Monday, October 19, 2009

A Jagged Little Pill for Some: We ALL Play to Have Fun!

Head's up... a bit of a n00b-rant here...

I've now been playing Balthazario for a bit over 5 months. (I don't remember exactly when I started, but my earliest achievements were picked up around May 10, 2009. During that Time I've really learned to do 3 things within the game:

  • Play a Ret Paladin with some basic degree of skill
  • Learn some skills/professions
  • Learned my way around (and in) Azeroth/Outlands & a bit of Northrend. This includes how to fight through a few instances.

When boiled down to those little bits, it seems ridiculous that it's taken me 5 months to get here. The problem that boiling it down like this is that it completely misses the depth, complexity and nuances involved in getting here. The learning curve has been brutal at times, and the pace has been both doggedly slow and blisteringly fast, both at the same time.

If you look over on my blogroll over here ->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> you will see a bunch of blogs that I read. A few are Paladin specific, but overall, they're ones I enjoy reading. They don't talk down to any player groups (other than "bad" players or "jerks") and try to be inclusive and funny as well as informative.

There are a number of other blogs I read on occasion that I don't list, simply because they can be mean spirited, "holier than thou" and simly not inclusive to WoW players as a whole. Even in areas you would think would be like minded, you can see HUGE divisions. Google around on Ret Paladin, Holy Paladin and Prot Paladin (or even go to the official WoW Paladin forums) and you can see an unbelievable scism in attitues and ugly jabs abound, ALL WITHIN THE PALADIN COMMUNITY.

I guess with 12,000,000 players, many of which are VERY invested in the game, it's not surprising that one or two different opinnions come around...

Now to the point of this long ramble-a-thon post: the uncomfortable divide between many "new" players (let's say 1 year or less) and the "old timers" (the Pre Burning Crusade/"pre-BC" aka Vanilla WoW players in particular).

Even though I played my Belf Warlock for a while, a few months before Wrath of the lich King (WoLK) was released, I didn't play much or long, so I definitely consider myself to be new.

And here's where I get a tad annoyed, irritated and just plain frustrated: the oftentimes condescending, barely tolerant (or completely intolerant) and often hostile attitude that some long time WoW players show towards us n00bs.

The things we hear a lot are :

  • You didn't earn your way
  • You don't know how to play
  • You want everything now/fast
  • You skipped everything
  • Things are too easy for you

And other similar sentiments. It's not just the sentiments that are so troubling, it's vehemence with which they are stated, and the vitriol that accompanies them.

I'll try to tackle these one at a time...

You didn't EARN your way.

From what I can gather, it took 6-12 months in the old Vanilla Wow days (pre-Burning Crusade) to hit maximum level. Which was level 60. You had to walk everywhere, and even flight paths were few & far between. Yeah, you had to walk to school, in 3 feet of snow, uphill. Both Ways. Seriously, though, reading about many of the mechanics of the game (ESPECIALLY all the grinding necessary to level) and I applaud the effort of the first players. ESPECIALLY before the flight paths became the way they are.

HOWEVER, as much as I respect the effort that was put in, I have to counter with my own opinion: the game was kinda broken at that time. At least for anyone that isn't "hardcore". Grinding through collection quests where you need 20 of a certain item that only drops at 3-5% is tedious, boring, and IMHO a waste of time. And THEN you have the "jog across the entire continent and back" and all the way backAnd all for a paltry amount of EXP. As far as I can tell, it's a game only the hardcore would stick with for any length of time. As I've said before, I am NOT hardcore, but I am far from "casual".

But in the end, after 8 months or so (maybe a bit longer) you would hit max level and FINALLY be able to take part in the endgame: raids, dungeons and the like.

A couple years later Burning Crusade came out. An extra continent, more quests and 10 additional levels were added before you could enjoy endgame. But, to compensate, some of the early content was sped up, nerfed a tad, in order to get new players to the end game without taking 12-18 months to get there.

NOWADAYS, we have 4 continents, 3,000 odd quests and 80 levels to work through before we get to play the end game. Again, Blizzard tweeked things in order to allow new players to get to the "endgame" without spending 18-24 months grinding.

After all, if the "fun" doesn't start until level 80 ( as many players will tell you) then it makes sense to make it a bit faster to get to. Afterall, Blizzard wants new players, and a 24 month "learning period" will turn players off. (and new blood is kinda needed, if for no other reason than to replace all the folks who have stopped playing - not to mention to pay for expansion packs, patches, etc)

And now we can beat our way to max level in 6-8 months. Faster if you focus on levelling, or slower if you stop & smell the roses.

Does this mean we haven't earned it? Well, lessee... we CAN probably get to max level a bit quicker, but still, we had to fight for a half year to get to the "current" content. I say we fucking well eared it.

Now, if you mean "less boring", then yes, we get off easy. Nowadays you can get exhalted with some factions with only *153* quest repeats instead of the old 840 repeats. (I'm referring to the Winterspring Trainers) But really, is killing the same ~ 20 beasts 153 times instead of 840 times hurting our skills? Again, IMHO, the old-old game was broken, or at least ONLY suited to the most hardcore of the hardcore

You don't know how to play.

If this were referring to ONLY the "refer a friend" folks, I might actually agree. BUT, if someone spends 6-8 months playing a game, and STILL doesn't "get it", it has less to do with the "learning period" and more to do with "maybe this player isn't the greatest" or ""just plays for fun".

Now, since the game isn't quite as boring, you are going to get more players that aren't super hard core. WoW isn't a lifestyle for them, and they play just to mess around and have fun. This leads to less invested players, which can lead to less skilled/educated.

I think that's it's a lifestyle/gamestyle change that has "lowered the bar", and not a lack of knowing due to inexperience. I still think that an influx of more casual players is pretty much required for WoW to continue to survive, let alone expand.

You want everything now/fast

We want to be able to reach end game content in a reasonable amount of time. It took old time player ~8 months to get to end game. Now we can get there in 6. OK, maybe a tad faster...

And yes, I *DO* want to get from Gadetzan to Thousand Needles faster. Jogging instead of riding does not imbue the jogger with skill. It just.......... takes........... longer......... with no benefit.

You Skipped Everything

True, but good luck finding groups to run all the old instances. Unless you're in a guild that likes to reminisce, you aren't going to find folks interested in Uldaman, Ahn'Qiraj, Molten Core and the like. If you can't find a group, you can't run the instance (at least not "at level"). At least on many of them, you can run them way over levelled...

Fact: the game has moved on to level 80, and Blizzard seems to be doing whatever it can to push this. Maybe Cataclysm will change this?

Things are Too Easy.

Agreed to a point, but with comments (of course...) "Back in the day", you could find enough groups and spend the time to have multiple wipes on low level instances. Nowadays, as mentioned above, the focus is on end game content. If an instance is so difficult that you need a well experienced, well coordinated, well geared group to complete it, noone will bother at all. If a "normal" PUG can't complete an instance in a sngle night, the place will be deserted.

This might have some effect on our learning. However, I think the lack of groups available to join is hurting low level players far more, since many (like me) will simply skip the instance until we're so over levelled/geared that we can duo/solo the thing.

All in all, yes things have changed, and (IMHO) most of it for the better. I may argue about many of the balancing attempts that Blizzard does (and often seems to completely fail at) but at the core, I think Blizzard has done a fantastic job at creating a world that gets people interested in playing, coninuing to play, and fosters a heck of a community.

I do believe that without some sort of alteration to get people to the end game in a "reasonable" period of time, that there would be less & less new blood in the game. Obviously without new blood, the game would die.

I realize that some hardcore would probably prefer that Wow died, rather than be "noobified". I don't know how to handle these folks. Most people would rather have the game continue, albeit with changes, rahter than die a slow, hardcore death. *shrug*

I play to have fun. So do most WoW players.


  1. Pretty much my problem with aged communities in general. I've been known to be a bit ranty when it comes to noobs, but I generally mean people who just can't seem to ever get it -- I love playing with honest to god new players -- there is a freshness and enjoyment to a new game that you just can't get back after five years and is refreshing to see in others.

  2. In short: I totally agree with you.

    One thing is that the game had some flaws for a long time, which are being adressed now. For instance being dismounted when "touching" water.

    The other thing is that it's pretty logical, that Blizzard has to do something, to make the leveling process less painful for people who start out new.

    I'm an active raider and therefore I know a lot of people around me, who think that it's just to easy to get epics these days, without ever setting foot into a raid instance.
    Personally I think it's a good thing. It's quite possible to get pretty good equip and even join a raid without needing a guild to back you up.

    People have to get used to the fact, that this game is not about aquiring epics and then feeling superior for a long time. Instead with every new raid instance the old stuff gets devalued. That's just the way it goes.
    Plus: It's also about the constant changes to the classes. You can't find the perfect talent setup and stick with it for ages. You have to adapt to changes.

    For me WoW is about the fun part of raiding. Getting to know the fights and mastering them.
    And then trying them again with another class.
    Oh and happily awaiting the next expansion, when I can level up my different toons. ;-)

  3. as always an incredibly well written post. I always look forward to reading your blog.

  4. Another thoroughly excellent post. Even though I've dipped a toe into the waters of endgame (and I even raid occasionally, lol), I still very much consider myself a new player, and even though I've been semi-subsumed into endgame, I very much resent the attitude that the fun or the game begins at endgame.

    Hardly. A different game begins at endgame. If that makes sense.

    And looking down on people who are enjoying and benefitting and *playing* (as in actually *playing* rather than rushing to endgame) through the levelling process is just plain stupid. You can always tell somebody who rushed to endgame because they have no clue how to play their class, or how their class interacts with other classes in the game.

    I took me about a year to get to endgame - and even if I took me half that time, there'd be no point playing a game I wasn't enjoying playing just to get to another game I might conceivably enjoying playing. If that makes sense.

    And, grr, yes, the "you didn't earn it" bullshit really ticks me off.

  5. There seem to be people on all sides of the argument that are just jerks, regardless of their stated opinion. They are the folks that make having meaningful discussion a tad difficult.

    Fortunately, a good number of folks are more moderate and accepting.

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