pandora_parrot: (games)
Turn away if discussions of World of Warcraft make you ill. :)

Last night, I was playing Wow with my girlfriends, when [ profile] parmonster told me that she had gotten into a 40-person raid on the horde cities. She got [ profile] viesti and I into the raid, and off we went.

The thing was terribly managed. In the first raid, several people got left behind because the rest of the raid was too impatient to wait for them or help them if they got caught. The second one went a lot better, but a quarter of the group almost got left behind. That was the Silvermoon City and Undercity capitols.

Now things got really bad. A bunch of people got separated on the way to our next target, Ogrimmar, and people started acting like jack-asses on the chat, shouting things at one another, putting out incorrect information, etc. Half the group was still gathering when the other half went in and made the attack. By the time we had everyone else together, the city leader Thrall was down, and everyone was getting out.

Things were severely shaky. People were saying that the raid couldn't succeed and that we were going to fail to attack the final city of Thunderbluff. We had already lost a quarter of the raid group. Everyone was acting like asses, so there was no way we could get things working for the attack.

That's where my girlfriends and I came in. [ profile] parmonster had already taken the initiative by finding a way to summon [ profile] viesti so that we could summon the rest of the group. I took control of the raid and started telling everyone what was happening, where we should rendezvous, etc. The three of us got into position on the north side of the city and [ profile] viesti began summoning people. I kept the rest of the raid informed, kept telling people that we would we attacking shortly, etc. I also was doing moral management, reassuring folks that we were going to succeed in our attack. I lied and said that I had succeeded with a group of this size in the past and that we were going to do just fine.

Somehow, by yelling into the chaotic din of immature nonsense, I managed to get the raid to pay attention to me and to believe in my words. The rest of the raid stopped acting like asses and got focused. People stopped saying that we weren't going to succeed and started finding ways to help us succeed. They stopped abandoning the group and started actively recruiting for more players to join us. They stopped yelling middle school obscenities and stuff.

When we finally made the attack, we all stayed at the rendezvous point until I specifically shouted "ATTACK!" No one was left behind this time. We didn't abandon half the group like we did last time.
And we executed the plan flawlessly. We were in and out more smoothly than any other capital so far.

It continues to tie into my sense of incapability. I'm always feeling like I'm not good enough and that I'm not capable of anything of value. And yet, when I actually try to do something, I almost always succeed at it. It was personally rewarding to watch as I got 40 people that were on the verge of complete failure rise to success.

To see them all actually *wait* for me to yell "ATTACK" before doing anything was incredible, and to see them ride off into battle at my command was amazing. You have to understand that it was not the fact that they were listening to me but rather the fact that they *weren't* listening to anyone else for the other 3 attacks we had done previously. This was a terrible group that was on the verge of self-destruction, with poor leadership and a poor moral, and I managed to turn it around with the help of [ profile] viesti and [ profile] parmonster.

It was a really nice boost for my self-esteem and sense of capability. :)
pandora_parrot: (games)
[ profile] parmonster and I love to do dungeon runs together in WoW. I heal, she tanks. It's a great combination. But it sometimes gets spoiled by dumb ass DPS ers. Well, not spoiled, per se, but we do get annoyed.

Read more... )
pandora_parrot: (games)
I just "dinged" level 80 in World of Warcraft. This is the final level that you can achieve in the game, meaning that I have gotten through all of the content and made it to what MMOs call "endgame." This is a pretty substantial achievement, requiring lots of time put into the character, building up abilities and levels and such. In a sense, I've kinda beaten the game. In another sense, I've only just begun to play for real.

So what have I learned during this long and interesting adventure? What are the results of this long and interest experiment?

When I first started, I was captivated by the delight of exploration. But now, that delight has faded. I've explored almost every place in the world now. There's nowhere left. So what interests me now?

One of the reasons I never got into an MMO in the past was because I could never really get into online socialization. And that is still the case. Although I certainly like my guild mates and enjoy interacting with them, I find that I don't really care about them much. More than that, I don't really gain much satisfaction in sharing experiences with them.

No... the original reason that I could not stand MMOs and online games of all sorts still exists. My enjoyment of WoW is just not tied to the game itself. The value I derive from the game is derived entirely from the experiences that I get to share with my lovers, [ profile] parmonster and [ profile] viesti. 80-90% of my play time in the game has been logged alongside one of them, and the rest has been done with the intention of improving my abilities for the next time I play with them.

With all of the time and effort I've put into the experiment, I expected that I would eventually find the game enjoyable for its own sake. Perhaps I would find the online interaction to be satisfying and enjoy that. Perhaps I would discover some interesting set of action-puzzles that I could derive satisfaction from solving. But nope. *ALL* of my satisfaction derives from sharing this with my lovers. Were they both to quit tomorrow, I would cancel my account in a heart beat. Without them, the game holds 0 value for me, especially now that I'm at level 80.

I do absolutely love being able to "talk shop" with the two of them, discussing play strategies, talking about cool storyline moments, sharing interesting new experiences that I find, etc. I love running through dungeons in a cooperative group, relying on each other to do their part. There's nothing like the rush of excitement you get in the game:

I watch [ profile] parmonster's character start to take significant damage and lose threat on a big monster that starts to lumber towards me and beat me up. As I cry for help, [ profile] viesti's character leaps from behind to tear the monster to pieces and get him away from me until [ profile] parmonster can find me in the fray of battle and once again monopolize the creature's attention. Meanwhile, I dance along my buttons, healing my lovers as quickly as I can, hoping against hope that I can keep them alive long enough to kill the monsters and survive this battle.

And once you've had those wonderful adventure experiences, being able to recount them to one another throughout the day is fantastic. Discussing the epic moments that you've had. Talking about the adventures you've experienced. Discussing new plot points for your character's backstory. etc. etc. It's a wonderful way to bond with someone that you love. To do exciting, challenging, and enjoyable things like this with one another.

I asked the questions: Why are there millions of subscribers playing only with people they've only met online? Why is my girlfriend getting so deeply involved in the game that she can spend hours playing by herself and doing nothing with anyone IRL?

I don't think I'm going to find the answers. I could not find the things they found in the game, even after all this time and effort. Thus, I declare my little experiment over. My conclusion is that I simply don't understand what people see in this game, in and of itself.

But as a social game with folks I care about... I get it. So long as my lovers continue to play... game on!


Feb. 3rd, 2010 03:06 am
pandora_parrot: (games)
[ profile] parmonster and I have descended into a new level of geekiness: We're writing... "fanfic" for our characters. We're on an RP server, so we're writing out our stories.

You can follow my character's "private journal entries" here and her's here

We've got some neat ideas for this!

WoW review

Jan. 13th, 2010 04:17 pm
pandora_parrot: (games)
I've been playing WoW for several months now. I figured that I would take some time and write a review of it.

One of the things that has historically turned me off to this sort of game is the repetitive aspects of it. From what I could see, most of these games came down to: "Go kill 10 boars. Gain 10 XP. Get level. Go kill 10 bats. Gain XP. Get level" repeat ad nauseum. There's no fun in that. Sure, you might get a slightly different environment to do things in, but really, you're doing hte same damn shit in the same sort of area. It's annoying and pointless and unpleasant. After doing this grinding for a while on any given MMO, I just gave up. There didn't seem to be any payoff except higher levels and slight variations on level design.

Maybe I just didn't stick with most of those games long enough. Because Wow is totally not like that. Quests are different and interesting. There are common themes, but there is still quite a bit of diversity. The process of doing quests and gaining XP and levels doesn't just lead to a higher stat next to my name, but grants me access to new areas and experiences. Those new areas and experiences aren't just slight variations on past areas, but in many cases are actually full of interesting geography and art. The game actually produces an excellent balance of work vs. reward. I put in a bunch of time, doing fun quests and stuff, to be 0rewarded with something new and interesting.

Let's look at some examples:

Quest Variety:
You've got a lot of the sorts of quests that you'd think are boring in a lot of ways. There's "Kill n creatures" quests, "Kill as many of creature X as you need to retrieve n of item Y" quests, "Kill boss monster X" quests, and similar. Those sound like they'd be boring, but they're actually quite fun a lot of the time, especially if you're playing with friends. Hunting down the locations of the creatures in question, figuring out tactics to use to fight them, running around in their environments. It's really fun.

But then you have all sorts of other interesting quests. I had one where I rode a gryphon over this army and had to drop bombs on them. Another quest required me to sneak around an enemy encampment to find a special item needed to take out the major boss monster. Another required me to read a treasure map and find the right place to go. Another had me hunting for someone in a strange alien bug place.

Environmental variety:
I've come across fantastic things while playing this game. Wandering through a dense tropical jungle, I came upon a strange, almost alien landscape filled with giant bugs. It looked like they were transforming the land into some sort of hive. It was alien and fantastic.

Another time, I was wandering through the mountains above Hillsbrad and came upon the ruins of an old city. But the ruins only seemed to be a small portion of the city, as where the bulk of it would have been was a massive crater surrounded by an eerie glowing purple light. The ruins of Dalaran.

When I first travelled to Outworld, I had to walk through this massive portal to another dimension. The portal was easily several hundred feet tall. Upon stepping through, I was transported to a fantastic broken landscape. Bits of rock and rubble floated in the air, and the land was slanted at odd angles, as if the world itself was crumbling into pieces. Right in front of me a massive battle was going on, and as I stared, several enemies broke through the front line and came after me.

I love the sheer variety of environments. Beautiful mountains, deserts, dense tropical jungles, ordinary forests that could be found in the hills of California, fantastic forests with trees thicker and taller than any Earthly redwood, rolling grassy hills covered in farms, swamps, icy tundras, rolling plains, etc. All of it dotted with locations both beautiful and fantastic. There's even a place called "Shimmering Flats" that looks for all of the world like the salt flats of Utah or the Black Rock Desert where Burning Man takes place.

Despite having gotten through all of the "vanilla" (pre-expansion pack) content, I find that Blizzard continues to take my breath away all of the time. I constantly find myself gasping at the architecture of a dungeon instance, or blinking into a sunset as I crest a hill overlooking the village of Lakeshire, seeing the sun reflected on the shimming waters of the lake. They did an *incredible* job with the art and design in this game. I feel like I play the game in part just to experience all of the wonderful places they've created, both mundane and fantastic.

They also did a great job with travel. When you first start, you're slow, traveling everywhere on foot. As you progress, you're granted faster and faster mounts that you can ride to and fro. When you hit 60 and enter the expansion pack content, you find yourself with the ability to fly all over the place, a breathtaking experience. It's fantastic to see the cities, mountains, and places of this world from the air. In Zangarmarsh, I just love the look of flying through this entirely alien landscape covered with giant mushrooms hundreds of feet tall, fading off into the purple haze of this bizarre place.

Here are some pictures of some of these places:
Read more... )

I'm hooked. If only on the artwork, I'm hooked. They've done a great job of providing a wide variety of experiences, and have really done a lot to remove the tedium that I've come to expect of MMORPGs. Progress forward, especially when using Refer-A-Friend, is fast, and you quickly get to see all sorts of new and wonderful places, having all sorts of new and interesting experiences.
pandora_parrot: (annoyed)
I'm noticing something interesting in being a wow player.

People are prejudiced against Wow players.

It's amazing. If I tell people that I was up until 4AM last night playing Orbiter and landing a virtual spaceship on the moon after docking with Mir, they just roll their eyes at me for being so eccentric.

If I tell people that I spent 4 hours playing a game of Go with my girlfriend, people might be impressed at our focus on such a well respected game.

But if I tell people that I played Wow with my girlfriend last night, starting the game at midnight and playing until 4, people start to make worrying sounds and concern themselves about my personal state of mental health.

It's fascinating. I was actually having an IM conversation with someone and they were being a bit unresponsive in places. When they apologized for their lack of responsiveness, I said that I was playing Wow and didn't mind. They immediately got flummoxed and logged off IM.

I think this stems from the fact that so many people have lost their lives to the game. You've got this person that socializes and does stuff with their life. And then, all of the sudden, they're never around. They don't seem interested in their career or their lives. They don't seem to hang out with real people anymore. They're just hanging out with the virtual people in their little virtual world.

If you run in geek circles, I'm sure you've seen this kind of person. They can't make it to dinner with you because they've got to go "raiding." Or perhaps they come to visit, but have to leave early because their guild has a raid that night. Or whatever.

It's actually a serious condition and a serious issue. One that is right up there with addictions to gambling and stuff like that. There are groups for people trying to stay "sober" from things like Wow. Self-help meetings and all that jazz. It's no laughing matter.

So I get it. I get why people get a little freaked out every time the WOW thing comes up. I get why people overreact about things. But really people, it can get annoying. Sure, if my life was full of nothing but playing Wow for exorbitant amounts of time with people I've never met, I'd say your worry was founded in reality.

But for Pete's sake, in the last 7 days alone, I've written a talk on transgender people, gotten it reviewed, and edited it for content. I've added javadocs and proper documentation to my entire gjset software project, designed the multiplayer interaction for it, mocked up the basic UI, and researched Remote Method Invocation as a possible alternative to a text based protocol. I prepared for my upcoming D&D campaign by creating a wiki, researching material, and writing plots. I spent an entire night doing nothing but dying hair. I went hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains. I went to the city to get laser hair removal treatments. I socialized with friends by biking and skating around with them. I wrote an article on how to teach beginners to play Go. And I helped throw a 15 person party dedicated to Go. All while holding down a full-time job, maintaining a relationship with two girlfriends, and still having time to eat and sleep... Okay I skimped on eating and sleeping a bit. But the point is that the percentage of things in my life that are World of Warcraft is tiny.

So seriously people, back the fuck off and deal with whatever issues you seem to have with the game, okay? I appreciate the concern, but seriously get a reality check. I've done more shit in this week than most people do in a month.

If I've got issues with maintaining appointments or taking care of myself, it's because I've filled my life up with too much damned stuff, not because of a stupid game.


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