Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Revisiting WoW's MMORPG misnomer

My continued angst over who should be my main has had me thinking more about WoW, and whether the RPG label might fit after all.

In a way it's a dilemma because WoW does at least partially fit the RPG bill. It's great strength compared to say WAR is the generic nature of the classes. With WAR I dismissed the idea of playing a human because the characters of each of the options - ranged and melee damage, tanking and healing - are very specific professions which held no appeal. WoW on the other hand offers genre stereotypes which are open to a varying degree of interpretation. This, along with things like transmogrification and RP servers, means it can be an RPG, not just an MMO.

The RPG credentials - whatever there limitations - do for me make the character choice harder though. I never worried when selecting a class in Team Fortress what his motivation might be!

The MMO part also effects how I approach the game, which is probably somewhere between a proper RPGer and a pure gamer. Stereotypically the former care only about the character they're playing and the opportunity to roleplay, many of the latter I'm sure chose whatever class they perceive as being the best for their needs, the race which gives desirable bonuses, and so on.

And this halfway house is the crux of my problem - am I chosing an avatar with utility, or the character I want to play? And the choice is made more complex by the fact that half a dozen different characters appeal to me!

On the utility side of the equation the range of PvE content available in the game further complicates my choice - raiding favours some classes, instance grinding others and soloing old content a different group again. But all these are all activities I want to take part in at some level. And while some part of me wants to choose my "favourite" class and damn the consequences, in reality I don't for example want to be a pure DPS class, where often when instance grinding you just end up following the tank around and trying to output decent DPS. On the other hand, if I decide to be a tank, instance grinding is involving and (often) enjoyable, but real life doesn't allow the commitment needed to be a raid tank.

On the RPG side, some classes seem to me inappropriate for some aspects of the game. For example, a hunter to me doesn't seem to "belong" in an indoor instance, only in the open country of the levelling game (or Battlegrounds). Equally my view of instance grinding is that the character is there for reasons of righteousness or ambition, which doesn't sit well with my view of a shaman's or druid's motivation. Although a lot of this is my prejudice, equally the story element of WoW is too shallow to fully support all characters. But that's a topic for another day.

So where does this leave me? Grulnak will still be my Horde main, but my main main will probably be Alliance, and a class that both in utility and character suits the range of PvE content.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Collected musings

I'm enjoying patch 4.3. It's great (and sadly slightly surprising) to enjoy the new instances. While they're still new - and people still have use for the drops - they're both interesting and challenging.

Wipes do happen, and while there is some whinging people mostly accept it and carry on. This will all change once people are overgeared and just running them for the badges.

It occurs to me that when that happens I can just stop, and PvP for JPs - even though the exchange rate is a bit painful. I'd rather be playing against real people than just going through the motions with a group of people who'd rather not be there. I do though first need to get the caster shield and mail shoulders drops - they're my lowest iLevel pieces, and only upgradable there or in raids (or the troll heroics) :(

Grulnak still doesn't "feel right" in some instances, like Shadowfang. Shank on the other hand fits right in. In my (possibly odd) mind, it's OK for an orc to be in a dwarf / orc dungeon (like Blackrock) or an "open air" one, but human instances like Shadowfang or Karazhan needs an undead.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Syl is totally right

Syl over at Raging Monkeys is totally right about MMORPG being a misnomer. I think the "massively" is more of a nuanced point, but the RPG bit definitely doesn't hold true. More's the pity.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Patch 4.3 goals

With the patch out my goals are:
  • Learn the new instances while they're still new
  • Take advantage of void storage and transmogrification and -
    • Complete my tier 1 set (I only saw it drop while on my priest in classic)
    • Complete an 'orc thug' set (big spiky shoulders and not much else, like the original loading screen orc)
    • Complete a Go'el-type shaman set
  • Level Grulgok some more (he's currently 82) while the 7th anniversary bonus is still in effect
Grulnak 4 - 1 Grulgok

Friday, 25 November 2011

A question of character

WoW generally operates on a Dungeons and Dragons level of depth and characterisation: we go into dungeons, kill creatures and take their stuff.

Our motivations are some mixture of curiosity, greed and desire for greater power. And perhaps if Alliance-side some view that we're the heroes and they're the bad guys. But from the Horde side that last one doesn't work for me - we'll smash you if you get in our way or threaten us, but otherwise we'll live and let live.

This has been bothering me for a while now, especially as I can't help seeing Grulnak as a bit of a hippy, into balance with the spirit world, ancestor veneration and the like. So I've been faced with a choice of some severe retcon on his character or finding a character who fits my in-game goals - raiding, gearing up for this and exploring raids I missed in classic WoW.

So I've been reviewing my alts - Grazznak the warlock; Eadwyn the Forsaken death knight (and hence faintly magical warrior); and Grulgok. The first two have excellent soloing prospects but, being both in their 60s, seem unlikely to ever get to 85. Logging into Grulgok, reviewing his gear accumulated in Wrath, and fitting him with a pair of two-handed axes gave me a real buzz. I can see him, with alchemy and enchanting to make up for his weaknesses in a magical world, and a cunning and ambitious nature sending him into dungeons for loot to enhance his power and standing.

But I die a little inside every time he has to run any great distance without ghost wolf, cross a significant body of water or wait for a heathstone on cooldown.

So, whether to make Grulgok my main, or to find a way to progress Grulnak without dungeon grinding?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Tanking at max level no longer fun

Since well geared max level characters have been able to get useful gear out of dungeons (i.e. from badge gear), tanking them has stopped being fun. The simple reason being impatience - at least some of the group just want to kill the boss asap and get out.

As a healer as long as I have enough mana I'm ready for the pull.

As a tank the process is more like -
  • Assess the kill order and mark
  • Chose a good time (i.e. are the mobs moving, is there a patrol nearby?)
  • Pull
  • Get to melee range
  • Get off an AoE move

Half way through step 1 a modern PUG is bored. If someone's not started dps before step 4 has started it's a miracle. And of course any deaths are the tank's fault.

Before max level the impatience isn't there. And in the original game well geared max level characters didn't go into dungeons, except perhaps to help a friend.

But this has now changed, and the fun has gone with it.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Too much metagaming

It occurred to me today that one of the reasons that WoW has lost its shine for me is my approach to the game - I'm metagaming, not roleplaying.

Shank is a third of the way through level 84, and fairly decently geared in mostly blues from instance drops. I'm aiming, not surprisingly, to get as geared as possible as quickly as possible, to speed my entry into heroics. So resources like Kadomi's shopping list and Vexryn's gear list are being consulted to fill the gaps. With the odd exception, such as avoiding the Schnottz quests (just too Nazi / pop-culture, sorry) and hence missing out on a shoulder upgrade, my next actions are governed by a researched optimal path rather than roleplaying considerations or just exploring the world. And so I've done a complete about-face from when I first set off into this game over 6 years ago. It also serves to highlight to me just how far behind current progression I am.

However, I think it's an inevitable part of playing a MMOG (and yes, I've deliberately dropped the 'RP' part). Ever since I first stepped in to Zul'Gurub at level 60, and found myself woefully ill equipped to tank my first raid, and later learned what raid preparation was really all about with Grulnak, the metagaming part of WoW has been on the ascendant for me. And in a MMOG I think this is correct - unless you're in a role playing guild on a roleplaying server you're otherwise letting your group down.

So my conclusion is to (1) accept how things are and not let it bother me so much and (2) find another outlet for my inner RPG nerd.