There Is No Such Thing As Downtime

The seventh episode in an ongoing series about the importance of preserving vanilla WoW, I take a couple detours from the combat mini-game and the de facto leveling approach of questing and spend it… doing other things.

When I started out to make this series, I thought it would be great to immerse myself in the wonders that were an era of challenging and enjoyable MMORPGness. I initially wanted to save all sorts of game design take-aways until the end of the series, but that hasn’t happened. Given that the road to 60 will take upwards of 4d 20h (well, much more than that), let alone the finishing of the Onyxia questline/attunement, and the fact that these play sessions are averaging about 1h30 a pop… I might be doing this series for quite some time.

That isn’t to say there are other generic, non game-specific game design posts upcoming. This is primarily a game design blog, after all. One such idea is a series on power progression being in the works, but I want to wait for Nils’ to return to blogging before going forward on it. For now, short insights into game development will likely precede the play session portion of each post.

You Only Remember The Good

One of the most widespread misconceptions about FFXI, Everquest 1.0, WoW 1.0 and the ilk that was the 2001-2005 era of the genre is that there was a ton (too much?) of grinding. Or that there was insufficient questing between levels. Or that this, because of that. Yada yada.

The truth of the matter is that these claims held weight. But the words are only half of the message being delivered. The other half comes in the form of the lips that utter said words. See, the problem was precisely articulated but these individuals, but the failure wasn’t in the problem, it was in the absence of action for a solution.

It was not content that was lacking, it was the imagination of those who complained.

In the 17 levels that I have now progressed through in this series, my time has been very, very well filled. I expect the next 43 to be the same. In fact, I have a hard time *not* fitting in enough of the options that my imagination allows to the 1h30min play sessions. Let’s run down the list here: exploration, socializing, combat, questing, gathering, crafting, grinding, dueling, puzzle solving… the list might as well be endless. Every option, both seen or unseen, set in front of the gamer can be approached with an air of impatience and spite, or intrigue and appreciation. The gamer that we all are can likely be summed up with this quandary.

In the vanilla WoW I am playing (to which anyone who has spent time watching the videos can attest, this server is extremely true to form) I have engaged in a little bit of the list above, some more than others, but the time hasn’t been ‘down’ in the slightest. The importance of gaming is being involved with your current progress, not wishing to be engaged elsewhere further on. This is especially true for MMORPGs, due to the potential pressure of peers. (Say those last 4 words ten times, real fast: GO!)

Cheater!

Ok, so thus far I’ve been fairly abusive of the rested xp tactic. This is something I cannot control given the time it takes to produce 1 episode. As time progresses and the levels become more spaced out, this effect’s affect (woah, that’s a first for that word combo) will diminish. Additionally, it’s not like this isn’t a tactic that people did use on the regular.

And yes, did I gloss over how much consumable farming took place for Patchwerk attempts in Naxx v1.0? I absolutely did. Did it suck? At times. But for every valley, you can view 2 mountaintops, and as long as such is your outlook, you embrace the suck. That suck is also further minimized when you surround the activity with other aspects of gameplay such as exploration or socializing, PvP or questing. Raiding wasn’t the only endgame activity in classic WoW, let alone being the only fun one.

Heh, here’s a thought. The raids of FFXI, of Everquest v1.0, of WoW v1.0 were all so much, much more epic and grand in scale than those of today. The irony (or perhaps the reason why this was) is that raiding was merely a capstone to a questing and PvE style of play which had a very elaborate and solid foundation. Today’s raids seem to be the sole purpose anyone logs in despite how poorly they are put together. They are completely and utterly void of meaning. The foundation’s purpose is to rush you to the finish. What value is a finish line if no race took place?

Ok You Got Me. I’m Coming Clean!

Also, since the onset of the series, I have become involved in a growing and healthy leveling guild on other toons, as one ingame conversation will attest. The integrity of this enterprise has not been compromised, and no coordinated effort outside of the play sessions themselves have been made. This will remain the case for the duration of the project. I am recording an average rise through the levels, logging in during low pop, unannounced to anyone I know through other toons, no special items waiting for me on the AH.

The Play Session

I spent the first part of this hour and a half doing some quest related activities, then shifted gears to focus more on the profession side of the house as it has been lacking of late. The source of this blog post’s title should be no mystery.

Death count: (+0) 3

I have spent many moons slumbered here in the silver quiet of Silverpine Forest. The trees whisper an eerie gloom that has begun to affect me, I feel. My demon tests me daily, sometimes being a packmule of high regard, other times a traitor deserving of the pain and agony being locked inside a soul shard offers. Today he was particularly helpful as I ventured into the mines that Grimson the Pale calls home. I am torn evermore on my sentiments towards this creature.

Or perhaps my moodiness isn’t having to do with Kal’Nagma at all. The immediate addiction to Troll’s Blood has likely affected my mood. I have noticed I’ve become quite rash in my speech. Perhaps it’s the eerie silence of the wood, perhaps it is Kal after all. But these moonrages! They keep me from my magnoliophyta used to make the substance. There are these particularly strong moonrages, perhaps imbued by their father, Arugal, with the blood, that guard the flowers I so desperately seek.

I sometimes wish I picked up mining as a hobby, as I’ve seen so much untouched mineral vein of late. No, no… I do enjoy the herbalism. It will give me many potions I will put to great use later on. But the struggle is so! This plant, this Briarthorn, is scattered everywhere in these shaded woods, but the requirements of its harvest surpass my skill. I must be addicted to these potions, there is no other reason that can explain the intensity of my frustration here.

Through my alchemy withdrawls, I stumbled into the Pyrewood Village. The man who greeted me at the gate was rather hostile from the onset. I do not understand his aggression. Kal made me proud today and smacked him around for his unwarranted attacks whilst I rained down shadowy bolts of terror from a distance. Regardless, this place is well guarded it appears, and I feel I am not ready to enter, prepared to defend myself just yet. I do hope the denizens of the Sepulcher do understand. Sometimes I feel that they don’t, standing there, judging me.

I wandered into a detached enchanter of the Sepulcher. I wonder if her mystic ways have lead her to distance herself from the townsfolk. I also founded a turned Mr. Thatros at the ferry, absent from the roll call of the town. I killed him. I wonder if they too judged these two, like they must be judging me…

I needed to clear my head. Clearly I am not right. I went for a jog. Gotta keep in shape after all, the ladies love it. Oh, ha-ha-HaHA. No one understands my humor. Kal does. I appreciate Kal. I wanted to pick him some flowers. We ran all the way to the Undercity, smelling the wonderful scent of Peacebloom, Silverleaf, Earthroot and Mageroyal. We arrived at the Undercity, delivered a couple quests and found ourselves able to… collect Briarthorn.

I sleep good this night, listening to the gloomy still-breeze of these silver trees. Visions of Trolls Blood viles filled to the brink dance in my head.

 

Series: Vanilla Preservation Project

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About Ahtchu

Jock. Nerd. Holistic. Game theoretician. Can recite the alphabet backwards.
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4 Responses to There Is No Such Thing As Downtime

  1. Steelburgh says:

    Great read, as always!

    • Ahtchu says:

      Thanks for stopping in and leaving your impression Steel. As much as I appreciate praise, I am even more a sucker for criticism. I’d welcome it if you have any 😉

  2. Doone W. says:

    Ok so my responses to this series are taking very long this summer, but I hope you know I’m eagerly following it. My family has claimed me for the summer so I havent found the time to blog and comment very much.

    This is a great installment and I love the points your making about *how* players should enjoy a game. The quote on imagination is spot on in most cases. I know because I find myself falling into that trap sometimes when I login to a game, especially if Ive got friends I want to catch up to.

    • Ahtchu says:

      It seems this time of summer the family plague spreads amongst the MMORPG truthful. The elders say a cure comes soon (same time, each year).
      You know, I think we’re all guilty of it at some point or another. But I feel that (as posted as well) that if you approach a situation from anticipation vs impatience, your ‘gaming momentum’ will carry the day.

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