Friday, September 25, 2009

what is a bull without horns?

I started to play WoW on Horde side. Mainly because the group I belonged at that time played on horde, but also because the looks and feel of horde appealed to me more. I have never -even in my pen and paper roleplaying games- wanted to play human or some other 'classic' fantasy race: my most beloved RPG is still Skyrealms of Jorune, in which I would rather dip my feet in very alien races rather than the ever present human.

However, as times changed and I got my brothers to enter the game, I've switched to Alliance. Naturally I took human as my main: can't stand the small people in game (both mentally and graphically small) and male night elves don't appeal to my hetero palate. Besides, human warrior is such a cliché, much like dwarf wielding a huge axe or elf being a master marksman.

Now as Blizzard has made the faction changes possible, I have come up with an idea to transfer my nearly abandoned Tauren Druid, Copra, to Ally side. Sure, he would lose his horns and become a poofy little night elf, but he would be on the same side of the faction fence and would be benefitting from my AH grinding and lv80 support. He would get into a great guild as an alt and all would be spiffy!

This thought had haunted me for a while already, when I read RockHound's post in Hudson's Hideout. He writes a great post about how Cryptic's Champions Online has split the player base already in two conceptual groups: Conceptionists and Minmaxists.Conceptionists create their character from history up and do not care so much of the actual power level of their characters, while Minmaxists will not take anything less than over 9000 in their characters, caring less about the history, story or background of the character. In RockHound's words, Minmaxists are playing to win the game and overcome the obstacles as well as possible, while the Conceptionists are looking to play the character as 'real being', much like roleplaying them.

After reading the post I noticed something that I hadn't thought about. I cannot bring Copra to the Ally side, as I have a backstory for him. I just cannot take Bull out of Copra, even though I very seldom play that character. It's the same reason why Laiskajaakko rides a ram instead of a horse, or why Pupunen will never intentionally gain high reputation with Stormwind.

I have a Conceptionist mindset when I create my characters: they have basic idea of a background and I could easily drop them all into a RP server with their stories.

Enter level cap: the game in level cap doesn't work with a Conseptionist mindframe. It's hard and heavy min-maxing game and I think that for me this has caused the biggest difficulty to accept. It's not about questing, decisions or 'making the difference', it's all about tweaking the gear to be able to run the next tier of scripted bosses. And this clash of realities is even more hard to accept with all the kids who are really looking forward to win the game in which there is no end game screen.

I had a discussion with Förgelös about this and he brought up that this extreme achieving mentality in the end game I'm talking about is not what he expects to see when he logs in. He plays for the recreational and entertainmental value of the game, not competition or recognition. Those he has enough in his real life, in form of work, family and ... well, real life. I agree with him. Of course we like to have challenges, like doing a trio Shadow Labyrinth in inadequate gear. But we do not take that so seriously that we would kick the weakest link from the group, call him/her n00b and /ignore. The main issue would be to make fun out of the wiping, without a frown or scorn.

If the game gets too serious, then it's not fun. At least for me, so I cannot say that it's so with everyone. WoW is a game, after all, but like pen and paper RPG's, the designation 'game' doesn't serve it properly.

There are no winning conditions in either, except the feeling of being entertained, moment of escapism and -occasionally- satisfaction on doing something well.

Like downing that next boss. Or clearing the instance you failed to pull through earlier.

But it definitely is no Bull(copra) without horns.