The Year I Fell Out of Love

I’ve never done reviews or predictions here. I’m not nearly timely enough in my posting to pull it off. That doesn’t mean I don’t mentally review the past gaming year, though, and this New Year’s brought the revelation that 2009 was the year I fell out of love with MMO’s.

I’ve gone through multiple stages of MMO burnout in the past, only to return with a vengeance to a new game/new world, but I suspect that’s no longer true. 2009 found me subscribing and unsubscribing twice to LoTRO and Eve (the closest current examples of the MMO design I prefer), and I don’t think I’ll ever play WoW again. I’m playing a lot of single player games and Team Fortress 2, and I don’t think I’m simply burned out in need of an MMO break any more. I might be done with MMO’s, unless something really interesting appears on the horizon.

MMO bloggers seem to be looking forward to Blizzard’s next WoW expansion, Bioware’s The Old Republic, and Star Trek Online in 2010. I have almost zero interest in any of them (TOR being an exception because of how much I’ve enjoyed Dragon Age, and I hold a shred of hope that Bioware will surprise me with TOR the way DA surprised me). I really don’t expect to buy or play Star Trek Online, and I can’t imagine ever returning to Azeroth. I had three good years in Azeroth, but I think I’ve exhausted that theme park. And honestly, I expect The Old Republic to be a similar theme park, albeit newer and shinier.

I don’t have the same sense of anticipation about new MMO’s that I once had. Maybe WAR broke me; I had so much hope for a DAoC-style game, and Mythic just abandoned so much of what I enjoyed about DAoC in WAR. It felt like it had been influenced far too much by WoW, and I have a fear the same will happen with The Old Republic. I’m still bitter about WAR, so much so that I can’t even bring myself to play the free trial to see what’s new.

The only game I can see myself perhaps trying again in the future is LoTRO. The new skirmish system in the Siege of Mirkwood expansion sounds interesting, and if they make the Book quests solo-able, that might be enough for me to give it another shot. I do enjoy my house, the crafting, and the huge world of Middle Earth, and there’s a lot I haven’t seen there yet; I’m not nearly as burned out there as I am with WoW. I suspect I’m going to have a long stretch of MMO-free gaming ahead of me before that happens, though. I just don’t feel the love any longer.

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Summer break

I didn’t intend to take the summer off from blogging, but that’s exactly what happened. Between work getting a little crazy (anyone else getting hit with budget cuts, wage freezes, hiring freezes, etc.?), spending a lot of time outside with my daughter, and taking a summer class for grad school, life has been about everything but blogging.

Plus, I can’t get too excited about any of the MMO’s that are out right now. I’ve beaten WoW to death, don’t really have the time to enjoy Eve the way it’s meant to be played, I was bored by WAR, grew weary of LoTRO, and there’s not much new to catch my interest. Ok, other than Champions, there’s like nothing new, right? And don’t mention Aion…that’s a definite “give it three months” game. I’ve had my fill of Eastern MMO’s lately, and there’s nothing new under the sun. I even tried EQ2 for a month, and while I liked it, it’s too many steps backward. I want to see MMO’s doing something new and different, or I suspect my malaise will continue.

So, is the problem the games? Probably not. I think I’m just toast on MMO’s after ten years of playing them pretty much nonstop. I still have the desire to log in to a persistent world and build characters…just not any of the worlds that are currently available. I’d gripe about the industry and lack of innovation and clone-mentality development (this is the Internet, after all…I can bitch with no justification, right?), but I don’t really think that’s true or fair. I think developers work really hard to provide good gaming experiences, and I think my inability to stick with one MMO has more to do with me than the genre.

Keen made some good observations about what he misses in current-gen MMO’s last month (yeah, I’m behind on my blog reading, sue me), and a lot of it rang true to me. He started by saying

When I think back at what we’ve lost, or have begun to lose, in the MMORPGs of today, I keep coming back to one thing:  The World.  We’re starting to lose that sense of a big/massive, open, true world that we can explore and live in as we develop or take on the role of our character

Yep. I think this is what disappointed me most about WAR. It’s a game that’s packed with content, and I found out I don’t enjoy that very much. It was a very linear experience, and I never felt a sense of isolation. There wasn’t a sense of danger, either…you could either survive the zone you were in, or you were going to die. There wasn’t much tension, like in Keen’s run across Antonica. And there’s definitely not that much open space.

I blame WoW’s success for that shrinking of the game world, although I think WAR went further than WoW did. The idea that a world has to be convenient after World of Warcraft is pretty pervasive. I miss the sense of distance in Everquest or even Dark Age of Camelot. Making a run from your portal area down to the enemy gates in the DAoC frontier was a hell of an online gaming experience, and WAR didn’t preserve that feeling. WAR’s like a convenience store MMO experience…you can get a limited number of things really fast, and some of them are enjoyable, but if you’re really hungry, you want something more.

I was thinking about resubbing to Star Wars Galaxies the other day, because I was remembering riding around on my speeder with my artisan/architect, surveying for good spots to drop my harvesters. I remember how cool it was to have so much space around me, and an encounter with another person out there usually resulted in some sort of interaction, even if it’s just a wave or another emote. Travel in WAR and WoW feels like commuting…there’s sea of people around you, but you’re not interacting with any of them. I miss the days of physical space and possibility and adventure.

I don’t know if the MMO market can support games like that any more. There’s so much pressure to deliver WoW-like profits, or even a tenth of WoW profits, that designing a world that’s more of a community-driven sandbox is risky. There certainly don’t seem to be any games like that in development, so maybe MMO’s have passed me by. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with current gen MMO’s…it just means that I don’t think I’ll be playing them very often.

So, instead of logging in to WAR and leveling characters through scenarios and RvR, I’ve been playing a lot of Team Fortress 2. WAR scenarios reminded me of my old FPS days, and I’ve been getting my scenario/RvR fixes through TF2. It’s easier to get in and out of TF2 matches, I don’t have to grind levels or gear, and it’s a brilliant game. Is it just me, or do you think Valve could make a TF2 MMO that’s more fun than WAR? Might just be me, and the burnout speaking.

Anyway, my daughter is playing Wizard 101 and Free Realms, and I have alts on her accounts that I’m playing, so I might hit up some of the folks I’ve seen playing those games and say hi (Tipa and Pete have both posted about those games recently). Other than that, I’m usually playing TF2, on the Gamers With Jobs servers when they’re hopping in the evenings, pining for the old days, the MMO frontier days.

Some WAR links and thoughts

There are a couple WAR blog posts that I wanted to comment on, and I figured since I’m referencing more than one, I’d just make it a new post here.

Ravious over at Kill Ten Rats is wondering about the value of a subscription to a PvP MMO. I was interested in this post, because his reasons for not wanting to subscribe to a PvP MMO over a PvE MMO is similar to my reasons for the exact opposite conclusion; I don’t have much interest in subscribing to a mainly PvE MMO right now.

Ravious says:

In PvE MMO games, like Lord of the Rings Online, there is that feeling of the developer updating “further along.”  When Turbine updates the game with a Book update (as opposed to just a balance, optimization, and bug patch) they push the story further down the road.  We get new quests that expand the storytelling of the world, new instances and dungeons, and sometimes even new regions.  There is the value in receiving the content, but I think the bigger value is knowing that over the next big rise there will be more.

Fair enough. I won’t argue that WAR’s PvE rivals LoTRO, or EQ2, or WoW. Instead of feeling like I’m missing out on great PvE, though, I’m happy that WAR is offering me something I can’t get in any of those games; unpredictable gaming on a nightly basis. I guess I’m bored with PvE and the sense of sameness that I get in every PvE game. The setting is different, the stories are different, but the encounters are too predictable for me. I don’t derive much satisfaction from beating PvE challenges. What really gets me excited is knowing a mob of enemy players is out there, and our encounters will be much more unpredictable than anything a PvE situation can provide.

Does that mean Ravious (or anyone else who misses greater PvE options than WAR offers) is wrong? Absolutely not. I’m glad that there are games available that cater to both preferences.

The next post that caught my eye was Scarybooster’s “Hot for WAR“. Scary is praising Mythic for their attention to their game and their efforts to continually improve it. Now, I fully expect someone in the comments over there to say “Blizzard doesn’t have to put in that much work to fix their game because they don’t release a game as broken as WAR!” I don’t think WAR is broken, for the record, but a sarcastic comment like that still has a ring of truth to it.

One of the reasons that I’m happy in Warhammer is precisely because of Mythic’s attention to their product. I think Mythic is a little more ambitious than Blizzard, and I appreciate their type of gameplay. We really can’t get MMO gaming like Mythic makes anywhere else in the genre. Eve is always an exception; they really have a unique environment with lots of opportunity for excellent unpredictable PvP. At the end of the day, Mythic’s RvR design is more exciting to me than the PvE available in LoTRO, EQ2, or WoW, and I appreciate Mythic’s attempts to provide a gaming experience different from other MMOs.

I’m not going to deny that I enjoy different things in an MMO than many other MMO gamers. I don’t like raiding or dungeon crawling very much. It makes me feel constricted, closed in, like my role is very carefully scripted, and varying from what you’re expected to do will lead to failure. Apparently, the way I enjoy PvE is quite different from a lot players who are unhappy with Mythic’s PvE. I happen to enjoy it very much, and I don’t find PvE leveling much different in WAR than the way I played WoW or EQ or LoTRO. I get quests, I run out and do my quests, I get tradeskill supplies while I’m questing, I do some tradeskilling before bed. For my money, I’m just as happy with WAR’s PvE environment as I was in Azeroth or Norrath, and my progress leveling in WAR is faster than it ever was in EQ or WoW or LoTRO.

I think that the blogging community has to start acknowledging that there’s a lot of different ways to enjoy MMOs, and quite a few different experiences available. Just because a game falls into the MMO genre doesn’t mean it’s going to be similar to other MMOs out there, and it’s quite possible that games are going to go far enough down their own game-design path that we end up disliking the final product, despite the fact that they all start off in a very similar manner.

I won’t try to convince people (like Heartless, perhaps, or Pete), that Warhammer is a good game, or a game they should be playing. I think we’re starting to see people with more specific requirements for enjoying an MMO, and people branching off into the games that best meet those requirements. I don’t think each MMO should try to be everything for everyone. I respect that Ravious really likes LoTRO’s books and the PvE it provides, and I think Turbine has done a wonderful job incorporating a story into their PvE group encounters. I completely understand players who love the product Blizzard offers, and the excellent challenges they provide for small group or raid group gameplay. For players who prefer Eve’s universe, or EQ2, or any other game that’s meeting their MMO gaming needs, I say right on. All we have to do is be happy with our game, and let everyone else enjoy theirs.

And for me, there’s no greater thrill in MMO gaming than seeing 20 or 30 realm mates running alongside me through a zone, looking for trouble, seeing a crowd of Destruction headed our way, crashing together like a scene from Braveheart or Lord of the Rings. I love it when a big fight breaks down into 8 or 10 smaller fights, rolling across the green grass of Avelorn, and the ebb and flow of the battle is frantic and unpredictable, ending in glorious triumph or bitter defeat. Keep battles, siege warfare, flanking manuevers from postern doors, tactics barked through Warband or Region channels, dozens of people switching focus and wondering if the defenders will respond in time, staving off an hour-long keep take attempt from a determined foe, or finally breaking through a spirited defense to lay claim to a keep…

That’s what I’ve found in WAR. That’s what keeps me happily moving through PvE, knowing that at any moment, I might have the opportunity for something epic, something magical created out of the efforts of dozens of players.

In DAoC, on the Percival server, it wasn’t uncommon to get smoked by an opposing realm and lie dead in the grass watching them swarm over the objective you had attempted to defend. Instead of opponents laughing at your corpse, though, or dancing on it, or worse (/spit, /slit, etc.), it also wasn’t uncommon to be saluted at or bowed to by the victors.

As much as players on Percival enjoyed their moments of triumph, we all knew that those moments were made possible by the valiant efforts of our opponents. Without skilled and dedicated opponents, the victory would not have been so sweet. Maybe that’s the difference between PvE raiding and RvR for me. When I’ve beaten a dungeon or a boss, I never go home thinking “Man, they put up a hell of a fight, they’re a really good player, or that was a really good tactic”. After a good RvR fight, win or lose, as I sit there grinning at my computer with the adrenaline still pumping through my body, I know there’s someone on the other side of their computer grinning as well. They helped make my fun possible, and I helped with theirs.

I think that’s the essence of Mythic’s RvR for me, and I won’t tire of it any time soon. And for the record, I’m not really a fan of individual PvP. There’s something about running into battle with a group of friends that creates a shared magic I haven’t experienced anywhere else in the MMO world.

If you get that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from big PvE encounters, I respect that. I’m just glad that Mythic gives me a chance to experience that in competition against other players.

WAR: Embracing losing

When I logged on last night, I picked my Shadow Warrior first, thinking I’d check out the new changes from the patch. There were quite a few Knights of the Burning Crusade…err, Knights of the Bloody Roundtab…no, that’s not it…Knights of the Burning Sea? Screw it. There were quite a few Knight alts, and they were getting together to run T1 scenarios.

I mentioned earlier that I might roll a Rune Priest to heal all those new tank alts, and the T1 guild group said they’d be happy to have a level 1 gimpy healer, so I quickly rolled up an RP and joined the scenario group.

Holy cow, T1 scenarios are the wrong place for a level 1 healer in noob clothing 🙂 I knew I was going to be ineffective for a while, and I was right, but man, I had a good time running with the guild group. We lost a lot of scenarios; we lost badly in a good percentage of them. Somehow, people didn’t let it get them down, though, and we laughed and had fun through the entire evening.

When I was a kid, I never minded losing. If I got my ass kicked at Risk or Monopoly or chess or cards, I never got mad and quit. As soon as I lost, I was ready to play another game. It’s a challenge, and a talented opponent means I have to work hard to win, and it’s satisfying when I’m competitive, whether I win or lose.

WAR scenarios give players a lot of opportunities for moral victories, even if you’re getting smoked in the overall score. We’d cheer if we managed to corner a shaman and take him out, pounding him into the dust. We’d take solace in defeating one opponent before the Blackguard zerg with an army of Zealots and DoK’s healing them overwhelmed us. We were underdogs (most of us were level 6 or lower), and I think we reveled in the underdog role.

This happened a lot in DAoC, on my server. Hibernia was a heavy underdog, and my little guild was fairly casual. We’d get rolled a lot, and it was an uphill battle for months before the realm came together as a force to be feared. It would have been easy to quit because we weren’t dominant, feeling like we never had a chance to “win”, but even on nights where little seemed to go our way, there were opportunities for success. Over the course of an evening of RvR, there are many little opportunities to be a thorn in the side of a superior opposing force, and I take great pleasure in challenging a stronger opponent. Well, not directly challenging them, maybe, but harassing them, harrying them, annoying them.

We had a lot of good fights last night, even if we lost more than we won, and even if the scoreboard was pretty lopsided in the opponent’s favor. Someone’s going to lose every night, and I’ve been on the winning side in the past. The only way to get back to the winning side is to keep showing up, and we finally managed to win our last scenario in Khaine’s Embrace. It was a satisfying end to a night of losing. Fun losing! And my little Rune Priest alt is level 5 and climbing.

WAR: The view from Hibernia

My post from yesterday, The Push to Tier 4, generated this quote from Heartless:

Averheim has the problem of having a heavily imbalanced hardcore crowd where Destruction has the majority of level 40’s already and for 10 levels they get to make Order’s life hell… forcing most of us Averheim Order level 30-39 to solo PvE if we expect to get to 40.

I’m not quite in Tier 4 yet, but this is a disturbing statement. Now, I know it’s made by Heartless, so I’ll take it with a grain of salt (*grins at Heartless*), but it’s worth thinking about.

Last night on Averheim, some of the Casualties of War were in Praag, engaging in Tier 4 Open RvR. From what I understood from guild chat, there was an Order warband, and three or four or more Destruction warbands. Order would make a push, Order would get spanked, they’d respawn and try it again, with a similar result. Some of the CoWs sounded dispirited, and I think that speaks to what Heartless fears.

Back in the day, when I was a member of the Hibernian realm on Percival, we were the whipping boys of the server for a very long time. There were great individual players, excellent 8-man static groups, and a solid community of good people. However, as a realm, we got our asses kicked on a regular basis. Emain was the Midgard playground, and they beat us up at the milegates until they pushed into our frontier and grabbed our keeps. We didn’t see relics for a long time.

Here’s where Mythic needs to make a mysterious “something” happen in WAR. Despite the fact that RvR was often a difficult proposition for Hibernia, it was enough fun that we kept coming out to fight, night after night. We had good leaders who pushed into Midgard and Albion territory, we tried to play the role of spoilers in the three-realm matchups, and after months of losing, we learned a lot of lessons. We learned how to fight together as a realm. We learned that the game was a ton of fun, even if we were losing. And we learned that sometimes the people you die with are more important than the objectives you manage to capture. Eventually, Hibernia emerged as a serious power player on Percival, and I was around long enough to enjoy successful relic raids, frontier dominance, and a community of people hardened by defeat long enough to band together for victory.

As I read Heartless’s comment, and as I heard the groans from guild chat as Destruction was washing over our little warband in Tier 4 last night, I wondered if WAR is going to have that “something” that keeps Order out on the battlefield. Will we manage to come together as a realm, and will that spirit allow us to continue to face what might be an uphill climb through Tier 4 (if Heartless is correct, that is, and if the sky really is falling)? Will there be enough incentives in WAR to keep Order focused and working together?

I say that Mythic needs to provide a mysterious “something”, because there are two major components in DAoC that WAR lacks. The first factor, taking the most keeps, even if it ended up being at the end of the night when the Midgard or Albion bullies had gone to bed, opened up Darkness Falls for our realm. The second factor, since I just mentioned Albion, was the three-realm mechanic. We knew that it wasn’t just Hibernia against Midgard, or Hibernia against Albion. Each evening, there was the possibility of a third faction destroying the horde that was invading your keeps in your own frontier and providing some rock-paper-scissors balance to RvR.

I talked about both of those DAoC features quite a bit during my beta days, when we were just talking theoretically about the WAR mechanics. I think both of those factors were keys in the success of DAoC’s RvR, and I’m not sure yet what WAR offers.

Keen did a great job covering the Darkness Falls idea the other day, and Syncaine mentions the three-realm factor in the comments of that thread. It’s a good discussion. It will be interesting to see if Mythic manages to keep everyone motivated through Tier 4 and at the end game. Without a compelling reason to venture out to RvR, and without a third realm to offset the dominance of one faction over another, I’d be concerned that Open RvR will feel like an exercise in frustration if one faction is much stronger than another.

I’m just a blogger, babbling my way through work and life, and I’m sure Mythic has thought of this, and I hope they have a plan for it. I do have faith that Mythic thinks they have the motivations for RvR in place, and has ideas how to balance a two-realm game mechanic. I also have faith that if those design elements don’t prove sufficient to address motivation and a sense of hope, Mythic will make adjustments.

However, it’s not 2001 any more. There’s a lot more competition in the MMO market, and Mythic has to get it right sooner rather than later if they’re going to keep anywhere near a million subscribers. It’s going to be fun to watch! I don’t have any particular predictions, but I will enjoy watching how things unfold over the next couple of months.

WAR: The Push to Tier 4

My main hit 28 last night, which means…something…when it comes to participating in Tier 4. Somebody help me out here, I can’t remember exactly what the benefit of level 28 is. Does it make you eligible for the Tier 4 buff bump? Do you get a smaller bump in health and armor if you’re < 28?

Anyway, as I get closer to Tier 4, I’m starting to think that this will be the defining range for my final opinions about Warhammer. As I’ve fought through Tiers 1-3, running lots of scenarios, finding occassional good open RvR, and struggling like many other people to find a critical mass of players in PvE to group with, I’ve wondered if making a decision about WAR’s success or failure based on my Tier 1-3 experiences would be premature. I think, for me, that’s going to be true.

Back in the DAoC days, there were no early battlegrounds. You had to either keep up with the leveling curve to participate in RvR on an equal footing, or you had to accept the fact that you had to level in PvE to catch up. You were at a significant disadvantage trying to RvR at level 40 if the leveling Bell curve was closer to 50.

Mythic changed that eventually, adding battlegrounds for lower players, based on level ranges, but that wasn’t available at the beginning of the game. I think Mythic did a great job fixing the RvR participation problem in WAR, but I suspect by the time I’m well into T4, Tiers 1-3 are going to look a lot like the DAoC lower level battlegrounds. It’s a fun place to do something other than just grind PvE, but it’s not equal to the endgame RvR experience, either.

I think T4 is going to define Warhammer, because it takes some commitment to get there. By the time you start to participate in T4, you’re going to be playing with people who have decided that WAR is the game for them, and they’ll likely be around for a while. It’ll be easier to find a group of people to run around with on your side, and you can bet that your opponents will be skilled and equally dedicated.

I’m not trying to tell everyone that they should play to Tier 4 before they decide whether WAR is a good game or not. If you tried it and didn’t like it, there are a variety of valid reasons for reaching that conclusion. Maybe you hated the empty feeling of PQ’s and struggled to find Open Groups. Maybe you got tired of Scenarios being the best way to advance, or felt like you couldn’t find enough Open RvR action. Maybe there was a server imbalance, and you couldn’t get scenarios to pop even if you wanted to run them a lot. It could be a lack of depth in crafting, too much running between flight points in PvE zones…the list goes on. While I think Mythic made improvements in the Tier 1 to Tier 3 adventure compared to what we experienced in DAoC, I can totally accept that there are gamers who don’t want to invest the time to get to Tier 4.

That said, I think those of us who do reach Tier 4 are going to find a pretty wicked game, and gameplay that’s still unique in the MMO genre. I’m looking forward to the Tier 4 push to level 40, to enjoy the game with the rest of the players who enjoy what WAR has to offer. Looking back, I think Tiers 1-3 are going to look like baby steps toward Tier 4, and I think Tier 4 is going to be one hell of a good time 🙂

Hype Night

The Greenskin asked “Where did the hype go?” about WAR. It’s a good question. I’ve been dead quiet here since WAR launched, and it’s mostly because I’m having an absolute blast. This is the most fun I’ve had in an MMO since…shoot, I don’t know? The glory days of SWG? Dark Age? It’s right up there with my favorite MMO moments.

I read plenty of blogs stating that WAR isn’t capturing their attention. I can understand why. I’ve seen this movie before.

When Everquest was king, and Dark Age of Camelot was launched, I heard the same things about Dark Age that I’m hearing about WAR now. The PvE isn’t great, you have to get to the end game to see what Mythic’s really done, EQ has better this, better that, bla bla bla. That’s cool. It was pretty clear to me that they were two vastly different games, offering very different experiences, even though they both belonged to the same MMO space. It’s ok to prefer one over the other. To me, MMO’s are like music. You might really like Pearl Jam. Or Toto. Or the Bay City Rollers. It’s not up to me to judge. Well, I can judge, but I can’t dictate your tastes 🙂 As my wife likes to say, “Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion.” Three guesses who she’s usually talking about. First two don’t count.

Yeah, WAR has some challenges. Wilhelm was disappointed with the early dungeon content. (Wilhelm, for what it’s worth, CoWs were checking out Gunbad last night, it sounds a lot bigger, multiple wings, I think you have to be 17 to get quests for it? Just have your tank grind scenarios for 7 levels and…wait, come back! Was it something I said??). Another challenge is leveling. Mythic’s balancing is off between scenarios and open RvR. I don’t think they thought through the replay-ability of zones without a critical mass of players available…or they at least made it difficult to be social and just talk to people in your zone to see if you could get a group together for PQ’s or PvE. I love the Open Group tool, that’s how I find most of my PvE/PQ groups…but dudes, you made it super-easy to group through a tool, but people can’t chat in the region to get together? Huh?

Personally, I’m not a chatter in General chat. I prefer the lack of bla bla bla in an Open Group model, but your game really should support chat to group and the Open Group tool. Yeah, Mytic is fixing it, but in hindsight, it should have been in there all along. Maybe Mythic was thinking regional chat was an obstacle to being immersed in the game?

Challenges or not, though, WAR is the game for me (at least until someone makes a game with the crafting/market economy and player housing/city building of SWG, the RvR of a Mythic game, the PvE of WoW, the territory claiming and offline training of Eve (no more levels!), and maybe hookers and beer).

I honestly haven’t been frustrated in WAR. When I don’t feel like doing Scenarios, I enjoy PQ’s. When I’ve had enough PQ’s, I’ll knock out some quests. I keep my ears open for good RvR, and jump out in the lakes when I hear something good is going on. The crafting is simple, but it’s a good diversion when none of the other options leap out at me.

I think maybe I’m more flexible than some gamers? Or more forgiving? I don’t go into the game and say “I’m going to do PQ’s tonight NO MATTER WHAT.” If I stumble on a group of people in a PQ doing a quest, I’ll ask if they want to do a couple more. If I don’t stumble on enough people for a PQ, I’ll do PvE with them. If we have fun, sometimes we’ll queue for a Scenario, or head out to RvR together if the call to attack or defend arises. If I can’t find absolutely anything going on, I’m usually perfects happy soloing. Hell, it’s what I’d be doing in WoW or LoTRO or EQ anyway!

It’d be easy to say that I have all these options because I’m part of a large guild, but honestly, I’m a quiet person. I don’t invite myself into guild groups all that much. I find that I encounter partners for PvE and PQ’s while I’m out in the world. I don’t know, maybe after leveling in like a dozen MMO’s since EQ in ’99, I’ve become a more patient person. I don’t feel like WAR is grindy at all. I’m playing very casually, and I’m level 25 on my main with a handful of alts between 8 and 10. If you choose to ONLY run Scenarios because that’s the fastest way to 40…well, I can understand where you’d feel bored. I’m having no trouble progressing without being Scenario-obsessed, though.

I think it’s like music. I enjoy this band. It’s got a good beat, I can dance to it. I give it an 8, Dick.

No, I’m not calling you a dick. There’s a capital D there. If you’re too old for American Bandstand and Soul Train, don’t take the Dick thing personally.

When I was growing up, I liked art rock. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. King Crimson. Fripp and Eno. Rush. Yes. Early Genesis, before Peter Gabriel left and the whole thing became Phil Collins singing about love. The man’s been married like 3 times now…stick to the drums, Petey, let Peter G. write the songs, k?

My point is, it’s a pretty specific music genre, and my friends who liked Black Flag or the Circle Jerks or The Allman Brothers or Cheap Trick thought my music sucked. Ya know, it doesn’t suck, you just might not enjoy it the same way I do.

I’ve been in absolutely epic RvR, both in Scenarios and Open RvR. Total nailbiters, last-minute victories AND defeats, heroic moments, saving group mates with heals a nick from death, being saved by team mates, heart-pounding, adrenaline surging MMO goodness. I can’t think of another game that’s given me this sort of fun, at least not since DAoC, and it’s exactly what I wanted to experience in WAR. I’ll hype WAR, but it’s going to fall on deaf ears if people don’t enjoy that kind of gameplay, or if they think that kind of gameplay falls off a tree each time you run into an RvR lake or a Scenario. I’ve had bad RvR runs too, but damn, I’ll take a few clunkers over leveling Yet Another Alt in Azeroth, or doing another 10 levels on my WoW main, just to be faced with the same cookie-cutter PvE raiding. Yeah, WoW dungeons are awesome, but seriously, compared to playing against real people, it bores me to tears. I’d rather play Bejeweled than run WoW raid dungeons.

I just don’t enjoy that band. It’s ok if you do. We can still get along. I’ll go to my concerts, you go to your concerts, and we can still talk to each other. I’ll still be your friend. And I’m not going to insist my music is better. It’s not. It’s just what I like. And I like it a lot! WAR friggin’ rocks. For me.