Tag Archives: World of Warcraft

Blog: Chase Your Bliss – 03/11/20

For various reasons, a few weeks back I found myself putting some time into what might be one of the longest running live games, World of Warcraft.  The quick and dirty is that I was looking for a way to engage with my friends who fell down a WoW hole, and I hoped I could brave those depths with them.  It did not work out.

Just to get this out in the open, there is no love lost between us because of this whole situation, it was a long shot and we all knew it.  World of Warcraft has always been the culmination of things I don’t enjoy that much, from its game mechanics down to its fantasy setting, it just was always something I looked at and sneered.  In my eyes, World of Warcraft is just in insanely boring, tedious and cumbersome experience, but my feelings are my own and I realize that.

I’m sure in my youth I would have been phenomenally shittier about playing the game, thus thoroughly ripping it apart for not checking all of my boxes.  But I’m not that idiot anymore, and I know that World of Warcraft brings people a lot of joy and satisfaction and that’s great.

For instance, the friend that I started playing World of Warcraft in a effort to reconnect with and I had a conversation about me bowing out of the game.  I expressed that it just wasn’t my thing and I appreciated him extending the olive branch.  We went on to talk about the guild he had built up and how proud of it he was.  With somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 members that engaged in multiple raid nights per week, he was able to look at this organization he started with pride. He equated it to the satisfaction I felt from leading our Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

I understood exactly how he felt in that moment.  It’s no surprise that people are proud of their creative endeavors especially if they’re successful, but when he equated it to what I do, it clicked in a way that it hadn’t before.

We will never see eye to eye on World of Warcraft or our gaming tastes in general, and that’s okay.  The important part isn’t that we’ve found a game we can actively play, cause while that would be nice, it would probably require us just developing our own game from scratch.  No, the important thing is that we keep trying to reach out to the other.  We want to play games together and we’re going to keep trying to to find that thing that hooks us both, which I can definitively say is not and never will be World of Warcraft.

WoW, What am I Still Doing?

You might have noticed a significant uptick in World of Warcraft based content on this website.  Aside from that being a sentence I never thought I’d have to say, here we are with yet another entry in the chronicle of my WoW experience.  Last time I checked in, I was significantly overwhelmed by creating a high level character and was coaxed into starting a new one at first level.  So how did that go?

Going in with my extremely limited knowledge about World of Warcraft and its bevy of classes, I wanted to go with something simple and straight forward.  Naturally I gravitated towards making a panda character who also uses a sword and shield primarily.  I think it’s called the warrior class, but I could be wrong.  After a short customization period, LargeDouglas was born.  I initially wanted to go with ‘Bigger Douglas’ or something to that effect, but apparently the cowards at Blizzard weren’t ready for my radical new ways of doing things.

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Very quickly, my two friends appeared in my world with their own ludicrously named pandas who I think were a mage and a monk.  We ventured forth through the tutorial world of the panda-folk, an Asian inspired, pagoda-heavy region with a lot of questionable names and accents on display.

Compared to diving in at level 110, level one was significantly more manageable and easier to keep track of.  I had time to get used to abilities and how to navigate some of the menus instead of it went last time, where I was essentially drowning in menus.  I will say though, even at this rate, there was still a lot going on from level to level, which I imagine is a result of accelerating the leveling path over the past 50 years this game has been running.

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I’m proud to say that in this excursion I only died once, and it was because I didn’t pay attention to an NPC who very specifically told me not to go into this windy room until the wind subsided.  My negligence may have led to my demise, but in my defense, my friend who has played this game for years also died this way as well.  Actually I believe he died twice there if memory serves.

By this point you’re probably wondering if I actually enjoyed myself or not.  If I’m being honest, I really wasn’t blown away or won over by this fresh start.  It was a better experience than my last dive into the World of Warcraft pool, but it’s still World of Warcraft when all is said and done.  Meaning that regardless of which way I try to play it, it’s still a game that does nothing for me.

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Sometimes I had to kill 10 monkeys, or kill 10 rats and collect their parts for whatever grim needs the quest giver had.  Sometimes, when things got really exciting, I had to pick up driftwood or fireworks.  It’s even more disappointing considering I had thought for years that the jokes that people made about collecting 20 boar pelts had to have been a relic of the early days of World of Warcraft.  Surely over the years they would have removed as much of that tedium as possible?  Nope, from what I experienced, about half or more of the quests I embarked on involved me killing a bunch of stuff and collecting enough of their parts to progress.

I get that every quest can’t be this life-changing experience that’s going to revolutionize how I perceive quests, but they really front load the game with as much tedious nonsense as possible.  I might be being a little to myopic in my description of World of Warcraft, but it’s just super hard to get enthusiastic about this game.

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But it wasn’t all doom and gloom.  There were a couple of moments where I genuinely sat back and thought something I’d experienced was pretty cool.  It seems utterly useless, but the panda-folk can balance on these vertical beams and bounce around on them and fight other people on them which is an objectively cool, martial arts thing to do.

Also, the world design, especially in the land of the panda-pals, was really pleasant.  From the pagodas, to the rivers and caves, this starting area was a joy to be in and meander around.  Also, I think it’s all on a big turtles back or something?  Which once again, is objectively cool.

Ultimately, I still don’t like World of Warcraft.  It has its moments where it can charm you, but no amount of that can make me ignore the core conceits of its mechanics.  At this point, I’m not playing it because I want to play the game, I’m playing it because I get to talk to my friends.  On that front, World of Warcraft succeeded, but I can’t imagine paying $15 a month for the ability to talk to them.

WoW, What am I Doing?

Not too long ago I wrote a blog about how I was gifted a subscription along with the latest expansion for World of Warcraft.  To say that it’s been a period of adjustment would be a gross understatement.  I think I can genuinely say that I haven’t played a game as overwhelming as this before.

Before I describe the fugue state I entered upon launching the game, I think it’s fair to briefly explain how we got here.  Out of the sheer desire to talk to my friends, all of which had been consumed by World of Warcraft as of late, I expressed my increased feelings of isolation I had been feeling to one of them.  In their extreme generosity and kindness, they gifted me a subscription along with the latest expansion in an effort to get us playing and talking together again.  I was apprehensive, but desperate to engage with my friends once more.

I was told that I’d get a level boost that I could apply to a character to get me to the latest content, avoiding the 120 levels of what I assume were going to be pure grind.  It sounded good on paper, and although I expressed that I have literally no enthusiasm to play these kinds of games, my friend decided to pull the trigger on the purchase anyway.

So here I was, with a game I never wanted to play, at the ready.  After a much longer than expected download of 60+ gigabytes, I was ready to jump into to the world of Azeroth and see what all the fuss was about.

I didn’t press play for a few days.

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But eventually I did, and I created a wolf-man (I don’t recall the race name) Death Knight, which I was told was a pretty straight forward class that was pretty powerful and dealt a lot of damage.  Sounded great for a first timer like myself.  After picking the wrong server, playing the tutorial, then doing it all again on the right server, BigDouglas was finally ready for prime time… except he actually wasn’t.

Before I could do anything with my friends, I had to go through a pretty excruciating tutorial with a lot of cut-scenes that honestly, while well made, were very presumptuous in assuming that I knew literally anything about the lore or these characters.  But whatever, it all looked cool.

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After getting killed in the tutorial a half-dozen times, I finally trudged through and made it to a city where my quests involved walking over there to watch a cut-scene, walking somewhere else to do it again, and eventually getting on a boat to watch another cut-scene before I was thrown in prison to play through another mission where I died several more times.

I don’t mean to come across as dismissive or anything, but it’s incredibly difficult to muster any enthusiasm or excitement for what World of Warcraft did, even though it’s pretty standard in the MMO and RPG space.  The whole time I kept thinking to myself, “man, this would be way more interesting if it wasn’t an MMO and was a game that was more mechanically fun to play.”  I get that people like the gameplay loop in World of Warcraft and MMO games in general, but to me they’re incredibly dull and cumbersome.

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I will say though, the world of Azeroth and the broader aesthetics of World of Warcraft itself are beautiful and made me eager to explore more and see everything I could.  Something I had never really considered but seems painfully obvious now is just how cool everything looks.  It makes sense that the world building in such a long running MMO would be phenomenal, but I guess it never clicked until I got to see it first hand.

But for as cool as everything looks and how well designed it all clearly is, it doesn’t shake the fact that this is still an MMO and I was starting it from what was basically the endgame.

It turns out, there’s a lot of stuff to pay attention to, manage and keep track of in World of Warcraft, and boy howdy is it overwhelming.  Aside from minor gripes like every menu being incredibly small and hard to read, there’s just so much stuff on the screen to look at.  I know this is an MMO thing and not and exclusive World of Warcraft, but holy hell is it a lot deal with.  And it’s all compounded because I’m starting at level 110 where I have way more stuff at my disposal.

World Of Warcraft - Retail Screenshot 2020.02.02 -

My eyes were glazing over, my brain couldn’t comprehend anything anymore, and I was getting frustrated because I didn’t know what any of my spells did and kept dying because of it.  I wasn’t having a good time.

I eventually wished my friends a good night and disconnected.  My friend texted me with a new plan of attack.  He and the others I was playing with said they had heard people have more fun while having a root canal than I did playing World of Warcraft.  That’s why they decided it was time to start from scratch.

Level one.  Level one of 120.  I don’t know if I’m going to survive this, but I owe it to them to give it a shot.  I’ve never been more terrified and intimidated by a video game than I am right now, but I guess I’ll have to spin up a new character and hopefully gain a better understanding of World of Warcraft.

Blog: The Darkest Timeline – 02/05/20

A few weeks back I wrote about Call of Duty Modern Warfare and how it brought up memories of playing games with my friends after we had graduated high school.  It was spurred on by the realization that my friends and I had fragmented once again, but as adults.  We’re still friends, but we rarely find time to sync up and talk and even less of that is spent playing games.  But that’s about to change.

Well, considering that I’m currently writing this in late January, it hasn’t actually happened but it’s about to.  See, after a conversation with my friend about his absence from our Discord server, we somehow drilled down on the fact that he’d been dedicating a lot of time to the World of Warcraft guild he had put together.

You probably can see where this is going.

In his extreme generosity, mixed with his desire to play games with me, and my loneliness, he gifted me a a copy of Battle For Azeroth, the latest expansion to World of Warcraft, as well as one month of game time.  Once again, a very generous thing to do, but also the darkest moment of my gaming career.

See, about 15 years ago or so when World of Warcraft came out, I tried playing this game for the exact same reasons with mostly the exact same people.  I didn’t enjoy it then, but maybe I can appreciate it more as an adult. What I sure as hell didn’t appreciate or expect, (although it is a 16 year old game so why wouldn’t I expect this) was the 61 gigabyte download required for a game that I’m so on the fence about.  Watching it install was agonizing, giving plenty of opportunities to smash that cancel button and run away from my computer screaming.

But that didn’t happen and now there’s a new icon on my desktop that’s taunting me.  I’m excited to talk to my buddies again, but less excited about how it all came together.  What’s even more interesting is that I’m going from abject silence and nothingness, to jumping into a populated Discord server with people who I don’t know that are all way into a game that I know I’m going to make fun of.  Like, it’s going to happen.  I’m going to say something about how asinine a mechanic is, and the chat will go silent and I might get a pity chuckle before the conversation shifts.

I’m also terrified at the idea that I actually have to do stuff.  These guys are in a guild, and they raid and do important missions that I assume all involve collecting pieces of animals they kill in the woods, and they might eventually ask me to do something important that I know for a fact I will mess up.

But none of that happened as of writing this.  As of the date it actually is, all of that might have changed.  I will have booted up the game at least once since writing this blog and I literally have no idea what to expect.  I’m so grateful I have a friend who enjoys my company enough to cover my entrance fee.  He didn’t have to do that, and I appreciate the hell out of him.  But all I know for certain is that I get to talk to my friends again because I gave into peer pressure.

Blog: You Can’t Go Home Again – 08/28/19

It would be generous to say that I have any experience with World of Warcraft considering I’ve only played it for about a week almost a decade ago.  But while the fervor around the 15 year-old game has waned in popularity from time to time, it hasn’t stopped people from losing their minds over the release of World of Warcraft Classic.

From the time when WoW Classic was announced to its recent release, I’ve gone through varying degrees of confusion about the desire people have to jump back into a game from 2004, with all of its quirks and hiccups intact.  But now, days after it’s dropped, I think I get it.

Like I said, I have basically no experience with WoW Classic nor any desire to get in there and see what all the fuss is about.  I just figure that considering most of my friends have fallen prey to its wiles, I should at least pay some attention to the arc of this whole experience and try to get some insight into people’s excitement.

I asked some of my friends if they were genuinely excited to play WoW Classic as a game, or if they were actually just trying to chase those feelings and memories associated with it.  Most of them agreed that the latter was the primary driving force for them, which is evidenced by the fact that suddenly, people I haven’t spoken to in over a decade started popping up and coming together to plan out their game nights.  It’s kind of incredible when you think about it.  It’s really the only game I can think of that has the cultural cache to become the equivalent of a high school reunion.

I was in high school when World of Warcraft burst onto the scene, taking the world by storm.  At the time, the only MMO I was playing was Star Wars Galaxies, and that was purely motivated by my love of the movies along with a dash of peer pressure. I enjoyed playing it with those people at that moment in time, but if it was suddenly announced that Star Wars Galaxies was getting a faithful re-release that encapsulated everything about the game at that time, I don’t think I would care that much.

I know that’s just me though, as evidenced by the mass of players bombarding the WoW Classic servers.  I’m not writing this with the intention of raining on the parade of anybody who is having a great time with the game.  Chase your bliss.  But for me, the way I felt when I played games with other people back then, are relegated to pleasant memories now.  Sure I miss the carefree days where I could play games online with my friends till 3 in the morning, but those days are gone, and that’s okay.  I did that when I had the time to do it, and I don’t regret it.

If you’re playing WoW Classic, I hope you’re enjoying it.  It has to be this time capsule of a game that evokes so many memories, and that’s wonderful.  A similar situation is soon to crop up with me and the Halo games when they start getting released on PC sometime this year.  Yeah, it’s going to be fun to dive back into those games and play them again, but I know I’m not going to stick with them the way I did when they initially released.  I must have over a thousand hours in Halo 2 alone, but when it drops on PC, I know I’m never going to come close to even a tenth of that.

My point is that these games are like looking through a photo album or something.  You get that burst of positivity and warmth while the memories flood back in, and then you turn the page and keep going.  I’m glad that Blizzard released WoW Classic, allowing so many people to come and visit Azeroth in just the way they remember it, but it’s never going to feel the same as the first time you had to kill 100 boars in hopes of getting 10 tusks.