Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Goodbye world!

And so began the evacuation of Azeroth.

With Cataclysm still months away, Blizzard has already started to take measures to make sure that we stop patrolling the world. Our heroes are to take shelter in the major cities, leaving the poor civilians on their own. The new instant teleporting to instances incoming in the next patch is a step in this direction. It motivates us to turn our backs to whatever is happening outside the walls and instance portals, leaving free room for demons and other creatures to take over and destroy everything in their way. A Cataclysm requires a deserted world. From that point of view, the Exodus makes sense perfectly well.

Waste of effort
The insight of what is about to happen hit me as a rock a few nights ago. Playing a lever 80 character, what will motivate me to ever let Larísa get outdoors, getting some fresh air, seeing some new horizons?

I’m not addicted to making dailies at AT. I’ve got enough gold to buy whatever consumables I need at AH rather than painstakingly gathering the materials. And now I will be able to teleport to the daily instance rather than flying to it. So why would I bother to move my ass anywhere at all? Will the result of 3.3 be that I restrict my existence in Azeroth to alternating between Ironforge, Dalaran, battlegrounds and instances? Will those beautiful sceneries – the soothing sunsets, the frozen waterfalls, the sunbathed deserts and the hazy, shaded forests just fall into oblivion?

The vastness of the world was one of the things that made me fascinated with WoW in the first place. And now we’re just dumping it in the trash bin. It’s as if we’re voluntarily entering the smallest of Malygos bubbles. It’s such a waste of artistic effort. All those dreams and fantasies will remain as digital numbers and program codes, never coming alive in anyone’s mind.

An explorer once again
How did it happen? Once upon a time I was an explorer. When did my gameplay end up being all about achievements and efficiency? I don’t know. But the other night I made a conscious decision to make a change and dedicate some of my non raiding time to just enjoy the sceneries once again, before it’s lost in the coming tide.

I’ve never cared about the Explorer achievement. It’s a rather silly one, don’t you think? It doesn’t require any skill whatsoever. Just flying or riding around. Not much to show up or be proud over.

However, it’s quite useful as a help to see what parts of the world you’ve never cared about seeing until now. Looking at it, I could see that I had missed quite a few views of Kalimdor- a natural consequence of levelling as an alliance gnome, who is more at home among the peaks of Don Morogh than in the elfish forests or barren plains. So I turned on the fog to see where I had unknown territory and headed out for a final mission: to once again become an explorer, checking out the mysteries of this magical universe.

Beautiful but lonely
Do you want to know what it’s like out there? I tell you: it’s lonely. Dead lonely. I rarely see anyone around but NPCs. (Amount of players in Desolace last night: 1. Larísa the gnome. I checked /who.) Not that I need any help from fellow adventurers, overpowered as I am for anything I’m likely to encounter. But even though I don’t exactly feel adventurous, cruising among lvl 10 moonkins who have gone evil, it’s still a rather enjoyable experience. What it lacks of excitement, it makes up in beauty. I’m almost as enchanted as if it had been in the early days of my WoW career.

I’m doing my farewell tour in Azeroth. Soon enough I’ll be restricted to cruising between instant portals and city facilities like everyone else. It’s like an amusement park where they’ve bunched up the rollercoasters and all the other attractions side by side, skipping all fluff like green parks and strolling areas. It’s something I suspect that most players appreciate - and me as well. I expressed my enthusiasm over it the other day, commenting on the new LFG tool. It’s like being on a holodeck, instant switching between different scenarios.

But I can’t help feeling a pang of sadness that the world has become so small. Hopefully it will grow once again after Cataclysm is launched and we once again will head out to conquer the world.


Gorkette said...

Here is for hoping that the Archaeology skill coming in Cataclysm will entice us to head back out into the wilds again!

Orlando "O2" Medeiros said...

Now try doing that one with Mob names and UI (Alt+Z) turned off. Feels like a completely different game!

Fitz said...

Not going to lie, the blog feed gave me the title of your entry and I thought "oh no another major blogger calling it quits!" Thankfully that was a mistaken belief on my part.

I feel this way about the world in real life. In Azeroth it may be sad, but the fast pace of life in general also makes us not appreciate the small things like watching a sunset or just going out on a walk with a friend or a family member. Maybe even writing a letter instead of an email. Maybe we should do those things more.

Stabs said...

Do you not feel that for most players this had more or less already happened?

Oh sure we trekked to Naxx or Ulduar (except the habitual slackers who always need a summons).

But the airspace from Dalaran to those raids was a commute, not a journey of wonder. If air had substance we would have worn deep tracks in it.

Cap'n John said...

If you have a card that can handle it use the Max Graphics Macro THEN turn off NPC and Mob names, remove the UI and go a-wandering.

Xaxiphoe said...

I took it upon myself to dust off a lvl 40 shammy that was started at launch of TBC as so many were and use it to do just what you said - a farewell tour to see all of Azeroth as it is now - dungeons and all, I found a grp of 3 others that felt the same way, so we ran through almost all the vanilla dungeons and had great fun doing it - it felt "right again" somehow. We've said we'll do it again horde side after cataclysm to see the changes etc, but seeing it all again, running thru towards BFD and other places long since left behind gave me a genuine smile, something I've not had for a while in Wow (along with a whole heap of screenshots for posterity). I urge all of you to do the same and recapture something of the wide eyed traveller we all once were.

Smeg said...

i've meticulously calculated the optimal flight height and direction for each destination i'm likely to attend. From the launchpad at dalaran, i would adjust my facing, mount and ride up, hit auto run then go afk. malygos was the worst because of initially not being able to traverse the no fly zone of wintergrasp.

after approx 2mins, i'd head back to my comp to find me nearing my desired destination. I would fly at almost max altitude to get over the peaks to ulduar, fly over the peak between terokkar and mag's lair. BT was great, because there was an invisible wall that would stop you if you aimed it right!

i care nothing for the world after max level. i don't wow for scenery or graphics because they pale in comparison to other games. I don't do dailies because i can craft for the AH. i'm not in a social guild and my friends/guild meet me at the instance. no point trying to send a tell to a little gold dot on your map; if they're in transit like me, they're afk.

Blizz has shown time and again that it's not a world, its a game. There is no immersion so why bother? They used to routinely change flight path "to cut flight time" in the old world and added more flight paths so players could "get their faster." even they're not interested in the scenery. i haven't played with the sound effects on since vanilla - they're just so bad.

Lance said...

I still travel once in a while in lower-level areas, just for kicks and screen-shots of old places. They wont be the same and WoW has been part of my life for the last 5ish years. Thats all its gonna be at some point. Screenshots. Till then I'll take pics and farm low level mats cause they are hideously expensive :p :p

Carra said...

If I'd want to see the world again I'd level a new character. Maybe horde so I get to see the other side.

And make it useful by doing quests.

Larísa said...

@Gorkette: I haven’t heard that much about Archaeology, but yeah, it makes sense. Maybe we could dig out some pieces from the current world (which will be old and lost in the future.)

@Orlando “O2” Medeiros & @Cap’nJohn: It sounds tempting. Must be pretty cool. Only problem I see is that you miss the chat box and can’t keep up with whispers or chat within the guild. I haven’t yet dared to turn on all graphix at maximum, but I suppose I should be able to do that with my new computer, at least outside of raids.

@Fitz: oh! Sorry to scare you. No, it’s not time for me to leave the scene yet. I guess it will happen at some point in the future, but I have no plans on it now.
And I agree about the real life perspective as well. When was the last time you went out into a forest just to stroll, listen to the birds, enjoy the wind in your face, the smell of plants? Sometimes small is beautiful.

@Stabs: yeah, absolutely true. We use very few of the flightpaths available unless it’s for some silly achievement gathering event.

@Xaxiphoe: This sounds seriously fun! The only problem is to find a group for it. I started my druid alt in the ambition to do that stuff. But it turned out not to be as easy as I had hoped to find pugs for the old instances – even if I dual specced and offered to heal…. I guess you need to have some friends in game with the same idea to make it happen.

@Smeg: each one to his own. I played with the sound turned off on my old pc to minimize lag. Now I enjoy to have the music on again, low in the background. The medieval inspired flute in Elwynn makes me calm. And since I haven’t played any other games I can’t really compare the graphix and sceneries in WoW. They’re good enough to be amazing to me. But maybe I have very small demands compared to others.

@Lance: I actually haven’t taken any screenshots. But I know there’s some huge project going on at flickr, people documenting the world of today. My screenshots are all in my head…

@Carra: well, levelling another alt is quite a project – even with the heirlooms and increased speed. And the biggest problem for me is that if I’ll level something on the horde side I’ll be utterly lonely, not being in a guild, not knowing anyone at all (well, except for our dear Cacknoob, who moved over a while ago.

zetter said...

I must admit I have started a low level Warlock and kitted him out in full Heirloom gear to see more of the old world. Though I am torn between doing that or saving him as he is for the new expansion.

I for one will regret to an extent the new instant portals into instances as the long flights always gave me time to streach my legs and do some washing up or make a drink before starting.

Also it was amusing to look down on areas and see glimpses of like going on such as small battles or people mining.


lonomonkey said...

I truly miss the old way of playing, way back before BC. When getting a mount at 40 was something to be proud of and levels were coming in much slower.

I had great fun running around Desolace, finding caves and little story elements spread all over the place. I miss that playstyle a lot since wrath came out.

... here's to hoping Blizz knows what they are doing with that patch.

Macumbattack said...

Hey Larísa, nice post!

I loved what you said about traveling. My brother is a lot more radical than you, he thinks there should be no portals at all, and you should carry your food/drinks/whatever you need to survive in a charrot =) (he still dreams about a game with charrots!). Anyway, i was trying to get "The Explorer" title (even though I don't loke titles, like you, I like the "lore wise" ones, like Ambassador, Explorer etc, because they have an achievement feeling, like something important), and I myself was amazed how beatiful the game can be. It's a shame we forget about that from time to time.

Good luck on your hunting! (even you being an GNOME mage ¬¬')

Dw-redux said...

Im not too worried. You cannot change who you are, and its hard to change what you like.
And if you do miss going out seeing the world, you won't stop doing just that.
Just like if you think that arena pvp is retarded (like me) you won't ever have to do that either.
So I think that the little pink gnome and her pretty mounts will still be seen out there, in the world, looking at pretty sunsets and enjoying this great place that Blizzard has created. :)

Personally i luve the changes. Makes it easier to do, just what you feel like doing *when* you feel like doing it.

Kromus said...

Thankgod your not leaving.

Can't wait for archaeology skill, should put the much needed fun needed inbetween raids and instances.

I mean, as you've seen my anachronos video-- its so fun doing things not considered content, but yeah.

I'll be doing the same Larisa, luckily my external harddrive has 200gb worth of videos and screenshots of old WoW back from Pre-tbc, TBC and beyond! So if I ever get lonely slaying drakes in barrens, I'll go back to that ;D

jeffo said...

Something to consider is that when Cataclysm hits, you will have five new levels to work through, and I'm going to guess that most of those quests will be taking you into the 'old world' (though it will be altered). Of course, we'll be able to fly through much of it.

It's interesting to see how much our game play changes when you hit the cap. My motivation and the things that interest me are so very different from when I was 38 going on 39.

Firespirit said...

Ohh boy, you brought up a point that I had never thought about.

But then, once again, is the world really populated if all we are doing is running from instance to instance?

Tesh said...

I'm planning on keeping my current installation of WoW when Cataclysm hits. I'll have two separate installations, then, and can use the MapViewer (if it gets around to working on 3.1+) to check out either version of the world.

I'm an explorer, through and through. That's what I do, I look around.

Hinenuitepo said...

Nice perspective!
I was thinking, whoa, they won't let us go outside cities????
Oh, I get it. Yup, no reason to explore....
Heh, it will be interesting to explore the new/old Azeroth in Cataclysm though!

Elnia said...

@tesh. Me, you, and Pip. Well, so long as we don't have great expectation we'll be fine.

Tesh said...

I sure hope you're referring to the original, not that atrocious movie adaptation. :)

Bristal said...

Wait, the Explorer Achievement is silly because it requires no skill, but lets get dewy-eyed over no longer having to stare at the butt of our char/mount for 5 minutes traveling to an instance?

If you like WoW sunsets (I do) then go look at them. If you just want to log in and get to the instance, you will be able to do that too. I fly around doing dailies because I like the scenery. But wating 15 min for people to get to an instance is just a pain.

WoW has never really given exploration any tangible reward. It's too easy to find where quest targets are with addons or Data sites yada yada.

There are few random or rare mobs that are worth pursuing except for obscure achievements or Hunters looking for an Exotic pet.

And farming ore/herbs is all about speed and efficiency, not scenery.

What we should be complaining about is that there isn't any SPONTENEITY in the natural world of WoW. How about an occasional big-ass boss that wanders a zone causing mayhem and allows the first 5"heroes" to click it to fight it in an instance with some nice drops and a "Hero of Icewind" title for a day? Maybe it grabs all the nodes it passes or takes out a significant quest hub until it's defeated?

That kind of randomness would get people outdoors more.