MMO: The Legend of (insert name here)

As I contemplate buying Cataclysm in the next few days, old thoughts have been creeping back into my mind — such as “Why did I quit in the first place?”

That one is fairly easy — but I feel like reliving some memories before I disclose that reason.

When I left WoW, my characters — at least the ones that mattered to me — had all reached the end of their progression, and there was really nothing more to be done with them. I’m not a hardcore raider, so I wasn’t about to jump into that shark tank just to have something to do. I ran out of content that I wanted to participate in. I left with few regrets, however. Actually, I left with some pretty good memories, mostly in PvP:

-I’ll never forget taking my rogue into WSG (“Warsong Gulch”, for the non WoW players) with my best bud’s warrior, where we promptly won the whole thing for our team (I returned the first flag, then he returned the 2nd & 3rd while I set up shop in our Horde flag room and killed anyone who set foot in it. We even earned a few achievements in that bg).

-I love reminiscing about a heated PvP rogue vs. rogue matchup I got into in Arathi Basin once. It seemed like we, the Alliance rogue and I, just always ran into each other at every flag and it was on. The battles were close, too (neither he, nor I ever won by a sizeable margin — it was always by the skin of our teeth). I ended up winning overall in our duels (3-2), but even if I hadn’t, I don’t think I would have considered it too much of a defeat. Those fights were just two skilled PvP rogues who happened to clash numerous times, and we both knew how to play our classes. Those are the kinds of matchups you usually find in arenas.

More than just the memories, I also left with some great visual snapshots to commemorate my time in WoW.

"Death floats down on a black cloud, ready to consume all it touches."

Sometimes you just have to dance.

If there was one thing I DIDN'T miss about Outland, it was those things. Many is the time I would be skinning some recently deceased boar, only to have this big sumbitch come right up behind me.-_-;

See, the rhythm can even get dreadlords.

Roughly 40% of all my screenshots are dancing, but this one was the only one I had as my wallpaper for a long while.

"Look at this ludicrous shit..."

Boy, do I know how to digress, or what? This article is already getting tl;dr, and I still haven’t explained why I left in the first place. Now to get back on track.

As I wait in anticipation of Star Wars: The Old Republic, often I get into discussions with people about it. When I mention that I was a former WoW player, I usually get responses along the lines of “then why are you looking forward to SWTOR so much? Isn’t it just WoW-in-space?”

For the longest time, I didn’t know how to respond to that. Mechanically, yes, there are some very noticeable similarities between the two (though you could make that comparison between WoW and many other MMO’s, as well — including Everquest, which much of WoW‘s mechanics were based upon). However, after really thinking about it for awhile, I realized what it was that eventually turned me off to WoW and got me onto the SWTOR wagon — and though Cata‘s questing looks to be much improved, it doesn’t rectify this one nagging deficiency for me.

Basically: I got tired of playing everyone else’s story.

I never felt like I was playing MY story when I played WoW — or any other MMO, really. I always felt like I was playing Tirion Fordring’s story, or Rexxar’s story, or Thrall’s story, etc. Sure, I was there for some of the good moments, but it just felt like being an assistant.

That is probably not even considered a deficiency for people who play WoW for the time sink aspect, or raiders who spend so much time talking through vent, dissecting the mechanics of the encounter to the point where they barely pay attention to the lore of the game. However, for someone who values story and, more importantly, story integration & immersion, it always stood out to me that I was nothing more than a backseat driver in the grand scheme of things. It certainly wasn’t a game breaking omission, but it left me feeling unsatisfied.

Now, when someone asks me why I am anticipating SWTOR so much, I feel like I can give a legitimate reason. Also, this doesn’t simply pertain to WoW, this same situation could be said of all MMO’s, to this point.

I’m ready for my character to be given attention & focus; everything I’ve heard, seen & read about SWTOR suggests I will get ample attention & focus when the game launches.

Ffs, the devs have already confirmed that there will be quests where I, the Pureblood Sith Warrior, will be the quest giver. Instead of running around the world looking for a NPC to give me a random quest, there will be times when I will get my crew together and give out orders, and those orders will be in the form of quests. That is just so wicked to me.

This is the aspect of RPG that I feel is missing from the MMORPG genre — feeling as if YOUR character is a meaningful part of the grand scheme.

RPG is all about creating a character you might like playing, then integrating them into a fictional world. Most MMO’s are great about giving you tools, in the form of talent trees, to make your character your own, and fun to play. However, few MMO’s have made the RPG element of the genre satisfying. Usually, RPG in most modern MMO games is created and policed by the population. Your character, in the overall picture, doesn’t really do much, except maybe free a village that promptly gets “retaken” a few minutes later. All of the major moments happen as if the “real” heroes do the job, while you merely assisted.

That’s why I am eagerly anticipating what a developer like BioWare, who are known for creating flavorful, enriching RPG experiences, can create with modern MMO mechanics, an enormous MMO landscape, and phasing technology at their disposal.

It is my hope that players will, in fact, get an opportunity to impact the world in a meaningful way. Things like assisting the rebuilding of Taris, or killing an NPC that will STAY DEAD after you kill him/her.

The possibilities are all there for advancement of the RPG aspect of the MMO genre. Who better to attempt to make RPG integral than BioWare?

At this point, waiting for SWTOR is wearing on me, a bit. That is why I said in the first paragraph that I am considering buying Cata. However, I am starting to realize that no matter what game I play, I will never stop looking forward to SWTOR.

While some people don’t bat an eyelash at the “Your choices matter.” mantra, I suppose I took it as a statement that maybe, possibly, I FUCKING hope, that I will finally get a chance to play an MMO with some real RPG in it. Whether that will be the case will have to wait for after release, but at least I feel optomistic about it after seeing what BioWare has shown.

For me, story really does matter. That is why, while some scoff at BioWare’s dedication to it, I still think story will end up being the great equalizer in MMORPGs. But not just story — MY story.

I’m ready to play MY story, where I make things happen, and my motivations are what drive things forward.

No disrespect to the major NPCs in most modern MMOs, but I’m ready for ya’ll to make guest appearances on my tracks, you dig? I’m tired of “Thrall featuring Warrior” or “Darion Mograine featuring Death Knight” — I’m ready for “Pureblood SW featuring Darth Angral”, or “Human Imperial Agent featuring Darth Jadus”.

It’s time for me (the player) to come up in the game.


4 thoughts on “MMO: The Legend of (insert name here)

  1. Thinking about getting Cataclysm? That’s cool…even though I’m not playing WoW anymore, I don’t regret getting the expansion when it came out. It was fun for the couple of months or so that I played, and I did really enjoy a lot of the new zones and quest storylines.

    I left WoW for very similar reasons as you. At some point, I realized I just didn’t want to go through the endgame grind again. I discovered that what I really enjoy about MMOs is the journey…once I get to levelcap, I need something more than just raids and heroics and the endless gear progression. So while I had a lot of fun getting to 85 in Cataclysm, doing the new content, when it was over it was over. Cataclysm endgame felt too much of the same for me to go on playing.

    I think those who dismiss SWTOR as WoW in space are not looking at the big picture. It’s like saying the Flashpoints look just like WoW. Like, sure the mechanics are WoW like (or MMO-like, I don’t think it’s fair just to attribute it all to WoW) but that’s just the surface. To say it’s exactly like WoW or calling SWTOR WoW in space is ignoring the actual game play itself, and is a rather uniformed statement, really. Like really? Unique class stories and having choice matters and light side/dark side consequences to your decisions and companions and space combat mini games and crew skill system etc. etc. etc. is WoW in space? I just named a bunch of features in which WoW has no equivalent and can probably name even more. That’s why I think those who say that probably don’t know much about the game, or they are just being contrary for the hell of it.

  2. I definitely agree that using the term “WoW in space” is pretty short-sighted. It’s not my place to tell people not to use it, but I can’t take anyone seriously that hasn’t at least seen the aspects of SWTOR that are, in no way, similar to WoW.

    I would kill to have a companion go mine a node, pick some herbs, scavenge metal or what have you, rather than being forced to go do it myself. That time adds up. Even if it does seem like just a few seconds to go off the path and gather, add up all the seconds you spend gathering in an MMO, and you’ll see that it adds up to quite a bit. Companions — one of SWTOR’s innovations in the MMO genre (at least in the scale BioWare is making them useful) — is one of the biggest differences between WoW and SWTOR. It is, by no means, the only difference, either.

    Like I said, my selfish hope for SWTOR is that I finally get to create a character with a personality.

    WoW is a fun game, and it is a fantastic timesink, but I would hardly call it — or any modern MMO on the market — a true RPG.

    A true RPG integrates your character into the greater story, to the point where you have a deep effect on the world events in which you are taking part. Moreover, a true RPG is about making decisions. Maybe you still end up going down the same path you would’ve gone down had you chosen a different route, but sometimes that’s how it goes.

    The ability to CHOOSE to try to change your path is what makes an RPG so much fun. That goes all the way back to P&P RPGs (which I intend to write a blog post about soon [I have some hilarious as shit stories to share]). You may still end up slaying the dragon, killing the villain, saving a kingdom, but nothing says you have to stick to a rigid path while you get there. Maybe your character feels like “things just need to die”, or you think it’s a good idea to use Mage Hand to molest an enemy’s horse with a sex toy (yes, this happened in a campaign I GMed — shout out, “Shadow” B) ). The point is, almost all RPGs have a linear path to follow — it’s all about choosing how you get there that matters.

    BioWare definitely is the king of making the journey fun, so I am waiting in eager anticipation of seeing what they bring to the MMO genre.

  3. The more i read your stuff, the more i’d suspect you’re black like me Jara lol. Don’t give in to WoW man, i mean, it’s your choice and all, but the way i look at it.

    I had ALOT of good memories from WoW…..I came into the game essentially from Star Wars Galaxies with the same guild, a game that was content starved to one that steadily added more and more things to do, i had alot of gooood times with the old guild, 40 man MC, BWL, AQ40/20, and O.G. Naxx, Being grouped with so many different people, and our corp, my family, the Hunters :D.

    Countless times playing in-game poker while sitting back dpsing during those long nights, BC switching to Shaman, being a dominating melee force for once ina lifetime, i’ll never forget why i quit.

    Because all of my friends quit, and in the end, WoW seemed like the most desolate place on earth. Even though everyone is up to their own devices…dailies, AHness, and going hard and prepping for end game, i realized i didnt really enjoy thos things as much as the next guy because i had been doing them forever, across 4 characters, and it just wasn’t fun anymore.

    Then along comes bioware with the ultimate mmo you can “play all by yourself” that intrigued me at first, but being i love people, and playing with them, i didnt like that, but loved the idea of playing another SW MMO, the more and more this game lets out though, the more it’s just eating me alive, for all the reasons you mentioned and then some.

    What really makes me want to play is the percieved diversity in the game. My initial initial thoughts were, “Oh, Jedi Knight and Sith warrior? Same class! Same with everything else!”

    The thing is though, they’re not even close, even though on the outside looking in, they both can tank and do dps, but the styles, the moves and the talents just seem different in a way that’s just impossible to explain, the same goes for The Inquisitor and Consular, Bounty Hunter and Trooper, Agent and Smuggler, they’re different yet the same, there’s a certain balance between them all, and they’re all radically different classes to play.

    And not only that, but it’s DIFFERENT from WoW. WoW is basically a set of classes imo, all vying to have balance, that when push comes to shove, has NEVER TRULY been balanced.

    There’s just beena season for Paladin’s to be great, while warrior’s were shit, or for A certain caster to dominate pvp or dps charts. TOR is going to give me something in terms of that that i’ve never had. And that’s the comfort to know that in playing my class, i don’t think i’ll be jealous of the next class, because there’s so much to be encompassed, so many tools to be good, and different ways to play, that i can’t be mad at the next jedi, or the next sith warrior, or anyone who’s gettin it in ya know?

    Throw in the solo game play, sure, there’s so much to do and every day it’ll probably come down to me delegating my companions to build my street cred, and craft and do all of my dirty work, but then there’s also spacing, there’ll be pvp, there’ll be end game, for me, to have one guy to focus on, and max out his potential, it’s going to take a good 6 months for me to do everything i want with him i bet, and by then there’ll be more.

    It’s the fun of playing a new game for all it’s worth, that i can understand why you would wanna play Cata. At least it’d soften the blow of not having TOR right this minute, but it’s just not the answer long term, to me? WoW is dead, not that it’s dead, i just don’t think it has the same heart as the humble beginnings, it’s just adding a new coat of paint, and tweaking and making the game better, SURE, but i coulda used that 2 years ago.

  4. Actually, I’m Native American — so brown.XD But growing up all my friends were black, so I guess that had something to do with how I am.

    Being back in WoW has been interesting. It’s not bad, it’s not awesome — it’s somewhere in the middle. At the moment, I’m trying to farm Zin’rokh (and it is driving me insane). Most of the fun, if I’m being completely honest, comes from getting to chat with friends again. I have a couple of friends I’ve gotten to chat with in WoW that I hadn’t had the chance to in a long while. Other than that, I still find my excitement for SWTOR overpowers everything else. I’m ride or die for SWTOR.

    The lifting of the PvP embargo from the Fan Site Summit only strengthens my excitement for SWTOR. Which is why I’m going to write an article about

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