Taken from a comment on TAGN, #16:
@Syn: So was WoW the debbil when you were spending all waking hours of your life raiding MC (ca. 2005-06) or are these merely the rantings of the repentant sinner who has since found salvation?
The credibility gap for me is that its hard to believe a game (and company) that once earned so much of your time now deserves the amount of time you spend tearing it apart– particularly the gameplay and features that have since been added of which you are admittedly completely ignorant. Such opinions are utterly devoid of weight for want of any direct experience.
What on earth would you do if WoW suddenly ceased to be? The silence coming from your blog would be deafening. Give it a rest once in a while. Seriously. It completely taints your otherwise interesting, insightful and generally well-written posts and comments.
The above is a good synopsis of a few comments here whenever WoW is mentioned, and I believe it deserves some explanation. For starters, while back in college I did play WoW far more than I play any MMO today, WoW was not my only game at that time, and certainly not my first MMO. Nor was it exactly hard to find that time for it in college, as anyone who has been to college knows its the most expensive four year vacation of your life, and the amount of free time you have is mind numbing. And let’s not kid ourselves, 2005 WoW is not 2009 WoW by a long shot, and as I’ve repeated quite often, the changes Blizzard has done since 2005 have not exactly thrilled me.
In addition to WoW overall just being far easier or ‘dumbed down’ now than in 2005, it’s also far more solo-hero based, and what little Warcraft lore and spirit it had has been replaced with space goats. Not only are welfare epics not a big deal anymore, but the very definition of epic has indeed been shattered, as today anyone with a skull to bang on a keyboard is decked out in ‘epics’. In 2005 MC itself was a challenge. In 2009 running MC without fire resist gear passes for a ‘hard mode’ challenge, rewarding you with a pink pony for you to link in chat for the world to see. Basically, it’s a very, very different game, and from my viewpoint an inferior game.
Now if WoW had 50k subs today, I would not care to mention it, like I don’t mention the 100s of other MMOs making changes that have 10k users and close to zero influence on the genre. But with 11 million solo-heroes running around, and games like WAR being influenced by WoW to including far too much pointless PvE content to satisfy some bean counter who stumbled into a design meeting, it’s going to get mentioned. Notice back when WAR had 750k+ subs WoW got queue-anywhere battlegrounds, and the (then) open-world PvP (RvR) Wintergrasp was being hyped to kingdom come, plus some Bliz exec was talking about how Horde vs Alliance was really the ‘core’ of what WoW was all about? And just now Bliz finally caught up and included xp from PvP. How much is WAR influencing WoW today, with it being down to 200k or whatever subs? Right or wrong, when you are the top dog you guide the market, and as long as Blizzard continues to trumpet solo-heroes over the MM in MMO, I’ll write about it. Phasing is just one more step back for the genre, and with Cataclysm coming, I’m sure Blizzard has a few more steps planned.
And this is the MMO genre we are talking about, and MMOs over time evolve and change. I loved UO in 1997, but today UO is a soulless excuse for a WoW clone, and even on a ‘classic’ server it’s simply not the same game. Does that mean I can’t mention how great UO was back in the day, because in 2009 it’s different? That I enjoyed 2005 WoW does not mean I’d enjoy 2009 WoW, or that the design I supported in 2005 is the same design in 2009.
If I had a blog back in 2004, I would have written how I believe instancing ruins the feel of an MMO, and how WoW’s (then) limited reliance on them is a crutch rather than a feature. Funny enough, at a job interview for Turbine I said exactly that when interviewing for a spot on the LotRO design team, not knowing that the soon-to-be released DDO was one long string of instances. I did not get the job, DDO is now F2P. Yet in 2009, when compared to something like phasing, instancing looks like a BOOST to the MM from MMO. Things change. I still love the fact that DarkFall is one big world without a single instance, and because of that design I get that ‘worldy’ feel from it I’ve not really felt since UO. The point is everyone has a preference for their games, and MMOs likely more so than any other genre. As someone who started in 1997 with the first major MMORPG, one that happened to be a sandbox and not a themepark, I have my preference, and since WoW is today’s biggest influencer in my favorite genre, Blizzard doing either best to remove the MM from MMO is something that is going to draw my criticism.