Monday, May 17, 2010

Is WoW hardcore or nothing?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, who doesn't play WoW but alot of other games, and he told me something very interesting. He had tried WoW and given up (or maybe given up before trying, don't remember exactly. Have to ask him!) because he got the feeling that there wasn't room to be anything but optimized in it. It was hardcore or nothing. It made me think. In games such as Diablo II and other older mmorpgs, you could often fool around with gear and specs in a whole nother way, than you "can" in WoW. A guildie of mine had tried a dual-wield arms spec just for fun and we told him it was a bad idea, and why this was so. But the thing is, he dared try, and he dared stick by his unusual, sub-optimal spec, just for the heck of it. And if you're not raiding (because unfortunately Blizzard have put certain demands in this area, if you wish to ever complete them), then why shouldn't you be able to fool around with gear and specs?

I remember some years ago when I leveled one of my warriors (the one I play the most nowadays and also raid with). At level 13ish I got the quest reward from a WC quest, the Crescent Staff. I think it had different stats back then, but it doesn't really matter. It was itemized to be for a caster, but has awesome dps. At least at that level. So I played with it. And boy did I get comments about it. "HAHA! You're using a staff!". I simply said "well show me any other weapon in my level that comes even close in dps and that doesn't take ages to get or shitloads of money to buy". There aren't many, if any weapons that fill those criteria. But that didn't matter. The point was that I was a warrior using a staff. A big nono, no matter what. I wasn't conforming.

Sure, in games like these there will always be best options, but I think nowhere else than in WoW will you find so many people forcing you to cling to those options, by bashing any other choice. Me and my friends are still making fun of that enhancement shaman we found who had gemmed spirit. Or the DK with spellpower gear. Haha, he's stupid. Haha, he's not using the best gems/gear he could. Ok, there are extremes. Some things are really just stupid to do. But you know, maybe they just didn't care. And if the playing worked well for them, who am I to complain? Does the mere presence of his lack of knowledge bother me, even when I'm not really affected?

So aren't we a little too rigid? Why is it so important to us that everyone steps in line? Sure, when doing a dungeon you'd like everything to run as smoothly as possible. Wiping because someone wanted to try out some "crazy ass spec" isn't as fun as it sounds. But haven't we taken it a little too far? Now it feels like any step outside the neat red line we've marked up (over at EJ probably) is a major character flaw who needs to be kicked and laughed at.

I'd like to tell my friend that he's wrong. That he can be less than optimal, that he doesn't have to be hardcore, that he doesn't have to spend alot of time finding out what the best spec/gear is but just play for fun. But could I really do that? As soon as I think of doing it I get an image in my mind of all the bashing he'd probably get in any random dungeon he enters. Heck even I, who really try my best to be awesome get bashed sometimes, for really minimal mistakes.

Step in line or get lost. It's what WoW has become. And I don't like it to be honest. I will step up to the corner of shame and admit that I'm one of those who try to optimize people. But I also like to think that I am rather forgiving. I myself try some crazy things sometimes, although my general goal is to have things to run as smoothly as possible for myself. Like I told my dual wielding arms warrior friend "the most important thing is after all that you're having fun". Without ruining anyone elses fun. And I think we can loosen our tight grip on "optimal" some before that happens.


  1. No, I haven't tried wow at all. I've tried other types of (free) MMORPGs but non did ever stick. Mainly I guess just because I wasn't ready to go hard core. I just don't care enough about the games I've tried to do 412 (that's fortytwelve) quests mainly aimed at killing, well, anything, X number of times, then return and go kill something else. I've never gotten swept up in the communities formed around MMOs, and without an social incentive they simply fail to allure me. I don't have that drive to find stuff (treasure), like our mutual friend dose, whether its online of offline games.

    I just want to believe that there should be room to be personalized, unique. And with, as you describes it, a red line which all should follow to be best there's just nothing else to it. You check the wiki, a guide, what ever, go through the motions, grab all the best gear you can get and... Where do you end up? The same as all the rest? I'm not saying its easy, it is probably damn hard. I just don't feel like the reward is worth the effort. But that's just me, I don't have to play if I don't want to so don't take any complaints from me to seriously. The odds are, I don't know what I'm talking about. ;)

    And just another note, you can ask people "Why do you play?" and demand that they should take their roles seriously, which I assume generally includes being at their best. The part about games is that it is stupid to not be. The Group I'm currently PnPrpging with have taught me a thing or two (or 58) about maximizing your character, and about trying to be the best, it is a certain way of thinking. I do not share my most fanatic game mates drive, I try to make an character interesting, in vales as well as in background and mannerism. I know that its generally important to raise your self through raising challenges but.. well... I guess I just generally don't like levels. =p
    PnPRPGs generally though has a broader spectrum of things you can do (in combat) both descriptive and sometimes in raw ability count, but often less to choose from. I.e. equal options but a lesser number of them, and as such shallower skill trees I guess. (D&D excluded) The spirit of power gaming might be the same everywhere but... No. If there is one way to be best power gamers will always seek them out. I just wonder how many alternative ways there are? When I play offline games in which you make your own character I always go with a char that is bad at fighting but good at something else, say persuasion, lock picking, or what else there is. The reason is simple. Even if I'm bad at fighting everything dies. Sooner or later. And being forced to play smart in battles has its own charm. The thing is that those games often have parts which are locked without certain skills while, as I said, every enemy out there can still die even if I suck at fighting (statistically). And this might be the core of "hardcore or nothing"... A game based on math is all about being statistically good at fighting. Sure player skills play in too, but only as a risk of human error.
    I guess I in the end want a game to make me feel like I'm doing something more then just... filling in the statistics. Or something.

    Oh, and while I was writing PA made a comment (to me) about his try to play wow. He liked crafting, and that's all he did it seems. He claims that he successfully monopolized the market for a "certain pair of blue gloves". Could he have gone on forever only crafting and selling stuff at the auction house? If its possible, then the game already has an tolerance for alternative playing.

    Aaand I'm gonna be sooo tired tomorrow. Its taken really long to write all this. Sorry that I rant so much. Maybe I should get my own blogg just to write responses to your blogg. =p

    Be well, you know where to find me.

  2. Nice comment! And to answer your question; yes it is definitely possible to only play WoW by selling stuff at the AH. In fact so many people do it that it has become like a little side-game, with huge amounts of blogs and literature on how to "play" the AH the best way. Love spends alot of time reading those blogs... And they are usually only about money making in WoW.
    I really liked your thoughts on "people being the ones that fill the human error of statistics". WoW does tend to become like that at times. I play alts and odd specs to try different angles at the game, but like I wrote in my post, people are generally quite conservative about how people around them should play the game.

  3. Little bit of a dated post here, but, I just wanted to agree with you that the community has become...a bunch of people who all "think" they know the "best" way to play. I personally like to farm things (herbs and fish) and cook them and sell them on the AH. It's more fun to me than say, buying stuff off the AH and crafting it for a tiny profit. While I'm flying around, I get to see things and watch people, and while I'm fishing I can listen to music/chat with friends. There definitely ARE other ways out there to have fun =)

  4. Well, wrote a post about it just today, so it's still an up-to-date subject :)