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10 years of WoW – Games change

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Hey, you guys still there? I know most of you will currently be busy in Draenor, now that the servers have calmed down a bit and the queues are not THAT long anymore (I hope). However, as I promised three articles in celebration of WoW‘s 10th Anniversary, I still owe you one. Last week we talked about how people change, the week before that we discussed how times change, and this week we’re gonna look at how a game changes, as that topic is more than fitting for the days after the expansion has hit us.

When I started playing World of Warcraft, the game was a lot different: each faction had only four races, and Azeroth had not yet seen any playable Death Knights or Monks. While being a smaller world, travel took longer because of sparsely scattered flight masters and being limited to ground mounts. Most importantly though, the game was far from being streamlined: while  being one of the best MMORPG’s on the market back then, some things just had not been thought entirely through. The early days of the Honor system? Utter chaos. The opening event for Ahn’Qiraj? If you think Warlord of Draenor‘s launch has been rocky, you should have seen the servers tremble when Ahn’Qiraj was about to open. As good as the game was back then, it would still require a lot of polish and tweaks.

That’s exactly what Blizzard gave the game. Over the years, the developers tried out different things with varying results. Some changes were for the better, others made the game worse. Don’t ask me to give examples for these categories, for that is highly subjective. I believe that the best addition to the game have been the linked auction houses, while I’m convinced that our current Talent system is rather bland. However, ask a hundred other players, and they will name a hundred different changes they liked or didn’t like. Different folks, different strokes.

What we can agree on is that the game has changed. Every patch and every expansion has brought some degree of that, and no one can deny that these changes have kept the game in our minds. While active players have direct contact with these changes, those of us who have taken a hiatus from the game are also not unmoved by them. When I told my brother about the features of Warlords, he smiled and we talked about how he thought that would impact the game. Mind you, my brother dropped off the surface of Azeroth in early Cataclysm, but he keeps at least half an eye on the game. Who knows, he might one day see something that has him return to the game. Changes to World of Warcraft keep people talking about it, playing it and possibly returning to it.

Of course, changes also drive people away, but the blame for that cannot be put entirely on the game alone. Times change and people change too, but a change in the game can be the catalyst for someone to recognise such changes in himself. If a change to a subsystem like Talents is enough to drive you away from the gam, were you not already halfway out the door, but did not yet have a good excuse to leave?

MMORPG’s offer persistent, living worlds. Part of life is change, and MMORPG’s cannot escape them. Without some form of change now and then, things would become boring and stale. Yes, a change can cause people we love playing together with to leave, but it can also bring them back. People change, times change, and games change.

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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10 Years of WoW – People change

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“Damn Thrall, have you been…working out or something?”

When I was eighteen, I started my study to become a history teacher. I dropped that a year later, but that’s another story. While learning about the fall of the Roman Empire during the day and making raid bosses fall down in the evening, I listened to a lot of Paramore. I really enjoyed their light, pop-punk sound and the charismatic and powerful presence of the lead singer, Hayley Williams. In the clip to their hit song “Misery Business“, Hayley struts her own punky style, while also demonstrating her impressive voice. Their album “Riot!” was playing non-stop on my iPod back then, and I thought I would listen to this band forever and ever.

The years went by, and I started to care less and less for Hayley and her band. The albums after “Riot!” were not terrible, but I started to notice a shift in the style of the band. The fanboy in me immediately linked that to the growing popularity of the band, blaming success for straying from the one, true Paramore sound. The rational, quiet and boring person in me, however, understood that artists change and want to try new stuff. I might not like that new stuff, but no one’s forcing me to keep Paramore in my playlist, right?

Also, I had changed since first listening to “Misery Business” and “Let The Flames Begin”. I think that’s something many people forget when they complain about how everything was better in the past: others are not the only one’s changing, but we, you…I change too. What we like and don’t like is not fixed in our DNA. We change as new impressions are picked up by our senses, adapting to the new input and adding it to our frame of reference. No one is born the grumpy old man, but change might turn you into the grumpy old man.

The same goes for World of Warcraft. Sure, Azeroth has changed throughout the years, but the people playing have as well. The majority of people I used to play with have left the game. Did they leave because the game got worse, boring or repetitive? From their perspective, it might have. However, these people also left because World of Warcraft did no longer fit into their life. Their priorities shifted, their ambitions seemed to lie elsewhere and they simply were no longer willing to incorporate a MMORPG into their daily life. I still hang with those people, and we still think about the fun we had raiding together. Would I love to see them return to the game? Oh, hell yeah, but I also understand that who they are now is no longer who they were when we all shared a raid group. People simply change, and that’s okay.

If you know someone who has not changed one bit in the past ten years, you know a really boring person. I love how I’ve changed, I love how my friends have changed, and I love how World of Warcraft has changed. I know there’s still a lot of change for me in store. Who knows what I’ll be like when I (ever) get married? How will my future children influence my personality? What impact will my career have on who I am? In ten years, will I still be a person who will log in to Azeroth at the end of a busy day, to have fun with guild members and slay dragons?

Well, Hayley has changed a lot, but she’s still in Paramore. I think I can change a lot and still enjoy World of Warcraft, and so can you. Understand that it’s not just the game…it’s also you.

LIAR!

LIAR!

Faffing to 90 – an adventure in preparation for Warlords of Draenor

The Mistress of Faffing has called, and I answer: in a recent post on her Alternative Blog, the Mistress asked for followers in her adventure to level an alt without the level 90. As the haters on the Internet are always right in their doomsday predictions, the coming of the paid boosts mean the end of traditional leveling. Surely we cannot allow an integral part of MMO lifestyle to wither away like that, so I show my support in the face of adversity, held by the end of all gaming which is microtransactions!

If you believe the previous sentence had no sarcasm, you might not really enjoy this blog.

Anyway, I’m down with the Mistress’ plan, so I’ll be faffing (the word still sounds so dirty) my way to 90. With what? Well, dear readers, you decide! In two separate votes, I want you to decide what kind of character I will level. In the first poll, you’ll decide which race it will be. Know that I will only allow you to pick one of the six Horde races: I will not forsake the blood red of my true allegiance, and I do not care for leveling a second panda. Next to that, know that you will make me suffer greatly should you force me to level a Blood Elf. Do whatever you want with that information

With that being said, vote until coming Sunday (16 March), when I will put up the next vote. I hope to get this character started as soon as possible!

Releases, releases, releases

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Another year means a slew of new titles to be put on our plates, waiting to be devoured by our hunger for some good gaming. So far, 2014 looks interesting for people like me. And when I say “people like me”, I mean people who love some new massively multiplayer online games. Okay, almost everything is “massively multiplayer” these days, but you know what I’m talking about. I’m stoked for some of the games waiting on us, especially when it comes to the following three.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
Until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t care less about the upcoming expansion for Diablo 3. After binge-playing the day for two days after its release, I felt like Diablo 3 was nothing compared to its predecessor. The game started to gather dust on my PC, just to be uninstalled a few weeks after its launch, never to be installed again…until that fateful day.
Yes, that fateful day was the day the pre-expansion patch hit. Suddenly, Diablo 3 was fun. The loot was more fun, the game felt more fun and finally it started to step out of the shadow of its older sibling and other hack ‘n slay games. This patch alone has convinced me that Reaper of Souls will be worth my money, so I can’t wait until the end of this month to start my crusade of righteousness through Westmarch.

WildStar
Do you actually still believe so-called “leaks” about games are actual leaks? I don’t, and the “oops”-moment that revealed WildStar’s release date today feels more planned than accidentally. Anyway, knowing that early summer will bring this colorful space MMO cheers me up. The game has been on my radar for a while, but the lack of any release date to look forward to kinda bumped me. Knowing I’ll only have a few months to go  means that I can start making those tough choices, like: which class will I play? Are the Mechari worth joining the Dominion? Will I break the habit and not roll a support and / or healing character this time? We’ll know more on 3 June of this year!

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
As much as I love their games, I wouldn’t want to work at Blizzard. Imagine all the hate you get for a great announcement like the start of pre-orders for Warlords of Draenor. After taking some critical feedback about the price tag for the level 90 boosts (and for the actual existence of these boosts), the entire community goes apeshit about the possible release date of 20 December 2014. Sure, it’s far away and chopping your way through the Siege of Orgrimmar over and over again will make you hate that place even before the Dark Portal re-opens, but guys…come on. Spew your bile, unsubscribe and play something else until then. Hard to believe, but World of Warcraft is not the only game around.
My taste for Draenor isn’t spoiled though, and it won’t be long before I reserve my spot on the frontlines against the Iron Horde.

Well, that’s the releases I’m looking forward to. Feel like I’m longing for the wrong things or want to share your “I can’t wait any longer”-titles? Hit me up in the comments!

Re-reading page 394, or why character boosts in WoW are a good thing

I have a confession to make: I hate playing through the same game twice. It’s a real shame, though. While my gaming friends can enjoy a single-player epic like Mass Effect several times, my thirst is sated after seeing the end credits once and then never again. It’s no surprise, I’m also one of those persons who doesn’t get people who like reading the same book multiple times or watching the same movie over and over again (well, I have my exceptions when it comes to flicks, but that’s another story). Yeah, that even goes for awesome books and movies like Harry Potter. Come on, how often can you turn to page 394?

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Mistweaving: playing a monk and preparing for Draenor

As you might have figured, I’ve been infected once more with the WoW-Virus. It all started with that beta of that damned TCG, and it just got worse with the announcement of Warlords of Draenor. Now, I’m busy again leveling a slew of characters, lead by Umaru, my Troll Monk. But hey, I’m not complaining. Returning to WoW always feels like getting a frappucino at Starbucks with an ex-girlfriend you still get along with: you know there’s that wild past where your emotions were out of control, but now you’re both older and more capable of just enjoying the simple things in life.

And that’s just what I’ve been doing so far in WoW: enjoying the simple things. Leveling is such a relaxing activity, that I just like to log in for an hour or two to get my mind off of things: work, the dishes or the fact that I still have to write a blog post. Also, the familiarity of it all makes it even more comforting. Though the Cataclysm and Pandaria content are still fairly new to me, the rest of the world and the game feel like my childhood neighborhood: safe and recognisable.

Without knowing when the expansion will hit, I made a list of things I want to get done before we all take a leap through time and into the wilds of Draenor. Here it is:

  • Get Umaru at least through LFR Siege of Orgrimmar
  • Hit maximum level with at least one other character (bonus points if it’s a troll)
  • Get one of those suave flying serpents
  • Max at least two professions

It’s mostly catching up and not that ambitious, but I noticed that having a list like this helps me keeping focused on the game. Plus, checking things off feels good. I like things that feel good.

And right now, World of Warcraft just feels good.

Weekly Wrap-Up: it’s the season!

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“Christmas” by elgunto

November came and went, along with Movember, NaNoWriMo (which we will discuss in a future post) and many other things. Now, December will reign, and you all know what that means: effing Christmas time! But before we dive head first into my favorite season, let’s re-cap the last week in this short Weekly Wrap-Up!

  • I had a blast in Riga with my friends, drinking and sight-seeing through a great experience. If you want to see lesser known part of Europe, make sure to visit this Baltic capital!
  • Gaming-wise, my Troll monk Umaru has made it to Pandaria. With four levels left to the level cap, I’m starting to formulate my goals until Warlords of Draenor hits, while also thinking about sharing my opinions about the current expansion.
  • Furthermore, one of my friends has been pushing me to give Awesomenauts a try. The game has been sitting on a my harddrive for a while now, and I’ve been trying it cautiously. It’s MOBA nature is not appealing to me, but the 2D graphics look attractive. Only one way to find out if it’s my cup of tea, right?
  • The Steam Autumn Sale is still on, but there hasn’t been anything attractive for me on sale yet. However, I’m keeping an eye on The Wolf Among Us, and that Legendary edition of Skyrim is still on my mind. Valve, why do you want to rob me of my money so much?
  • Finally, the Playstation 4 has made it to Europe last Friday. Of course, I wrote about it.

Well, that’s this week for me. I’m tired and Monday is on the horizon. Let’s dive into another week full of potential, shall we?