The Cave

29 Sep

World of Warcraft

Yes. I’m a disciple. Not entirely of my own choosing, and not entirely pointlessly.

Blizzard offered a 10-day free trial. I noticed this while I was checking the release dates of upcoming games on Gamespot. Alas, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky and Fallout 3, the games I’ve mainly been awaiting for a while, were still a couple of months out. Now STALKER still ranks on my play list, when I have time (despite now mowing thru at the top expert level), along with a smattering of Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale, Diablo II, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Rainbow Six: Raven Shield / Athena Sword and a short stint agani at Neverwinter Nights 2 (and still not liking it).

Yes, I usually have an RPG and a FPS ‘in rotation’, but nothing really tasty struck me for a while so I’ve been enjoying less-than-the-latest. Tried Crysis. Tried Bioshock. Tried F.E.A.R. A bunch others. But none really struck me as interesting enough to splurge the bucks. Last game I bought was Hellgate:London, which had such promise, and was repeatedly _almost_ good enough to exceed underwhelming. [Flagship Studios went bankrupt, unsurprisingly, by failing to understand the power of 'No' - feature creep, reach far exceeding grasp, and doing too much at once (lack of focus) and thus too little done well, in any area.]

And no MMORPG you’ll notice. RPG != MMORPG. Bioware made the greatest RPGs – beautiful and would draw you in quite well (story damnit! not just a pretty face! something most game makers have forgotten…) Well, that’s somewhat wrong. I’ve been a City of Heroes fan for a few years, with occasional lapses. MMORPG, sorta. Renewed my subscription back in November, and let it lapse again a couple of months ago.

So it was fortuitous timing. No monthly MMORPG bank drain, no other new time sink in hand and a couple of months away from some eagerly awaited strong candidates. I’ve known huge WoW fans, but never tried it myself, so the 10-day free trial sounded like the right mix of interesting diversion and lucky timing.

Download trial, played for several days, multiple characters. Dwarf Warrior first, figuring a fighter’s usually one of the easiest to play while I figure out hte mechanics. Reached level 10+. Then tried a Human Mage. Ahhh, more my pace. Always been a fan of the artillery. Wizard. Archer. More my style, over the meelee fighters, healing clerics and sneaky thief types.

And then, my son saw the pretty screen one evening. Didn’t take him long to be fascinated. Created a new Elf Rogue, exploring the forests with our trusty dagger and ‘sneaking’ skills. I drove, he directed and alternated between excited observations, interested (and sometimes surprisingly sharp) questions, a running commentary that would put a Jewish backseat driver to shame, and enthralled silence. “The Elf Game” quickly became a favorite. I’ll say, he even outlasted me one Saturday – after 2.5 non-stop hours even I felt like a break, and he was still raring to go for more.

Lest ‘ye think it was all mindless entertainment, not so. There’s various quests to find things, ‘take down’ bad guys, and so forth. So if “we need to find 10 stones [or whatever] and we’ve find 2, how many more do we need?” He does well on the math problems (unless he’s not so interested in playing math games, but directing a 5 year old’s attention is never easy). He pointed out “Oh, it’s a Vampire[ic] Bat!” And he was right. WoW has an animated picture of a 5′ menacing bat that you fight, but like all their ‘bad guys’ the same graphic’s used for multiple names (usually slightly differing only by coloring). So huh? How did he know Vampire bat from Stag bat from others we’d seen? “The name begins with a V”. The names always appear on the screen.

Sydney’s almost 4 and also a fan of “The Elf Game”, 2nd of course to “The Hunter Game”. Moragan (the Hunter), is named by David, and the most popular character – Sydney’s 1st and almost only choice, and one of David’s popular ones. She, however, isn’t quite as fascinated. She may love to ‘play the Hunter game’ as much as he, but she loses interest sooner, merrily wandering off the do something else.

On the upside, one of Sydney’s favorite phrases was “I’m scared of owls.” Mind you, for no apparent reason, and totally without reason or merit. It’s just something she said out of the blue one day, a year ago, and we just scratched our heads and accepted. Until we started playing “The Elf Game”. Starting out, you get quests that amount to ‘go around back and kill some animals’, working your way up to stronger enemies and broader swaths of the map. Well, somewhere around level 5 we’re wandering around the woods and this section’s mainly populated by big bright green spiders and large grey owls! So for the next couple of days the most common phrases coming out of Sydney’s mouth are “I’m scared of owls” and “Can we fight the owl”. Numerous grey owl deaths later, we picked up a few levels and wandered on to other challenges. And I haven’t heard her “I’m scared of owls” catchphrase since. :-)

For the curious, the characters amassed so far

Alliance

  • Drustheaxe – Dwarf Warrior 13 [named after David Gemmell's novels, esp. "Legend". Brilliant novel]
  • Emmafrostfire – Human Mage 21 [named after X-Men's Emma Frost crossed with City of Heroes' Frostfire]
  • Gordtherogue – Night Elf Rogue 17 [named after Gary Gygax novels]
  • Haemmer – Draenner Paladin 3 [David wanted to try him out]
  • Sherak – Human Warrior 5 [David wanted a fighter "with a shield"]
  • Nobeard – Gnome Warrior 4 [David was insistent we play "the green guy". He picked the name and avatar face/etc design]

All on the Rivendare realm.

Horde

  • Ereviscale – Forsaken Priest 13 [named after character in Forgotten Realms series I just read. Shadow priest moreso than healer]
  • Minause – Tauren Druid 4 [David loved the idea of a druid shapechanging to fight, but isn't interested enough to play to level 10 to earn the ability to shapechange]
  • Moragan – Blood Elf Hunter 25 [David wanted the name "Morgan" but was already taken, so I came up with this variant]
  • Cutlass – Orc Warlock 2 [David named, believe it or not]
  • Kierak – Troll Warrior 5

All on the Vashj realm.

As you might notice, a few popular ones stand out. I tend to like the Mage, the Hunter and sometimes the Priest or Dwarf. The professions vary too:

  • Hunter = Mining and Jewelcrafting
  • Mage = Tailoring and Enchanting
  • Rogue = Skinning and Leatherworking
  • Dwarf = Mining and Blacksmithing

I like the hunter. We currently have a tamed tiger lion thing, a bow and a wicked 2-H sword, and have visited Undercity and Orgrimmar for a quest as well as the original Silvermoon. Still interesting.

Oh yes. How did I do all this on a 10-day trial?

I didn’t.

Yes, I’ve been sucked into the dark vortex known as WoW.

I honestly tried it for a few days and thought “Eh”. If the kids weren’t so fascinated by it, I’d have passed.

Ah well. It’s pretty cheap actually – the ROI given the $/time is a good value.

And personally it has its appeal, enough spend my ‘spare’ time on it.

At least for now. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky is out, but buggy as the previous one at first pass. I figure they’ve got a good month or two ahead of them for the patch fest. And Fallout 3′s not until late October. Perhaps WoW will pale by then.

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