Big pictures

We all have cranky, snarky days, and yesterday was one of mine. Anyone who read my post yesterday probably figured that out already. If you didn’t read it, don’t bother, it was simply an extremely short list of the things I like about Warlords of Draenor, with the not-too-subtle implication that everything else about the expansion sucks. A perfectly valid question after reading it would have been, “Sheesh, Fi, if you hate the game so much, why are you still playing?

The fact is, I don’t hate the game. In the big picture I still love it. If I didn’t, I WOULD quit, I have lots more productive ways to spend both the money and time I now spend on WoW. The reason I have been so negative about WoD is because I see big-picture game development trends in it that, if continued, threaten to destroy the things that drew me to the game in the first place.

It turns out the answer to the question, “Why do I love this game?” is complicated. In truth, I don’t understand all the various factors myself. But I can one major one, from which lots of others derive.

I am a planner and analyst, both by nature and by trade. Combining those traits with my tech geek side, World of Warcraft becomes the perfect relaxation and escape mechanism. It is a layered, complex game that allows you to engage at almost any level, from just wandering around by yourself killing stuff to solving intricate tactical problems as part of a cooperative group. You can engage on an economic planning level by playing the auction house or trade game, becoming wealthy or going broke like some vast game of Monopoly. You can play the social game by passively watching or actively engaging with other players, either negatively or positively. You can put some music on and just zone out with great graphics, picking herbs or mining ore.

I love this game because I can choose the level and type of involvement I need at the moment. I get nervous when I suspect someone *cough*Blizz*cough* is tampering with that aspect of the game, insidiously steering it — and all players — towards a single level of involvement and style of play. It feels like something I love is being dismantled one hotfix and one patch at a time. So I lash out, partly to try to save the thing I love most about the game, and partly just out of outrage that is being done sneakily.

Because one other character trait I have is that I abhor lying, can’t abide it either in myself or in others. Heck, I can’t even remember the last time I told a small social fib — if you are showing me your baby and I happen to think it is the ugliest baby I have ever seen, when you say “Isn’t she beautiful?” I am likely to say something along the lines of “She sure is something!” rather than lie outright or be rude. When other people lie to me, I feel insulted and used. Insulted because apparently they think I am too stupid, too delicate, too — something — to be told the truth. Used because I tend to take people at face value, trust is (unfortunately) my default state, so when I find out someone has lied to me I feel like they have taken advantage of me. Nobody like to feel taken advantage of.

This is why the whole garrison dependency factor in Patch 6.2 enrages me so much. It does two fundamentally bad things — it continues to destroy the part of the game I most love by forcing a play style and particular level of involvement on me, whether I want that or not. And second, it shows me that Blizz just outright lied to me and everyone else about garrisons. Liar liar, pants on fire —  saying garrisons were completely “optional”, then changed it to you had to build one but there was no need to ever pay any further attention to it if you didn’t want to, and now suddenly you have to have a level 3 garrison and you have to add to it if you want to see the new parts of the next patch.

There is a fascinating tinfoil hat theory discussed today at alt:ernative chat. Take a look at it if you have time. But basically it posits that Blizz is already in the process of pulling the big plug on the entire game, that they have already decided to stop significant investment in it, in favor of some unspecified follow-on. It’s a pretty good theory, and I am not saying I believe it 100%, but it does meet the Occam’s Razor standard for explaining things like tweaks and toys in lieu of real updates, recycling old continents and dungeons in lieu of new content, the fiasco of the WoD rollout, and maybe even what appears to be Blizz’s complete disregard and even contempt for its player base (why cater to the little whiners when this will all be gone in a couple of years, plus we have managed to get lots of them to sub at $20 a month for most of that time, so we’re good).

I hope the theory is not true, but I admit it gives me an itchy feeling in the middle of my back. I still love this game, and I hate to see Blizz destroy the thing I love most about it, then compound the transgression by lying about it. This is why I rant.

But I should try to be a little less snarky.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

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