Monday, June 8, 2009

Weekend in games

Whereas in real life people lay back and relax during the weekend, in MMORPG's the characters are the most active during the weekend. The economy must be a bit screwed. The economy of the MMO's reflect this perfectly by going from the low sales in the beginning and mid-week to the high sales of Friday night and Saturday only to succumb into slumber before the new weeks beginning.

Unbelievable, I took the time to sit by the computer during the weekend. The weather was cold, so the 'best' option was to play inside... And so I did.

Which brought me back to the basic questions: why do I play WoW? Sure, there have been changes in the atmosphere lately, as I noticed that people are looking for PUG's to complete achievements in the Old World raid instances. "LFM anyone 60+lv for [insert old world raid instance]" was a common call all the way from early Friday evening till morning (!?) of Sunday. At least for that time it seemed that people were trying to group for the instances: I didn't have the time to commit to 2-3 hours at a time for those foolishness'.

So, why do I play WoW? I've been advocating the grouping and social gaming for the whole time I've blogged, so I should be rejoicing for this change. At the same time I'm cringing with disgust for the total atmosphere of the game community: at least in my server it's appalling. LFM for Achievement this, LF raid guild, recruiting 80lv only... the competitiveness in a game where competition shouldn't be the issue, but co-operation.

I noticed something while I played. Actually several things. WoW is -or actually most MMO's are- extremely time demanding hobby when compared to other hobbies competing with it. For example I'm having my Shorinji Kempo trainings two times a week during the summer, two hours at a time. In addition to that, I'm doing my best to have decent walkies (about 1.5-2 hours at a time) with our dogs at least three times a week (my wife does it even more, so they have their long walkies at least 5-6 times a week, in addition to the normal backyard visits). If I compare this to the time expectation of WoW (or EQ2 which I know of), to be successful in the game both socially and game wise, I'd have to devote at least a couple of hours almost daily to the game, and even more on weekends. That is if I want to make a difference.

And it would be my sole hobby by then, with no time for anything else except mandatory family things.

So I came to the conclusion that WoW isn't much of a casual gaming, at least not in the level I would want it to be.

The second issue is the fun part: is it really fun, amusing and relaxing to beat the pixels? For some it must be, but what I found out is that soloing the content is really more of a burden and strain than relaxing past time. Heck, I enjoy currently more of mowing of our lawn than doing the Hemet Nesingwary missions in the Outlands! Pointless killing of pixel monsters just sucks.

On the other hand, I've called for meaningfull questlines and wondered why the storytelling isn't working. Well, guess what: I think that all the killing and running around is splintering the stories into series' of combats and mayhem, during which you forget the reason why you are killing these foozles (which makes the Nesingwary missions in Old World and Outlands even more absurd...)! I noticed this as I was working on the Loremaster of Kalimdor achievement in Darkshore, and found several very nice questlines which I have done several times earlier but didn't remember the stories at all! And I read the stories!

Then again, the most interesting starter quest line, The Absentminded Prospector, was cut short just as it was beginning to get interesting. This was one of the low level questlines I had never even started, because it's a group quest (suggested players (2)) and remains such till the end in Menethil harbour, where it just... ends in to the thin air. I stayed there to see if the exclamation mark would light up on the questgiver, but no. A great, enticing storytelling tossed out of the window. With animations and all, in the Old World content!

I noticed that I enjoy more of the game and the stories when I'm doing the quests with obscenely overlevelled character rather than experiencing the content at the level it's been designed for. Why? The stories advance faster and it's like the story really develops in front of your eyes. Would you bother with a story after the third wipe? Most probably you'd be so crossed that you'd just snuff the opposition just to revenge the wipes, without any thought to the story itself.

Oh, yes, and the Nesingwary rewards are all mutt for a Warrior. My first instance loots from Hellfire Citadel are still better than the crap those quests offer, except maybe for armour value. Otherwise the quest rewards are aimed for other classes, shaman's seem to be especially remembered.

All for now. I got Laiskajaakko the title of Ambassador for getting 5 exalted reputations (Alliance capitals) and 421/700 in Loremaster of Kalimdor (it's 520 in the Eastern Kingdoms...). So I'm off to 'grind' some more lowbie areas next time.