?

You think YOUR butt is big?

I have a picture guaranteed to make you feel better about your body today.

Now that, my friends, is THE big bear butt.

My deepest thanks go to Ironshield for sending me an email pointing out this fantastic picture by Jill Greenberg.

The picture appeared in an article at the Telegraph, and has the byline “Kodiak Bear ‘Whopper’ photographed in Innisfail, Alberta, Canada by Jill Greenberg, Barcroft Media”.

So much for the myth that an all fish diet is slimming… unless brother bear butt here is spending all his time at the “All you can eat Walleye Fish Fry.”

Mogging for fun and… well, fun!

No big guides here, just wanted to make sure everyone interested in MOG planning had whatever little tips I could pass on.

I’ve been having lots of fun designing just the right look for my Worgen Warrior, and hopefully some of you out there are enjoying spending time doing the same thing.

Now, if you want a big guide, I’ve got two suggestions for you on picking the right set for the appearance you want in the armor style you wear; WoWhead News, and the Visual Roleplay Gear List.

The Visual Roleplay Gear List is fantastic. It is, in my opinion, the best place to go to browse armor sets and find just the right look. You can pick from among the Tier sets of your Class, OR you can browse the sets that are of your chosen armor type that are non-class specific. Plus, there are accessories to browse. The name of the game here is ease of use and quick visual links of complete set styles.

WoWhead News, on the other hand, has been running a brilliant series of articles on Transmogrification by Perculia, articles that really are going to end up being THE definitive guides on learning about mogging, getting started, and understanding just what all the choices can be. For the newer player that started after earlier content was obsolete and don’t understand what might be involved in getting, say, Tier 2, WoWhead News is already the cats meow.

So far, there are four Transmogging articles by Perculia on WoWhead News that I know of.

The first one is a comprehensive compendium of Tier, Class and PvP gear sets with selectable links and ‘how to get them’ discussion. A great starting point, and some might say enough to satisfy anyone, right?

Perculias second article is an awesome piece delving into some Top Picks of the most interesting and unique items out there, weapons and dungeon gear and such, for you to browse through in the database. Also touches on some of the non-class specific recolored Tier lookalikes.

The third article goes into much greater detail on all those Tier lookalike sets out there, the ones that aren’t class specific.

And finally, the fourth article that is out goes into the most useful for our low level alts… the armor sets that can be made by matching Green quality items at all level ranges. Now that… that is service above and beyond the line of duty. And written with such charm and flair!

Okay. Now that I’ve directed you to the true guides and exhaustive resources… let’s get personal.

What I’m finding to be the smoothest way to plan my stunning fall ensemble is to start with the Visual Roleplay Gear List.

With my class in mind, and the type of armor, I consider the backstory for my character, and then begin browsing the lists looking for something that takes off.

Now, this is NOT what I’m doing with one of my characters, but I decided I should have an example.

Therefore, I present to you the Worgen Death Knight, CharliFoxtrot

CharliFoxtrot, or CF for short, was, in her life, a Paladin, brave and true. Doubly cursed, first with the Worgens bestial nature and second by death and raising as a Death Knight in Arthas’ service, CF spends her time warring on the undead, seeking to single-handedly rid all of Northrend of the foul undead abominations. For fun, she likes long walks on the beach, pina coladas, and timed runs through Undead Stratholme.

CF wants to put aside her Worgen curse and forget the horrors of unlife as a Death Knight and resume her former life as a Paladin, but she can’t. She has not forsaken the light, but as one of the undead the light has forsaken her. 

So, CF cannot take up the blessed mantle of Judgement, the Paladin Tier 2 set available from Ragnaros, Onyxia, and Blackwing Lair. The iconic set.

But if she could, what would it look like?

Well, we know what the Paladin Tier 2 set looks like courtesy of the Visual Roleplay Gear List website, which shows the set on a female Draenei.

But, how would it look on CF?

That’s where the WoW Model Viewer comes into play.

The WoW Model Viewer, which can be found in its most recent incarnation here all suited up for Cataclysm, allows you to define a character by model, appearance and such, and save it. Then, you can pick and choose what gear items you’d like displayed in each slot. Including items in hands and tabards. You can also use the built-in filter when entering the names of items (you get the names from the VRGL) for each slot to keep from having to scroll a billion items each time.

So, with the magic of the WoW Model Viewer, we get this for a female Worgen in Paladin Tier 2;

Umm, interesting cowl on the muzzle there, but hey, not too bad.

But I already determined I can’t wear that.

But wait! Browsing the VRGL shows that under plate armor, there is a very attractive set that uses the exact same models, but has a different color scheme. It’s called the Recolored Judgement, and it has no class restrictions.

Oh my! How does it look on my Worgen?

Okay, now maybe it’s just me, but for a fallen Death Knight that used to be a Paladin and yearns for what can never be, I can really groove on that set.

But we’re not done yet. The set is only half the battle. We still need weapons!

This is where the WoW Model Viewer really shines.

Once you have your character and set saved, you can load it up any time you’d like, and then start browsing through all the weapon styles in the game, right hand or left, writing down the names of those you really like as matches. Then, you can go back to WoWhead and start looking them up in the database, finding out who drops them, where they come from, what you’ll have to do to earn that yummy two handed sword that complete you.

Let’s take a look at my favorite one handed sword choices for CharliFoxtrot.

As a Death Knight using two swords, one in each hand, browsing led me to these beauties;

That would be a Worgen in Recolored Judgement with Latro’s Shifting Sword and Latro’s Dancing Blade. Mmmm, yummy! They have the same model as the epic Blinkstrike, but probably easier to farm.

Ahh, the good old days when one handed weapons were larger than two handers are today.

But wait! What if your tanking Warrior wants to go with this style as an Anti-Paladin, rocking it AD&D style? You are a Warrior, you rock the mace and shield, and you want to have your backstory be that you were a Paladin that willingly turned to the darkness, and not only were you abandoned by the light but your very armor tarnished and darkened!

Well, we’ve got your mace and shield covered, too.

That would be the Northshire Battlemace and Titansteel Shield Wall.

Pretty cool, huh?

As you can see, simply picking the perfect set is only half the battle. Knowing where to find those awesome weapons is the other half.

Yes, that’s right. Knowing is half the battle. Hail Hydra! Err, I mean Cobra! Oh, GI Joe! Dangit, I still want to see Cap’n America in theaters, grumble.

Now, that’s not what I’m doing. That was just an example of the fun to be had.

What I AM doing on my level 85 Worgen Warrior is, well… slightly more garish.

You see, I like bold, bright, festive colors.

Colors like… well, let me show you.

That is the Recolored Lawbringer on my Worgen Warrior, Bigfurrybutt.

That’s right, my Warrior is going for the recolored version of Paladin Tier 1. Which, lemme tell you, I think is too one-note.

The original Tier 1 Lawbringer was, well….

It’s pretty, but it doesn’t quite have that “I am a super hero!” vibe I’m going for.

Now, the Recolored Lawbringer is cool, I really like it. But I really wanted the perfect weapons to go with it. 

I used WoW Model Viewer, and fell in love with Corruption as the new model for my tw0-handed sword;

Fortunately for me, checking WoWhead led me to discover it was a Blacksmith crafted Bind on Pickup weapon, and you can easily get the recipe since it comes from a quest done in undead Stratholme!

My Warrior just happens to be a Blacksmith. Oh, happy day!

Five minutes later I had the recipe, and two hours later I’d farmed the Demonic Runes (16 of them) from Dire Maul East, which turns out to be the best place to farm them, thanks again to WoWhead and their comments. 

I also found some models for Two Handed Axes, should I ever get one;

That is with the Dark Edge of Insanity (the eye in the hilt blinks!) Good luck on this one, it drops from C’thun. A good challenge to while away the lazy Sundays, right? It doesn’t really fit perfectly, but hey, eyeball can’t be passed up.

And also;

Draconic Avenger. Just saying. If you’re gonna kill internet dragons, why not kill them with a weapon festooned with stylized versions of them? Can’t have enough dragons, I always say.

Those poses with weapons were done choosing the “Ready, one handed weapon” pose. It displayed the weapon better to me eyes than the two handed pose.

In conclusion, if you are going to plan the perfect mogging experience, there are only three tools you need to make it easy and fun; the Visual Roleplay Gear List, WoWhead and the WoW Model Viewer.

Without them, I’d be wearing a white sheet covered in holes, and my sack would hold a rock.

Have fun, and if you have time, by all means, share with me what your mogging plans are. It would be cool to know what some of my friends are planning for their appearance and weapon combinations.

Heck, link to screenshots or email ’em to me if you can! I’d love to see them.

No One Told You When To Run

Time keeps on slippin’ into the future, my friends.

World of Warcraft is almost alive, isn’t it?

The older it gets, the more it changes and grows, just like us.

Tanking is going to change. Oh noes! Worgen are going to get horsies. Oh noes!

Is it the end of the World as we know it?

No, it’s just another sign that as time passes, things change.

Perspectives change. Attitudes change. New information is obtained that, when added to existing knowledge and acquired experience, causes us to re-evaluate our beliefs and modify our assumptions, then act accordingly.

Or, we just assume we know everything there is to know, assume we peaked in the eleventh grade, can’t improve on perfection, lock our minds rigidly into stagnation and judge everyone and everything around us based on our own limited worldview. 

Of course I don’t mean you. No, I’m talking about those other close-minded people, and aren’t they fun to look at.

World of Warcraft changes all the time. Sometimes we don’t like the changes, sometimes we do.

You can accept things and adapt, try to make the most of it, open your mind to the possibility that things might be okay after all, or you can get the hell out.

There really is no option three.

The one thing I’m not sure gets across to some people is that no matter how loudly you bitch, piss and moan, the changes Will. Not. Stop.

There is no special freeze-frame timestop mode just because you like things just the way they are.

Improvise, adapt and overcome, or GTFO.

One way or another, be advised, if your way of dealing with every change you don’t like is to bitch about it, complain about it, whine and piss and moan and harp on and on about how great it was in the good old days, how much better everything was, how bad everything now sucks, how much you hate everything they’ve done or will ever do unless they wipe the servers and re-install Vanilla….

Then screw you, I’m turning you off.

While the game changed, you stayed exactly the same. Locked into a single-minded worldview that was not open to the possibility of change or growth. You had one thing, you learned it, you liked it, and now you’re rushing out there into the surf, hands outstretched to stop the tide. Nooo! Noooo! No dissassemble Number Five!

Here comes the hurricane, and no, it’s not stopping for you. Number Five is being scrapped for parts, Steve Jobs made a phone that’s smarter. Them’s the breaks, kid. Liked the articulation on those eyebrows, though.

The wise people may not like the changes, but instead of barking like walruses they go on the official forums and post intelligent, coherent and mostly POLITE statements concerning the state of proposed changes and how they either don’t work as advertised, don’t address the stated problem, or could stand to be improved. These people perform analysis, make recommendations, and then when that wave comes rolling in, they’re out there holding their surfboards saying, “Bring it on, bitch. Let’s shoot the curl.”

I am sick and tired of hearing about how badly the game sucks now, how terrible it is, how broken, how corrupt, how venal or self-serving. How it totally lacks fun.

hmmm. That’s all news to me.

Here’s a clue for you.

I have never, in all the years I have played WoW, ever had more fun in the game than I am RIGHT NOW.

Broken? Broken my ass.

I am playing with great people, simply GREAT people. I am leveling alts in different areas and in different ways.

Are you not having fun? Well, that’s your experience, and that’s certainly valid. But what you people continuously seem to do is forget that YOUR experience is only true for YOU, and you do NOT speak for ME!

Why can you not get it through your heads? Just because YOU’RE not happy doesn’t mean EVERYONE ain’t happy, it just means the only person that is really real to you ain’t happy.

I’m having lots of fun, and not just on my mains, and not just because I raid every once in a while with great folks. I’m having TONS of fun with alts, too!

Wait, what? Why yes, didnt you know? Back in Vanilla WoW you had to quest to level.

That was it.

But now, why look! You can quest in a streamlined system that doesn’t have any dead level zones at all that force you to grind mobs to get through levels 48-54, OR you can PvP through the levels getting XP, OR you can LFG through the levels doing nothing but cooperative grouping meeting completely new people in dungeons and getting bags of loot, just wow!

Wait, what if I’ve got a max level character already and I’m not interested in questing for the third (or thirtieth) time, I just want to get to max level fast so I can tank for my friends? Why, look at this shit, we’ve got Heirlooms all UP in your grill you can get to speed up XP gains, plus we’ve got Guild Advancement that increases XP gains PLUS lets you buy even more Heirlooms to speed that shit up if you don’t have the time or Justice Points to get them, and you’re also too lazy to do the Argent Tournament dailies to earn tokens to buy them. Oh yeah, that;’s right, three different ways to get Heirlooms, not counting doing PvP and then converting Honor to JP to buy your Heirlooms, OR competing in the fishing tournament for the Pirate Ring.

But wait, what if you never played before at all, AND you don’t care about seeing any of that awesome questing, you want to blow off the storylines and completely ignore the lore, that stuff is for geeks and freaks (like me), all you want to do is leap right in and rush as fast as possible to max level so you can go play with your friends with these raids and stuff fo’shizzle? 

Well hell, we’ve even got Recruit a Friend to give you and your buddy that you’re going to be playing with some SERIOUS XP gains fast!

Err, you DO have a friend that will play with you and be part of your Recruit a Friend, righty-O? I mean, that’s your argument here, right?

Oh, they just want you to get yourself, all alone, to max level as fast as you can so you can join them?

Errr.

Cluebot: If they’re not willing to group with you and help you take advantage of Recruit a Friend to get you to max level so you can play with them… well, they’re not really a fgood riend, understand? They’re just people you know that said, “Hey, why not pick up the game and join us, it’ll be cool dude.” No, this is more about you wanting to get yourself to max level so you will be worthy of joining them in what they’re doing. Friends are usually at least a teensy bit interested in spending time with you, no matter the level, especially if it’ll help you get to play with them and their max level characters faster. 

The game changes, grows, adapts to the demands that we, the players, make. Marketing types sit around and try to come up with things to add or change that will entice new players, and delight old ones.

Transmogrification? I’ve actually seen people pissed that this will be added. “OMG, another gold sink” they say. “Why would I do that, what’s the point. Well, at least I can farm BoE items to sell to the idiots that want it.”

Spoken like a true “My character is just a bunch of numbers that I have no emotional attachment to whatsoever and I never came up with any kind of backstory at all for” player.

Oh, and a gold sink?

Yeah, like Reforging.

Oh, wait. Maybe they added other tools and content in game that made getting tons and tons of gold easy at max level, the only level in which you’d want to use Reforging in the first place. Or would be able to gather all those interesting old items to build a neat set.

Damnit, I don’t have time to Reforge anyway, I have to grind Hellfire rep so I can get the key to unlock Heroics in that zone. Oh wait, that was removed. Now I can just join a heroic, as soon as I find more in Trade chat to join my group, then fly out to the instance with enough to use the summoning stone.

Oh, wait.

But I can’t play tonight guys, I have to go farm all the mats for the Flasks that I’ll need for the raids, just like the other 24 members of the raid team, all grinding those mats all the time we’re in game that we’re not actually raiding…

Oh, wait. Cauldrons and Fish Feasts kinda cut way down on the farming needed, didn’t it? Just a few Flasks and stuff, and the whole raid is hooked up.

Huh. It’s almost as though the things that were massive time sinks that you simply HAD to do were streamlined or removed outright to allow you the freedom to leap right into the meat of PLAYING as fast and as much as possible…

And time sinks and daily quests were added that were fun, and helpful, but purely optional.

Choice. Freedom of, one each. Hmm, I like this concept. Please, give me more!

Would I like a lot more raids to do, tons more content, boss after zone after boss all waiting to be explored, five or six raids all waiting to be tamed, but each one having to be done before the next could be tried, like we had when Burning Crusade was released?

Well, sure. And more five person dungeons. More and more content. Absolutely. All the time. Keep it coming.

You see, with all of the barriers to getting stuck into the good stuff removed, all the attunements and gear grinds and rep grinds that weren’t helpful but were required all gone… the good stuff, the content, it just doesn’t last very long.

Boy, that sure is a problem. It really is. The easier you make it to get into raiding, the faster it gets eaten up.

Of course, they could always add a ton more attunements and rep grinds and such that have to be completed before you can unlock content. That’ll slow us back down.

Or maybe we can stick with what they’re doing instead, rolling out optional daily quest areas that will distract us temporarily while they work on the next content patch. Oh wait, that came with a new raid, didn’t it?

Huh. You don’t say.

Look, if you don’t like WoW, if all you can see are the things that have changed for what you consider to be the worst, if all you can remember of the old days were the things you thought were just great, if your rose colored glasses are just setting the past to glow all pretty and warm, if all you dwell on now are the things you cannot adapt to or that have ‘ruined’ the game for you…

Then stop playing. Leave. Put the damn game down, cancel your subscription, and go play Rift. Or pre-order SWTOR! Or try Guild Wars 2, or LOTRO, or Warhammer 40K, or World of Tanks, or any of seemingly hundreds of other options.

If WoW sucks that bad, then why in the name of Elune are you still playing it, and bitching about it endlessly?

I’m sick of hearing about it.

It’s not the game. It’s you. Grow up and look around you with fresh eyes, open your mind, no really open it this time, and maybe actually make an effort on YOUR part to find some friends and play with them.

Friends make a huge difference. Purging your head of the sick poison and bitterness you’ve got choking you will help, too.

Oh, it’ll help in seeing the game clearly for what it is, sure, but I was thinking more in terms of actually making friends.

I shall leave you with the inspiration for this post, and then I’m off to play WoW, and have a DAMN FINE TIME DOING IT.

Excerpt from Time, by Pink Floyd
 
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
 
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but its sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death