As I pen yet another episode in the Vanilla Preservation Project, the sixth of undoubtedly a hundred or so to come, I start out not speaking of my own character, and actually, not even my own experience.
I’ve a good many friends in life whom I am blessed with knowing, but there are some that have more tenure than others, some closer than others. We begin today’s tale with the testament of one of these more tenured, closer individuals.
There is this anti-nerd I know, let’s call her Letty Rachael Barbara Lynelle Patrice-Simmons, or Letty Rachael Barbara Lynelle for short. Well, this individual has long been a mocker of gamers and video games, online games more especially, MMORPGs in particular. Amongst many other friends I’ve known, she has tried her hand at various MMORPGs ranging from FFXI to WAR. After the nagging that ensues as I travel from one title to the next (in search of the ever elusive immersion that is a drought in current titles), there is an inevitable question which always remains the same: “What is the easiest class to play?”
Well in the world of WoW, that response has been a hunter. There are no healing responsibilities and no associated blame when someone dies and you could have prevented it. There are no tanking responsibilities, the pet is automatic-driven and not manual. Hell, shoot a target, pet on defensive, and the pet does the rest. Literally, you can afk-level if need be. It’s also no surprise that power-levelers select the hunter as class-0f-choice given its mechanics and kit.
And so from late BC (the foray into WoW) until late WotLK (when interest waned), she played a huntress. Blissfully unaware of the deeper, more involving, more demanding, gameplay mechanics that whirled around her sphere of immersion.
That bliss was shattered. And the results… were unexpected.
Letty Rachael Barbara Lynelle has played a huntress for so long that she is well acquainted with the song and dance. On top of this, setting ones pinky toe in Classic WoW with a hunter couldn’t be a more welcoming, noob-friendly experience. This was the era of the raid afk-hunter. White damage was largest here than in any other installment of the franchise. So naturally, a desire for expansion, for progression arose. A subtle expressed thought that I wasn’t expecting arose one day in the form of a mild quandary: “What other class is easy?” (emphasis mine)
The suggestion was given and later that day I came to learn of the presence of a shaman. I mean, after all, this was the class that the whole of Alliance would point to as indicator of the Blizzgods loving Horde more than their choice of faction. With chain lightning and chain heal, totems and shocks, it’s hard to argue against the claims of yore.
Well come to find out she builds her shaman like a caster. Hardly the ‘effective’ leveling choice, and hardly the ‘effective’ endgame choice either. But it’s what she wants, and she appears to be having fun.
The call goes out for a Wailing Caverns group and it fills up, complete with tank and heals. In she goes, anticipation filling for the adventures that lie within. Her tank is on top of things as is her healer, and she can freely, mindless spam her key for ‘Lightning Bolt’. Given the cast time of lowbie LBolts and their cost, things perish around her much too quickly for oom to take effect, and the regen of lower levels tops her mana off between pulls. EZ-mode right? Right up her alley.
No story is without a growing plot! Of course, the inevitable takes place. An overzealous group leader wanting to skip trash packs circles through a series of corners without hiccup… to himself. The trouble is, one member is on the lower end of the leveling spectrum and cannot pass as freely. The increase aggro radius results in a couple of packs being pulled unintentionally, on top of the group being fragmented. The stage: set.
As stories go, some pieces are embellished, less memorable moments drift into background, and disappear from the story altogether with time. In the version that was recorded to me, immediately following the event, down to the last detail, the following took place:
She initially targetted the mob that was attacking her friend-for-the-instance, and began to cast the wonder that is Lightning Bolt. But, her friend wasn’t the tank, and appeared to having a rapidly reducing health bar. Remembering where that dusty Lesser Healing Wave key was located, she switched from death-dealer to healing-hands mode, restoring vitality to her groupmate. In the ensuing chaos, she alternated between healing when the main healer was oom and dpsing to help finishing off a target. The group recovered, but the mispull resulted in 1 of the 5 group members taking a dirtnap. She sat to drink, and prepared her Ancestral Spirit key for usage…
What Have I Created?!
I was immediately told the tale of what transpired. Through squeals: lots of chaos.. people’s health bars.. Shamblers.. someone died. She sounded stressed. I prepared my most sincere apology, as it had been my coaxing to try the Shaman class at her behest. I delivered my apology and told her that I was sorry.
‘No,’ she said, ‘don’t be.’ “IT.. WAS.. AWESOME!!”
Hold up. Wait a second here. This is the mocker of video gamers, the quintessential hater on the MMORPG genre, of which WoW v1.0 is ‘hardcore’ by today’s gimme-gimme kiddie standards. And she just felt the surge of responsibility as a backup healer in a role that the vast majority of gamers (and companies) think is a woe. How could she have enjoyed what transpired.
As it turns out, it was an itch she didn’t know she had. The desire to be aboard a vessel on the verge of falling off a cliff, but through coordination and perseverance with allies emerge the victors. But it takes that opportunity, the one of failure, to truly be allowed to succeed and have the feeling that comes with success. In the 5-6 years that she has dipped her pinky toe into various MMORPG titles, it was a splash she yearned for all along. This is where today’s post gets its title: it takes consequence to allow the possibility for growth, and games that allow that, are, well, truly games.
Apparently, now she’s off playing with a mage, hating the fact that she is a cloth-wearing class, but figuring out ways to deal damage while kiting (another game mechanic she is know familiar with). She recently completed an RFC run whereby no marks were used, and she was the only form of crowd control. She has managed now to discern which mob is ‘unwanted’ by the group at the present time, how to stay on top of her sheeping ‘duties’ all the while pelting balls of frost and fire into the faces of evil foes. My! do they grow up fast.
The Play Session
Consequence is a doozy. Sometimes you experience reward, and other times… failure. But it is the depth that is created by the opportunity for either that makes for a real game. In fact, we might as well start a failure counter, and thanks to Kal, we won’t be starting the counter at 0.
Death Count: 3
I awoke from slumber today with a very clear plan: to work on some of the issues the citizens of Sepulcher are having, and to spend a little personal time cultivating my herbalism abilities. It’s a very simple plan and one might think things should have gone swimmingly given the plan… but alas, they did not. My seething towards the evil in Azeroth grows!
Gnolls have proven to be a thorn in my side. I ventured onto an isle that is overrun with their presence, and on more than one occasion mounted an assault on me that proved very trying. It turns out their presence on the isle isn’t peaceful, either. I found a talking head that pleaded I return his remains to a more suitable final resting place. Vengence came swiftly, but not so sweet. The gnolls are formidable indeed, and have marked my first visit with the Reaper. The citizens of Sepulcher appear to perhaps want me to revisit the isle, but I must admit I have been fear-inspired by that place.
Kal has infuriated me! This vile demon, summoned from a dimension I do not know, has conspired with the murlocs of the northern part of the isle. During previous adventures he would wander off, or refuse to assist, but this day he has outright stood by in my moment of desperation and watched me die. Not just once…
THRICE. Why I continue to beckon him I am beginning to question. His usefulness is, without question, unparalleled. However, his obedience is deceptive. I cannot trust him to watch my back, I must sleep with both eyes open. Should he wander from my call, I will perhaps exchange him for another, more… obedient demon. I have options, and perhaps him knowing that will… encourage him to fall in line.
My setbacks today have incurred less-than-desirable progress with herbalism. I will need to take more proactive measures with my professions if I wish to remain pertinent in adventures that are to come. Surely the lands that beckon me will yield many tricky to cultivate vegetation, and hopefully useful for alchemy usage. I am beginning to miss my Troll’s Blood…
… I need my fix.
Series: Vanilla Preservation Project