There is a certain ratio between grinding, raiding and madness – a tipping point if you like – where everything starts to become surreal. I’m in that place now, staring outward from the game wondering where the game ends and what effect it is having on me.
Many years ago (Nov 2006) I wrote that Warcraft is “one of the best non-pen and paper games I’ve played in a long time”. At the time this blog was just starting and my appreciation for the game was ramping up. I was a blogging and mmorpg newbie. Today I still feel the same: WoW is a great game; although the current list of challenges are both inaccessible and underwhelming.
For the near future as I cannot see Ruby Sanctum and the ICC instance keeping the player base happy until late in the year for the Cataclysm release. Not by a large margin. By all nominal estimates the release date will not be until at least October, probably more like late November or early December. All the beta news and discussion only goes a short distance (meaning 6 weeks, rather than 5 months) before we see the focus lapse, boredom appears, and players unsubscribe. It is happening now on my server so I’d bet it is happening everywhere.
Conversely despite all the updates and changes, the dumbing down of difficulty, the ease of gearing – content is still inaccessible to a true casual gamer. And maybe that is the point of a Warcraft subscription: Either play seriously, or leave…
Is it realistic to expect a game with this much lore, leveling requirement, and complexity in stats and mechanics to be feasible for 2-3 hours twice a week? What can be achieved in that time? What about 30 minutes ten times per week? I doubt it, and don’t really mind – which is funny as you’d think that adding rewards, activities, and game elements which assist to engage the short attention span would be a good addition to new content. Think of it as a strategy where the developers strike into two parts of our gaming interest; plug into the long time sink activity with new instances, and also into the short term “ding” factor where we like quick rewards. Of course that would be dependent on seeing a new content patch before 4.0, which is highly unlikely and not announced. What about making the retaking of Gnomer and the Troll Isles as mini-content patches which are executed pre-cataclysm?
Last week I also worked up the gusto to do some more five man random runs, and was rewarded with my two frost emblems, and bashed into the ground by the community. A PoS run that failed before we got through the third trash pull, due to a dps who hit the wrong targets, and a healer in poor dps gear. Nexus was a Nexus run that split up because the healer didn’t want to use the Green drake, and nobody else knew how to do the Red drake – ffs, I can’t fly two drakes at once!
On a positive note Naxx was the weekly, and I managed to get this completed on four of my five level 80s. I’ll probably never use the Frost emblems, but it was fun to do again; and made especially interesting to see it as DPS Warlock, DPS DK, Bear Tank, and Paladin Tank. I had to laugh when one of the folks bitched that a few guys had sub-par gear (<4000k gs). We used to do places harder than Naxx with a lot less gear, and considering that a third of the run were wearing really good gear (> 5000 gs), I think the screen-lickers have not quit yet (but is that a fair judgement?).
Then onto the small news: Pally has 500 tokens – ho-hum.
My paladin hit the 500 emblem milestone, which means that he’s been getting some regular play time, but also that it will get harder and harder to get some serious upgrades without getting into some casual ToC/ICC raids. Now I really like the idea of doing that, but you have to also have a thick skin when you’re trying to get into runs as an under geared toon, and at the moment my skin isn’t thick (see rants above).
Lastly was a two night run through ICC on my Death Knight as a DPS. It was frigging fun. Joy is to dps with reckless abandon and know that the team could handle it, to be supported by the healers as I unofficially-off-tanked the mobs who were smacking the raid; and for knowing that everyone did the job right on the bosses, but kept it easy and smooth trough the rest.
The run was put together by a raid leader from Exile Nagrand who wants the King Slayer title for his toons, and probably has no interest in the hard modes, so he pugs the runs. I have a long standing membership in Exile dating back years, and really like the guys there. It was doubly satisfying to finally got both my Blood Queen kill, and the Crimson Halls achievement in one night. I’ve missed that for months due to switching toons all the time between my two main 80s. We ran for just over 2 hours and got to a few attempts in on BloodQueen; which is a good pace (9/12 in one night is good imho).
Then the next night we killed BloodQueen, wiped a lot and finally killed Sindragosa, which added up to the Frostwing halls achievements. Tonight the same group is going to try for the Lich-King, and I’m disappointed that I can play and join them. They will do it too, I bet. So to guild run and maybe get through, or pug and have the same odds? What was I saying about casuals and content? Wrong again I guess.
Ps. I enjoyed killing Mr Bigglesworth in Naxx too, but he’s a soft target.