[MMO] Back in Vanilla WoW - Quality-of-life handicaps
Kiting a rare spawn.
While everybody is busy commending GW2 for its social breakthrough, I went back to vanilla WoW and marvelled at the tools that we have relinquished over the years. I scoured specifically for community-regulating tools, as it was the concern of my previous post, but also paid attention to the quality-of-life improvements that are not so beneficial as they may seem. I will comment on those latter first and analyse what we can learn from 2006+ MMOs.
For starters, I had been missing the longer casting bars when mining, skinning, etc. Preposterous!, you may say. Still, if you have played LOTRO, you may have realized how differently that game plays from other AAA titles. LOTRO is more concerned with the journey than with the endgame: professions take a longer time to skill-up, its recipes are much more complex, and the resource nodes are more spaced out and take longer to harvest, which is key. Vanilla WoW was like that as well. One of the instruments that the developers employed to quench our endgame anxiety was this deceleration of gathering. Gathering in vanilla WoW is less frantic. Everything is less frantic.
The actual journey to level 60 takes as much time or even more than the path to 85, and is indubitably more rewarding. The joy of the first green after that infested pit of furbolgs that is Ban'ethil Barrow Den. It was soloable, but a very dangerous venture due to the high respawn rate. In retail WoW, I cannot bring myself to level up any alts. My characters are insultingly overpowered in relation to the mobs, and the quests are a mockery. Then, I need to check my heart rate before I queue for any instances, because I know that there is a huge chance that I might end up spitting fire for great justice.
In the beginning of Wrath I took up the job of managing and leading a raiding guild, and I used to feel very pessimistic about the new recruits that we were receiving. These people had not gone through the learning process that vanilla and TBC WoW forced upon new players, and had no idea how to play their classes since the game had waived the responsibility of teaching them. Vanilla WoW has so far (at level 12) taught me that kiting with Hamstring may be a wiser strategy than face-tanking; that pulling three mobs is inadvisable when your priest is catching butterflies far away; that aggro is a vital mechanic that saves my heroic clothie. My priest learnt very quickly the 5-second rule of mana regen, because he had to make use of it. But not only does harder content work to show you your class' toolkit, it is also a goal in itself. Quest rewards feel like rewards. Every level is a conquest, not a bureaucratic procedure to be filled to reach endgame.
Another quality-of-life improvement gone awry was the addition of flying mounts that reduce Azeroth from a world to a province with huge terrain dissonances. The process of travelling added to the slow pace of the game, although it was at times a bit too much. The journey from the night elven area to Stormwind involved a ship trip, a walk through a crocodile-infested zone, a pass below the mountains guarded by 20ish-level orcs, a pleasant road walk through Loch Modan up to Ironforge, its awe-inspiring gates and melody, and the gnomish tram.
Remember the degradation of epic loot? When something is handed to us effortless, we develop a sense of entitlement, and regard the object without the admiration that a hardship produces in us. Same with world locations. That trip was wondrous because it was not a mere vista splurged on our screens. For our two night elves, it was a wonder we had pursued with effort. A dwarf greeted us at the entrance, asking what were two elves doing in his lands. Spontaneous rp ensued, in a normal, non-rp server.
PD: Actually, I am currently playing TBC, Vanilla and retail WoW, Argent Dawn, at the same time. Emerald Dream is a server run by the same team that developed the TBC server (Archangel), and has just released ED to start progression from scratch. It is the stablest server I have experienced yet, and mostly bug-free. Absolutely recommended, specially now that they have just started, so you can hop on the bandwagon of raid progression. I have edited the Contact Page if you want to reach me in-game.
PD2: For more vanilla-based blogging, you should check out this blog, whose writer records his renewed experience of vanilla in a different emulator to the one I'm subscribed to.
PD3: Vanilla WoW, how much of my enjoyment do you think is related to nostalgia?