Sunday, November 2, 2014

The End of an Era

Warning:  This is a post mostly about World of Warcraft.  There is some EVE sprinkled in, but if WoW offends you, I pray you skip ahead a bit.

It's the end of an era.  I'm not buying the next WoW expansion.  I've known that for awhile.  Part of me assumed that I'd eventually cave, get on Amazon, and buy the sucker.  But I'm holding firm.

Some of you are saying, "meh? so what?"

And you'd have a point.  I've been out of the game for a long while now.  Effectively something like 3 years, except for a handful of months here and there when I wanted to feel all nostalgic.  But I feel the need to write about it, because it's probably going to be a big milemarker in my gaming career.

Let's back up and tell the story though.  Context always helps.

I've played WoW since 2005, a few months after its launch.  For the first few years, I swapped between EVE and WoW about every 6 months.  It was the anti-EVE that I used to keep my gaming batteries fresh.  For the most part, this worked pretty well.

Beginning in late 2007, things began to change.  On a whim, we got Blizzcon tickets.  I took Mrs. Durden to Anaheim, did the Disneyland thing for a couple days, then went to Blizzcon.  When we bought tickets, we weren't even playing WoW, but were still fans of Blizzard in general.

(I wore a Guristas logo shirt the first day to the convention and drew some comments from other EVE players lurking in the audience.  :)  )

Blizzcon 2007 was the year that Wrath was announced.  I was simply sold.  I love snow maps. I loved the viking look/feel, and I wanted to smash Arthas in his smug little face.

In a way, Wrath became its own standalone title for me with a distinct beginning, middle, and end.  It was part of a series, sure, but some parts of my brain treat it differently than the rest of the WoW chronology.

I was standing there when it was announced and followed every news tidbit thereafter.  I played the beta, got all crazy at launch time, and then savored the content.  After Blizzcon, and during the ramp up to Wrath Launch, we stood up a new guild and began building.  Early Wrath was the highlight of my WoW career, running around in the Fjord and Dragonblight, recruiting new players, running dungeons as a guild, and loving all the connections to the Vanilla game (Scarlet Crusade stuff).

As Wrath ended, the era of LFG/gearsnobbery began, and Cataclysm was getting ready to launch, my enthusiasm for WoW began to wane.

I could change this post into a rant at this point and give you a laundry list why Blizzard screwed things up.  Instead, I'll just summarize this way:

- Vanilla WoW was a pretty solid game, for its day.
- TBC took risks and pushed into new game play modes (Heroics, Dailys)
- Wrath perfected the game model, and perhaps took it too far by the end (Homogenization, LFG).
- Cata was sadly more of the same.  One expansion too much with too few new ides.
- MoP ... well ... had all those damn pandas.

We debated this back on our old Guild forums this week.  I wrote this in response to the thread:
I don't know if it's Blizz shifting the target demographic to a younger audience or if the game is hampered by trying to be too many things to too many people.  So many changes have been made as part of a slippery slope of accessibility and balance fixes that the soul of the game isn't the same any more (talent trees, class homogenization, loot homogenization, loot token systems).  I'd love to see an MMO with D3's talent point [system] and the post-expacD3's loot system (TONS of random loot, most not useful, farm for a marginally better item).  The game is less about making interesting decisions than it is checking google for the current 'best' build and saving up tokens for your predefined upgrade path. 
[But] this isn't a post about how to fix WoW.  Blizzard will continue to milk the cash-cow; I don't expect revolutionary epic game design decisions out of Anaheim on this title.  The age of the big fantasy MMO is largely over, and WoW itself was the WoW-killer.  Which makes me sad.  GW2 is better in a dozen different ways, but still doesn't measure up in some important aspects.  It isn't and won't ever be on the same level of WoW. 
I think if I went back to WoW at this point, I'd be really tempted to start with a new install on a new account and pretend it's a fresh fresh start.  The magic of WoW is still there - the areas of Durotar, Feralas, and Winterspring that I loved are still there and oddly mostly intact.   
[In the end, it's] all the baggage of the last several years (seeing Space Goats riding Mechanical Chickens in particular) keep me from being a paying customer.
A big part of what allows me to come back to EVE year after year is that the core of the game hasn't fundamentally changed.  We whine and cry about how CCP has done us wrong, but the strongest part of their business model has been NOT to devalue content with time.  There is no gear treadmill in EVE; or if there is, it's not moving fast enough for us to really notice.  The Golem I bought many moons ago is still a good ship.  The capship BPOs I invested in back in 2007/08 still have their value.

So no, while it makes me sad, I won't be buying WoD.  In terms of returning to WoW, I won't say 'never' ... as anything can happen ... but I do think it's the End of an Era, a line in the sand where I'll look at my gaming career as "after WoW."

Welcome to the Future.

What's Playing:  The Smashing Pumpkins, Zero


  1. Its always interesting to read about someone's transition from one game to another. Your experience is nearly identical to mine - I played Vanilla, got organized in Burning Crusade and loved / raided in Wrath. The LFG / Cross Server / Cross Realm features took the wind out of my sails. Too much asshattery, too much gearscore, devaluation of the community (guilds). One day, I quit, came to EVE and never looked back.

    Yes, I do believe Blizzard changed directions somewhere in TBC - from the hardcore neckbeard to the pimply 15 year old with the attention span of a gnat. While it boosted their subscriber numbers temporarily, the non-stop craving for new content burned out a franchise that is fundamentally built on "kill 10 rats".

    I'd never thought I'd say this but I can see EVE in 10 years, not WoW

    1. Yah, we do sound very similar. I could write volumes on WoW, good and bad. My last big stint in WoW was over last winter; I resub'd to do the Christmas events and stayed on through February poking around. I realized in the end that I was paying $$ simply to continue to farm Wrath-era content that I had been repeating for several years, and ultimately resented what MoP had become. Early in WoD's development I had hopes that we'd see a return to WoW's core themes and gameplay, but I'm not seeing it.

      Tangent: I once had high hopes that GW2 could pick up where it left off (and in general I remain really rather positive about GW2 on the whole), but it is not as much as an heir to the throne as it is an awkward cousin. Good enough for a play-through but not good enough to call home.

    2. uess you have more patience than me - I logged off in Dalaran with my hands in my pockets and never logged back in. Guild, gold, dailies, tokens - all become worthless in the blink of an eye.

      I tried Elder Scrolls Beta but I did not have the patience for the lore or the questing. I guess my days of swords-and-sorcery games are truly over.

      EVE is it for now - with the occasional foray into SpaceEngineers to keep the brain engaged or Planet Side 2 for a quick fix on PvP...


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