March 5, 2010

On difficulty and change

Posted in Musings tagged , , , , at 8:39 pm by Aduial of WrA

Ruthvenn over at Wowhead made a post in their blog recently discussing the difficulty and supposed lack thereof in WoW which, as many do, got me to thinking, first as something I wanted to post in a comment there, which I may still do, but then it occurred to me it could make a half-decent blog post and posting on it here first could help me get my thoughts in order on it.

Inarguably it’s easier now than ever to get gear in WoW, and to run instances and even raid, though there are still hardmodes and achievements for the people who seek challenges, as well as many other challenges non-raid related. Is it a good thing? Yes, Blizzard still has 11 million (or wasn’t it 11.5 million recently?) subscribers, which to some would say means they’re doing it right. But then there’s the players, and there are some out there, who may or may not even care about the game itself; they pay and play out of habit, or a sense of responsibility to their friends/guild, or just to stay in touch with the same, or keep paying for their account thinking they’ll find time and never do and they end up with accounts paid for for months without touching them, for example. We can’t really say how many of those 11 million subscribers pay to play anymore, and how many play for other reasons if at all.

Now, I personally got into WoW a few months before WotLK came out, and never had a chance to raid then. The first time I went on a raid was actually on my second main, my warrior, when she was around 60; the person I played with most at the time was capped in Vanilla to do things at level, and the server we were on often did old-world raids (often capping out at 40 people, no less!). I felt absolutely horrible at the time–we were attempting BWL, and I was one of the few who weren’t attuned, and I’d never been there before, and we tried getting me attuned, killed the mob 4 times before they said “screw it” and had me try anyway. Somehow I was attuned but didn’t realize it, and we went in. We ended up doing UBRS since some had to, and I floundered about a second too long and got locked out of one of the events, at which point the 4 people immediately ahead of me turned and laughed in my toon’s face and mocked me for not making it in. The first room alone in BWL was confusing as heck, I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing so I just kind of followed my friend. The other raids we did at level went a lot better, and I did enjoy them; but I ended up doing almost every Vanilla raid at level, anyway.

The guy has played WoW since beta, as well as a couple other friends I had in game, and one of my close friends, the one who got me into WoW to begin with, has either been playing since Vanilla or TBC, I can’t remember which. So I’ve heard stories upon stories of how things were back then, and I experienced it to some extent (close to as best as can be done, these days) with the raiding with the huge groups at level on my tank. Were things harder overall back then? Of course. But were they better?

The stories of those times are epic, but they’re just that. Stories. There’s something to be said for having been around for X, being able to tell game-generation-Y what it was like doing it in their day. In a way it’s like our grandparents; “Back in my day, we had to walk to school fifty miles in the snow, uphill both ways!” Things have come a long way in real life, too, and things have gotten easier; most would probably say things have gotten better, but even those that wouldn’t, would they go back to having to do everything their grandparents did? Would our grandparents go back to the way they had to live over the way they can live now?

If these things happen in real life, why wouldn’t they happen in our games? You can go and get a whole tier set in a couple days at most rather than spend months farming and wiping for it, but you can also pick up the phone and have a meal delivered to your door in less than an hour instead of having to plant, grow, harvest, cook everything yourself. If you were one of the people who did either, great! You did things most people these days could never dream of actually doing whether they think they could or not, and you have the stories to prove it. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s worse off for the way the world (of warcraft) has changed, and it doesn’t mean it’d be better to go back to that, no matter how amazing the stories are, and no matter how much we long for the good sides of it.

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