The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
Sure, they're technically rocky at times as surging player
populations strain even the best infrastructure and world design in the
business, but immersing myself in the first few weeks of a brand-new MMO is the
most fun I've ever had with games.
I have had the luxury of spending a week out of the office
to dive headfirst into a few MMO launches, and there's nothing like the feeling
of being part of the first wave of players to discover the content. World of
Warcraft: Cataclysm is the best example I can think of off the top of my head.
I had power-leveled my new death knight to 80 in order to play with some
different (Alliance, ugh) friends on a new server in the weeks leading up to
launch, and as soon as the gates opened I was right out there on the
bleeding edge of progression up to level 85.
[Sidenote: I came across this old piece I wrote a month after Cataclysm launched. Weird to read it now, but kind of a trip too.]
Engaging in single-player content like the leveling zones in
World of Warcraft isn't any more fun when you're first off the boat, though
being the guy in guild chat with all the answers to hard-to-find quest
objectives and explanations of new mechanics is amusing. Learning and
conquering the harder content – in WoW's case, five-man heroics – is amazing.
Few poor players are on that leading edge of early levelers, so the groups that
the looking-for-dungeon matchmaker puts together are high-quality more often
The thing is, tanking and healing are the two most common
failure points for groups in WoW. We've all had to bail on dungeon-finder
groups when it's clear that the "tank" is a death knight in an off-spec he
copied off of Elitist Jerks but doesn't understand how to use Death Grip, or
the "healer" is a priest who thinks Circle of Healing is the one-size-fits-all
answer to any health bar under 100 percent.* When you're the tank and you're
good – and I was good, if not server-first good – the success rate for pick-up
groups is astronomically higher and your queue times are nonexistent.
While having an absolute blast figuring out how to deal with
the nastier heroics at Cataclysm launch, I also got to make a truly stupid
amount of gold with a minimal amount of effort by crafting jewels and selling
them to players like me who were replacing gear on an hourly basis but wanted
the best stats available to help survive the tougher content they were
interested in. Even though my gold reserve had already become more of a high
score than an adventuring necessity, waking up to a mailbox full of successful
auctions was still a pure pleasure.
The best part about all this, though, was in teaching my
guildmates the content. "How to complete World of Warcraft heroic dungeons"
might be the most trivial and useless subject ever, but I still adored the
feeling of helping my friends out and sparing them the unbearable pain of
rolling the dice on random tanks in the LFD queue. It's nice to be popular for
once, and not just for my stunning good looks.
That feeling – of being part of the elite, the bleeding
edge, the guy that everyone wants in their group – is a powerful sensation that
I've never gotten out of any other video game. Exceptional FPS players get it
when they get spammed with friend invites after dominating a match with an
absurd kill:death ratio. Skilled MOBA players get it when they lead a team to
victory with a good hard carry. I got it because I was better than most at
being stabbed, shot, blown up, poisoned, cursed, and beaten to a pulp. What the
heck, I'll take it.
The high points can't last forever, though, and not just
because I don't have a life where I can play 80-plus hours of an MMO for more
than a week at a time (woe is me!). My guild, great as they were, couldn't get
a consistently solid raid group together by the time I had gotten everything I
could possibly need from five-man dungeons. I burnt out on the damnable rep
grinds Blizzard insists on jamming WoW full of these days and quit after a few
weeks of failing to progress in ten-man dungeons.
On the plus side, I still get paid to run my mouth about
MMOs on a regular basis, so things could be worse. And there's always a new one
on the horizon giving hope that I can recapture the magic of riding that first
* I haven't been playing Pandaria, so these might not be
relevant player-strategy complaints any more. Insert your favorite noob tactics
instead, if you must.