It is fair to say I have a troubled and problematic history with World of Warcraft in the same way a heroin addict has a troubled and problematic past with smack. There was a five year period of my life when I had no friends and did nothing but play. I skipped work, bailed on on parties, and was religious about raid times. I am more than reasonably sure my WOW playing ended at least two relationships with actual human females (one of whom in retrospect I really miss), and I’m pretty sure my few friends and family were seriously considering an intervention.
Fortunately, I ran into some guild drama (one guy in particular was making my life hell) about the same time as my interest in finding a hot new pair of magic pants dried up. When I started my commercial website I discovered I could channel my need to play games and grind into working on my site. I also discovered I liked writing and got into doing this blog, and in retrospect while I don’t regret the time I spent playing (incidentally, if I were to reactivate my account and do a /played on my main it would come back with something like 1.5 years. I had a bunch of alts too) as I enjoyed the hell out of it, through the fog of time and recollection I realize how unimportant that time really was.
However, I believe this gives me a perspective to do a review of WOW that many other people might be missing. I am not a WOW hater and have no problem with grinding stuff (I did have the Insane in the Membrane achievement at level 70, if any of you know what that means). When I consider that I spent dozens of hours a week for the monthly cost of what a movie might cost me I think it’s the best entertainment value I have ever spent. Thus I feel like I can share with you my ill informed opinion based solely on the trailers and what other people are ranting about (Hellscream image courtesy of the WOW T Shirt category).
Blizzard has never been overburdened with creative juices and never has it been more apparent than in this expansion. Every video I have seen of the Pandarians looks exactly like an extra clip from Kung Fu Panda, with slightly more humor. I am definitely one of those crusty old bastards who will tell you that vanilla WOW was the best and everything after Burning Crusade has sucked like a breach in your EVA suit, but this looks like a low point in character design. Did Blizzard feel like WOW players were not getting enough ridicule from other gamers and needed a race even more comedic than gnomes or goblins? When I played my orc hunter I used to imagine I was a bad ass green terror machine with a bow that could split your skill from 40 yards. The whole point of playing an avatar is to pretend you are something you are not. Having WOW players play fat furry couch potatoes who love to eat (two of the racials are food related and one is about being so fat you bounce on impact when falling) might just be too close to reality to allow for that necessary escape. Also, will Pandarians committed to the Alliance be able to talk to Horde Pandarians? If not how do you explain that?
The second thing that “inspired” Blizzard (cough cough ripped off cough cough) looks like Pokemon. Now you can not only collect pets but have them battle each other for experience and levels. If you come across a pet that can be captured and defeat it with your pet you get to keep it. Does the game provide you with red and white balls or is there a vendor who sells them? How is this NOT Pokemon? “Corehound Pup, I choose YOUUUUU!”
As for game play, it’s been months since I played and I’m not really familiar enough to judge what the changes mean to the actually playing. I played a hunter and it looks like they got rid of melee weapons for them, as well as minimum range. If they have gotten rid of melee for hunters and are only allowing you to use your ranged attacks that looks like a serious simplification of game play. Ever since Wrath came out it is apparent that Blizzard wants everyone to be able to play, even brain dead invalids. The controls and game play have gotten seriously easier and easier, and if they make things any simpler than last time I played primordial ooze will be able to get to level 90 and grind out a decent set of epic gear. The simplification of the game is one of the things that made leaving it easier for me.
Honestly, in my mind WOW died when WOTLK came out. Everyone QQ’d about not seeing the end of Sunwell (I saw it, and we killed Kil’jaeden before they nerfed all the bosses) in BC and so they made everything in baby mode. It just took a lot of the challenge out for me and a lot of my friends. Will MOP change that and make the game worth playing again? Based on what I see probably not. Most likely it will end up being another casual grind fest with no real draw for the hard core players other than they have been playing for years and can’t give it up. Fortunately I will most likely not have to get into it, so I will probably wait until I see the review on Zero Punctuation.
So with May 21st creeping up on us and the supposed end of the world incoming, I plan to fill this week in between movie posts (Priest review tomorrow. I had to wait to see it as my girlfriend wanted to see it and tonight is the only night we can do it) with a series of the world is coming to an end posts. However, I have been meaning to talk about the real end of a world that at one point was as important to me as this one, the World of Warcraft.
I don’t want to sound like one of those “I started playing WOW back in vanilla when questing and raiding was hard” jackoffs, but really, I am one (Classically trained raider image courtesy of the WOW t shirts). Back then you had to run on your mount (which you only got at level 40, not level 10. Of course, I was so broke I had to wait until I was level 47), flight paths were few and far between, and the lack of ease of battleground meant you were getting ganked and camped about every ten minutes. Five man raids were honestly hard and you wiped a lot, and when you wiped graveyards were miles away and you didn’t just fly back to your corpse. Raids required you to find 39 competent players and were wipe fests too. Just spending time in a raid dungeon did not mean you would eventually kill the boss. Epics were rare, and just having on tier 2 piece meant a huge difference in your DPS and survivability. I remember running into a AQ40 equipped hunter who kicked the crap out of me and two of my guildmates in spite of having decent T1 and T2 gear.
Then came Burning Crusade, which was a lot of fun. Raids were still tough, Outland was fun, and for the first time we had flying mounts. You had to be really good to see the death of the final boss in Black Temple (which I did, before they nerfed him). Overall a good effort, but the first signs that WOW was beginning it’s death spiral showed up. First of all, epic gear became much easier to get. Instead of being happy with decent blue gear and a few epics, now everyone was epic’d out about three days after hitting 70. Flying mounts, while cool, made stuff like farming minerals and herbs really easy. They made battlegrounds easier to get into, and I saw the first decline of world PVP.
This was also when we first saw the preview of the complete nerfing of the game in the form of raid addons. In vanilla addons were minimal, didn’t really work great, and were essentially complex macros that might or might not help, but even with them you still had to make sure you were on your game to stand in the right place, heal the right person, and hit you shot rotation correctly (I always played a hunter). No real alarms or anything. In BC we saw addons that pretty much made the game easier. Recount, Grid, Gatherer, Deadly Boss Mods, and any number of class specific addons made raiding and playing much easier. However, the game was complex enough to really need them. Overall BC was a great addon. Raiding and PVP was fun and challenging, and overall you still had to know what you were doing to play.
Then came the first mortal blow to the game, Wrath of the Lich King. Northrend sucked and was painfully boring. Battlegrounds got so easy to get into that no one did world PVP any more. Flying mounts, which earlier cost 5K gold and were something of an achievement to get, became ubiquitous and made things even easier. Most classes saw their game play simplified. Towards the end of BC all the losers who couldn’t play well complained to the developers about how they never saw the inside of Black Temple and whined about not seeing all the content, so Blizzard nerfed raiding to the point that most dungeons are raids were more of a gear check than anything else. They added hard mode for the really hard core raiders, but even so it was significantly easier than vanilla or BC. However, the thing that really nerfed the game was the addons. Blizz started incorporating popular addons into game play, but everyone with an ounce of programming skill were developing stuff to do everything by change your diaper for you. The ones that really hurt the game IMO were all the quest finding addons, showing you exactly where all your quest items or goals are located. At the time I thought they were cool, as they really saved time, but in retrospect I can see the end was near.
The one thing they did was added the achievements, which I jumped into with both feet. I loved getting achievements. I would play for hours trying to grind the most obscure stuff possible (if you know the game, you should either be really impressed or really sad for me in that I got the Insane in the Membrane achievement. Yes, I had no life). It was enough to keep me going.
Then came the final death rattle. Cataclysm. Instead of spending the time and money to develop a new zone (hey, writing new content is hard work) they just recycled a bunch of old code and let us fly around the old world, which they somehow made more boring. Addons, including the questing addons, were completely incorporated into the stock UI of the game. Most of the dungeons were simply a matter of time, not effort, and getting a dungeon group has become super easy, especially if you are a tank or healer. As I approached 10,000 achievement points I came to realize how achievements were really a never ending quest and a massive time sink. Every aspect of the game became easier and softer, catering to the casual gamer.
I think that is what does it for me. I don’t have the time or inclination to be a hard core raider anymore. However, if I am going to play I don’t want to be one of these casual player jerks. The problem is the game is either for super hard core raiders or freaking idiots who play a couple hours a week. There is no middle ground. The game has gotten so painfully easy to play it’s like reading one of those choose-your-own-adventure novels. Unless you are raiding hard mode there is no challenge whatsoever. I think this point was finally driven home for me one day when I was doing a quest that had me riding my mount underwater (remind me again why I spent all those hours fishing up the Turtle mount if any normal ground mount can swim underwater now). I got done and climbed to the surface. At that point I figured I was due for a long, grinding swim to shore to mount up on my flying mount. However, I had a mount macro that would mount my flyer if possible and low-and-behold, I was flying! How much easier can they make the game?
Anyway, WOW was fun while it was fun. I don’t regret the time I spent playing it (although I refuse the type /played as I am afraid the answer would send me into a serious depression). If you are a casual gamer who likes to log on for a couple hours on the weekend, or a hard core raider who puts in 30+ hours a week, than good on you. I won’t deny that there are people out there for whom WOW still fulfills a need. About three weeks before Wonder Con I stopped logging in as I was too busy, and haven’t logged on since. I really don’t miss it, and find myself more excited about writing long, bitchy blogs like this one. For me, the World of Warcraft is fail.
OK, assuming you haven’t frightened her off (or been frightened off by her. Believe me, creepy is a two way street) and you have exchanged between 3-12 emails (12 is a lot. I would normally try to go after the 4th or 5th) it is time to set up your first meeting. How to do it and where to go?
Honestly, email sucks as a way to get to know each other so after you have more or less exhausted the standard “where did you grow up” and “what did you study from college” questions it’s time to get face to face. I find it best to just blurt out the question, usually at the end of answering her questions from the last email. Something like this usually works pretty good:
“…and then animal control showed up and collected all the bodies. You can see why that was the happiest day of my life.
Say, how would you like to meet up and get some coffee? I know a place not far from the area you (claim to) live in that serves the best (insert coffee drink of your choice). Are you free on (weekday) at (sometime while the sun is still up)? You can always call me at 555-1234.
If you haven’t given her your number yet, you should. Most women will probably want to talk to you at least once to make sure you don’t use a voice disguiser or something. When she calls keep the conversation to a minimum, focused specifically on when and where you are going to meet. Don’t get sucked into a long conversation on the phone, as odds are your conversation skills will lag and give her a reason to never talk to you again.
For the place, pick a coffee house or cafe that is in a public place and serves coffee and other drinks without the obligation to buy a meal. Think Starbucks. Don’t go to a restaurant as that implies and more or less obligates the two of you to eating a meal. Also if you sit down at a formal restaurant and just order a drink you will look cheap. If the first meeting goes well you might suggest a meal of food at a nearby restaurant.
Try to show up earlier and be waiting for her. This gives her the chance to scope you out and bail out without talking to her, but honestly you are better off getting that then suffering through an hour of stilted conversation before getting the boot. Wear something distinctive and tell her ahead of time what it is (“I’ll be wearing the Mickey Mouse ears”).
By the way, remember what I said about pictures online always being better than reality, so be prepared to be at least slightly disappointed. Also work on not showing your disappointment on your face. All the old rules I listed regarding clothing, grooming, and behavior are doubly important, so if you are a recent reader of my blog go back a few months and review the rules regarding bathing (every day), clothes (wear them), and other odds and ends (deodorant is not your enemy).
I’m coming up on the end of the this line on online dating advice. I think I have one more in me. Not sure where I am going after that, but I will find something interesting. If you have any suggestions or dating questions hit me up: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday’s question, Onyxia from WOW versus Godzilla, seems like a close match. They both breath fire, have a tail attack, bite, and claw. They also have more or less fireproof scales. I am going to go with Godzilla just because I have seen Onyxia killed dozens of times and Godzilla never. In fact I believe Godzilla would stomp a 40 or 25 man raid flat in about 30 seconds (Raiding shirt courtesy of the WOW t shirts category).
For today I’m going to go to a classic: who would win, Superman versus the Hulk?
So you’ve been rejected and all of a sudden all food tastes likes mixture of paste, bile, and Satan. Life seems to be a cardboard, washed out low rez black and white version of itself. The good news is you’ve avoided all the potentially self destructive and/or illegal activities that guys often resort to in a pathetic attempt at making themselves feel better and get the ex to pay attention to them. The bad news is now you need something to fill up the long, dark hours that used to be spent with your significant other or at least thinking about her.
Ah, now we are definitely in Dave’s corner, because this on level I have mastered. Here we go with some excellent suggestions (in my experience).
1. Video games. Nothing helps alleviate the pain in your heart like bringing some electronic pain to some noob from across the country, or killing that giant space caterpillar. You can feed your inner alpha male without hurting anyone in the real world. My recommendation is to load up on caffeine and junk food and play until the sun comes out again. I recently re-activated my WOW account and it is doing wonders for making me feel like I actually have a life. (Undercity Gravediggers image courtesy of the WOW t shirts category)
2. Clean your apartment. This is actually pretty cathartic. I liken it to shedding my crusty crystalis and emerging a beautiful butterfly as opposed to the disgusting caterpillar that just got rejected. Also, if you are into self delusion (and really, which of us isn’t?) you can fantasize about how, once your apartment is clean and pretty, you can bring a new girl over for romantic potential (and while we are at it, let me tell you about the porcine flight school I am developing). Overall, I find projects like this are pretty good for taking my mind off how much I hate being rejected and on how much I hate scrubbing toilets. Also, it is a good chance to collect items for the next big thing to do (see the next item).
3. Collect anything she gave you or left behind, take it to the beach, and burn it all in a bonfire. By fire be purged! Yes, everyone loves a good fire, and here is a chance to show the universe how you feel about her dumping you with a volatile chemical reaction. Be sure to bring a few friends along. If you do this by yourself you will just be a creepy weirdo. Also, you can probably use this episode to elicit more sympathy from your friends. That sweater she gave you for Christmas? That toothbrush she brought over? That mix CD she made for you? That pair of underwear she left at your place (by the way, what is the deal with this? Every girl I have ever dated for more than a couple months manages to leave some kind of personal garment at my place. I can count on zero hands the number of pairs of boxers I have accidentally left somewhere. Yet another female mystery)? That self improvement book on how to be a better boyfriend? All fuel for the fire of your pain. Note, however, if she managed to leave something like her laptop, college diploma, or the urn containing one of her parents you should probably return those.
4. Channel your emotions into something useful. The two emotions you will most likely be feeling are depression and anger. The first will make you hurt yourself and more or less act like a girl, while the second will make you hurt other people and act like a man. You will probably feel both at different times. If you are depressed try writing some depressing fiction (or, if you are so inclined and own a lot of black clothes, some poetry). Paint a depressing picture. Replace you room carpet with black shag. Trust me. Six months from now when you are completely over it you can pull out whatever project you did and it will provide endless amusement (for your friends). If you are angry don’t hit anybody. Instead do some manly stuff. Chop some wood. Find a gym and punch the heavy bag. Join a local rugby league (props to my friend Johnny). Do all the stuff that no girlfriend in her right mind would ever let you try. Ironically, if you handle these two emotional states properly you will end up hurting others with your depression (nothing is more painful than having to listen to depression based poetry) and yourself with your anger, which is some weird way is better than the other way around.
Incidentally, the other emotion you will probably feel is soul crushing loneliness. However, since this is a fairly normal state for most people including me, just do what you normally would. The only real way to cure it is to find someone else, so once you are done with all the depression and anger go back to the beginning of my dating advice posts and start all over. In dating you have to be like Wile E. Coyote. No matter how far he fell, or how large a boulder crushed him, next scene he was in the Acme catalog working on his next attempt. He only needed to succeed once, and so do you and I.
I will list some more activities tomorrow.
I’m still collecting answers to the Deadpool versus Solomon Grundy question. They aren’t exactly flying in, so I guess either I’m deluding myself on how many people are actually reading this or how many people really care about these questions, but I have fun doing them and really, it’s not all about you my friends. So I will continue to indulge
“Love is like a snowmobile flying across the frozen tundra that suddenly flips over, trapping you underneath in the sub-zero temperature. At night, the ice weasels come.” – Matt Groening
I am going to suspend the line I was on earlier on making out due to the fact that I recently had an event that has caused me to question my ability to advise anyone on dating. Instead, I am going to discuss something that I am if anything overqualified to discuss: getting rejected and dealing with it.
(By the way, don’t worry too much about me. Odds are by this time next week I will be back in my usual cocky form. I tend to snap back pretty good. Thank god for self delusion)
Anyway, being rejected sucks, and any of my female readers may actually gain something in terms of learning how to make this less painful (or, for that matter, more painful if that is your personal bent, as I currently believe most women are inclined).
In the interest of not being totally bitter and dark I will start off with discussing the timing of being rejected. There are bad times and slightly less bad times to be rejected. I would say a week before Christmas is among the worst times to be rejected. Same with your birthday, 4th of July, or any other weekend that promises to be particularly fun. Tends to be a bit of a downer.
On the other hand, getting dumped right before Thanksgiving is not bad, as you can freely drown your sorrows in the food coma you were going to fall into anyway. Also, being surrounded by friends and family who wish you well is a nice salve for the burn (if, however, you don’t have any friends or family you might as well move to your Unabomber-style shack now).
The worst time, however, to be rejected is right before Valentines Day. No woman will willingly go into V-Day single, so if she dumps you right before it inevitably means she has someone else on deck, as it were. Also, I have found that the whole greeting card industry “You are a loser if you don’t have someone” message hits home like an acid covered harpoon in your gut when you have been recently dumped.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a slightly less painful time to dump a nerd, the best would be about a week before a big video game release. If you are going to dump a nerd and want to let him down easy, do it just before Cataclysm comes out so he can drown his sorrow by ganking lowbies in Stranglethorn Vale (WOW image courtesy of the WOW t shirts category).
It has been my experience, however, that the vast majority of women have little to no interest in making this easier for the guy. If I were a cynical person I would have to say that most of them are solely motivated to end it as quickly and conveniently as possible for themselves with no regard for the damage done as they pull the rip cord. Good thing I’m not cynical.
Incidentally, I am really not normally as bitter as I sound right now. However, I think the bitterness makes this post funnier. I love gallows humor.
Anyway, just a few words on timing a rejection. Tomorrow a list of things to NOT do when you are dumped.
The question posed in the last post, Maxwell Smart versus Austin Powers, is actually quite the conundrum. Austin Powers regularly killed more guys than Maxwell Smart and had a great nemesis in Dr. Evil. On the other hand, Smart worked for an organization with a much cooler name (CONTROL), fought a cooler sounding enemy (KAOS), and had the painfully hot 99 helping him. I think I am going to bet on Maxwell Smart, if only because Austin Powers had no trouble getting women and at the moment guys like that annoy the bejeesus out of me. I guess I’d like to see him eat a bullet right now. Not that I’m bitter.
For today, I am going to go mix genres. Who would win, Buffy the Vampire Slayer versus Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter?
When World of Warcraft was released, it was a game requiring a high amount of skill and commitment to progress to the upper echelons of dungeon and raid content. The casual player who didn’t even own a WOW t-shirts (from our video game t shirt category) had no place in high end raiding, even in the first raid dungeon of Molten Core. The Burning Crusade continued this trend to a lesser degree, and still made it difficult for most guilds and players to progress to a higher level of play. This all changed with Wrath of the Lich King that feels a lot like the Coke Zero of what WoW used to be. No longer are there barriers from casual players enjoying all the content in the game. There is little to no commitment involved in the whole game, as the needs for farming, raid preparation, and even research have been dumbed down to a severe degree.
WoW, which was once like Frodo journeying to conquer the Dark Lord Sauron that was Everquest, is now like Frodo had he been consumed by the greed of the One Ring. MMORPGs that have been made in recent years can’t stand up to WoW both in scope and design. Blizzard simply has too much money. It is now greed that drives them to continue to release content for an MMORPG that has been discarded by the original players who worked so hard to conquer it. Blizzard may have gained more casual players with the release of WOTLK, but in doing so they’ve also lost some of those hardcore players who made the game famous.