Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sparkles don’t come with tier gear

Sometimes I wonder if Blizzard has made a mistake putting the sparkles on the quest items. Probably many players would be better off if it was the characters that twinkled rather than the objects.

For some reason we seem to need it. We want to feel like stars. If not every single second, at least once in a while.

The urge to be special
This urge to be special, to be recognized, and identified, to be a name and not just someone in a faceless crowd seems to be an overall trend in society. Have you ever heard of a youngster who wants to become a system administrator or work at a grocery store when they grow up? Probably not. If you believe what they say, we’ll soon live in a land populated by pop stars and models.

But the longing for stardom and attention it’s not just childish dreams, something we’ll grow away from as time passes. I think you see it with adults as well. Take the act of blogging for instance. When you think about it, don’t we all step up on a soapbox, publicly displaying our thoughts and personalities, sticking out from the crowd? How come else that we upload our posts instead of letting them stay on our private hard disks?

We all want to sparkle. We all want to be Somebody rather than Nobody. And sometimes I can’t help thinking that this tendency is even stronger in Azeroth than in real life. If we fail to reach the Star status in real life, we can somehow compensate for it in the game.

Some people will immediately argue that it’s an illusion, that any kind of notion of being “special” in WoW is completely false and just pathetic, pulling out the “it’s just a game” argument. Yeah, I know. You’re sort of right. But if you achieve the same state of mind and somehow experience a boost of your self confidence, what’s the big harm in it?

So I don’t really condemn the need many players have to become noticed and feel special. However I keep coming back to the question: where do we get the sparkles from? How do we become stars in WoW? Who decides what is a star and on what criteria?

Star status from gear
There is a quite widespread idea in the community that Star status comes from rare shiny gear, at least if you’re reading the discussions about the upcoming changes to the badge system.

Mind you, some players are just fine with the changes, seeing it as a great opportunity to gear up alts and get good raiders who for some reason (like a temporary break) are behind the gear curve a chance to catch up smoothly.

But quite a few of the raiders, if not the majority, are displaying signs of frustration. They fear that their Ulduar gear will become trivialized in the same moment as the badge gear is released. Everyone will be wearing t8.5 pieces and there’s no way to tell how it was earned – by through hard work and effort taking out the keepers or by mindless farming of 5-man heroics.

They fear that they won’t sparkle as they used to. Will they be noticed and admired anymore? Or will they become as faceless and impersonal as any ST borg?

And now we have come to the point when I have to tell you the sad truth.

You weren’t very much noticed in the first place. At least not by me. You were faceless before the next patch and you’ll stay faceless after the next one, unless you do something about it.

Showing off in Dalaran
I can’t help laughing a bit when I read about how you enjoy walking around in Dalaran, showing off your shiny Ulduar gear and I shake my head in disbelief. Honestly, when I’m in the mage capital, I don’t pay much attention to you or to any other player whatsoever around me. I’m totally focused on doing the errands that need to be done, be it delivering a dailiy fishing quest or taking the portal to Wintergrasp, and then get out of the lag feast as soon as possible.

I definitely couldn’t be bothered to stop inspect anyone, neither for gear, nor for comparing achievements. I may notice a title above your head, if it’s one of the most exclusive and hard-to-obtain ones. But that’s about it.

What about your good looks then? Isn’t there any way to catch the attention of Larísa, at least if you move your butt to the less laggy Ironforge?

Well, if you think I’ll go “oohh” as I see your tier 8.5 outfit, you’re dead wrong. Most of the Northrend gear looks pretty much the same to me. I can’t tell one thing from the other.

To make me notice you, you would have to wear something that really sticks out, such a The Twin Blades of Azzinoth.

Once again I come think about our realm clown Cacknoob. He is quite a familiar sight to most Alliance EU Stormrage players, always standing on the bridge of IF in his X-52 Rocket helm. I don’t claim he’s a star (even though his guild is running a campaign for him to become president). But at least he has managed to build himself a trademark.

If you want to be remembered for your looks I suggest that you rather go for elegance or originality than for gear stats.

How to sparkle
To all of you who are desperate to sparkle and stand out from the crowd, no matter how, I send the following messages: forget abut the ordinary epics. You’ll never sparkle in it, no matter in what manner you have attained it.

There are other ways to shine.

  • You can shine by doing things for the community on your server, arranging guild pugs old world raids to get achievements, which you announce on your realm forums.
  • You can make yourself a name by making innovative and awesome guild events, such as the officers in our guild did. (We even got a post about our guild at http://www.wow.com/, isn’t that quite a bit more epic than showing off your 8.5 tier set?)
  • You can specialize deeply into some aspect of the game. Become The Autority of Lore and share your knowledge with anyone who’s interested. Take up the competition with the goblins of your realm and become The Master of AH. Find up some different way to play the game, such as those who have levelled to 80 without dying or without killing any creature or without wearing any gear and then tell the world about it.
  • You can start an awesome blog that will give Gevlon some competition for the subscribers.

But the best way to sparkle is probably the least spectacular and the one that takes most effort.

You can just work silently on becoming a reliable, easygoing and skilled player who is an asset to any guild and a dream member of any PUG arranged on your server. You can make your way into as many friends lists as possible.

It won’t happen over night, but trust me, slowly the word will spread and there will be sparkles around you, you’ll get whispers and greetings and invites.

And best of all: those sparkles are magic. They don’t get outdated at the next patch.


Kedge said...

I remember some stars from my Server, These were people who achieved some amazing feats.

I remember the first person I saw with Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker and the friend of mine who got Grand Marshal status when PvP was different.

These were only stars to me as I was impressed with their achivements and something to which I could strive to match.

However these unique achievements seem to be few and far between now-a-days.

I agree with your final point, I think we should all strive to be the best player we can, being an asset to a guild or a PuG or just being nice to other people you see round the world. That will make people sparkle and I have many /friends who have done just that for me.

I would prefer to be kind and liked in return than just being famous.

Eury said...

There's a running joke in my guild about "Eury's Office".

Over the past few months, the right hand side of the steps to Eventide bank have become my "office". While dealing with guild issues Eury parks there. It's out of the direct line of traffic yet still affords me quick access to the GB, a mailbox, and a vendor (when I need to clear some gb items not worth AH'ing).

It's not uncommon for my first hour in game to be spent at the office before jumping into dailies.

I do prefer Dalaran over the other major cities, even where'd I'd have instant AH access as well. It's the mage in me I guess.

The point to all of that was for all the showboaters and Stars in Dalaran. I'm too busy to notice the gear or mounts or naked dance parties for that matter. Yes, one time I actually ran up the steps to the bank and missed about 20 naked dancing people in front of the bank.

I definitely agree on your suggestions on how to sparkle. So much so that I'm going to link this is a post on the guild website. It's a great reminder on ways to stand out that actually make a positive impact instead of just a visual impact!

Anonymous said...

I actually wish my armor *didn't* sparkle. Especially on a Tauren warrior, Shoulderplates of the Deconstructor (Ulduar drop) are so huge, they surround me in this glowy nimbus that makes me look like I'm backlit. And why does the mere act of equipping a Titanium Weapon Chain on a weapon suddenly cause it to glow like a fluorescent tube and drop little sparkly dust motes behind it?

The rest of your points on how to "sparkle" are totally fantastic. Be a good player, and more importantly, be a good PERSON, and that's more important than any loot you'll ever see.

Fish said...

You know why I play wow and not one of the many other game options out there? I have a selection of gear to put on my characters that looks cool. For the most part my characters just keep looking cooler as they progress. Functionality is nice and all, but I have almost no desire to replace my pally's titansteel helm, even if I could, because the thing just looks so awesome! The most important F in the game isn't Fame or Fortune, it's Fun!

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, I cant think of anyone that sparkles through being a good player and community giver. Just the ones who's name you see in chat the most. I've been on some raid with fantastic leaders but have no idea of their names. However, I can name a few people off the top of my head from my server who are all the time in trade and general chats.

As for the recent gear and emblem issues with some people... well, I best not get started onthat again.

Great post :)

Klepsacovic said...

I claim credit for all ganking down by a Bloodsail Admiral wielding a Thunderfury. My sparkles are from not playing quite right, farming irrelevant (except for me) content.

@Panzercow: You'd be surprised how far you can get by being a total asshole, not that I'm encouraging it, but just pointing out that many people get ahead that way.

Galyan said...

I think I am going to take your advice about organizing old raid runs. I currently do this for my guild but always seem to have 10-15 spots available. Maybe I can fill those spots with a realm forum post.

Ixobelle said...

this fits exactly into the whole 'i really don't give a crap that ensidia downed *whatever* already' mentality I have about the game.

I **NEVER** inspect other people in town, the only time I may inspect someone is if they are the same class as me, and we're standing around before a ready check in a dungeon. I have no idea what tier whatever looks like, unless I'm wearing it myself.

I just. don't. care.

i also turn off all little player titles.

Hell, I play the game with no monitor even attached to my computer, and play with my mouse while I read a book!

thelyse said...

i quite like the introduction of sparkles to quest items, esp herbs. i used to hate herbing because i couldn't see where it is, even though i'm stepping gon it!

Gevlon said...

While you obviously don't feed the morons who walk around and around in Dalaran like some peacock, you still find the urge to sparkle normal.

The others who notice, recognize, identify you, won't give you anything. And will forget you when the next sparkling person arrives.

On the other hand if you are useful to others because you are a reliable player who don't wipe them, they will remember you. They may not adore you, you won't be a star, but they still call you when you are available.

Anonymous said...

there area few people on my server that are very well known and very few of them are known for their gear.

there' a guildy of mine - who's an amazing warrior tank AND one of the richest players on the server. But what sets him apart from other rich people and great warrior tanks is that he's also very nice.

then there's a GM of the now top horde raiding guild (used to be the guild I'm in but they shifted focus to a more relaxed progression in Wrath) - who took an opposite approach of being as big of a jerk in trade as he can manage :)

then there's a Paladin on alliance side, whose claim to fame is having practically every blacksmithing recipe in the game, including some very obscure ones. He's also an incredibly nice individual, so part of his fame are people jokingly going over the top in their worship :P

Me - I had a dubious distinction of being known among heroic running crowd as one of non huntards (back when my hunter was my main).

Personally - I agree with you. for most of us, unless its a legendary or something truly rare and requiring of luck - gear never made anyone special. Unless you are somehow on a server with only one raiding guild - you were always one of the many faceless crowd, especially since most northrend gear shares the same or similar graphic.

and maybe is just me, but I started hiding out on alts partly becasue sometimes (ok a lot of times) I really would rather just play instead of parking myself somewhere to be able to carry 3-4 conversations at once.

Fitz said...

I also have no clue what Tier gear looks like across the various classes, although if I see a nifty hat or weapon I will inspect to see what it is. But we definitely need more people to organize fun runs on old world content or guild officers willing to sacrifice a raid night for a fun activity.

The only way you really get noticed for being an elite raider on my server is to be a member of the top Horde or Alliance guild. And that was more because of how the guild handled themselves on the server rather than their gear. However, the top Alliance guild (which was tops on the entire server for as long as I've been playing) just broke up, so now there is a power vacuum. Who wants to sparkle?

Hatch said...

Great post, Larisa. I think you have a really healthy attitude. :)

Eury, it's a funny coincidence that my "office" is in the same spot as yours! We just call it my "spot" and I've been using it since I first came to Dal.

I often wonder why more people don't use it. I guess they don't mind standing in crowds. I just feel more comfortable off in a quiet spot alone and partly out of sight.

Jormundgard said...

This is a great subject, I'm glad people are broaching it.

Many times my office is up in Archmage Vargoth's tower in Dalaran. But at times it's such a lonely place... such a lonely place.

Larísa said...

@Kedge: yeah, I agree. There are a few things that makes me go "oohh", but they're far between. I remember in TBC when someone spotted a guy in Shattrath ages ago with the Alar mount and we all headed there asap to see it and gasp... Very enjoyable, probably to the happy player too! But that's the exception. Most things you don't notice.

@Eury: That could so have been me! It's actually a bit sad that I don't see more of my surroundings, probably I miss a few interesting things. But I'm bad at spooting mushrooms in the forrest as well.

@Panzercow: Sparkles or not is a matter if taste I guess. I remember when I got - I think it was the tier 5 shoulders - anyway, some sholders that had a sort of mystic red glowing light surrounding them. It fit so perfectly well for a mage!

@Fish: to some people I guess Fun = Fame and Fortune. But yeah, there is Fun without it as well if you bother to look a bit further.

@Rapidresponseunit: yeah, being known isn't the same as being loved... To some players it's just as good, as long as they're not anonymous. I'm definitly not one of those.

@Klepsacovic: Originality always sparkles! Kudos to you.

@Galyan: a good way to start building yourself a name on the server! Good luck!

@Ixobelle: playing without watching the game! Are you at the 3.2 ptr? Seems like it's going that way considering the change to the maps...

@Thelyse: I like it - and not. At the same time. It helps me a ton ofc, but also makes the game feel more mechanical.

@Gevlon: I don't say it's rational, this need for attention and confirmation that people have. But it's there to some extent for most of us (except for you, I don't want to insult you... :)
I'm not educated in psychology or sociology so I'm not quite sure about why we see this development. But instead of just dismissing it as stupidity I thought you could try to turn this urge to something somewhat more useful and longlasting. More than 15 min of fame...

@Leah: I've never ever been in the position where I had to hide on an alt to be left in peace... I'm really a happy faceless nobody on my server.

@Fitz: well, being a member of THE top guild of your server certainly adds a few sparkles. But it's rather the guild tag than you... and it's such a fragile way to be famous. Easily gone after a disband.

@Hatch: thanks! I saw your angry rant against Euripides, another blogger with a great temper. I think you have good points, both of you. Like you I hate the attitude that "don't you come and think that you're somebody" which just puts people down. On the other hand I think some whining from raiders about handing out free loot is pretty exaggerated. no matter of badge gear, poor players will never be able to get hard achievements or compete about server-first kills... The elite will remain special. I liked both of your posts. They completed each other.

@Jormundgard: office in the mage tower! Wow! But it's kind of far off from bank and mail box. I don't quite get it. What do you do in your office? If you just want to meet people, why not go to some less laggy part of the world?

Captain The First said...

We are all special... so very special.

Ziboo said...

Well put Larisa!

Gear is well and good, but I wonder how many people really do know what the swirling blue, bubbling whatever is without 'inspecting or armory-ing' someone!

Once in awhile an awesome hat or weapon might catch my eye but in general, could really care.

I just assume whomever I see standing around Org/SW/Shat/Dal has something new they're showing off!

Being helpful, friendly, reliable and causing no harm - much better imho.