Larisa, we're glad to have you

| Friday, September 10, 2010
A few days ago Larisa made this sad comment.

I don't know how to put this without sounding a bit... whiny. Which I don't want to be. But sometimes I wish there was some warning sign on those "It was better in vanilla, the game sucks now" posts. Because as a TBC baby there's nothing I can do about it. It's like listening to someone going on and on and on about what a fantastic party you were to last week and you missed it. So. What am I supposed to do about it? And then the player adds - "it was so fantastic because it was more exclusive back at that party. Nowadays everyone is invited including you and that ruins it".

I wonder if I'd ever started to play wow if it had been more hardcore. So basically I guess... it's my fault?

I don't know. It's a great post but somehow this kind of reads sadden me. :(

First off, the "the game sucks now" bit is tainted by nostalgia and our own biases. We've learned something different about what WoW 'should' be. New players should jump in and enjoy whatever they can. It's their game too. Old players should do the same, but I can understand, having experienced it myself, that it can be difficult to cope with the change and how the kids act these days with their rap music and baggy pants. "Do MMOs cause premature being a gumpy old person? We'll find some answers, after this brief two minute commercial break." The players haven't move on from you, Larisa, because you are the players.

Don't worry about the indisputable fact that everything used to be so much better, excluding the many things which were so much worse. Don't worry about the party last week. The fact that they are still hung over a week later and apparently have nothing else to talk about aren't necessarily good signs.

As for "it was so fantastic because it was more exclusive back at that party. Nowadays everyone is invited including you and that ruins it" Well first off, based on your kills of all sorts of hardmode heroic hardcore stuff in ICC... you'd have been somewhere up there in vanilla. No really, it wasn't all grinds and cliques. At the end of the day guilds needed solid, reliable players who could play with the best. But even if you were as terrible and casual (I am not linking casual and terrible) as you seem to think, you'd still have a game to play. I wasn't particularly good in vanilla, not that I can remember being especially bad either, but I didn't know much and it showed. I'm sure I'd have flamed my armory if I saw it now.

Except for total douches, not many people are so annoyed with who is playing, and as I've explained, would like you anyway. Instead complaints about the degradation of the community spring from how behavior is shaped. We're encouraged to ignore those around us or even be actively hostile. Anti-social behavior, which despite propaganda from sociopaths, isn't a good thing, but is encouraged by a system which prevents any recourse of any sort for ninjas. While we don't wish to wait around for things to happen, that waiting time is a powerful incentive to interact with people around you and start to form communities. For all the talk of the idiot scum who are joining WoW these days, what I've seen are a whole lot of long-time players who are acting different.

So don't feel bad when us old grouches start going on about vanilla. Sure, you missed some great stuff. Well we're missing some great stuff in LK and did in BC, since rose-colored glasses make it really hard to tell the difference between a red and white flower.


Larísa said...

"Well we're missing some great stuff in LK and did in BC, since rose-colored glasses make it really hard to tell the difference between a red and white flower."

That's actually quite insightful I dare say (not wearing those glasses myself).

I have a long rant on this topic incoming too, although you were quicker to hit the publish-button.

I think the headline for this post was the sweetest I've ever seen. Thank you! I'll keep it close to my heart.

Syl said...

hehe indeed. I think some of the more new players (I wouldn't necessarily call them so new either, but Larísa keeps referring to herself as 'TBC-baby') mistake some of the vanilla nostalgia-topics for having missed out on the party or elitism.

it's not about exclusiveness. any average wow player today would've coped back then too - it's about enjoyment and 'how' things like difficulty level of 5mans were managed or designed back then. too many people mistake casualness for the antonym of hardcore: it's a touchy subject in wow.

casualness the way I use the term has very little to do with how much you play (which is the main difference between casual vs. hardcore gamers anyway..) but how 'intense' the experience of that is.
so to me it's about a loss of immersion in a game or the 'authentic' feeling when you make fundamental aspects in MMOs too easy.

WoW has dumbed down a lot of things since vanilla - it's also improved on things though. it's about finding the middle way or else maybe redefining the genre.
I think one reason why this bugs me too, is because I've a long gaming history and so my expectations of a certain genre are sorta set. If wow is your first MMO or even first game, you're a lot less critical probably.

besides all this, our memories of the first hours in a game are always a little pinker; everything was new, it's human to attach sentimental value to your newbie days, just like a first love is always gonna be special. ;)

Suicidal Zebra said...

I wonder the proportion of those who think Vanilla was the zenith of WoW were and are Warriors? It would certainly explain a few things. Hrm, perhaps I should do a post exposing some of the rarely remembered home-truths of Vanilla.

Klepsacovic said...

@Larisa: Yes, that's my brilliant scheme of moving my publishing from 8am to 7am.

@Syl: I think the problem is that casualization has been mixed up with trivialization. Vanilla sort of had two end-games, one in instances and one in raids. Now instances seem a lot less substantial, so the once-hoped-for alternative progression has just become a badge grind.

@Suicidal Zebra: Vanilla is why I dislike warriors. They'd take all the DPS gear and claim it was because they were the only tanks. Like that makes any sense at all! Stupid warriors...

Syl said...


some while back I made a rather long forum post on my guild board, explaining to a mate how many things in vanilla were actually worse.

I think you're missing the point when you think that vanilla-comparison topics are about labeling vanilla as the 'zenith'; when we discuss gamedesign, we need to be able to point out what was better back then as much as what was worse. i haven't come across any 'vanilla topics' personally that claim vanilla was all better. but if we're looking to improve wow the way it is now, we naturally focus on what we feel is missing, rather than on what's already here.

and if we criticize aspects of gamedesign that should never be mistaken as critique of the player base. that would be silly, I play wow too after all.
if anything, these discussions benefit everybody and no matter whether you've played in vanilla or not, you should join the conversation and see what's in it for you?

Syl said...

oh totally. and I am really bored of those casual vs. hardcore debates to tell you the truth. everyone seems to define these terms differently and you end up clearing up misunderstandings rather than getting a message across.

the truth is, this is still wow we're talking about - the worldwide biggest massmarket MMO. its not rocket science and it never was. it was more or less challenging at certain points and in certain aspects, but far far FAR away from anything that resembles 'exclusive'.
the class thinking is silly. you can do anything in wow if you set your mind to it (and time).

but alas I wont ever be able to heal every self-proclaimed casual from his bad self-esteem if thats what he chooses to cling to - as I can only roll my eyes at the superiorism of some hardcore l33t gamers that build up their equally low self-esteem (and arrogance) over wow achievements.

I know what i want from the game myself - and thats in my article.

Shintar said...

Instead complaints about the degradation of the community spring from how behavior is shaped. [...] For all the talk of the idiot scum who are joining WoW these days, what I've seen are a whole lot of long-time players who are acting different.

I think this is a very important and true point. I've noticed it with myself to be honest: Whenever a new and annoying trend of asocial behaviour arises, I'll complain about it on my blog, but a few months later I'll have come to accept it as normal and maybe even think thoughts along the same lines myself.

For example boss-skipping in instances: I still think that it's a bad habit and I consider it a sad state of affairs when not completing an instance feels more rewarding than doing so - but by now there have been times where I've even caught myself thinking "Oh god, a full Halls of Stone run? Tedious!" The game does encourage and discourage certain behaviours and that affects all players, no matter when they started playing.

Anonymous said...

Back in Vanilla I rolled a 100... once.

Can we ignore all the 1-5's I rolled?

Imalinata said...

I started playing in August of 2005. Certainly not the beginning of Vanilla, but I had a good long time before TBC came out. And I do tend to look back at my time in Vanilla as the "golden" time but not because it was so OMGhardcore to be raiding back in Naxx40. No, I miss those days because of the community that was built and maintained then.

*You couldn't pay to server transfer; the only way your toon(s) were moving was if Blizzard was trying to fix population imbalances and your realm had free transfers available.

*You couldn't name change. Your name was your reputation. If you were a douchebag you couldn't name change or server change and start over. Back then if you were a douchebag and had a bad rep, you either quit the game or started a new character from level one on a different server.

*Because you couldn't name change or pay to server transfer, you really got to know some of the personalities on your server. You got to know people by getting groups from trade/general to go do instances.

But for how much "good" I attribute to that, all have bad points.

*You couldn't pay to server transfer because you wanted to play with friends. If none of the raid guilds on your server were recruiting, you either had to create your own, form an alliance, or just not raid. (I don't remember pugging raids back then.)

*If you chose a bad name you were stuck with it.

*It was hard to get groups going for various instances if your guildies weren't willing to go. Instances were a commitment of a couple hours, instead of 30-45m.

So yeah, for me, I look back fondly at Vanilla but I know it's because of seeing how the community of each server and the game as a whole continues to leak away. It's easier to get an instance now, but unless you realID friend someone, you can't keep talking to that random player from LFG who was fun to run with and you can't choose to run an instance specifically with someone from a different server. Most of the time, people treat LFD groups as if the other party members were played by the computer instead of by other people. And now that my old guild split and transferred to various places, I really wish that it were possible to join chat channels across multiple servers.

As much as I enjoy raiding, I have very fond memories of my first guild. I miss world pvp in Sorrow Hill and Darkshore with Engine and Hektor (amongst others) and in Blackrock Mountain as the various raiding guilds were trying to annihilate each other as they were trying to go into MC or BWL. We laughed like loons whenever that started and had an absolute blast, even though the pvpers were constantly on the verge of freaking out over the risk of dishonorable kills when we were in the cities and towns. But even for as much fun and fondness as I have for those times, I wouldn't give up all the enjoyment I've had since then with all the players, new to WoW or not, that I've had the pleasure to know and play with to get back a return to those days.

Whether we like it or not, we're all aging and the unlimited time we had as kids or when we were in school disappears as we age and have jobs and families and responsibilities. I think that many of the people who look back to the "good old days" wouldn't be able to sustain their old play habits if WoW hadn't morphed to require less time to run an instance or less trash in raids to reduce the amount of time you 'have' to spend to get to a new progression fight. I think some of the genius of Blizzard is that they have recognized that their original player base is aging and that if they want to be able to stay attractive to older players (whether they were early adopters or not) that they had to adapt and adjust the time commitment required so that more people were able to participate.

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