Thursday, February 10, 2011

Du Hast mich, Du Hasst mich

We are all limited to some degree by our likes & dislikes. After all, if you dislike coconut, it's pretty much standard that you will avoid it. And if you love chocolate, well, we know where that leads.

But there are more complicated emotive situations... such as my current state with WoW. I really truly love(d?) the game. And I hate it.

If you're reading this, then I'm sure you know exactly what I mean, and know exactly how I feel, at least to some degree. The myriad variations of fun to be had... playing the auction house, levelling, raiding and blogging, are all part and parcel of the enjoyment. They also compliment my always evolving and moving obsessions.

One week (or month) I'd be playing the AH like a fiend, the next it's farming rep to get that next mount or achievement followed by a run at the Lich King.

But, at the core of my enjoyment was a foundation of relative stability: Balth the Ret Paladin/quasi tank. The gear might change, the slight tweaks to character balance with nerfs & buffs may buffet him slightly, but at his core he was who he was. For 18 months he was the window through which I viewed Azeroth and the "Waldo" with which I interacted there.

Even still , I was getting a bit tired, though the coming Cataclysm promised new vistas and challenges. But there was this small, niggling issue that had been creeping up along with Cata: the class restructuring.

As the paucity of my writing may indicate, that change proved fatal to my enjoyment of the game.

Many folks play WoW for the challenge, the evolving hurdles that appear and dispatch them with extreme prejudice. The revamp of their toons was just another challenge, on the boulevard of beat downs. For me, however, the game is a place of escape and relaxation, with challenge thrown in as a bit of spice, not the main course. The class changes, however, felt like being yanked from the comfort & knowledge of the university/adult life, and being dropkicked back to the crazy insecurity of middle school.

Sadly, Balth and the class of Ret Paladin as they existed through patch was the game and class I enjoyed playing, and the way I enjoyed playing it. Holy power stacking? Not so much.
But still, my enjoyment of the WOW universe, and the peoples that inhabit the blogosphere in particular, is a place of enjoyment, camaraderie and comfort as well.

Except that it too is changing, though not all to the bad. I do wonder though... is there a net (double meaning intended) migration out of WoW, by the more established playerbase? I'm not sure, but I definitely hear some unhappy rumblings from many sides, and Cata seems to be part of that.

Is this just another ripple in the biorhythm technorhythm of a game moving through the stages of a new expansion? The Burning Crusade hit Azeroth long before I arrived, and the ascendance of the Lich King occurred when I wasn't really aware (or playing much) so I don't recall that either.

Or has the game essentially reached its zenith, and now progresses towards it nadir, as one new blogger (but long time WoWer) seems to think roguegogo.

What's the lifespan for a mature, advanced MMORPG? Are MMORPG years like dog years? If so, then at seven years old, the upcoming trip to the "netrinarian" for a tearfilled euthanasia is not that far off. But if WoW lives in cat years, well, then there's another decade of enjoyment left, and it's only now entering it's more sedate, mature phase.

I'll sit by, peeking in occasionally, though my focus will likely be in Rift, as I mentioned the other day... I'm interested to see where the road will take WoW. Balth is still there, sleeping somewhere in Dalaran, and Ignomeminy is sulking in Ironforge, waiting to lace the ground with fire, so I may yet ake them out to stretch their legs. But the biggest truism of life even holds true in the life virtual: you can never really go back... it's never quite the same.

In the mean time, this place will likely be filled with the musing and teethgnashing of me trying and learning the ropes of Rift.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I See a Gap... a Chasm... a Rift...

It's been a while.

I played around with Balthazario a coule more times after my last blog post, but mainly to just log in, then log back off. My heart just hasn't been in it.

And then some racing buddies brought me back to Forza (XBOX racing game that I REALLY enjoy)) and then a little hanky panky with Dragon Age: Origins (wish I could say the same... "meh", IMHO)

And then Kattastrophe started rummaging around the MMORPG genre, playing a little Guild Wars and happened across a free beta for a Fantasy MMO, Rift.

I enede up with a free code and joined in this weekend past, and enjoyed it. There's a wide open final beta. For more info look here: LINKY

It's simplified in some ways:

Only 3 Races per faction
Only 4 character classes

BUT (and this is a HUGE but)

Each class can have up to 3 active character/class talent trees, and they can be switched out.

How about a Life Draining, Healer Fire mage? You got it!

(There's something wondrously evil about having both a healing tree (Chloro) and a Warlock tree active, so that you put hots AND dots.

The graphics are a bit prettier than the bulk of WoW, (except the water - Blizz did things really nice there)

The beta servers have been rock steady, even during the recent stress testing.

Give it a whirl.

Oh, and my Healy-Warlocky-mage? He's the new Balthazario.

And since I happened over here, I saw the end of an era: Righteous Orbs is shutting its doors. Tam & Chas, you guys will be missed.