Friday, January 29, 2010

So Long, Azeroth

I froze my WoW account after an attack of boredom with the game around the holidays. A big reason why I became bored with the game was the demand to grind for almost every reward. If you want the best equipment, you have to spend hours doing repetitious quests over and over until you get an upgrade or a piece of equipment. The designers of the game seem to take pleasure in making the grind even longer every time a new expansion or patch comes out.

And speaking of patches, the new content itself becomes more of an irritant than a pleasure in my mind. One day, a class is an underdog. The next day, it is a stellar leader. In the old days, Rogues were so popular the game was called "World of Roguecraft." With patched changes, Rogues lost their luster until few Rogues were rolled and few actually were played in instances. In the last expansion, there are a few pieces of equipment for combat Rogues, but they are largely a neglected class. I like playing neglected classes. Paladins were neglected because of their lack of damage-dealing ability. But along comes a patch that boosts their damage-dealing, and everyone rolls a Paladin because of their newly-found power. The changes make the game different every time a patch comes out, leaving me bewildered about how to play my character. The heroic class, Death Knights, are not understood by most because of their new mechanics, and they largely overpower any opponent in the game.

Change can be good, but too much change leaves me cold. The plans for the next and final expansion, Cataclysm, are like a capitulation on the part of Blizzard, as if they are ending the game in an apocalyptic fire that will leave Azaroth burning and players able to fly through mass destruction.

In general, I wish MMORPGs would try more alternatives to the kill-things-for-experience grind. For example, make crafting a real help to characters, instead of such vapid use. Put more emphasis on economic gain from crafting (with security against gold selling). Enable more types of crafting, like building guild halls or personal homes or castles. Enable dying of items through crafting. Various game makers have tried some of these ideas with varying degrees of success.

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