Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"It's a low instance. We don't have to take it seriously."

I apologise if it seems like this is two whine posts in a row...I think maybe that's the reason why I delayed posting it for 10 days. Anywayz...

While playing my Alliance alt on Silver Hand, I did a couple of groups through the Deadmines. In the first group, we wiped hard maybe twice, and then the two people running it realised that we needed to start using The Perfect Zone of Ultimate Safety. We did so, and naturally no further wipes were forthcoming.

In the second group, we had two tanks, a Paladin and a Warrior. The Paladin had a terminal case of impatience, and the Warrior was a 12 year old who apparently could barely speak a word of English, and who was very new to WoW in general. I compared the group's operating style with drunken boxing...as in, we flailed around randomly, but somehow, totally inexplicably, we didn't wipe until Van Cleefe himself. The tanks chain pulled everything in sight; there was no waiting for the Priest, the Warlock, or myself to regain mana, and in many cases there wasn't even any pause between pulls at all. We might have only wiped once, but I still didn't enjoy the experience.

Why do I care, I hear you ask? I care for three reasons.

1) People with 70 mains who are running through with an alt habitually forget and underestimate the lower instances. They think they can sleepwalk through, chain pulling everything in sight, without any element of real co-ordination whatsoever...and then wonder why, even in supposedly "newb" instances, they still wipe hard. The lower instances aren't necessarily as easy as people think, for the level. Shadowfang Keep in particular can be, in my own mind, actually one of the toughest five mans in the game, considering the level range.

2) Wiping (particularly numerous times) isn't fun. Even at low levels when repair bills aren't prohibitive, it still isn't enjoyable. It causes long delays, and it causes bad feeling, frustrates people, and potentially means that they're more likely to leave the group before the instance is finished. This means that if you have a concrete reason for running the instance, (a specific item or quest) you then have to go through the additional delay and hassle of finding another group.

3) As pretentious as this might sound, I view playing a Hunter in WoW as being a legitimate virtual sport. As such, it follows that I also hold the philosophy that if the game's worth playing at all, it's worth playing with at least some degree of competence and care about what you are doing.

That attitude doesn't start in the Shattered Halls or Karazhan; it starts in the Wailing Caverns. If you only begin to care about your game once you get to that level, you're going to have a much harder time than if you'd taken things seriously earlier. It also logically follows that if you truly love the class you play, this attitude will likely develop naturally; you won't have to consciously work to cultivate it because you'll want to become as highly skilled with the class as you can anyway.

If you're finding that you don't care about whether you do well when you play or not, then it is possible that the class you're playing isn't for you. There are nine classes in the game; this means that there is a fairly high likelihood that one exists which is an intuitive fit for you, and you owe it to yourself in my opinion to find it. That isn't going to be a Hunter for everyone; in fact I would tend to suspect that if the player population of this game was truly divided along the lines of the appropriate class for them, that while still adding up to the overall population, the population size of each individual class would actually be fairly small.

I feel that low level instances, while often being worthwhile in and of themselves, are also there to provide a natural, gentle buildup towards more difficult and higher level content. In order to prevent the learning curve from becoming too steep, as well as being a detriment to the rest of a group later on, training for instancing should begin as early as possible, as should an attitude, not of elitism, but of respect for the game, and for the value of competence while playing it.

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