Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2013 at 8:30 AM by Kimo Kuppe
I may be an old man who played games back when there was no worthwhile internet for which I could instantly look up what to do in games, but that doesn’t mean that things are better now. I’ve played a lot of WoW and my worst habit is easily checking MMO-Champion at least once a day to see what’s been data-mined from the latest beta patch. Now that is completely my fault so I’m not going to blame them because nobody is making me do that but it’s still an odd desire. It’s purposely ruining the sense of wonder and mystery with the game and turns it into a laundry list of chores to make yourself do to get the rewards. What happened to the early days of WoW where I’d run around aimlessly and struggle to find things to do and got a few apparently rare items by random chance that I would quickly sell for far less than it was worth. Then I would finally stumble upon a quest in my mid 40’s in some remote corner of a zone without a flight path and it would send me to the opposite continents equally remote corner to talk to an npc that would then send me back to the first continent and the cycle would repeat about 4 times gaining me about 1/8th of a level. You know, sometimes I wonder if Vanilla WoW was really that great…
I have to wonder if data-mining operations actually helped or hurt the WoW experience. In a way seeing what you can earn gives you a good carrot on a stick to work towards and give you something to do, and give Blizzard more money from people spending more time in the game. To be honest in the early days of WoW I had no idea what I was doing and spent a considerable amount of time lost. The only times I gained some insight into what I could or should be doing was from people in Trade Chat linking stuff they had to gloat or a friend of mine who had played the beta heavily. When he stopped playing is about when I started browsing these data-mine sites and learning the game. That and that was about the time I finally made it to about level 50 where there seemed to be nothing to do in Vanilla WoW. There must be something about that level range because even now that is the level range that stalls all my alts. Sure, there are quests but it’s much faster and safer to just run dungeons, or rather dungeon since the only place LFR sends you is BRD which nobody seems to know how to do right.
I see a similar thing happen with movies lately. The website Moviepooper has the endings to hundreds of movies and updates regularly so someone MUST be using it. It’s the same dynamic though, removing the mystery. If you were to use it the same way you use MMO-Champion it could possibly be used to spoil the ending ahead of time so you don’t see a good movie with a stupid ending and have spent your time more effectively. I’m probably reaching a bit with that.I think part of the appeal of it is that I, and assuming at least a few other people, no longer enjoy the actual gameplay and general method of playing WoW and are looking to make the time I spend in it efficiently to more quickly get that sweet sweet dopamine release that comes with accomplishing some obscure achievement or getting some time-consuming item/mount/pet. Typing that out makes me feel like WoW might have more in common with a drug addiction than playing games, making WoW the electronic equivalent of filtered cigarettes, Everquest into cocaine, and Ultima into crystal meth.
Could the mystery be returned to WoW thought? The direction WoW is going and have STATED that they are going sounds like they dislike spending time and money making content that only a very small percentage of people are going to see. From an efficiency standpoint that’s completely understandable, but to me it makes the in game world feel smaller and less alive. That and now that everyone knows how to get the special silly items they lose their appeal. The best thing I got in WoW that I don’t see a lot of is the Purple dragon you get from doing all the holiday achievements. It makes sense that few people have that since it’s an extremely irritating thing to accomplish. Every achievement is only available for a few weeks out of the year and even then you are competing against everyone else for a dozen or so annoying and out of the way tasks every time. Do I feel like I earned that reward? You bet. Do I feel like I achieved something great and really earned it? I do in the sense that I did something irritating that didn’t require skill so much as it required doing something that was often counterproductive to the actual game (I’m looking at you Childrens Week where you needed people to claim a capture point in Alterac Valley with your child present resulting in people letting points be recaptured back and forth to get the achievement.)
The MMO genre is going through a lot of painful growth right now. Despite my objections to WoW they are successful enough to be experimenting with MMOs which will be very beneficial to future games. And when those MMO’s come out I wonder if they’ll find a way to maintain the mystery of if I’ll be the same jerk without self control I am now and just look up the data-mines then too. Ahh who am I kidding, WoW will be around forever, I’ve seen the signs in the latest beta patch and Blizzard has plans to milk this cow to infinity and beyond. KEEP ON TRUCKIN’ NOBEL MMO.