Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Last (?) Temptation of Uhnk

A few weeks ago Blizzard Entertainment released its most recent expansion to World of Warcraft titled Mists of Pandaria. When last I played WoW, Cataclysm was in the works and about a year away from release. The last time I actually logged into my WoW account via the game client was right after Cataclysm was released, and that was only because Blizzard gave me a free 10-day trial and I decided to check out all of the heralded zone changes in that expansion. Ok, and so I could try my hand at playing a Goblin since that was one of the two new races (would’ve tried Worgen too, but I don’t like to play Alliance toons).

Now that Blizzard has released another expansion, one featuring the first ever neutral, playable race (Pandaren) and a new class (Monk), I’ll admit it; I am a bit intrigued, and even a bit tempted to take Uhnk1 out of digital mothballs (otherwise known as archive) and start playing again. And so now, I have to go into the pros and cons and convince myself, once again, why this could be a bad idea.

Pros

  1. It was fun - hell, it’s a game; games are fun. It was something to do in the evenings and on weekends and I enjoyed it.
  2. Guildmates - I developed several online friendships playing WoW, some of which I still maintain via Facebook.
  3. Being able to take out frustrations - we all have crappy days and seeing as how actually choking or stabbing someone would land you in prison, playing a game like WoW and engaging in virtual combat was a way to let off steam and reduce stress.
  4. Boredom - let’s be honest here. I really don’t watch that much television anymore. Except for a couple of nights out of the week, there’s not that much on that interests me. The other nights, I end up mindlessly surfing the internet with the TV being really nothing but background noise. I have, frankly, considered starting up WoW again (or some other game) just to have something to do in the evenings.

Cons

  1. Cost - there’s the monthly fee for starters ($14.99/month), which I was able to save a little bit on by buying six month’s worth of game time for $77.94 (which breaks down to $12.99/month) when I actively played. Then there’s the fact that I am now two expansions behind, so if I want to actually level up my toon(s) past level 80 I would have to buy both at $39.99 each (maybe not at the same time, but still - that’s an $80 layout of funds that are needed for things like, you know, bills and groceries). Then there’s the fact that I still have an old character on a different server than what had become my primary server. While it appears that Blizzard no longer charges to move a toon, they do charge for a faction change, and I would need to do that since my first toon was Alliance and Uhnk is Horde.
  2. Time - I lost so much free time to playing this game that at one point it took me a year to read a book by my (at the time) favorite author. Now that I don’t play games like this anymore, I actually get through a book in a week or two (or four plus if it’s written by George R.R. Martin). Then there’s also the fact that I now live in Atlanta, where there’s almost always something to do (plays, festivals, sporting events, etc.).
  3. “The Grind” - all MMORPGs share this problem. Quest, level up, rinse, repeat. And then, once you reach the maximum level, all that’s left is “daily quests” for reputation, tokens, gold, gear, or whatever. If you’re lucky enough to be in a good Guild, there are raids, but sometimes getting a group of 10-20 together to raid is like trying to herd kittens. After awhile, it just becomes repetitive and almost starts to feel like it’s your second job instead of a hobby or pastime.
  4. The In-Game Economy - this could be considered part of “The Grind”. As you gain levels, you gain the chance to learn new abilities, but these aren’t free. You have to pay your trainer in virtual gold. This leads to another kind of grind for currency in addition to levels. You have to get your gear repaired, buy a mount, etc. So, you end up selling stuff in the Auction House - but of course you have to go grind for the materials to sell in the auction house. See how this becomes a cycle and what I meant by the game becoming more like a second job?
  5. The Guild - I know I already listed Guildmates as a pro, and the friendships I had with them were awesome. But, the problem with being in a guild is the constant feeling of letting down a bunch of people if you’re not logged on. That’s not to say that my ego made me think that the guild couldn’t function without me, but I know what it was like to try to fill raid spots when someone wasn’t logged on. The fact that my rogue was typically in the top 5 for DPS2 during raids and instances certainly made me feel needed and made me even feel a little guilty if I wasn’t online, especially on raid nights.
  6. The Game has Changed... a lot - I’ve been reviewing the way talents are now calculated in version 5.x.x, and at this point, it appears that I would essentially have to completely re-learn how to play my characters, not to mention retrain and redo their specializations (aka “respec”). For that matter, the Cataclysm expansion changed the zones around so much, that I’d probably get lost pretty quickly.

What about the freebies or just another MMORPG instead? There are free to play MMORPGs out there. In fact, I recently discovered that even WoW has a free-to-play version now (limited to level 20) and it seems as though all of the subscription ones I knew of have all gone to some kind of free version which allow you to pay for extras if you want. I’ve played a couple of the free ones when I was weaning myself off of WoW3; the idea being that I could get my gaming fix while not feeling quite as obligated to play since I didn’t feel like I was losing money by not playing and I didn’t have a bunch of guildmates waiting on me to log on. They were ok, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The free-to-play games and/or versions of game tend to be very limited, which leads to either it becoming really boring really fast, or being enticed into going ahead and subscribing or buying things from the game’s online store.

So, there you go. There are days that I wish I still played WoW, or at least something like it (like rainy weekend days or nights when there’s nothing on TV of interest to me, for example). But, there are plenty of other things to do (reading, building and painting models, movies, and most importantly, spending time with my fiancĂ©e) that it makes the thought of journeying into Azeroth again questionable. Then again, the more I read about the changes, the more intrigued I become. ;-)

Oh, who the fuck am I trying to kid. Yesterday I downloaded and installed the game client4 and plan on trying to get at least 30 days of game time within the next week, possibly even today. As for the expansions - we’ll see if I still like it enough to actually go that far after I’ve spent a few days playing it again. Hell, somehow I even managed to have never deleted the folder that had all my saved addon data from the last time I played it, so I’m not even going to have to do all that much to get everything set up the way I remember it. Truth is, I’ve also already been checking online, including Ebay, for good pricing on the expansion packs.

~ JC

Footnotes:

1. The name “Uhnk” exists for multiple characters across the various WoW servers (http://us.battle.net/wow/en/search?f=wowcharacter&q=Uhnk). I would, however, like to go on record that I have used that name since I was 13 for one of my all time favorite D&D characters and two WoW characters; an Orc Warrior on Shadowsong (deleted) and an Orc Rogue on Blood Furnace (level 80 and archived). It’s also one of the online handles I have used for several years. Case in point, my twitter name is Uhnk13.

2. DPS = Damage Per Second - a measure of the damage dealt by a person or group over one second. DPS is a more practical measure of damage output than plain damage, as it allows characters of differing levels and classes to effectively compare their damage output. (http://www.wowwiki.com/Damage_per_second)

3. Most notably, I played D&D Online, briefly, and Runes of Magic. I recently tried to log into my RoM account, but it’s been so long it’s already been deleted. Interestingly, my DDO account is still active, my characters are just archived like my WoW characters. I wrote a couple of blogs about these two games if you’re interested:
D&D Online - 1st Impressions” - Sunday, November 1, 2009
WoW, I Really Like RoM” - Sunday, April 25, 2010
More recently, I tried a browser based game called Drakensang, but found it very very lacking (didn’t even play it enough to warrant a blog post about it). Thanks in part to some recent blog postings of my old college buddy, Sam, I’ve even considered Star Trek Online.

4. I will say this - it took close to 14 fucking hours to fully download the 20ish GB of content. That did not endear Blizzard to me at all. Then again, if I had not uninstalled the game from the last time I had free trial time, then I probably wouldn’t have had to go through that.
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