Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How I almost started to care about the Harvest Festival

Fitz at Healer Trek gives the Harvest Festival an F grade. “Worst holiday in the game, no doubt about it. If you find a reason to care about Harvest Festival let me know why. I'd love to know.”

Well, as a matter of fact I almost started to like the event when I stumbled up it this weekend. I say “almost”, because in the end it was a fail. I’ll tell you the story.

The yellow exclamation mark
It all started where all our adventures in Azeroth begin, with a shiny yellow exclamation mark. It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Dun Morogh, I had just come online and was about to take the usual quick jump from entrance of Ironforge down to the Brewfest camp for the daily booze party, when I noticed a new guy standing there, begging for my attention.

I consider myself pretty much well updated on what’s going on in game. The combination of excessive blog reading and regular browsing of wow.com and MMO-champion is usually enough to keep in touch. But this guy had slipped through the net. He was talking about some sort of harvest celebration and had a mission for me as well.

I draw the conclusion that this must be part of some sort of seasonal event, which probably gave some fancy fluff rewards, if nothing else another pet to my collection. But instead of following my instincts, looking up a “how-to” guide to complete the Harvest Festival in the most efficient way, I decided to do it differently this time. I would approach this the way I played WoW when I started in February 2007. I would follow my instincts and let the quest take me wherever it wanted to. I would explore the world rather than conquer it.

Of course there was a difference now to my first stumbling steps in Azeroth. I knew the world a little bit better. So the journey to this Uther’s Tomb in Western Plagueland was pretty straightforward.

As I was riding the gryphon, I checked out the achievement tab for the holidays. Even if I didn’t want to use any Internet guide for this event, I thought I could check out the achievements for it. That would give me an idea about where this adventure would bring me and didn’t feel like cheating. But I soon found out that there wasn’t any achievement at all for it. I decided to not be disappointed about it. It only meant that there was no tick-box stress luring on me. I could enjoy it as a casual, relaxed adventure.

Disappointed
Finding the tomb wasn’t hard, even without addons and guides. I had a vague memory of where it was situated, and it turned out that I was right. It was even included in the world map, so I shouldn’t have worried about it.

I approached the place, curious and a little bit excited. I had no idea about what would happen. Was there to be some phasing? Would I pick up the next quest in a long chain? Would a ghost appear and talk to me, maybe some cool voice acting performance? This could be anything!

I guess I don’t need to tell you that I was pretty disappointed when I did my clicking and the only difference I could notice was that the quest was completed. Oh well, there would surely be a nice follow-up once I got back to Ironforge to turn it in. The guy would have another mission for me, and so would the ghosts hanging around the place by the dinner table. Once I turned in this quest there would be a jungle of yellow exclamation marks for me. And I wouldn’t have a clue about what anyone of them meant. Oh joy!

Little did I know.

I received my 12 gold, a crap book and a “thank you”. No yellow mark. Maybe this was the kind of quest giver who wanted to hold a little speech and wander around doing a little piece of acting before he told me what he wanted. So I waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing.

The food table
Then I turned around, looking at the ghost party, starting to click whatever I could, desperately hoping that there was something more I could do, now that I finally had come to my senses, using a “let’s see what this leads me to” mindset rather than a “let’s get over with this grind” mindset as I approached an in-game event.

Yeah, there was a firework vendor. But his assortment wasn’t impressive to be honest. And then there was this food on the table. I inspected it suspiciously. This was the kind of food that probably would have come handy when I was levelling my first character, provided that it wasn’t a mage, who brings his own. But for me – to be honest it was just another bag filler. The only fun thing about it was that the supply was a bit limited. If I took enough of fruit from the table, the plate would disappear. This amused me for a second, for some reason it tickled my sense of wardrobe role playing. I felt immersed as I wondered around, tasting all the goodies of the table.

And that was the end of my Harvest Festival experience.

Reasons to like it
Fitz gave the event an F-grade and considering my disappointment I’m not far from doing the same. However, there is one little reason to like this event that I would like to point out: the pleasure of change.

The longer I play WoW, the more I’ve come to appreciate anything that isn’t exactly the same from day to day. The Darkmoon Faire moving around. One day it’s there – the next it’s not. There is a point in those holiday events coming and going: it gives variety and a sense of the passing time.

For this reason, I even visited the Pirate day event in Booty Bay! I’m not a huge pirate fan myself and the fun of speaking as a pirate is beyond my sense of humour. The whole thing felt shallow and provided little content, most of all it appeared to be a lag party on the rooftop. But nevertheless – it was a change, a welcome break in the everyday life of Azeroth. Those things definitely helps to make the world come alive – especially if you choose to approach it from a casual, exploring, deliberately inefficient way rather than grinding them.

I almost started to care about the Harvest Festival. Given just a few follow-up quests and a little bit more of content, it could have been a little bit of fun.

18 comments:

gnomeaggedon said...

Mmmm foood.... says my Shaman... Shame you can't fill the bank with it.

Klepsacovic said...

"Ooh what's this?" Click. Click click. Click. Am I having fun yet?

Seems that it could be a good event for RP.

Flex said...

it was a change, a welcome break in the everyday life of Azeroth

I think the problem is that life on Azeroth has become 'everyday', don't you?

Cap'n John said...

I'm enjoying it to a small degree because it lets my lowbies get a hat or a pair of glowing sunglasses, which really do nothing except look pretty. Then again the goggles do make me wobble as I run, which is amusing, for about 2 wobbles, so I take them (if I wanted a snazzy pair of glasses on a lowbie toon I'd take up Engineering, which I usually do :P)

The only Festival-saver is the Wolpertinger. I was really bummed when I let this one pass me by last time, then I ran an Instance with a Guildie who had one and I was all WTF??? Dude! What IS that? Where did you get it? I want one!

My Gnome Warlock having both her Imp and Wolpertinger out at the same time is a sight that I find most pleasing. For some reason the Wolpertinger is a very apt Pet for a Warlock :)

spinksville said...

It does make me a little bit sad that you've never been to Uther's tomb before. There's a neat little quest from (the alliance flightpoint nearby, I forget the name) where a draenei guy sends you off to honour the tomb, it's quite poignant.

Hierakles said...

Hey Larísa, I think there may be a bit more to the harvest festival yet. Just now I checked my mailbox, and found a letter from one Wagner Hammerstrike, containing a horn called Bounty of the Harvest. This fun little item conjures 4 food items from the harvest, with a 12 hour cooldown

MomentEye said...

I got the Bounty of the Harvest this morning as well (Horde side)... maybe it's a timed release programme

Carra said...

Ghosts sitting around a table outside ironforge?

Sounds familiar to me, it's probably an old holiday. They got better with doing their seasonals as time goes by.

Carra said...

Oh, congrats on getting linked on wow.com

Gave it a visit since you mentioned the site. Do you get linked all the time or is this a special occasion?

Larísa said...

@Gnomeaggedon: don't remember if it's soulbound. If not- maybe stuff an alt bank?

@Klepsacovic: well, I'm not a roleplayer really. But for a second I thought of myself as a hungry little gnome giving herself a treat.

@Flex: oh yeah... There's a reason why we get so excited by the patches...

@Cap'n John: I think you're mixing it up. I'm not talking about Brewfest. The Harvest Fest that is going on at the same time is something different.


@Spinksville: Actually I think I've been there before, on my rogue alt. But yeah, I never did every single quest in the Plaguelands, since I'm a TBC baby. Outlands was pulling as I approached 58.

@Hierakles & Moment Eye: oh yeah, I got it too. and now I'm arguing with myself whether to keep it or not. Sure, it's cool, but for a mage it's redundant in the same way as the spore thing in Zangar was.

@Carra: I've been linked from there a couple of times before. But certainly not every day!
It's nice when it happens, I think most bloggers like to get a bit of attention for their work from time to time.

However you shouldn't overestimate the importance of it. Sure there will be a few more comments and visitors for one day maybe. But in the long run the inn is here for the regulars and the staff. It's here for us who know each other and like to hang around and relax in this cozy environment, in a corner of Azeroth, far away from the buzz at WoW.com.

Shintar said...

I actually love the fact that there is so little to do during this festival. When I first spotted it on the calendar I actually fretted, going "what, but I'm not done with all the Brewfest stuff yet" and I mistakenly thought that the new "Pilgrim's Bounty" achievements were for the harvest festival (when in fact they are not).

I really appreciate that this is a holiday that's just that - an excuse to celebrate a little, have a quest to remind you of what a special occasion it is, and then you can continue to go on your merry way.

I think most holidays in WoW have become too "achievement-ised", where you don't care about what it was originally about and it's just all about logging in x times a day to be able to tick off all the achievements on your list. It's a sad parallel to real life where holidays have become completely commercialised, and Christmas for example has turned into a time of rushing around and seeing who can buy the most expensive presents instead of a time of introversion and giving thanks.

Bri said...

I think we've all been playing WoW so long we've become a bit jaded. It's a fun thing that introduces you to a bit of Warcraft lore that you may not have been aware of -- the story of Uther Lightbringer for the Alliance, or the redemption of Grom Hellscream for the Horde.

Dorgol said...

For newer Horde players, Harvest Festival might be a little more interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if LOTS of Horde (and Alliance) players never found the monument for Grom.

Uther's Tomb is pretty public, though.

I always do this quest on my characters. The food is useless (though my warrior used the 12 hour cooldown food for a long, long time), but the point is to make the trip.

Remember: this is the equivilant of Memorial Day in the US. We should use this time to remember the men and women who fight (or fought) for our freedoms.

Amber said...

As a lore nerd, I actually saw a lot of potential for this event. It would've been neat if maybe after you honored whichever faction's hero you had, the hero came out in ghost form to provide, "warnings" of a sort that link directly to upcoming events in Azeroth. Both heros could've brought some really interesting things to light.

All in all, it was a simple 12 gold and a good screen shot moment.

Tal said...

Hmm, I remember my first Harvest Festival, back in Vanilla... We had people from a couple of RP guilds get together and walked (with stops along the way for drinking, of course) all the way to the plaguelands. It was really a lot of fun, but not the kind Blizzard can take credit for. :)

Larísa said...

@Shintar: I agree! That's why I almost liked it. But it felt just a little bit too shallow to work for me. I had expected a little bit more, a follow-up quest, anything. This was a dead-end too quick. Which was a pity.

@Bri: Well, I'm one of those who haven't played since vanilla. And sometimes I'm grateful about that. I still stumble upon new content, like this piece.

@Dorgol: hm... yeah, actually it's kind of confusing. Mixing up Memorial day (which we don't have where I live) with some sort of harvest fest.... I don't quite see the connection.

@Amber: oh yeah, a lot of potential. But poor execution as it is.

@Tal: sounds like fun! We tend to look at travelling as "wasted" time. But it depends on how you do it.

Cap'n John said...

Good Lord, there's a Harvest Festival as well? Which Blizzard employee's bright idea was it to have two Festivals at the same time?

Is the Harvest Festival the reason for the party outside Stormwind? I'd seen that, but thought it was just part of the Brew Festival.

Silly Blizzard.

Larísa said...

Not sure if it's outside of SW as well. I picked up the q in Ironforge...

And yeah those seasonal things tend to bunch up for some strange reason. It was the same with... hm... was it Noblegarden and Childrens week? At least there were a couple of events that stacked last spring. And then just plain silence for the whole summer. It seems as if they haven't thought this through.