Friday, August 21, 2009

Tickled Pink: Onyxia Revisited

Larísa's take:

"You can't step into the same river twice."

This quota by the old Greek philosopher Heraclitus has haunted me through life. How many times hasn't it happened that I've wanted to return to something I enjoyed once upon a time - it could be a job, the company of a friend, a place I've visited? In some sort of wishful thinking and outburst of nostalgia, I've fooled myself for a second that it would be the same experience as it was the first time.

But then I've heard the soft whispering from the old man, reminding me that everything inevitably changes over time. The flood seemingly runs the same way as always. But the second time you step to it, the water that was there the first time has moved on somewhere else. It's not the same river, even though it maybe looks like it.

We can do things again that we've done before. We can re-read novels 20 years later, get back to our favorite restaurants and see the movie yet another time. But we must be prepared for another experience. If nothing else, we have changed in ourselves.

I came to think about this as I heard about the upcoming return of Onyxia. The opinions on it differ. Most reactions I've heard so far have been pretty negative.

"We've been there and done that. Why on earth would we like to do it again? Blizzard should use their resources to develop new content rather than to reheat the leftovers from yesterday. We deserve that as paying customers. "

Others on the other hand hope to enter the river once again and are excited, expecting that raiding somehow once again will feel as epic as it did in vanilla WoW. And considering the river mechanism, I'm afraid they're bound to get disappointed. No matter how much they'll revamp Onyxia and enhance not only stats and loot, but maybe also the visuals (at least I hope so, because frankly quite a lot of the vanilla WoW content looks rather plain and crappy if you compare it to WotLK) - they can't possibly create the same atmosphere. You who were around in the old days have too many years of raiding behind you, too many scars that you've earned wiping in Onyxia's lair to get that excited again, even if you'd like to.

I guess I could call myself lucky, being a TBC baby. Even though I've fought my way through the attunement and got my Drakfire Amulet (still in my bank deposit), I've only done this encounter in an overpowered manner, more or less as a joke, where it didn't matter much what I did as long as I stayed out of fire. This means that I can actually look forward to this raid encounter, which will be more or less new to me.

But no matter if you like the thought of a returning Onyxia or if you consider it rather pointless, we probably shouldn't work up ourselves too much about it. Think of it as a silly little bonus event to celebrate the anniversary, equivalent to the cute baby bear we got last year. It does not take away Blizzard's focus from developing Cataclysm and whatever is beyond that. The amount of PR about a phenomena doesn't necessarily reflect how important it is.

As long as we don't believe that the river is the same, we'll be fine.

Elnia's Perspective

I have been fortunate in my life to have traveled outside the USA numerous times. My advice to people about traveling is always the same, "Go. Just go." There is no right time to travel because every traveling experience you have is going to be a unique combination of who you are at the time and who the places and people you meet along the way are at that time. And whether it is you who are different or the place that is different the experiences are not fully repeatable.

The other thing that I have learned is that as big and huge as this planet is (and it is not a small world after all) no matter where you go someone will have been there before. It's like falling in love with someone who is married; if you are expecting virginity you are simply deluded. Virginity is the province of the inexperienced.

On of my pet sayings is that novelty is the rape of intuition. Being new and fresh and virginal is certainly attractive. On the other hand, a lust for perpetual virginity, perpetual novelty, perpetual freshness and youth seems to me a disordered view of life. Certainly there is a rush the first time new lovers see each other naked. But no one who has experienced the deep and penetrating satisfaction of a true emotional and mental intimacy built up over time would ever trade that for a series of perpetual infatuations. At least I wouldn't.

So I agree entirely with Larisa when she says you can't have the same experience twice. But why would you want to? Why is it that the second time or the third time around is by default going to be worse. Sometimes, I won't lie, it is worse; that happens. Yet I think it shows a poor mental attitude, a self defeating attitude, to simply assume that's going to be the case. Shouldn't it be, like when you have the right lover, experience makes it better. To me all the angst around recycled content in Warcraft smacks of a lust for endless virginity, a desire to plunder the muse of creative intuition for all it's worth and leave it bleeding and moaning in some drank alley.

And that's assuming that angst is even credible. There are a lot of trolls out there who will search out anything, no matter how small, just to bicker about it. They will find the negative in every situation. If it's recycled content then it's boring because it's not new; if it new then it's offensive because it's not traditional and violates the the lore, or their sense of identity, or whatever. Not only do these poor creatures collapse everything into a binomial, they collapse it into a negative one. Pity them.

Rather than prejudging the matter, we should give Blizzard a chance to show what they can do with a recycled Oynxia. I am more likely to accept negative criticism from someone after the fact if I know they had an open mind before the fact than someone rehashing the same criticism they been had going on about for the last year. At the end of the day, the only real measure of success is if the game designers produce an expereince that's interesting or fun to play; if they do that, no one will care if it's recycled or not.


Anonymous said...


Onyxia revamp...sounds horrible but i do hope its not, maybe with attunment re-introduced? An epic length quest line...instead of just turning up and killing her...

Cacknoob (Aion player)

Id think about returning just to do it....

Tesh said...

Wow, barkeep, some rather... evocative commentary. Not that I disagree, just that I don't typically present it in such terms because of the lack of maturity of most gamers. I think the chase for perpetual "virginity" is self-defeating. It's probably no coincidence that a plague of locusts can be described as "rapacious".

Mindless, slavering consumption has been the bane of MMOs for a long time now (and gaming in general, if we can be honest about it). I doubt there's much of a way around that. (Here's where I get pithy and suggest that the chase for perpetual novelty is a mindset that true maturity manages to grow out of, but that most MMO players aren't all that mature.) Still, here's hoping that Blizzard can manage to make things interesting again, not because everything is shiny and new, but because it's still good, and maybe even better the second time around.

Klepsacovic said...

You can never go back and trying will just lead to disappointment. Sadly, I suspect this has more to do with a lack of time/effort/ideas for new content than with a desire to remake a raid that everyone has already seen.

Tomas said...

I myself am actually really interested in how Onyxia will play out for a level 80 experience.

I believe no matter how much crap blizzard gets, they really aren't lazy, and we really just read far too much in between the lines where there really isn't anything there.

To me, perhaps this is just a fun event for an "woot we are another year older" celebration", but I also think that perhaps... maybe this ties into Cataclysm in some small form. Perhaps bringing Onyxia up to a higher level, closer to that of Deathwing, holds some significance?

Larísa said...

@Cacknoob: you couldn't stay away, could you? Welcome back!

@Tesh: well, maybe Blizzard isn't reading our blog, but at least they're reading our thoughts as it seems, planning to make the game interesting again in a deeper sense than just adding another instance to devour and throw to the side, waiting for the next.

@klepsacovic: In the light of the expansion plans I become more positive to Onyxia rewamp to be honest. Maybe there's more to it than just "recycling".

@Azryu: exactly my view. At first, writing this, I thought it's not a big deal, to be compared to the blizzard pet we got last year. Now I think it's more than that, it's a sample to tease us for the Cataclysm.