There is hope

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I realize the last few blog posts may seem negative and looking down on the current state of things.  And it is in part justified.  There are a lot of people very unhappy with all aspects of the game.  Be it levels of difficulty, new forms of time sinks, just a general malaise about things.  There is hope, we all, on all sides of the fence need to step back and look at what we do every day, how we treat others in game, and out, and how seeing how we treat people makes others look at us and wonder…
“Why would I want to be like you?”

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And that is, at least to me, one major issue I see.  When people that we look to for help and ways to improve, treat the rest of us like a joke.  Do you think that when we come to you to ask how can I get better, that we want to when we see that you have no respect for us because we do not play at the same level as you?  Why should we want to be like you, if we see that you look down upon us as an inconvenience, someone you feel is asking to be coddled, to have you play our character for us, that we are just dumb, because we don’t understand why when we do what we feel is exactly what you tell us to do, we get it wrong.

I saw this the other day

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And this is the attitude we need.  Gone are the days when no one knew anything and we all had to work together, to help one another so that we could all be the best.  A culture of Google it, or L2P noob, learn your class, get on my level, etc.  Has created an atmosphere where it is simpler to just don’t try to be better, because when we do make a foray into more difficult content, when we do badly because we do not know, we are put down, made to feel inadequate, and just told, go play in tourist mode, if you’re even good enough to play at that level.

I ran Blackhand LFR the other day.  Someone took a few moments to explain what we would be seeing, what we all needed to do.  It was not a long winded explanation, just the basics, and except for the guy in 680 gear that just ran ahead of everyone and pulled the boss, before everyone was in, and after the person had said, give me a sec to write out the explanation. Our second attempt was near perfect, with 1 death.

And you know what I saw?  A few people thanks him/her for taking a few moments to spell things out.  Someone took the time to treat LFR like a real raid, when we all knew what to do, we all punched a boss in his face, and 18 people got the credit for their first kill.  And the reward they got?  Some people saying

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There is always hope.  Things can always get better.  If you want the pool of players looking to do the most difficult content to increase, and improve in skill, you have to be willing to put aside your views of those playing content you deem to simple, come out of the Ivory towers, and be wiling to say, thanks, or hey, you did good there, excellent job.  Well done.

They are simple words to say.  Simple things to do.  Easy ways to treat others playing the same game with a modicum of respect, so that maybe, just maybe, they will look at the experience as a positive, not a “Oh hells no way I can do that”  Maybe having just 1 person, step up to show people the right way to do something, will give them the confidence and desire, to try the next level.

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So what happens as we continue down this road

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What happens when we finally say, we have had enough.  That we are tired of being treated as an afterthought.  Those of us that have played for years, that find ourselves no longer able to play to the level that the developers seem to want the game to be played at.  That we just flip a virtual table and say we have had enough of others looking down on us because we can no longer play to the level they can, or have no desire to put aside as much of our real lives as they do, just to keep up to a pace they feel is much to slow, or to easy, or caters too much towards people like us.

It was commented that Silver Proving grounds was a means to combat the toxic trolling behavior in LFR.  There is a slight flaw to that in the fact that, you only need to be able to meet the iLvL gear requirement to run LFR.  Silver PG only will keep you from running a Random Heroic Dungeon.  That’s it.  And the few Heroic Dungeons that I have run with a random group I have seen the same behavior that I have always seen.  Most groups trying to shortcut the dungeon, bypassing as much as possible, pull all the things, don’t bother with mechanics, just nuke.  I have Silver PG.  It was not easy for me to get, I got extremely lucky one day.  I have never been back to try to improve because I fear I may see that it was just a fluke, that I really am a terrible player.  I do find it ironic that I was unable to accomplish it in Mists, and yet always seemed to be in the top 5 DPS in LFR, and here in WoD I have it, and yet and I am at the absolute bottom for DPS.  There will always be people that are better than any one of us at something.  For many, Endless gold DPS in their healing spec is a piece of cake, there are others that could play the exact same character in the exact same gear, 1000% better, just as there are those that struggle doing something by themselves, be it the pressure of having to get this, knowing that if we don’t then we are a failure, or reading up and finding we should be using a set of talents we are uncomfortable with.  For those of you that think it’s easy, I am happy for you.  Come look me up in 25-30 years when the level of gaming is beyond anything you can imagine today, and people tell you that “you” are bad, and are just looking to get carried.  I have been playing video games for near 40 years, and back in my day, I was as good, or even better than many at certain games that required skill, fast reactions, and memorization of hundreds of moves.  We all get older, our priorities change, Life happens.  Don’t look down at me or others in similar circumstances, regardless of our ages that we can’t play at your level, and us expressing our displeasure with things as asking to get carried or have the game dumbed down.  For me, the biggest problem is players that find the content so boring and hardly a challenge, coming in to content that I play, and trolling those of us that are there because it is what we can do, or want to do, and treat it and us, like we are beneath contempt.  It’s only LFR, it’s not really raiding.

As expansion after expansion comes, and the level of difficulty keeps increasing, adding more complexity, and as more and more older players leave to be replaced by the newer that have never experienced playing any differently than when they started, it will only become worse.  Years ago many just stayed for friendships, and because it was a comfortable game to play, because we knew it, it has changed drastically from when I started, my Priest plays completely different than he did 5 years ago.  I was not carried then, I am not carried now, because I choose to just walk away from it.  And as more and more content gets scratched from my list of things I enjoy, and less is there to take it’s place, there may come a day, when I say the game is not worth dealing with if I am not having fun.  I will walk away, and many others will too, until all that are left are all the people that play at your level, and you will only have those like yourself to play with, and you will find yourself at the bottom, the one pointed at that is holding everyone back.
 

 

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I was going to write about something else…

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I was going to write about something else today, but read something that hit those feels.

I will not post what I read or from whom.  If they read this, know that I have been where you are at many time.  And this expansion is really cutting deep.  World of Warcraft was always about the people.  But lately it feels like it is becoming more about the special people, those that can, and do play the game in the manner they see fit to design it, and that play the most current iteration.  Yes, there is still plenty to do in WoW’s history, some things that many may never had a chance to do, crazy achievements that were skipped, area’s explored, story lines unread.  There is still quite a bit of content out there.  But even if you are the most kind and caring person in the world that would give their last 10 gold to someone without thought, if you cannot complete certain things by a certain time, then you are made to feel like less of a player, and adding to that, may have aspects of the game that you loved to do, locked away.

There are many things that have been put up as walls, intentionally or not.  Silver proving grounds.  The rank you need to complete in order to run Heroic Dungeons using the dungeon finder, it does not matter if you have 680 gear, if you cannot beat a certain set of fights in a fixed amount of time, you are deemed not good enough to play with others.  And that is a flawed test.  Maybe the person does not enjoy playing a certain spec that is needed to beat it, maybe they are uncomfortable doing things alone.  I was there myself.  I tried many times, and failed so many times I just resigned myself to not even doing them.  Eventually my gear was above a point where it was no longer scaled up, and the RNG gods smiled on me, and I managed to get through completely where a day before I barely completed half the fights.  It is all well and good to have a means for people to practice and learn what they need to do, but when you use it as a barrier there will be people that just cannot get it.  If you feel that 5%, 10%, 15% of people unable to do something is acceptable, because 85% or more can, then you really need to go back and think on why you are designing this game.

WoW seems to be becoming a pure focus on doing everything as soon as it is available, get in there, complete it all, get your Ahead of the Curve achievement.  Don’t have it? Then you may find yourself kicked from a random group.  With the Game Token being introduced soon, there is nothing preventing people from just paying real money to get in game gold, that they can just buy their way through content.  They can get all the fancy gear, all the titles and mounts that get removed when the Tier is done, they can stand up and flex that they have something others do not.  Did they work for it?  Did they put in countless hours wiping learning the fights?  Or did they shell out $80 for gold to buy a run.

By putting so much focus on players doing things currently, you are alienating so many more.  You are making many of us feel like we are not good enough.  You design content around entire raids having a Legendary whatever, a full set of Tier gear, and when we do not, and we get frustrated with not being able to do things, we look at others, we look at what may be holding us back, it that one person low on DPS, are the Tanks missing things, are Heals not enough.  And we start cutting people, we start looking to play with only those that can play to the level needed for us to keep up with the herd.  And it is a herd mentality.  Do it now, do it on the hardest difficulty or you are not good enough, and should just go play at Pet Battles, or do LFR, or run Normal dungeons.

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And that I fear is what will kill the game.  Not for the top 10%, or the top 50%.  But for those that have hung on for years, because of friends made, of the enjoyment had, that finally say, I am not good enough for you?  Maybe you are no longer good enough for me, and walk away.

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Of Portals and Capitals

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I have often looked back on why Dalaran was so important for us all to get there, to be there every day.  And it was the Portals.  You had a home base that you could quickly get to the 4 corners of the world instantly, added to that the Caverns of Time portal it was “The” place to be.  In Cata they were removed and we were sent back to our home Capitals, but we had the Portals to the new zones, I am sure there are a few of us that have our Ring of the Kirin Tor for that Dalaran port back to Northrend, even some with the Tabard for Tol Barad which can quickly have us back in Stormwind or Ogrimmar.  We like portals, they get us worlds away instantly.

My wife uncovered the quick way to get from Timeless Isle to Gorgrond a day before the Blizzard Watch article, entirely by accident, she just happened to see a cave entrance in the water while on the Pirate Ship and went to check and sat in a chair.  I thought it was kind of cool, that she found something I had not read about, and was going to check it out to see if maybe there was some hidden quest or reason for it.  Apparently it is just a quick way to bypass the Starting experience, which was a bit of a let down.  But still, I made a mental note of it for some time if I need to get someplace with a Hearthstone on cool down.

But I was wondering, why are there plenty of ways to get from other places to our capital city, but we don’t have the means to get from our Capital to all of the new locations.  Sure we have one to Warsong, or the corresponding Alliance base, and from there you could get to other cities, you could even keep your hearth in Pandaria, like I see many do, just for the means to get around.  It is a convenience to have.  I do wonder, “If” we had a central building in the Capital, with ports to all of the cities, a port to Warsong, a port to our Garrison, one to the Shrines, Dalaran.  Would we spend our days locked away behind the Garrison walls?  Would you see a return to people in town?  Mostly I venture to town once a day at least to visit the Auction House to list things from the Salvage bag, or to stock up on some mats.

Making a choice to start doing more in the old world has me looking at home I can get around quickly, and yet also reminds me of those days in the past where I would ride to find a new flight plan, the exploration, the wonder of looking for hidden places.  I had a desire to explore then, and I think going back may spark that desire once again.  Fingers crossed.

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Apathy

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The term popped in my head this morning.  And to be honest, this really sums up my overall feeling of Draenor at the moment.  I don’t think that it is any one big thing, although the Garrison is way up there on the list of could have been awesome, but now feels like a chore.

I look at things like rep grinds needed to purchase Blue text gear, that by the time you have the reputation to purchase, you no longer need the gear because other less time consuming activities rewards far superior.  Perhaps there was some miscommunication when planning the whole leveling process.  Maybe unintentionally we short cut the system, or perhaps there were changes made later on to get us faster into the raids, and the reputation vendors were just over looked.

Apexis crystals, oh how I loathe thee.  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy occasionally running out somewhere to do a quest, I have done it many times over the years, and I am sure I will many times in the future, but for some reason, this feels burdensome.  Whether it is the shear number you need to get for 1 piece of gear, the additional to improve that piece, it is a daunting figure, you could be looking at months just to raise 1 piece to the current maximum iLvL.

Speaking of leveling 1 piece, I finally broke down and raised my crafted pants from 640 to 655, I spent well over 5,000g on Savage Bloods to do so, went into Blackrock Foundry LFR and of course the RNG gods felt this was a perfect time to look upon me and give me 655 pants.

It just seems to me that after all the design was done, and what ever internal testing occurred, and those that tested in the PTR, some decision was made to speed up the process to get people into the raids at all levels as fast as possible.  I honestly took my time leveling my first, and it was still extremely quick.  I was leveled to 100, and adequately geared to run LFR, before I had completed many dungeons on Normal, let alone Heroic ones.  I could run Heroic Dungeons, but to what point.  For a few pieces of Blue gear to disenchant?  The Gold? Even if I took the quests from the Tavern for the goodie bag, it is still not much of an incentive.

There seems to be a quick means to get to a point you can run LFR and start raiding, but the outside means to improve yourself doing other things seems to be considerably lacking.  And I think it is that needed motivation that is missing.  During Cata, we ran Dungeons until our eye were bleeding for Valor, we had vendors we could purchase Epic gear from with that Valor, and we could wear a tabbard for a particular faction to boost rep gains..  During Pandaria we had Rep grinds in order to raise our reputation high enough to purchase Epic gear with Valor.  In Draenor, we ride out to bonus zones to grind rep to purchase Blue Gear?  Or perhaps a Follower for our Garrison, or the ever present Mount gold sinks.

No.  There needs to be a suitable reward for doing a thing.  Even if it was only for equivalent LFR level gear, or special color skins, something.

Looking at Ashran.  Wow, what a painful experience that has become.  It was awesome at the start, people treated it like a World PvP zone, we fought our way through to the enemy bases, defeated their leaders, battled it out against each other along the way, and now?  Roaming groups farming Conquest points.  Even the latest change to events spawning randomly won’t fix the problem.  People are there primarily for one reason, to cap Conquest.  Certainly you may have people wandering around looking for anyone unfortunate enough to be alone for the easy kills.  But it is no longer a place welcoming to someone looking to experience it for the first time, or even someone to visit casually.

There are a lot of little things that are adding up for me.  I love WoW, I love the community, the people I play with everyday, the people I interact with on Twitter, on the Forums.  I have no plans on leaving the “Game” anytime soon, but I think I may leave Draenor behind, except for doing the 10 minute run around every day.

There is plenty to still do in the older zones, many quests to be completed, a few more reps to max out, many many more mounts to acquire, and even pets.  There is plenty to be done, and seeing that 1.5 million point hit on a level 25 Ogre in Arathi Highlands, gave me a feeling I have found missing in the last 5 months, that yes, I am a powerful character.

Alternativechat mentioned the other day that she is a Legacy player.  And yeah, I get it.  There is a lot to be done, a lot that we have been encouraged to just bypass in the race to keep consuming content, and I think it is time to step away from the race, and find things that are enjoyable to do.  Except Ogri’la rep.  I don’t do Simon Sez.

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lets look at it a different way

I am sure this image may be familiar to many people, especially those my age that probably spent many an afternoon dropping quarters into machines.

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Yeah, I know, I said quarters, for my generation Arcade games cost 25 cents to play.  We would line up quarters on the edge of the monitor window.  We would happily spend hours here playing our favorite games, dumping untold amounts of cash into them.  The owners of the arcade did not care what machines we played, as long as we were in there happily dropping our change into the machines.  When they did care, was when a machine broke, and we wandered out to do other things with our allowance.

What if Blizzard no longer cares about trying to cater to everyone in WoW, but instead are taking the step to just make many games in the way they want to see them played.  Your Battlenet subscription gets you access to many games, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Starcraft, who know what others may be in development.  If someone gets tired or bored with WoW, and picks up Hearthstone, or moves on to HoTS, it is not a loss of revenue for them, at the end of the month they still have your subscription fee, regardless of what games you may be playing.  And instead of wasting countless man hours trying to tweak and adjust any one game to satisfy the most people, they can instead focus on making more things to play.  As long as we do not leave the Arcade, why should they.

And honestly, it is a brilliant business strategy.  Incorporate many different types of games under one banner, one monthly fee.  Yes there may be some titles that surge ahead in popularity, but also there is the novelty of going back to play something you stopped playing years ago, just because it is there, and is not costing you any more.  Think of it as paying an Arcade $15 to go in, and play what every you want for an entire month.  Even if you don’t have an interest in the other games now, perhaps some new machine will get rolled into the store that catches your eye.

I honestly feel today, that they are not so much focusing on what lies ahead 2 years from now or 5, they are planning on 10 maybe even 25 years from now.  Building a franchise that is not just one stand out game, but many games.

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What is the real cost of playing WoW

Monday evening, I sat down at my computer for a normal evening of playing World of Warcraft, except tonight was different.  I had a bright red message on my screen, that there was a Trojan detected on my computer and I needed to restart for my virus program to fix.  This ended up being a very long process and resulted in having a lot of time to think about how much does this hobby “really” cost.

In the end it took me well over 5 hours of time to fix, and required me to completely reinstall Windows wiping my entire system.  This is not a new PC, I have had it for going on 5 years now, so in the grand scheme of things, I may be due for a new one.

So what is the cost.  $15 a month?  That is always a number we toss out as it being worth $15 a month for playing vs. other activities, even going to a movie.  The cost of 1 new DVD, or perhaps renting 3 movies a month.  But is that really the cost.  Like I mentioned I had plenty of time to think while sitting there waiting for programs to run in order to fix my computer.

I think we all acknowledge the $15 sub fee.  But what else is there.  Well we have the cost of the game, we have the cost of our computer, internet access, whether or not we pay for sites such as Ask Mr Robot, or if we are a Paetron for fan sites like Blizzard Watch.  There are many extra’s we do not consider in our claims of $15 a month.  I did a break down over a 5 year period since most would be looking at either a new PC or a major upgrade every 5 years, or less.

Since WoW is extremely good at making their game playable on older PC’s I will use a figure of $1000 so $200 a year over 5 years.  And I don’t want to get into semantics on well you use it for other things.  This is strictly for playing WoW.

PC :  $17

Subscription:  $15

Cost of 2 1/2 expansions over 5 years $4

I debated using my own internet access cost, but will assign a $10 a month number.  I am sure it could be greater.

So easily it has grown to over $45 a month.

So when I was sitting there wondering if I was going to be able to get my computer back up and running, looking at these numbers, I started to wonder, and I getting $45 a month worth of value from this game, and I was surprised at my own thoughts that no, I really am not.  Now it is no fault of the games, there is a great deal of things I could be doing, that really have no interest to me, I could be devoting more time to playing every day, and even at $1.50 a day, less than I pay for a cup of coffee, it still could be deemed an exceptional value.  But it was definitely a tipping point for me.  If I was unable to get my computer back up and running, I would have been relegated to using an older computer we have that is unable to play WoW without upgrading quite a bit, but is more than capable of playing a lot of dusty older games barely touched over the years.

For now my computer is back up and running, clean as it was the day I purchased it.  SO I am still here, filling your heads with my non sense ideas and Mere Peon ideals on how the game is for me.

Some things of note that I did find out.

You can while in Safe Mode copy files from your computer to a Flash Drive.

Reinstalling WoW from scratch is painful, and do not believe with the 30 gig download when it says playable, that it is.  Unless you consider 10 minute load screens, having no buildings, or NPC’s to interact with, playable.

You will never remember all the add on’s programs you have installed.

And you will end up spending many hours running updates to your computer, for windows, virus programs, redoing all of your favorite web sites, remembering all of your log in passwords, and on and on.

This is the first time in at least 15 years I have had to deal with the aftermath of a computer virus, and I hope I never have to deal with it again.

 

 

Going to add some additional thoughts because of some additional tweets.

This is based on my personal use.
My computer at home is used 95% of the time just for WoW.

I have not included the fact that my wife also plays, or that she has a custom Gaming rig.

I have not included the actual cost of our high speed Fios internet, used a low figure of about $10 since there are so many variables, DSL, free Wifi, Dial up, etc.

I have not included that we also pay $125 a year for the guilds vent service.

And the $1000 figure is for purchasing a low-mid range PC for gaming, those that can build from scratch obviously can do better, also those that choose to purchase more powerful computers would pay more.

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