Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Expansion Malaise

The bank and bags were almost full 2 seconds earlier!
The time just before an expansion should be exciting.  All that new content just around the corner when there have been so few changes for so long.  For me, that hasn't been the case since Burning Crusade.  In fact, for every World of Warcraft expansion since then, I took a break at the beginning of the expansions before burning through the content rather than afterwards.

As a casual gamer, I know I can't keep up with the people who quickly level their characters so they can get to the max level content.  I'm fine with that.  I remember joking with someone that it took me three weeks to level my first character while it took him three days in Burning Crusade.  However, even though I am OK with the amount of time I have to play computer games most of the time, it is difficult not to get caught up in the excitement when an expansion comes out.

This is why I took a break just before Wrath of the Lich King came out.  I knew I had been playing more than I should and I knew I'd just want to play more if I got the expansion.  I was able to enjoy that break and bought the expansion when the price came down and enjoyed it without experiencing much of the end game content.  When Cataclysm came out, I thought I had developed the right balance and bought the expansion right away, but almost immediately unsubscribed when I wanted to play more than I could.  That led to my decision with Mists of Pandaria to look for a more casual friendly game and then to wait again until the price came down and enjoy the leveling and other parts of the game like professions.

A month ago I was of the opinion that with the new Flex raids, I would get the expansion at the start, go through my normal casual leveling pace, and still enjoy a weekly casual raid with my guild.  Now that the pre-patch is out, I'm finding I don't want to play and really have very mixed feelings about getting the expansion at the beginning.

This malaise has caused me to play very little and not post for almost three weeks.  I've also almost stopped reading blog posts as well, something that I normally really enjoy.  I played through the pre-patch quests on one character, looked at all the new models (I'm fine with my Dwarfs, Humans, Night Elves and Draenei, but I had to change my gnome and still wish I could find one as cute as she was pre-patch), and found the magic of larger stacks and the resource tab button that creates huge amounts of bag and bank space.

Ironically this makes it easier for me to quit, because as a pack rat, I normally have many mails being sent between characters containing all the food and crafting materials I don't have a need for but can't bring myself to sell.  Now with the guild bank space in my new personal guild and all the extra bag and bank space, I've already retrieved most of my mails and it'll be easy to get the rest without having to make any hard decisions about what to sell.

As a non-MMO player, my wife would like to get me the expansion as a Christmas present, and thinks it would be something fun to look forward to.  As an MMO player, I know that'll mean several weeks getting even further behind other players and, more importantly, missing out on the excitement of the first few days and weeks.  With the way I'm feeling now, I'm not sure that it won't be more frustrating than enjoyable if I get the expansion and that therefore it would be better to wait.  I'm sure there will be a lot of casual players who will get the expansion as Christmas presents, so why shouldn't I do that as well.

I don't know what I'll decide to do, but this is why I started this blog:  to talk through the conflicts of being a casual player who is still very interested in computer games, particularly MMORPGs.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Loremaster of Northrend

Avatar of Freya zapping out flowers to kill the Scourge while Kintri looks on
The Loremaster achievements in World of Warcraft are an obvious one for a casual player who likes to quest.  Finish (almost) all the quests in a zone and get an achievement, complete it for all the zones in an expansion or continent and get a meta-achievement and finish them all for all expansions and continents and get a meta-meta-achievement.

This probably would have been doable for me except they didn't start until the Wrath of the Lich King pre-patch came out so you didn't get credit for most things you did before then.  It is one thing to do the quests as they come out and another to go back and re-do quests to get an achievement.  In any case, I find it convenient because it tells me what quests I haven't seen completely, so I can go back and see it with my alts as I bring them up.

As I mentioned a few times already, the last zone I needed in Wrath was 'Sholazar Basin.'  I'm not at sure why I hadn't done this zone up until now.  I had done a lot of it with Kanter, my hunter, since I wanted to get the toys you can get with Oracle reputation there.  Once Kintri, my Death Knight, hit level 75 and was able to level her Inscription profession, her next goal was to finish Sholazar Basin to get the Into the Basin achievement which would yield me the Loremaster of Northrend achievement.  That is what I did over the last two weeks.

There are three major threads in Sholazar Basin:
1. Nesingwary's Safari, which was also in the original game and Burning Crusade,
2. The conflict between the Oracles and the Frenzyheart Tribe and
3. The guardians left by the Titans fighting back the scourge with Freya above being the most obvious manifestation.

The starter quest from Dalaran sends you to Nesingwary's Safari and so it's the first set of quests you do though they all get interspersed.  As in the other two continents, these are primarily a kill a bunch of animals to get some quest to kill some special animals.  These do get a little repetitive, but there is enough humor thrown in to keep it interesting.  The final quest was the best, even if I didn't complete it as I was supposed to.  Wrath was the expansion where they introduced the ability to ride special vehicles for quests and in this one you get to ride an mammoth with Nesingwary aboard and use it to help kill a dragon.  The whole theme of capturing a mother dragon's babies in order to be able to kill the dragon makes me uncomfortable, but it was kind of fun to run around on the mammoth trying to lead the dragon onto traps.  I actually didn't realize Hemet Nesingwary was dropping traps until too late, so the mammoth died and I had to fight the elite the rest of the way without her help.  Fortunately, I was a little over-level by this point and Death Knights are strong even though I don't know what I'm doing with her, so I was able to finish her off pretty easily.  This also netted me the Hemet Nesingwary:  The Collected Quests meta achievement for finishing all three sets of quests.

The Oracles and the Frenzyheart Tribe are both pretty adorable and amusing so their quests are fun.  I do remember it getting a little repetitive doing the Oracle quests with Kanter so I could get the toys, but when you are just going through the opening sets of quests, it is fun to play both sides.  The Oracles are the 'better' side since they want peace and are trying to get along, but the Frenzyheart are a lot of fun with their proud attitude.  At the end of the quest line in order to kill a boss you have to either kill the Oracle or Frenzyheart with him.  The one that remains makes you honored with that faction and hated by the other.  Since I was already revered with the Oracles on Kanter, I chose Frenyheart for Kintri, but it doesn't really matter unless I eventually decide I want to get the exalted reputation achievement.

Once I finished those quests I was only a few quests away from having the Into the Basin achievement and finished that with some quests helping Freya with the Scourge.  Those quests also got me to level 80 as well, so it was actually a pretty nice way to get the last four levels in Northrend to be ready for the Cataclysm zones.  Freya eventually sends you to Un'goro crater in Kalimdor and if you weren't already aware of the similarity of the two zones, they make sure you get it.  I actually didn't have to do that quest to get the achievement and I'm pretty sure I already did it on Kanter, but I'll do it again to see the ending.

Now the question is what to do next.  My guildmate is pretty confident the pre-expansion patch will drop in the next two weeks and that makes sense, so I don't want to do anything that takes too long.  I could work on getting the Silver Healing Proving Grounds achievement, but it's going to change significantly with Warlords, so it seems like a waste of time.  I could try to take Kintri through Cataclysm so I'll have a max level in every profession, but I don't think I can bring myself to do those quests again after having taken Kantrina and Kantro through them recently.  Also, it'll take a long time to get my other five toons to use their professions in Warlords, so who knows when I'll get to the last one.  I could try to get some more mounts.  I'm close to 100 at this point.  I could finish off the Draenor starting quests with my shaman, since it seems a shame I haven't seen them all.  The fact that Wilhelm named it the worst zone in World of Warcraft isn't exactly encouraging but it should be pretty easy to get done it two weeks.  What to do.  I could just take two weeks off and only do my farm when I feel like it.  There will be plenty to do soon.