Friday, February 11, 2011

A Haunted Week

I won’t hide it to you. This week is best described as “meh”, which is odd. After all it’s Patch week and we should be bouncing and clapping our hands – alternatively raging and knitting our fists over the buffs and nerfs to different aspects of the game.

But it’s quiet. Too quiet. I see apathy in the blogosphere and I see apathy in my guild and it’s damn hard to not get somewhat affected by it - even if you’re blessed with pink pigtails.

Adam wrote a post the other day claiming that old bloggers like me have a “responsibility to rise to the occasion and inspire others”. Are you serious Adam? I’ve been doing this for three years now, don’t you think I deserve a rest at some point?

But OK, I’ll do my best not to be too dark and whiney as I’m about to ramble away, sharing what’s been on my mind lately.

The haemorrhage in our guild
So, what’s up? Well, first, there’s the constant underlying worrying about the future of my guild. I wrote about it a while ago and we’re still struggling with our recruitment. While we still get an application here and there, we’re losing our older players at the same rate as the new ones join – or actually slightly quicker. The veterans aren’t leaving us for other guilds; it’s a case of reaching the point where the game doesn’t have a grip on them anymore. They’ve had their fun but now they’re done with it.

Of course this was bound to happen at some point, but I must admit that I’m a little bit surprised at the timing of it. We’re still just a couple of months into the expansion. It’s not like when we had been raiding ICC for six months and there was nothing new on the horizon. I wonder if this is just our guild or if it’s a sign of an overall change in the game. Are we seeing a shift of generations here? Are the vanilla veterans marching out?

The shift in the blogosphere
And then there’s the blogosphere. The part of it where I hang around took a huge hit this week as Righteous Orbs closed down. I still stand by what I wrote in a comment – that I’m happy for them, since I think that their talent was too to be spent on solely writing WoW-related blog posts. I understand and support their decision to move on, and somehow it’s almost a bit inspiring and liberating to see them let go so of it so easily.

But this said – Tam and Chas are leaving a huge void after them as they’re moving on. Normally I remove blogs that have shut down immediately from my blogroll, but in this case I can’t yet bring myself to do it. The community won’t be the same without their voices. They brought colour and life to it and as I look around in what’s left of bloggers, we all appear a bit grey and dull in comparison, to be honest.

However - life goes on and I suppose the rest of us will recover eventually. But I can’t deny that it feels as if I too am getting closer and closer to the day when it’s my turn to bid farewell and head for new pastures. The thought has crossed my mind, more than once.

On the brighter side: when oldies like RO and – at some point in the future – PPI shuts down, it leaves more space for the newcomers to flourish. And there isn’t any lack of new blood. Every week several new blogs are introduced in the Blog Azeroth forums. I keep getting letters from newcomers, such as most recently Stubborn at Sheep The Diamond, asking me how to get started and noticed. Maybe he will grow up and find his own voice and eventually and become the next generation’s equivalence of RO? You never know.

The LFD buff
So what about the patch that dropped this week? Does it get a “yay” or a “boo” from Larísa? Well, I think the biggest news in it was the introduction of the up-to-15 percent buff to LFD parties, which made some players cheer and others moan. I’m in neither party since I’m currently only doing dungeons in guild groups, so it really doesn’t affect me at all. And I don’t give a crap about if it’s easier or not for non-guild parties. It’s not my concern.

For me the most interesting aspect was the fact that we had been doing those random dungeons for such a long time without anyone noticing that the 5 percent buff didn’t work. It reminded me a little bit of when you’re teaching a child how to ride a bicycle. As long as you assure them that you’re holding the rear luggage carrier, everything will go just fine. They’ll keep going until the moment they realize that you’re actually not holding them anymore and haven’t been doing for a long while. As they see this, they’re bound to fall over, and they’ll be very angry with you, claiming that they can’t ride the bike unless you support them.

I know there have been come complaints, but I can’t help being a little amused thinking of that so many players seem to have been riding that bike damn well without anyone holding it. However, now all of a sudden, GC isn’t just holding the bike for us, he has even put on supporting wheels.

Is it for good or for bad? I don't know. I don't pug and I'm not the target audience for this change, so I'll refrain from judging and raging this time; I've done enough of it in the past.

Drop of the week
Let’s end this post on the brighter side. After four years of playing WoW, I finally got my first epic world drop in the form of a pair of plate trousers. For some obscure reason a crocodile in Tol Brad carried them in his pockets, so I killed him and sold them for over 20 k gold. This is a sum that I personally never ever, under any circumstances, would pay for a piece of gear that inevitably will be replaced in the next content patch. But of course I’m happy that other players think differently!

On the other hand, I'm prepared to spend ridiculous amounts of gold on other sorts of items that I suspect other players would consider utterly useless. Worthless fluff, filling your bags with nothing. And that’s exactly what I did for a part of the income from the trousers: I bought myself a shadow.

For ages, I’ve been cursing myself for losing my Haunted Memento, somewhere along the road. In case you’ve forgotten, this was an item that you got during the scorge invasion in the pre-Wrath events. If you have it in your bag, it will give you a haunted buff or debuff, (considering how you look at it), and occasionally you’ll also see a dark figure discretely following you in a distance.

Once upon a time I had one of my own, but I must have lost it during some bank clear-out, in the belief that it was just another trash necklace (the icon model is not unique for the item). And ever since, I’ve been a sad panda for being so careless and stupid.

However, rich as a goblin after my world drop, I entered AH and bought the one that was up at 5 k gold. It was worth every copper of it!

Finally I’m back to myself again. This is Larísa, this is me, in a nutshell. A gnome with bright pink pigtails, carrying a shadow she never quite can escape.

It’s been a haunted week indeed. So let’s end it here with a toast.

I’ll have a big one myself. I think I need it.



Dwism said...

I actually think the timing for veterans to leave, is just right. It's been the same for all the other expansions. You stay on for the expansion to hit, in the hopes, that It will give you that high again. That high, that all us junkies are searching for, that first high. And there is nothing that says: brand new high, than a sparkling new pon... expansion.
So you don't leave at the end of an expansion, because the lure of all the good things to come, keeps you hooked. Now its been two months, and everything isn't maybe all that new and exciting as you had hoped. Maybe you've cleared the first tier of raid content and realised that you are right back on a treadmill, that no longer has any appeal to you.

So yea, right about now, is a very good time for us veterans to call it a day. right about now, we realise that the game has not changed, its still just as awsome, just the same type of awsome. same same same. It is *us* that has changed.

Nils said...

Firstly this has been one of the best weeks in my life, watching Al Jazeera. I'm German, but I congratulate the Egyptian people on having awaken, finally.
Now, back on topic ;)

I’m in neither party since I’m currently only doing dungeons in guild groups, so it really doesn’t affect me at all. And I don’t give a crap about if it’s easier or not for non-guild parties. It’s not my concern.

You don't care?
It is not your concern?
This is exactly the problem !
Even worse than jealousy in a social game is indifference!

Let me say that my guild, that exists for 6 years now, also shows signs of breaking up. And while I feel sorrow right now, I also feel hope! Hope that after the long sleep that Blizzard brought us 6 years ago, game designers will finally find financing again for creative ideas!

Now .. what could be interesting is what Bioware does ...

Anonymous said...

"t’s not like when we had been raiding ICC for six months and there was nothing new on the horizon. I wonder if this is just our guild or if it’s a sign of an overall change in the game. "

I think it's the long tedious period in ICC which is directly causing the burnout now. People already ran through their patience and their strategies for killing time in WoW. And now, in between patches in Cataclysm, there's nothing left.

Hurrah for Egypt though! sadly we'll have to wait another 4 years to get rid of our lot.

Nils said...

Hurrah for Egypt though! sadly we'll have to wait another 4 years to get rid of our lot.

You seem to have no idea what an enormous privilege this is ;)

Anonymous said...

It's called irony.

Rades said...

I too lost my Haunted Memento somewhere, and it kills me inside. If they ever drop to tolerable prices on the AH I'm definitely going to snag one again. I miss my spectral buddy!

Stubborn said...

Me, I'm a BC baby. I was never around for vanilla. However, a lot of my friends had been playing since release, and oh buddy did they complain about BC. Not knowing anything different, I never had a problem with it.

I started playing D&D (I swear this is going somewhere related in just a second) during 2nd edition, and several of the players in my group were old hats who'd played back with the starter box, and oh buddy did they complain about 2nd edition. On and on.

Now here I am, a (relatively) old hat in WoW, and I find myself complaining about "the good old days." I think it has to do with how our brains work. The more often we repeat a routine, the more ingrained it becomes in our neural structure. So every time a new expansion comes out, we're having to rewire our brains out of this comfort zone, and it makes us cerebrally unhappy.

However, I worry about the loss of the "old timers" here in the community. Like Lord of the Flies, leaving a bunch of blog children (like myself) alone without the experienced discussion of old timers could lead to misunderstandings and senseless violence.

That said, I have no solution to the problem. I want to keep the old timers around, keep reading what they have to say, but there's no way for me to incentivize this, so I'm at a loss.

Don't lose heart, old timers! We want and need your guidance!

Anyone else with ideas about how to keep the oldens around?

Redbeard said...

If you have it in your bag, it will give you a haunted buff or debuff, (considering how you look at it), and occasionally you’ll also see a dark figure discretely following you in a distance.

So that's what that was. I always wondered if it was some bizarre DK or Warlock thing.

Having only played WoW for just shy of 1.5 years, I don't have that burnout yet. Well, that and having made the choice to not go through the ICC grind helps a lot, I suppose.

When you've brought your stable of toons to max level and you're settling into the gear up grind for raiding (or have started the raiding grind) you realize that this might be the 4th or 7th time you've done that (counting the gearing up for Ulduar and ICC and BT and Sunwell and... well, you get the point) I'm sure it starts to get repetitive.

I guess it boils down to what you're looking for in an MMO. Sure, if you're jaded at the routine you can look around and say, "is that all there is?" But is it really? There are tons of things to do in an MMO like WoW, but if people are conditioned to play an MMO in a certain way ("level -> gear up -> raid") that gameplay gets boring when the iterations are unchanging.

You can find references to the game "only starting for real when you reach max level" throughout the internet, but I believe that is short sighted. It reduces the game to a long grind to get to where --if these people are to be believed-- you ought to be starting. And then you have to grind again. And again.

In this case, WoW is a lot like life. Some people believe in a race to the finish, where those who amass the most stuff wins. Others try to enjoy the ride, and grump when people ask "is this all there is?" Still others strike out on their own and march to their own drummer, refusing to be pigeonholed into what others think they should be.

The challenge for us, then, is to not accept the game for what we think it is, but to change our perception of the game. And maybe by doing so we reinvent the game so that all seems new again.

Anonymous said...

It was a real shame to see RO shut down but I feel kinda happy for them doing what they want and not slaving themselves to a chore just to keep others happy. Blogging only works if the people doing it get the satisfaction from within. The little chuckles that I get from my own gibberish has been enough to keep me going so far.

Zom said...

Cataclysm is generally not that great of an expansion compared to Vanilla. It's different. There's no magic anymore. There are a lot of things I would change, so it's not surprising to hear that your old guildees have been leaving WoW.

I would quit playing WoW, but the thing that's keep me and the guild together is us, it's mainly the social aspect of it. I love raiding with my guild because we've been getting along very well and we actually have fun raiding. Had it not been them, I would've probably left as well.

Basically, the people I play with really play a really huge role on how often I play WoW.

And wow! Grats on the pants. I think those pants run 60k on my server. I know, ridiculous.

PS - Just recently found your site. Love your writings (although sometimes depressing hehe), keep it up :D

Ravven said...

Wow...I hadn't realised that Righteous Orbs had shut down. (The last week was absolutely hellacious and I wasn't reading much of anything.) I just went back and re-read their last post in my feed reader, and I feel genuinely sad. RO, along with your wonderful blog, was one of my favourites.

I know that it must be a lot of pressure to keep writing as you do...all of us hungry fans that don't want to see any of you stop blogging. But in the end real life comes first...before gaming, before blogging about gaming.

Anyway, I just cancelled my Wow sub for the first time in what, four years? And that makes me nostalgic as well.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that you just got your first ever epic world drop in Tol Borad because just last week I also found my first ever epic world drop... in Tol Borad. Mine was not on a crocodile but on a Horde npc, but still. I, however, did not sell mine because amazingly enough it happened to be the necklace that Mr. Robot says is the best in spot for my toon. Unfreakingbelievable! I was euphoric about it for days.

Also, I'm glad you were able to get your hands on another Haunted Memento. I was lucky enough to have someone randomly toss me that on like Day 2 of the scourge invasion before Wrath and I have kept it in my bags ever since. You will never see me without a dark figure looming behind. Unless I get too far ahead of it, which does happen after flights. It takes a few minutes to catch me since it has to travel the land below me. I'm guessing. :P

Anyway, over the past 2 years it seems like 2 or 3 times a month someone will whisper me about buying mine or just simply say "hey, toss me that Haunted Memento" and I always do (and always will) politely decline.

Anonymous said...

I don't think bloggers have a responsibility to anyone, but themselves.

When I started there weren't that many recognizable old-hands. Many of them have moved on replaced by relatively old-hands like ourselves. Many of what we consider to be newbies bloggers are now old-hands and the cycle continues.

I do what I do because I love it, when I have the time. When I don't have the time, or feel the love, I don't do it.

Knowing how many old-hands are gone, barely remembered by those of us that knew them and of course not known at all by new readers and bloggers, I think our influence on the blogging scene is overrated.

So do what you do while you love it and when you don't, move on without regrets. (Knowing I wont ever forget you)

Larísa said...

@Dwism: Yeah. Maybe the timing isn’t that strange after all. And I think you’re very much right about the reason why veterans are leaving. It’s not the game that has changed. It’s the same. It’s they who have changed. Which not necessarily is a bad thing.

@Nils: I’m a little bit too suspicious and too much of a cynic to call out a victory before I see democratic elections being held. But yes, indeed, even if there’s apathy in Azeroth, there are bigger and more important things going on in the real world.

And yes, not caring, not being jealous, is definitely a bad and worrying sign.

@Spinksville: Or perhaps it’s like Dwism says. It’s just that the game is old and the veterans have changed and the game hasn’t. Sure, new raid instances bring new covers, but under the surface it’s more of the same.

@Rades: It happens so easily. I probably threw it away. And even if it not costs thousands of gold at AH, the game doesn’t recognize it as epic, won’t ask you to confirm it writing DELETE. I don’t think we’re the only one who accidentally lost it.

@Stubborn: I think the transition between different generations of players and bloggers is rather smooth to be honest. Like you I’m a TBC baby. I always looked at myself as a newcomer, but today, after four years of blogging I guess I’m more of a veteran. When I stop blogging there will still be bloggers around who have been there for a year or two… We’ll surely overlap.

@Redbeard: Glad to straighten that out! It sure looks a bit warlocky, but I’m glad it doesn’t make difference between classes.

And I agree that quite a few of those who get burned out on WoW only have played a part of the game. Very few players will be so well rounded that they do a bit of everything. Going to myself, I will probably quit WoW one day without ever giving arena games a serious go.

@We Fly Spitfires: It came as a bit of a shock to many I think. But I’m very happy, knowing that their huge asset of creativity will get an outlet somewhere else.

@Zom: That’s even more ridiculous price. I was happy with the gold I got. I don’t thinkI’d personally pay more than 10k gold for a pair of trousers.
And thank you for your kind words!

@Ravven: Another one to cancel? I’m not surprised anymore. There IS an exodus going on right now.
I’m not sure if I feel pressure really… only from myself in that case. But no doubt – when other blogs shut down, I get less inspiration to blog myself. I need ideas that are bouncing around I think to get my own blogging mojo going.

@Worldofelfi: That was a fortunate drop indeed! Grats!
About the memento – I too got it at the invasion. I don’t remember how though… wasn’t it a quest reward? Anyway I lost it somewhere on the way. I’m glad I’ve got one again. It’s obviously not the original, but it looks the same. :)

@Gnomeaggedon: Aye. Agreed. I don’t think any blogger has that much of an influence on the blogospehre on his/her own. (Ghostcrawler the exception – his posts certainly have some impact!)

Blogging is writing in sand. For good and for bad. Mostly for good I reckon.

Saif said...

I'm finding much of the same sort of slow-down in game lately. Just yesterday, our regular warlock informed me that she is starting a new job and doesn't know if she can raid anymore.

After struggling to hold things together though last year, holding out the ICC drake carrot and delivering it, I thought we'd be in good shape, but we've lost so many players in the last two months, more than half of our 10 man is new folks.

And still the bleed continues.