The truth. All of it.

September 7, 2005 by Tim

There was no news post on Monday. I could tell you that I decided to skip it because it was a holiday. If I told you that I would be lying. I would be lying to cover up the dark truths of my addictions. My fiending for the world of Azeroth and all activities that reside there.

It’s funny, I was musing on the subject of MMORPG’s today. I recall a time when Everquest was the pinnacle of the genre. Your only other option was a step backwards, into the sprite-tastic world of Ultima Online (a step I took, for a time). When Everquest launched, it was such a brand new thing. So shiny, so untouched.

My first character there was a Barbarian Warrior, by the name of Judan. I remember exploring Everfrost with trepedation. The safer areas right near the entrance to Halas, where the lower level stuff dwelled. The little goblin camps, the wandering polar bear cubs. A little further out, the fragile skeletons.

I remember where the hills opened up to the icy plains, where the wooly mammoths roamed, and how I looked at them and thought “how would anyone ever kill those?!”. I remember dying once, and spending hourse searching for my body, which was lost somewhere in the vast expanse of the Everfrost mountains.

I remember saving up all my money, some thirty gold, and buying a chainmail helmet from the town vendor, and being one of the first to wear metal, when all the other barbarians were still in polar bear hats. I remember seeing a level thirty and thinking he was a god of some sort. So powerful.

It was such a huge world, and it was absolutely magical.

I was level eight before I ventured out to Qeynos, or braved the hour-long hike to Freeport. Everquest, a huge world of endless posibilities.

And I recall how, after two years of playing the game, when I would go to Everfrost and it suddenly seemed so very small. The winding paths through the mountains that seemed to stretch on forever, I suddenly realized were comprised of only two or three twists. The world had shrunk overnight.

Wooly Mammoths conned green and not so imposing. You could buy player-made chainmail helmets for a couple of gold. Level thirty was nothing.

The magic of the world was gone, replaced with words like “nerfed” and “uber guild” and “powerlevel”. Suddenly everyone was up in arms over class balance. Paladins wanted to heal better. Mages wanted to tank better. Warriors wanted better range. If some other class could do something better than you, they were overpowered. If they changed something about your class that made you less powerful, you were nerfed. And surprise surprise, one-hundred percent of the people were not pleased one-hundred percent of the time.

New MMORPG’s appeared on the horizon, promising better graphics, new features, larger worlds. Everquest faded away as Asheron’s Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Anarchy Online took the spotlights.

They all offered new features that made you stop and think “That’s so obvious! How did I live without that before?”, and then the next MMORPG had to have it, each one becoming a conglomeration of the features that came before it.

And now we arrive at the new pinnacle of the medium, World of Warcraft, and I wonder “what else could we possibly be missing? What new feature hasn’t been thought of yet?”. Because I look at World of Warcraft, and I see completeness. I see a well rounded, creative and enjoyable entity. A machine with a life of its own that has engrossed millions around the world.

And I ask you, what next? What giant could possibly steal World of Warcraft’s thunder? Is there a creative and technical force that could create something bigger and more successful? Is there anyone even willing to try? Time was, all you heard was buzz about “the next big MMO” in the industry. Is it just me? I haven’t heard anything. I haven’t heard any hype. Has World of Warcraft set the bar too high?

I’ll tell you on thing its done, and that is amplified the “whiny consumer” factor that I saw born with Everquest. The endless whining about class balance. The childish bickering, the crying, the name calling. Everything is about satistics now. Breaking everything down into formulas and numbers. Percentages and ratios.

You know what though? Paladins don’t heal as well as priests. Mages aren’t supposed to tank. So stop your fucking whining. If you perceive one of your class abilities to be broken, or not functioning as described (read: not functioning as described, not as you feel it should be functioning), just issue a report. Blizzard has teams of people dedicated to this kind of stuff.

But don’t get on forums are start whining about how Blizzard hates your class, or how your class is “broken”. That’s just stupid. Blizzard didn’t create an awful class just so they could sit in their lofty offices and laugh at you. You’re giving yourself too much credit. You’re not that significant.

A team of fifty to a hundred people can do a pretty good job testing a game, and testing balance, but it would take that team years to find all of the inconsistencies and bugs that four million people could do in two weeks.

MMORPG’s are living, breathing things. You can’t release an MMORPG and be done with you. You have to have a ‘live team’ a group of individuals whose sole purpose it is to keep the world running, functioning, and improving.

I constantly hear people complaining about a monthly fee for MMO’s, as if they should be entitled to the service for free. Give me a break. “Oh, I can go buy a regular game off the shelf and pay $50 once, and that’s it”.

Yeah well a regular game doesn’t use millions of gigabytes of bandwidth, require 24/7 server monitoring and a staff on call to fix something if it breaks. A refular game doesn’t have a team that works constantly to improve features in the game, and constantly add additional content.

So it’s fine if you’re not interested in a monthly fee, or can’t afford a monthly fee, but don’t act idnignant towards the concept, or act like you don’t understand why it exists.

I’ll tell you though, some people think that monthly fee entitles them to a lot more than it does. For instance if the server goes down, the people that immediately jump on the message boards whining about how they’re “paying for that time and they can’t play” and “they deserve a refund”. It doesn’t work like that sparky.

Same thing goes for the idiots who whine about a queue to log into the server. What’s that? The server is down? There’s a queue? You have to wait thirty minutes, and hour, two hours before you can play? Get a fucking life. Go outside. Go read a book. Draw something.

You have to wait thirty minutes in line to play because of the queue? Hey, here’s an idea genius: launch the game thirty minutes before you’re going to sit down to play.

Consumerism is absolutely out of fucking control. This notion of “well, without us you wouldn’t exist, so therefore we get to be whiny obnoxiou pinheads and make demands”. No you fucking don’t. Hell, even us webcomic artists get that attitude from people. It’s batshit insane.

But honestly, stop with the fucking complaining. MMORPG’s are fluid, and if you can’t man up and roll with it, get off the ride. Every single class has been played to level 60 thousands of times over, so it’s obviously possible. Maybe it’s not a problem with the game mechanics, and more a problem with the fucking vidtards behind the keyboard.

It’s a shame, though. As much as I love WoW (and I do), the magic is gone. In fact, the magic has been gone since after that first year in Everquest. I’ve played every single MMO on the market, and some that aren’t, and I’ve never experienced that feeling of awe and wonder again. That feeling of infinite possibilities in a virtual world I could carve a place into.

Perhaps it’s just a one-time thing. Maybe you only get it on your first MMO. If that’s the case, and if you’re just starting World of Warcraft, cling to that magic, that feeling, for as long as you can. It doesn’t last forever.

And don’t let the degenerating intelligence of an alarmingly increasing number of gaming youth take that away from you, or ruin it.

If they haven’t already.

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