I never got a chance to play World of Warcraft during its initial launch in 2004. There was a whole other world that I had not seen. When I eventually did get a subscription and experience the game it was deep into the end of Cataclysm and the beginning of Mist of Pandaria. This was well into the redesign of the core game itself.
While others were enjoying Azaroth I was spending my time in a small MMO known as Perfect World International. Most people seem to not know about the actual game and rather the company who has purchased major titles like Star Trek Online and Neverwinter but they did once have an MMO that shared their company name.
Other then it’s free to play model I enjoyed the challenge. There were challenges and some quests required you to party up when you attempted them. There was a level of pride when my character, an Untamed Barbarian, could solo his first dungeon. I remembered the time when I had to have others help me and now I, a high-level character, could help others… Well, it made me happy.
So I waited and waited and on launch day for Classic I got on excited to play and, well, I queued. I will openly admit I spent close to 10 hours over the whole night sitting, watching my spot in line slowly tick down. Sometimes it went up, which did not make much sense, but I waited… Diligently.
I eventually got into a server, Kromcrush. I was wanting to originally play Alliance, I am a supporter of the Alliance and honestly find the Horde less appealing but my friend who brought me into WoW wanted to play Horde. You can find his videos on Youtube under Zork65 and if you’re like me you will find him mildly amusing and very entertaining to watch. I don’t know, just go check him out and see what you think.
So there I was, brand new WoW server and world. Ready to join the endless horde of players who have been lusting for this for years. I made an Undead as it was the most appealing selection, Selected Mage… Typed in a name from my bag of RPG character names, Krystal, and was on my way. If you want to know more about her and the name selected for her I will be putting up an RP history for why that name ended up in my bag and why I chose it for this in a couple days.
Loaded in, my gaming laptop handled what came next wonderfully. Hordes.. of Horde. There were so many players, with many quests.. killing a very small spawn amount of mobs. I tried, just for an experiment, to solo quest for a while and it was impossible. Partially because I am a squishy mage but more because there were so many players the mobs were being killed the moment they spawn.
Eventually, I found a wonderful group of people, well, really I found one person as the rest of the players only stayed for what they needed then regrouped into their next quest, and we traveled. For the first time in all of my WoW experience, I felt a sense of community. Traveling with other people, just chatting and questing, I had a great time.
That is when it occurred to me. The reason I do not like the normal WoW and the reason that the community was so desperate for “Vanilla” was because of the sense of community. In normal WoW, or what many writers are calling “Retail WoW,” you can pretty much quest most of the game without ever talking to another person.
Now when I brought this up a friend of mine, not Zork, mentioned Guilds and although I agree that is a possible solution for Retail WoW I don’t think it fixes the problem. See most of the Retail WoW players have played for so long that the game is natural, and for new players, there is ALOT of grinding to catch up with them. I know that there were level boost packs being sold but I am morally against it, I think that buying levels is akin to cheat codes and you will miss most of the game if you do it, so that was not an option.
The fact that I rely on other players, that I need a party to adventure with for many of the quests, adds an element to the game that makes it feel better. Dungeon finder is fine and all but a good old fashion LFG works wonders and the community was automatically doing it in the brand new Classic servers.
After some thought, I honestly believe that a huge amount of the ease of play functionality found within World of Warcraft Retail has devalued the game. Although it did make it more accessible to a wider audience it ruins the experience for the current. The evolution of the game was done so slowly and simplified in almost a natural way that most of the diehard fans have not noticed. For an MMO to survive it must remain relevant but for it to gut itself in favor of attracting more players, I honestly think that by simplifying the game Blizzard cares more about money then players.
Spend 1 week in a Korean MMO and you will immediately feel the lack of hand-holding, the rush of independence, and overall the hard work that must be done to be good at the game. Now compare that to any of the microtransaction ridden Free to Play games from Perfect World or even the simplification route that almost all of Blizzard’s games have taken and you will see a difference.
I am sure that in my adventures in World of Warcraft there will be more to talk about. I will be here to incite and you, my wonderful crew, will be here to make sure I stay on track.