Sisyphean GearingJanuary 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
Tags: game design, gearing up, instances, raiding, World of Warcraft
I currently feel like a one-man farming machine.
The answer to why is simple; it’s all part of getting everything ready to start raiding.
Of course, the important part of that last statement is the use of the word; “start”. Sometimes it really feels like the mountain that Yawning Angel refers to in his latest post. At other times, it feels like the part of Sisyphus will be played by Mr Hawley Poppet for this expansion.
Why Sisyphus? Well, as our erstwhile rock-roller is pushing his boulder to the top of the hill only to have it slip and roll down, so it feels with getting raiding gear. You struggle to the gear requirement to enter a raiding tier, only to find that the raid group has already moved on, and you need to gear to the next tier. Or suddenly the mountain has changed completely, in the case of a new expansion.
It also feels like gearing up for raids is the new levelling (which was the new purple, before it became the new black which was the old black, but now the new black). Levelling is not the beast it used to be, and without wishing to immediately leap for the term “devalued”, it’s hard to find a term that encompasses what has happened to the levelling game.
It’s a lot quicker, for a start. With xp requirements being slashed, with quest rewards (in terms of xp gain and materiel) being improved, there is no longer the requirement to spend months levelling a character to maximum level. It’s now weeks, and that’s if you’re a slacker like me.
Nothing you gain while levelling means anything, either; none of the rep, none of the gear, none of it. It’s only what you gain after attaining that maximum level that matters, because that’s the rep that allows you to get the gear that allows you to go first into Heroics, then into raids.
Even the money you gain whilst levelling means little. The amount is paltry compared to the sums that can be made whilst at maximum level, from the gold substituted for xp in quest rewards, to selling phat purple lewts on the auction house.
So if levelling has been lessened in importance, where is the game that *was* levelling?
It’s simple. It’s now gearing for raid.
I admit that I’ve not been attempting to gear up in the same way that I gorged on levelling from 80 to 85, but that’s largely because levelling solo is an awful lot easier and quicker than attempting to gear up from jumping in and out of Heroics. It’s also a lot more gratifying; without having to rely on the vagaries of PUGs and randomised loot tables, I am relying on my own skill and gaming time.
But it’s taking a longer time for me to get my gear to a point where I won’t embarrass myself in a raid environment than it did for me to level through 4 zones and 5 levels. And I’m a slooooow leveller.
I suppose that’s a symptom of the modern MMO. Gone are the days where it was as important to have a good and fun levelling game as it was to have something to do when the levelling was over. Levelling used to be a part of the social side of gaming; now, it’s something done as quickly as possible, and alone because levelling with someone else is only going to be slower.
It’s even got to the stage where Blizzard have removed the requirement to group whilst levelling. The only times I grouped during ‘Clysm’s open play was when a named mob needed doing over, and there was a queue. The grouping wasn’t a necessity due to the challenge of the mob. It was to cut down on having to queue for respawns, and the truth was revealed in how fast the group disbanded after the mob’s messy demise.
Once we’ve started to gear up, suddenly we’re outstripping same- and similar-levelled mobs. Shaman Herewerd has gone from having to actively fight mobs, to pressing five (maybe six, if the mob is particularly recalcitrant) keys in a particular order before the mob is dead.
A few week’s time, it will probably be down to two or three key-presses.
It does make it easier to go farming. I don’t have to worry about having to slow down much between herb and ore resource nodes, but there is a little part of me that feels saddened that the world outside Heroic and Raid Instances becomes a hazy shadow, compared to the bright, vivid world of challenge within.
At the same time, there’s always that lure of more exciting gameplay to keep me going. It’s the challenges that make me want to continue playing, and without that I’d probably get bored. Stagnant game-play is not fun, and logging on to do the same set of things by rote is the surest way to get me logging off, for good.