This is one of those posts that started as a comment. Then, when I realised it was getting a bit out of hand, I decided to make it a post.
So BBB wrote an excellent post defending his ongoing love of WoW against those people who seem to not just be burnt out on WoW, but feel the need to be aggressive about it. Its not enough that they stopped playing. Everyone else must agree with them. I think the reason so many people rage against those who are happily still playing WoW is twofold.
A question of polish
Firstly, no other MMO has quite managed to be the all-things-to-all-players game that WoW is. Others have certainly been strong in different areas – Star Wars blows WoW questing out of the water for me. But people expect more from new MMOs than any has managed to give thus far. If you look at other industries, when someone comes up with a good enough idea, everyone runs with it. But that doesn’t seem to happen in MMO design. Something for budding game developers to think about.
I play and enjoy Star Wars but I’m constantly baffled as to why it has failed to learn many of the lessons that WoW learned before it was even conceived of. It takes FOREVER to travel between planets and its not even a ‘get on a flight point and go get a coffee’ forever. Its a ‘run here, click here, run there, click that, choose this, run here, click this, run there, click this’ marathon. Who thought that was a good idea? Blizzard didn’t, because they changed it already. Remember when it took 15 minutes to fly from Stormwind to Ironforge? I do. At first, Blizzard did that intentionally. They wanted to create a sense of time in the world. But ultimately, they realized that for many players it was just a waste of playing time. Imagine trying to do Love is in the Air back then? Every time Star Wars sends me back to the Imperial Intelligence HQ I want to slap a designer. Not only do I have to go through the run-click marathon, but theres no direct flight point from the Starport to HQ so I have to run through the damn city too. This doesn’t ‘enhance my sense of being in a world’. I am not IN that world. I am at my desk, wasting time RUNNING that I could be spending doing lots of more exciting things. There are plenty of things Star Wars doesn’t show – why can’t travel time be implied?
So was there a point? Yes. People don’t like to be wrong. Some people have burnt out on WoW, but can’t find another game that has that special something. They want the feeling back that they had when they first played WoW. But no game has quite managed to achieve a similar level of polish given the way games have evolved. In part I think this is because when WoW first came out, it was all about the levelling experience. However, for new MMOs, people care about the end game too, because they know thats where they are going to spend most of their time. SWTOR has focused on the levelling with the intention of adding the end game later, but has found that people are judging it on the end game it doesn’t yet have. If a player has left WoW for another MMO, they want to feel that was the right choice. But if you read the forums for a game like SWTOR, its just an endless raging whine. And the reviews have been mixed. And players like me, who play the game, also write about our criticisms of the game. So, in the face of that negativity, they respond by making themselves right in their head. If they are right, everyone who stayed with WoW must be wrong. So you get the hate.
It’s not me, its you
Secondly, I think people like to blame the game for things they don’t want to accept about themselves. WoW has NOT changed dramatically over the years. Its been tweaked a lot. There have been 40 man raids, 25 man raids, 10 player raids, LFR, LFD, heroic modes, hard modes, battlegrounds, rated battlegrounds, quest hubs, daily quest hubs, holiday quest hubs – variations on a few themes. Its great at keeping itself up to date, but it still works on the same basic principles it had in vanilla. The social dynamic has changed, but not as much as people think. What does change, are the players. People change over time. They do different things, have different interests, make different friends, get educated, get jobs, find relationships. Sometimes, people change so much that they lose that connection. They play too much and run out of things to do, they play too little and lose the social connections that make the game fun, they play with the wrong people and end up feeling the whole game is full of jerks.
But, going back to what I said before, they still value that special feeling they got when they first played a game. They still value that connection. If the special feeling has gone it means one of two things – they’ve changed, or the game has changed. For WoW, it mostly means they’ve changed. But I don’t think most people think of themselves as changing beings. So they blame the game. And if the game has changed so much they don’t like it, why do other people still love it? And then we’re back to the right/wrong thing I described above. People don’t want to be wrong. If the game has changed so much they don’t like it any more, and they are right, the people who do still like it are wrong.
I wholeheartedly agree with BBB whey he tells these people to just sod off. I know WoW is not perfect. I don’t like the current raid difficulty model as I think it panders too much to the elite few, though I do think LFR is a great solution to some of this. I think LFR loot should be made non-tradeable and non-sellable to wipe out the current horrendous issues with people rolling on loot they already have to trade and sell. If they had to type ‘delete’ for every piece of ninja’d loot it would soon get boring. RBGs are largely inaccessible to people who might enjoy them, but don’t know enough fellow PvPers and are part of PvE guilds.Achievement systems make it hard to change toons even when you want to. Its not a perfect game. No game is perfect for everyone all of the time. But I still like it. And I am right to keep playing a game I enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, thats fine. But your need to feel you are right does not make me wrong! There are whole blogs I’ve read that now seem to dedicate themselves to insisting that WoW is broken and people who play it are all stupid suckers who are being robbed of their money by the corporate monster that is Blizzard. You are looking to the wrong people to validate your decisions. Look to the new people you are playing with who agree with you and you will find validation there without needed to harass a bear.
And thats why I didn’t end up writing this as a comment …