Monday, April 26, 2010

Public service announcement (yawp)

I didn't login to any games over the weekend. The only thing I did was to watch the Stargate Universe's latest episode on sunday.

Otherwise I was being educated on the other hobby I have.

I feel tired and refreshed.

Normal activities will resume as time permits.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fun and games...

I know I have written earlier about this issue, but the recent experience of pure fun without any pressure on performance incited the idea once again. This is more a flow of thought kind of post, without any actual analysis of anything and is based on my thoughts (unless otherwise mentioned).

WoW is still designated as a game, even though there are no real game-like elements in it. You cannot win WoW, except if you count killing the final boss as "YOO WIN, DOOD!" screen. You cannot score a high score in WoW, except if you count the superficial arena point score or a gearscore-like scoring system as a valid scoring system. And you can replace any desired game name acronym on the place of WoW, even MMO, and the earlier sentences are true.

For some people fun comes from winning and being better than others. That is actually quite a western way of looking life, always striving to best others. In MMO this comes in the form of besting the bosses or the raid content in a group. The raid leader - being the leader - is considered to be the one who knows and understands the way the encounter works and thus can be taken as the best player in the group. (Yup, that was a gross generalisation.)

The competition in raid content comes from the competition between guilds, as the content is impossible to do as a single player. The most revered guilds are those that get the server first, or even world first, kills of the newest and 'hardest' end bosses.

But getting the world first doesn't mean you have won the MMO in question, as there will be a next one within short time.

I have a competitive enough job and other hobby to say that this kind of competition just for the sake of it doesn't interest me. Sure I would like to see the end game content as well as any other player out there, but that is not the reason I'm playing the game. And that is why I've had so hard time in understanding why I'm not enjoying the game as much as the other people playing it.

My concept of fun is different from the group I try to 'belong'.

For me the whole concept of min-maxing and trying to beat the content seems too serious and ... well, not fun as such. Formerly the fun had come from the exploration and finding new things in the game, while levelling reaching the new talents and skills to learn and use. At the level cap the development started to go through the min-maxing route and you can easily find many texts around the net (starting from the official forums) about people who don't have The Spec for their character or their gear composition isn't exactly what is considered to be of canon with the build or role their toon is supposed to have.

I bet the players are still having fun, despite of the people in random groups picking on them, making ridicule of them and calling them by names. Why would they be playing if that wasn't the case?

I have serious enough job as it is, and I prefer a contradictory entertainment after I get off from the office. Good old laughter, tears and silliness. Not grumpy, stern tweaking to fit the suite and current flavour of the month.

I just learned yesterday that my main's gearscore is about 4800 and then some. I have acquired that by running heroics and gearing up the way I have felt being the way I want my character to be. To be able to fill the spot in the group he's supposed to. Now the game has advanced so far that this doesn't seem enough, for the gs requirements for yesterday's weekly and pug raids called for gs above 5200. I would like to take on the weekly and pug raids, but because of the fact that I couldn't care less about the gs I have, I'm effectively cut off. And because I've never raided any of those places, really, I cannot fathom even trying to lead them or put up my own PUG.

I know this sounds strange to most of the people reading any kind of blogs, but I feel that this isn't the way the game should be played or how I should feel about my situation. I should take the lead, not care about the others and take what I want.

That's not how I want to do it.

I know I could take any tanking position with the skill I have: I have no problem in following a plan and winding it when necessary. Because I don't know the instances I just cannot see myself failing the 10 strangers who I will never probably meet. I wouldn't mind wiping and progressing slowly, but I would mind failing the others by not knowing how to handle the situation.

That wouldn't be fun, you see, and I would feel bad about it for a long time. It's too serious, that level cap raiding, it seems.

At the other end is the pure fun without any pressure. Do as you please and how you wish others to do. That last weekend's fabulous gnome event which SAN-EU arranged was exactly that. Pure, clean fun without any expectations (everyone was at the same level there) and without requirements (except being gnome and acting gnomish).

Who is to say which thinking is right or wrong? The people playing the game at the cap and hitting their head against the pre-scripted boss night after night for the kill or the people roleplaying at the mid levels, raiding for their character's story and taking the blows in verse?

It's not any players desire to perform poorly, I think. But I think that every player wants to have fun with their game, be it whatever. No fun is better than other, and fun is very subjective matter.

So I will keep whining about how I'm excluded - like so many other casual and time restricted players - from the end game content. I want to beat the final boss just as much as anyone playing WoW, but feel that "I am not prepared" or feel excluded from this due to the artificial requirements other players set. The result is that we take the alternative route, enjoying playing the stress free roleplaying character seeking his roots. Why?

Because that's more fun for me. What's your fun?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who gets and what

I stumbled across a list of features of the forthcoming Guild Experience system hinted to come in Cataclysm. I read them through and forgot the whole thing until the other day, when I found myself comparing the guilds I've been associated with. I've seen quite a few different styles of running a guild, from very much military style organisation of the first guild I was in to the completely open and plutocratic system of SAN. Also the aims of the guilds have been very different: from the 'do as you please as long as you're having fun' of SAN to very much achievement and achieving oriented approach of the first guild I've been in. In between there are several different kind of mixes which have been somewhat successful to combine the parts of both ends.

The Guild experience system will do some damage to all of this, I think. Now the system which Blizzard presented in the Blizzcon last year is far from set in stone, but the overall idea of having all of the members of the guild to contribute to the guild sounds very nice. However, if we take the average casual, social raiding guild (tm) into consideration, what will happen?

Guild has two 10 man teams, which combine for the odd 25 man run once, twice a week. Regular schedule, so there are 30 raiding members in the roster. As this is casual and social, there are some 30 more casual players who either enjoy the company, hang around because of the cool name of the guild or are in because they think they have a chance to raid with the raid teams one day or another. So a 60 players in the guild, quite reasonable.

Currently the situation is such that the raiders would have to support their raiding by themselves, and the guild would help by disenchanting the gear not needed or distributed by the raid attendants. The casual part of the guild would just help when they are asked to and would happily be chatting around.

With the guild experience system, the guild gains experience from everything any member does, so the more active the casuals are, the more experience the guild gains. The raiders will continue as they are doing currently, logging in half an hour before the raid and chugging out as it ends, as well as the casuals would be logging in to do their quests, dailies, chatting and achievements. However, there was a mention of the guild experience and achievement for internal trading.

The optimist in me would like to see this mean that the raiders, who are the experts of the game by far, would trade with the casual members and lower level members of the guild. But if they continue doing what they usually do (because of being casual raiders), they login half an hour before the raid to get ready and log off right after the raid for the night is done. There is no connection to the social casual group of the guild, so the raiders would do their internal trades among themselves (I can see a lot trades in consumables and enchants on the way...), where as the casuals would have to do them by themselves. In the end, the casual group would be supporting the raiders in the guild, widening the separation even further.

There will be a huge recruitment spree because of this even before the Cataclysm hits: each and every guildmaster of a raiding guild can see the benefit of having as many slackers in their midst only because they generate the Guild system currency while the raiders are away and not attending to anything.

The question is, how can Blizzard be sure that this is going to be fair to all participants? I mean, the casuals are already paying for the content the raiders are consuming at ever faster rates.

The casual gamer, who I think are the biggest group in the game, are the ones who are paying for everything.

That's what I think.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Problem with level 10

As I have now been levelling up totally new characters in the RP server (Argent Dawn-EU), I have been experiencing the first 10 levels. The 10 level experience is important factor in making people to stay in the game, at least according to Blizz who has made their trial last for so long. The players -trial players- who make it beyond lv10 are only 30% of the people who activate trial, which is something that caused a slight stir in the blogosphere. And quite naturally at the Blizzard Marketing Division.

Leading to several changes to make the initial 10 levels as easy -and compelling- as possible.

The result.

The initial starter area where the character begins its journey to heroic deeds is way too easy. There is only one red -aggressive- creature in this area, where as there were earlier several. Heck, there were areas in the starter area where you wouldn't have gone right away because of the fact that all the creatures in there would have jumped on you and eaten you alive!

Now it's a stroll in the park. The aggressive monster is as easy as earlier neutral ones, posing no threat to the survival of the newly created character. The same goes on in the adjacent area, where the neutral and aggressive mobs are mixed together. However, the aggressive one are so weak that you have to make a terrible mistake to get killed. Like fighting your way into a campsite of the mobs and get jumped on by respawns. It happens, but... not likely.

However, at this point you get into the first capital city and enter the first 'contested' area. And that's when the drag starts. First of all, the first five levels in the beginner area come in such a rapid succession that it doesn't even feel nice. The level up seems more an annoyance than a reward, as the actual progress in the power level of the character comes more from the -poorly itemised- gear than from the few skills. Levels five to ten change this the other way around: the game becomes a constant struggle to get enough money to get all the skills, especially if you enter the tradeskills. The levelling becomes very much slower than it was. At level 7 I struck a kind of soft wall with all my toons, a situation in which the levelling seemed to slow down very much. The next such wall comes before level 15: the game becomes cyclical in progress.

The reason why level 10 is such a barrier IMO is the fact that the beginning is too easy: it poses no challenge, and no social contacts. Its the epitome of a massive single player game. Where the beginning area is too easy, the next stage of the game is too demanding for a player who has never set their foot on an adventure game or MMO: the challenge changes abruptly from super easy to the level where it should have been in the beginning.

The progression isn't smooth, it's erratic.

If I started WoW now with the knowledge I had when I first began, I doubt I would progress past the beginning area. It's just too lame, easy and unchallenging.

Here's my fingers crossed for Cataclysm to make it right again.

Monday, April 19, 2010

March of the Gnomes

New beginnings and new experiences.

SAN-EU had an event for the forthcoming Gnomeregan rally: we had a group of gnomes spreading the news across the Alliance capitals. Needless to say, we marched from IF to SW in perfect order (ehem?) and gnomishly perfect formation (a mess is a formation, right?). The event had everything in it: laughter and tears, great comedy and parody, as well as excitement and fantastic death.(Pictorials here and here)

We had great fun. In fact, I mentioned after the event that it might have been the most fun I have ever had in the game. Sure, downing a boss is fun for the first time, but it's not the same kind of fun: its the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of a job well done. This event was all fun and games, no hidden agenda, no GS requirements, no achievement pressure. 

Just fun. Go along and play a gnome. 

It also showed me something shocking about the player base of a RP server (yea, yea, a gross generalisation): there are distinct racial tensions and - one might say - racism in the game. As we entered Stormwind in our amazement, merriness and cheerful need for beer, we encountered a guard of Stormwind (played one, that is), who stated that we should leave the city because we're... not welcome in there!

Come again?

As the event progressed, the leader of the player driven guard stated the same. That we were causing trouble and unrest, and we should leave as the human population was getting nervous. Nervous! How about the gnomes who had lost their home in Gnomeregan?!

It became clear that the human population of the Stormwind were gnomists (gnome-haters). In real, this is no roleplaying in here.

You see, when we went to Darnassus, the Darnassian Guard didn't throw the gnome party out of the city even after they had had a swimming (and bubble fart bath) competition in the Moonwell... Strangely tolerant people those night elves.

Onwards, for Gnomeregan!

On the other hand, I ran a PUG or two with my lv76 priest. Or tried to run, because neither of the runs finished. The same happened with my DK, now lv72. The PUG started fine, but the run didn't finish as people just quit after the first wipe.

It seems that the PUGs are becoming more and more failpugs (or PIGs as we in SAN named them) the further down the expansion we go. The people in the PUGs showed all the signs of speed levelled toons who have no idea of how to play the toon, what skills or talents they have and/or how they fit into a group. I would guess that the heroic PUGs at the level cap are getting more and more facerolled because people who are running them for their alts are pulling the whole weight of the group. And at the same time the PUG raids are devising more and more restraining requirements in the lines of "GS 5.3k and achievement on all is a must" to make it even harder for the newly dinged players to even try their wings in the raids.

One could say that there is much Cataclysm could fix. But as it hits shelves sometime in the Autumn, all this content is completely voided and the Lich King himself will be chuckling while people just fly past his Citadel.


Friday, April 16, 2010

DK experience and a thought

All things planned went wrong yesterday. I had prepared to have some brotherly love, but alas, it never materialized. I had a backup plan to run my RP character from zero to ... well, to the beginning of a long journey.

Instead, I got stuck in the AH and crafting cycle. After which I took upon the jewelcrafting daily with my DK.

On the way to the spot where I knew I could easily kill the required proto drakes at lv70, I stopped by to do some mining on the cobalt nodes I found. At one point, in the Grizzly Hills, I dropped down and started mining, as a local wolf attacked. Lv74 mob literally jumped on me. And as I was struggling with that one, another joined the foray.

Now I have been making remarks on how playing a DK is facerolling through the content, which my 8 year old son can do and come at the top of dps and damage meters in instances (without understanding a word of English and never chatting in a group). In this case I have to say that DK is pretty much overpowered in levelling, because I killed those two without even breaking a sweat. I didn't need any potions, I didn't need any additional help, and my DK -unholy- and his ghoul companion could have taken one more easily.

Considering that a mob which is four levels higher can strike a crushing blow, I must have been a bit lucky for not having such to occur. But still: I would never imagine taking a four level higher mob - let alone two in overlapping succession - with my shadowpriest or - say - a boomkin druid.

However, this lead me to a thought about a trial on the sandbox elements of the game. Reading Tobold's recent post about the definition of a sandbox, the thought became more clear.

What would it be like to level up in WoW by not going by the quests, but by exploring and killing only when necessary?

I can hear people referring to good old MMORPG's along the lines of EQ, DAoC and UO, but I doubt the experience would be as grindy in feeling: after all, the world is huge and the areas are pretty well thought in this regard. You start from one end of the area and progress to the other.

Would that be worth a challenge?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Decision made

As I confessed in my reply to Larísa of the Pink Pigtail Inn, I had made my decision before I posted the previous question. This blog will stay as my vent channel, room for raving, rage filled cesspool of my subconscious, safe haven of doubt and criticism, place to which I will post my thoughts about the game... and other things. I suppose that applies to Azariell, as soon as he gets his life into the shape in which he can think and write almost simultaneously.

I'm still pondering over starting a new blog for the adventures of my RP character, who is now parked in the starting area of my choice. As it happens, I already took a wordpress blog and made it up to my liking (except for the name banner, which is on the works), so I have a place for the short stories. Whatever has happened to the character before the start of the actual playing is planned, though I have deliberately left some dark or shady areas in there to be filled when the inspiration comes.

In a way, the whole project has started as I would imagine a novel writing process begins: first there is an idea, which gets refined and fine-tuned up until everything is ready to go.

What I noticed yesterday in the game (where I ran a level 1 toon across the continent) was that it really doesn't offer any tools for actual roleplaying. Without certain addons in which you can describe your toon the customisation of the character is pretty lame compared to some other games. Then again, that comes at the price of the smooth visuals and playability: It never ceases to amaze me how responsive and immediate the controls and combat actually is (even though it's quite boring button mashing in the end).

Also the fact which I wrote about few posts earlier bugs me a bit. The fact that the difficulty of the starter areas has been lowered so low that there is no way to actually die in the starter area. The feeling of danger, which is very much present in any single player game from the beginning, is actually missing: the quests are more or less simplistic go-do-return things with some descriptive phrases in the quest text.

I don't remember who wrote a post just this week about what could be done in the starter areas, mentioning that it would be great if the hunters would get their pets right from the beginning and druids their bear/cat forms much earlier. I would like to add the gathering professions to this list: if you think of it, every character has lived in their community up till maturity. Certainly they would have picked up some professional knowledge by then, most probably some gathering profession due to the fact that the fantasy setting is about medieval era.

That's the reason why I picked skinning and herbalism to my RP toon from way to the starter area: one because of the story, the other because of the background. 

If you think of the area design of the starter areas, it's infuriating to run a new character through the next zone: you can see the mining nodes and herbs lying around, but there is no skill to utilize them. Your newbie character leaves dead animals lying around, skins intact, and in some cases the humanoid mobs drop so much cloth you just have to drop it to get the quest items to fit in your bags.

There are so many minor things to make the life of a starting character easier. We can only hope that Blizz does that in Cataclysm instead of making the quests and playing easier.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taking the deep end

I have tried to refrain from posting about my adventures, except when we've been doing some 'brotherly love' sessions with my... brothers. Now, however, as SAN is stationed in a pure RP server, I'm considering going all the way and starting a true RP character.

I have the concept, which I created some years ago, and the character is already created. Now the question is, should I post the adventures and/or in-character stories in here?

So I ask for your help in making this decision, dear reader: character based stories of WoW adventures or just the thoughts and commentary on the state of the game?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More weekend I forgot

Yesterday I posted my weekend report with all the juicy things. And I forgot my dark side.


Yeah. Some Battlefield Heroes got it's way to the weekend, as an appetizer and reminder how darn boring a totally repetitive stuff can be. As if this wasn't enough, I finally gave in to my son's plea and installed a free FPS called Crossfire.

First impression: darn, it works!
Second impression: darn, I died.
(repeat second impression five times)
Umpteenth impression: Take that, buster! I KILLED IT!

For someone with fingers like bratwursts, a real FPS is a pain. The fingers don't fly on the buttons they are supposed to fly, the mouse control seems to be off-sync and why on Earth each and everyone on the opposing side are killing only me?!

But when you get the hang of it (and it seems that the mandatory military service does help a bit), the thing starts to flow. Duck and shoot, aim low, shoot bursts instead of continuous fire. All works in real, too.

After the first match - at which I really blew everything, even myself once - I can honestly say that I wasn't bad. I didn't end up last in the kill tables once. I managed even get a positive kill/death ratio once or twice.

What doesn't follow the rules of real engagement:
-You can take a few hits before falling. Even in mid torso.
- No-one cares about dying in Death Matches at least, so full throttle against the foe, kill, kill, die. Rinse and repeat.
- Everyone works as an individual. No co-operation, even though that would win the war.

In the end, I can play 7-12 matches in a row before I get bored. The repetitive running to the slaughter from spawn point really gets me, and it doesn't change a bit to 'know' that there are 'real, alive players' on the other side. Why should it, because they act just as awfully stupidly as do the team members?! In Battlefield Heroes the spawn site changes semi-randomly according to the situation in the game, but in Crossfire it's always the same. Thankfully there were no corpse campers in the games I was in...

As a comparison, I can play WoW for hours on end. Not even instancing, just doing those little, repetitive quests with kill ten rats, fetch that oogle, chat with my pal here kind of things. For some reason this feels more meaningful and interesting than shooting and dying repeatedly in a shooter. Even if there is as much 'human contact' involved, the shooter has no story nor character development...

Anyhow, I will be balancing my playing with occasional shoot outs. Crossfire and Battlefield Heroes, one or the other. What ever strikes my fancy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's alive! (YAWP)

I've had gripes with the current state of WoW at the level cap, and I've been pretty vocal about it. Somewhere along the way Kadomi suggested that I should try the guild of bloggers, Single Abstract Noun. On friday I took a firm grip of myself and rolled a toon on Argent Dawn-EU.

Bullcopra was reborn. Like some of the readers may remember, Bullcopra was the first character I've played for any longer time than session, and even though he was on a private server, it's the toon I fondly remember as my first. Tauren Warrior with attitude. Yes, SAN is a horde guild.

This doesn't mean that I'm abandoning my toons on Thunderhorn-EU. As it happens, I just crossed 40k gold on my banker, my main just got his first Frost Emblem gear upgrade (cloak) and my dk over there hit 450 in jewelcrafting. So more or less, the kind of mini-advancements have been going on in each of the areas I've been putting some emphasis on.

I've come to the conclusion that my main is a sort of loonie-magnet: all of the last PUGs I've been with him have been collections of abusive characters and group quitting rage. It has always been the fault of the tank, whatever the case.

I can't be that bad, and I refuse to believe anything like that.

Then again, the PUG I took with my dk yesterday was a flair: everything went smooth, the tank got some bashing from the mage who couldn't contain herself (aggro wise) even though everything went fine. The curious part was the tank thanking me for taking care of one or two of the casters in the trash: knowing how troublesome they are, I just Gripped them into the D&D area and within the reach of the tank's Clap. Simple, yet effective, and I didn't think about it. It was just something I had wished the dk's in my main's groups had done in Utgarde Keep.

On the Argent Dawn side, I noticed some things which bugged me grossly. First of all, the starter areas have been nerfed to zero. There are no hostile creatures within the starting area. Well, maybe one (like Sarkoth in the orc/troll area), but when you have to encounter that one, you are already overpowering it. You just cannot die in there, really, and because of that, part of the thrill of beginning your journey is lost. There is no fear of dying.

The other thing is the upgraded regeneration which plays pretty big role in the beginning. Your character regains HP almost as fast as one single mob can deliver. I had to check the situation a couple of times to believe it, because as far as I remember, Tauren do not have regenerative abilities.

Long story short: I didn't remember how fun and cumbersome the levelling up a new toon was. The DK kickstart - even though it is excellent in many ways - doesn't come nowhere near the experience of starting a completely new character from zero after such a long time in the high tiers of the power pyramid.

But you have to have open eyes to enjoy it.

And I have. Plus the good chatty company helps.

Friday, April 9, 2010

LFD and anonymity again

In my seek of fun in running heroics with my protection warrior, I have come to notice that my predictions about the LFD tool are becoming real. The anonymity of the battlegroup within the LFD brings up the worst in the little people reaching for 'greatness'. Mr. Joe Nobody is in his mind Mr. Übercool and has the right to abuse everyone in the group due to the fact that the others are 'noobs', 'crappy [insert class]' or 'stupid/idiot/retard'.

Example from a few days ago. I logged in and dialled LFD: seeking for fun in the random heroics. As a tank, my wait was short (but unnaturally long... over 10 seconds!), and we had to wait for a DPS for a while.

Halls of Stone. Great.

The first pull resulted an onslaught of insults from "crappy tank", "tank, r u retard!", "keep the aggro, noob" to the not-so-eloquent set of rude words. The reason: As a tank I did what I could while the dps ran rampant from one mob to another. The pull was for the first three dwarves, and I had initially established solid aggro on them, but the dps decided to pull the two iron golems into the play, too, which caused the cursing.

No-one died, but as I checked the dps meter, I noticed something peculiar. I was second in dps and first in overall damage done. I said to the party: "I may be crappy and I may be noob, but why am I at the top of the dps and damage?"

Needless to say, that was the final straw to the mister know-it all, who 1) insulted me even more and 2) left the group.

Mind you, my tank dps was 1.7k...

The rest of the instance (aka running straight to the end boss...) went without much problems, though the mage leading the dps from the start kept nagging on my 'inability to keep aggro' which wasn't because of my inability but his love of pulling adds to the game without finishing the earlier ones. And of the inability of the rest of the dps to deliver the damage to the mobs, too. I ended up finishing way more mobs than ever before.

In the end I was still second in dps and damage done. No thanks, only curses to take with me.

So it seems I'm not masochistic enough to enjoy the PUGging and being harassed by strangers. Could someone tell me where the fun is?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What a joke

In my desperation I took my son's challenge... and installed Battlefield Heroes. He's quite a cracker in FPS it seems, and I just cannot match his (chaotic) skills in the game.

But - to my surprise - I enjoyed immensely the first ten games I played through. The gameplay is fast, furious, free and very balanced. The commando isn't unbeatable, the Soldier isn't overpowered and the Gunner can be downed by the other classes. The game is fun because it's so balanced.

Then comes the comparison. As it has been said all over the blogosphere for as long as I have been reading it, the WoW version of PvP is a joke. After the few games of BH, I can only concur with this. What a joke WoW PvP is.

Sure, it feels fun, when the battleground teams are equal and/or your side is winning. But for the most of the time, the teams are not teams, but groups of individuals trying to gain as many kills as possible. In BH this happens, too, but those games are the poor ones: everyone knows and aims to gain the objectives (at least as far as I've seen) because that helps to advance your character more than the individual kill count.

As everyone is offered the same - or similar - toolset to work with, BH is much more a contest of skill and speed, rather than that of who's got the best gear or most tweaked skills. The main gripe I have with WoW, actually: min-maxing wins always.

Which was proven yesterday, when I ran the battleground finder for the first time: first game was a nice one because we played as a team to win the game, but the second was a terrible mess because we played like a group of teens in drugs. In the second game the opposing side had vastly superior gear, which was seen in the amount of hp, the average damage they generated and in the way they just danced away from the midst of damage dealing opponents.

Even though I liked and enjoyed BH for the few games, I still do not like PvP as whole. The mere competition doesn't drive me as much as a good lore and story.

But then again, I knew that already.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Full circle... not yet.

I've been trying to find the fun in WoW lately, especially after my bit sour remarks on how the game lost it's fun when it forced the min-maxing game on me instead of continuing the story instead. I've been playing the AH game with some success, only to notice that the only ones who really benefit from it are the ones at the cap with their professions and are crafting only the highest grade stuff: the lower levels - or the levelling up area - is just as void and consuming as the character levelling is. I've been trying to find some reason to play with my main, but there just isn't anything calling on me up there except grind the heroics to get up to grind the IC5's to... well, you know the drill. There is no story, really.

I've resorted to my DK, which I play guildless. Levelling up my mining and jewelcrafting at the same time, the route has been the same as with my earlier toons: Outlands lasted this time only two full areas, namely Hellfire Peninsula and Nagrand, with some odd quests in Terrokkar Forest. The levelling speed is incredible in Outlands and the amount of prime content you pass is just incredible. Outlands is really a waste of space at the moment, a mere space holder for something 'extreme' to happen.

The same happens with the initial areas of Northrend at the moment, really: you outlevel the quests and starting areas so fast you really don't even remember they existed. Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord just fly by especially when you get the Cold Weather Flight from your main. That's really too bad, because the quest stories which start in these areas keep on going and continue towards the Icecrown, but as you are skipping parts of the story, the whole seems... flimsy.

And the levelling is just as insanely fast as it was in the Outlands: levels from 68 to 71 just came and went, and the opposition of the mobs is minor nuisance. I don't have any heirlooms nor any enchants beyond the ones I find for my DK in there, and still I'm killing 2-3 levels higher mobs for the quests easily. And the rewards in exp and money are just as good as they can be.

What will happen when this toon hits the cap? Will I have stomach to start another one from the first level again?

The full circle would come if I a) loved to play the game while still b) whining and criticising it to the fullest. I'm not up to either anymore.

Still it makes me wonder even more, how on Earth - or Azeroth for the matter - I could get my tank-main to the pug raiding, if the requirements to enter the ICC pug raids are along the way of "minimum gs 5.3k, first and second wing ach. is a must, gear check"...

Just doesn't compute.