Thursday, September 11, 2008

The spirit of the time.

Although, no, I've resolved that I'm not doing this myself, the reason why I post this is because I honestly feel that in a collective sense, this is pretty close to where many of us are at with WoW, now. To me, the above video sums up the attitude I've been seeing among the playerbase recently pretty well.

Trackhoof left again last month, for what I now suspect will be the last time. I still remember when Howitzer went. I believe he knew what was coming.

I was on the forum earlier today, and saw that Activision (no, I'm not going to call them Blizzard, because they aren't) had allowed PvE to PvP server transfers. As a single isolated incident, most people would probably say, "so what?" Maybe as one isolated case, they'd even be right. However, consider this.

In The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo that as a virtual environment, the Matrix is based on rules. So it has been with WoW.

Freezing Trap, as one example, exists within an extremely intricate web of interdependency. It relies on mobs being flagged as belonging to one of a certain group of classes in order to work. In turn, it is in the Frost elemental school, and also relies on Spell Hit in order to determine whether it is resisted or not. The cooldown time shows signs of having initially been extremely carefully thought out and refined, so that you have a new trap when you really need it, particularly if you spec Resourcefulness, without making it short enough that trap deployment feels effortless.

My point is that, while being a system that relies on rules, WoW is now at a point where probably 80% of said rules either have been broken, or are in the process of being broken.

* Class balance is now largely non-existent.
* Class diversity has been beaten senseless, but somehow to some degree still manages to exist, despite Chilton's ongoing efforts to finally annihilate it entirely.

* Instances in TBC are less carefully designed, and WoTLK will surely follow the trend. Pairs or groups of mobs are hard linked together, rather than proximity linked, which means that attempting to pull a single one unavoidably pulls all of them, regardless of how much space might be between them. In addition, Blizzard have explicitly stated that they are trying to make classes completely interchangeable, eventually removing any class uniqueness more or less entirely.

* The old gear colour coding system has been disregarded more or less entirely.

* The old PvP system, which with the ranks, was designed to (and did) give players legitimate motivation to play in the battlegrounds was removed. Battlegrounds are seen largely as farming venues, now; individuals like myself who still go into them to enjoy them are scorned.

* Survival has been severely weakened, with Expose Weakness being made self-only and the Freeze Trap duration boost having been removed from Clever Traps. In addition, even some of the new abilities we were going to get have been nerfed, while the Rogue is given whatever the class is perceived to need, presumably in order to satisfy the all-important Asian PvP demographic.

I'm staying for Wrath of the Lich King, but I don't fool myself. In doing so, I'm going to be here after the end. I'm one of the people who's going to still be here after anyone with any sanity will have left. The cinematic for me actually did have a funerary air about it; reminded me of the last scenes of First Contact, when I realised I was looking at the end of Star Trek.

I remember that one of the last people seen alive on board the Titanic was Benjamin Guggenheim, shown in the film, who said that he and his friends were dressed in their best and were determined to go down like Englishmen. My attitude towards WoW now is very similar.

When I can farm Mageweave in the Sunken Temple for 3 hours, still reach a flow state, and still go back for another half hour because of the degree to which I'm actually enjoying it, I know there's something still left. I've said it before, but I have truly loved this game, more than most other things I've ever done. Rakan said that he thought it was just that I didn't have anything else to do, but I honestly don't agree. I could find something, if I really wanted to.

Even more, there is this blog, which has meant more to me than smarter, more worldly, and less naive people than me would probably be willing to admit. I don't think I'm going to want to give you people up even after WoW really is finished. Maybe if we all end up migrating to WAR eventually, we can blog about that as well.

Although we're coming up to the end, I feel, in earnest now, I'm still going down with the ship.

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