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December Gaming, and my final words on WoW.

December 10, 2011

I thought I’d update more often, but every time I sit down to write something I end up just doing something else. <shrug>

I got a bit bored with my current selection and there have been a lot of new WoW commercials on TV, so I grew weak and reactivated my old World of Warcraft account. I ended up cancelling my account less than a week later.

It is a fairly short series of events, most are quiet predictable.

– First I was surprised my main was still in his old PvP / raid guild. However, the guild was now defunct. It’s a level 25 guild, so I still get all the goodies, but it’s just a placeholder for casuals that had history with the guild. After doing a little research, it seems that the guild had a short-lived resurgence about 4 months ago when a number of the original core players rejoined. They’re not in the guild anymore (again), and the “new-old” guild leader (who was never much of a /leader/) has of course let the guild just desintigrate… again. Nothing against him at all, he’s a really nice guy, but he can’t hold together a guild. That’s a shame, I probably would have been much more invested if I came back to a somewhat active guild, I mean, a guild that at least runs 5-mans. I really, really didn’t feel like grinding and gearing up to just /apply/ to a new guild, I was kind of hoping that I’d hop back into a guild that had historically been long-lived and quite active. So, the first “good surprise” ended up being a big bummer.

– The second surprise was how many of my old friends still played the game, even if ultra-casually. Probably 1/2 to 3/4ths of my old “close friends” from my “favorite guild” were still playing. Cool! Then I realized most were on different servers. They had all jumped ship. Hrm. Not that big of a deal, because now they have cross-realm groups for dungeons… sweet! … Then I realized that I”m not geared to run with them, and they are on during very weird hours. <shrug> “I can make this work”, I figured. I tried chatting with each of them when they were on. Here’s where the second good surprise turned sour. They weren’t interested in talking. At all. I was extremely disappointed by this, because of how long we had all known each other, and how much time we spent playing the game together over the past 6 years. Heh. I barely got two lines of chat from anyone. This is stark contrast to the last time I returned to the game, when my “favorite guild” completely rejoined for a short while and everyone was excited to play together again. Now, it just seemed like I was talking to zombies that only cared about drudging through their shitty dailies and getting their daily instance done. The game had /really/ become a chore for them, to the point where they just didn’t care about the people in the game. Shame.

– So I decided to roll a new toon on a new server. I started a Dorf Shammy on Moon Guard, mostly because of the atmosphere there. I’ve always liked playing on RP realms (especially high-population RP realms that have an active RP community), because the cities and country-side become filled with /personalities/ and stories, instead of one-line NPCs and repeatedly spawning, brainless monsters. I don’t RP in WoW myself, but I am an old-school, pen-and-paper RPG player, so it’s much better for me to walk through a town of “living, breathing /characters” than to walk through a virtual AOL chatroom of people just waiting for their next chore.

But in rolling a new character I encountered the issue of having to level a toon in a game that I have played through no less than five full times so far (at least one of those times in the new Cata content), so it’s a bit boring. I decided to use Dungeon Finder to level, so I at least would get a bit of interaction. This is when things really, really started to go down-hill… I think that cross-realm* Dungeon Finder is easily the best AND worst thing that has ever been put into WoW. It’s the best, because now players can actually experience content that they would have never been able to, if they don’t have an two hours to spend to gather a group of random players, to travel to the instance, and another two or three to get through the instance. It’s basically the first, REAL multiplayer content available to people that play the game, and it’s so much more accessible than it was in Vanilla. It’s also the worst thing added to WoW because it has depersonalized an already faceless, nameless game by putting together groups of people that will likely never, ever see each other again because they are from different realms.

I qualified Dungeon Finder (and marked it with an asterisk (*)) as being cross-realm. Why I detest cross-realm is because it completely dehumanized much of the game and entirely removed accountability from player behavior. In Vanilla, you knew you would see the other players again in your realm after an instance or PvP Battleground, and you got to know them over time – this put a face behind the character, and put a bit of humanity into the game. It also made players aware that their actions had long-term consequences. If they rip off another player during an instance, or if they are complete dickheads in world PvP, it would almost always come back to haunt them. They would get turned down from guilds (or even kicked out of their current guild) and rejected from groups for being a dick. I’ve seen people leave the game in Vanilla because of how few people would group with them because of something they did in the past. Now, no one is accountable for anything, and the other characters in your group are just faceless, nameless robots that are there to do your bidding – and since no one is held accountable for their behavior they can act like complete shitheads. Nice Blizzard, nice.

The people that I encountered during my latest (and last) play-through were almost universally dickheads, especially in Dungeon Finder PUGs. In fact, the straw that broke my back in WoW was a Dungeon Finder incident. Two different runs in a row, a tank and DPS from the same guild would just quit the run when they wanted, leaving us hanging. So, I waited 15 minutes in a fucking queue so that I could act as a servant to two people just trying to get something they wanted, so they could just drop the rest of us when they were done. In one case we couldn’t vote two of the people out because they “disconnected”. Fuck that. I’m not someone else’s game-servant. Blizzard basically endorses this kind of behavior. I cancelled my account and uninstalled. Running dungeons was about 50% of the reason I liked the game, and that was basically gone. The fact that the people I /used/ to play the game with have turned into zombies killed the rest of it for me. There was no reason to keep playing, it was a hollow, boring time-waster. Oh well. I can’t wait for Guild Wars 2.

On to bigger, better things.

Killing Floor just released a batch of new weapons (and models, but you have to pay for those), so I’ve been picking that up again. So far I like the new weapons. They definitely add a bite to the game without detracting from old content. They are slightly more powerful and/or useful than the old weapons, and they are fun to use. I got quite bored with Killing Floor after playing /obsessively/ a while back. The new weapons have brought me back for a while, though I’m not sure how long. I wish they had added top-tier weapons as well as the mid-level weapons. Likewise a few new maps and maybe a new monster or two would have been sure to keep me playing for quite a while. Or even a new game mode… But, at least they added the new toys.

I also picked up Bastion a few days ago. It’s pretty goddamn good. I don’t know how long it is, I hope it’s “fairly long”, but it’s a great indie game. It has a unique style of presentation that I can only really compare with Braid (in terms of the 2D, water color, sprite-based graphics) and Landstalker (isometric view with tile-based background and emphasis on action). After having recently turned my back to the biggest RPG out there, it’s nice to have a quick-fix. So far, so good.

I still play Dawn of War II: Retribution almost daily, but it’s only the Last Stand part of the game. I think there’s something to be said about “arena” battles. It allows designers to focus on gameplay balance, rather than sprawling levels that require a lot of work. Arenas are the main reason I was playing Magica so much over the past two or three months. I became addicted to the arena battles in that game, it’s just a shame that multiplayer in that game is broken. I play Magicka maybe once or twice a week for an hour, and Last Stand for one to three full rounds if I can.

Terraria just got the “big patch” everyone had been waiting for. I have mixed feelings about it… I reinstalled Terraria for the patch and started a new toon and new world just to take it all in. I don’t know if I should have, because I’m kind of retracing a lot of the same ground I already have and not having much fun doing it. I’m at the point of fighting the newly added boss, and it’s a bit lame and overly difficult. It requires quite a bit of set-up, which is fairly boring. While setting up things like that can be cathartic due to how brainless they are, tasks like that just aren’t stimulating enough. After killing the boss it unleashes a whole bunch of new ore and items into the game. What I don’t understand about Re-Logic’s design mentality is why they add really cool stuff to the game only AFTER you’ve beaten the last boss. I mean, that equipment just makes it easier to kill a boss you don’t have a reason to kill again. They definitely put the cart before the horse.

A Steam friend invited me to play multiplayer with him in Terraria, but I warned him about the pitfalls of Terraria multiplayer. He hasn’t asked since. Likewise, I notice that a good number of my Steam friends are playing Terraria, but none are playing it multiplayer, which makes sense. The game is just very poorly developed for multiplayer. If they added a feature to “summon” another player and if they made it so that any “major item” found by either player could be used by all players, it’d make the game SO much better in terms of multiplayer. Likewise, if they’d remove the “I drop all my money or items when I die” bit, because that causes so much fucking fighting when a player dies… Yeah, anyway, I don’t think I’d like to play Terraria multiplayer again any time soon, but the single player is… meh.

Payday: The Heist was released, and I waited for it to go on sale before I bought it. I’m glad I did, as it went on 50% sale soon after release. It amazes me how quickly games go into the bargain bin online. I’ve only played a few games, and it’s a pretty good game overall, but a bit repetitive and it absolutely, completely requires 100% focus. It’s too easy to fuck that game up if you aren’t totally on top of it, which ruins the game for three other people. I had one really good match where one player knew the game pretty damn well, and gave good guidance to the team without being a dick about it.

Otherwise the only gaming I do much of is on my Android phone. When we moved we had to get a new carrier, and that meant new phones. I have a Samsung Galaxy SII, and it’s a hell of a phone. It plays any of the games I’ve tried on it, and I’ve got about 140 or so on there right now. Way too many games to play, really – but I’ve test driven each one. This is the first device that made me seriously doubt my previous thoughts that only handheld consoles (e.g. GameBoy and PSP) can have fun games on them. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s great for when I’m just lying in bed and chilling out.

That’s it for now it seems – I’d like to say that “I’ll post more often”, but the reality of the matter is I don’t change up my gaming enough right now to warrant many posts.

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