Friday, September 10, 2010

The Generation Gap keeps us apart

There’s a generation gap in the blogosphere. It’s got nothing to do with physical age. You’ll find 40-year-olds as well as people in their late teens on each side of the gap.

No, this gap is about how long you’ve been around as an MMO player. Did you play in vanilla or did you join the party in Wrath? Or maybe you remember how things were back in the old days of EQ? This will settle on what side of the rift you’re standing.

It appears to me as if a majority of the bloggers – at least the ones that I read – belong to the veterans. And that explains why you see so many rants about how good things were back in the days and what a disappointing direction the development of the genre has taken.

I’ve read so many of those over the years. I could mention Wolfshead as one example, who recently brought up the topic again, eloquently pointing out in what ways EQ was way better than WoW. But he’s just one of many. We keep seeing it over and over again, the celebrations – or in some cases even worshipping - of the past and the complaints about how easy, shallow and dumb the games have become in order to cater to a wider audience.

Why it’s depressing
As someone who came comparatively late to the party, starting to play in TBC, I must admit that I often find those reads rather depressing, if ever so thoughtful and well put. Sometimes I wonder why I even read it. What good does it make me, a fairly new player, to hear that the game I love is complete rubbish and that it was much better a few years ago?

Maybe there should be a warning sign on them: “Do not read this post unless you played EQ or WoW vanilla”.

With the risk of sounding like a whiner, I’ll try to explain the feeling I get from those reads. It reminds me of when you’re seeing a bunch “friends”, who all have attended a party back in time that you weren’t invited to, and they just can’t stop talking about how good that party was and how the parties that are arranged nowadays never come near that in awesomeness. You try to listen politely, nodding here and there, but finally you’ve heard enough and would rather just not listen to their conversation anymore. You can’t relate to it, you have nothing to add, apart from that it sucks that you weren’t there. You’re an outsider and there really isn’t much point in hanging around. It’s probably a better idea to look up some other people who also missed the party, but who are looking forward to the next upcoming event and are happy to talk about this, with enthusiasm rather than contempt.

What adds to the pain of reading about everything was better back in time, is that the blame always is put on the fact that the MMO companies are aiming for a bigger market. It’s because they wanted to reach out to new players, find new audiences and turning non-gamers into gamers, that they have made the games “too mainstream and easy.”

As Syl wrote recently at the new blog Raging Monkeys:
Blizzard's increased endeavor to make the game more and more accessible and easy to play for a mass market audience, ever since halfway through TBC, has killed a lot of what I consider the 'soul' of the true MMORPG experience.
And from this it’s not a far step – at least if you’re Larísa and always looking out for a good reason to bash yourself – to conclude that it’s partly my fault that those veteran players are suffering so badly now. I’m a part of that mass market. I doubt that I would had found the way to an MMO, completely unexpectedly turning into a gamer at the age of 39, if it wasn’t for the fact that WoW in TBC was far more accessible than those old games ever were. Thanks to this new approach, Blizzard lured in my sister to it, who in her turn got me hooked.

But I can’t but assume that the veterans would have preferred to have their world and community the way it was: way smaller, way more streamlined, catering to a playerbase that wasn’t as diverse as it is today. No Larísas around would grant them a better game experience. This would also mean that they'd miss out the subscription fees from the mass market, which could mean less resources available for development and maintenance of a server structur. But I suppose it doesn't matter?

Fitting in?
I wrote a comment to the post along those lines (a tad whiny, I admit) and today I got a concerned letter from Klepsacovic, who tried to comfort me, asking me not to take it personal:
”No sane player is unhappy to have you in Azeroth. All our vanilla nostalgia is for a different world, and yes, different players, but I think you' d have fit in just fine. We weren't all farming 20 hours a day and buying gold to raid Naxx.

Sometimes you seem insecure about your rank in Azeroth. I can't quite see why. Your achievements speak for themselves. Look at the bloggers around you. How many are stuck somewhere on normal? How many have to buy their way into raids and abuse those around them just to stay afloat? You're elite! Just not arrogant.”

However kind and comforting this is, it doesn’t take away the feeling of being an outsider who doesn’t quite belong among the cool guys, the ones who were around as early as in EQ.

I replied to Klepsacovic:

"From the perspective of someone who wasn't there they're very excluding, aimed at a private club "we who played WoW when it was GOOD". It gives me a bitter taste in the mouth. No matter what efforts I make I will never ever qualify to become a member. [….]

The demographics of WoW has changed. They're aiming wider. And the result is that you get a bigger playerbase with more variety. There are way more players playing wow these days. Some of us are crap and noobs, yeah, maybe. But don't you see that we also can offer something? Would you rather have a very small hardcore game where everyone comes in the same shape, than the melting pot that the community is today?

I have yet to see a post that opens up its arms towards the players that have joined since TBC and forward, saying: "Hello there, we're glad you finally found us!"
I have yet to see a post that says that we enrich this world, bringing something into it that wasn't there before. That you're glad to have us here - even if it has meant that the game has changed, not requiring quite the same time commitment and previous gaming experience as it used to."
Building bridges?
I honestly don’t know if there is any way to build bridges over those gaps? I really can’t require bloggers to stop writing about their concerns and their longing back for a past time that can’t come back. Everyone is entitled to write whatever they want to.

They say that the first MMO you play will be your first love and that nothing ever will be the same like it. Well, we happen to have different objects for our affection. My first love wasn’t their first love and there’s nothing that can change this fact. It resembles a bit to filial imprinting.

Equally I understand that there are new player generations incoming. I can imagine that players who started out in Wrath can feel quite alienated when I keep going on and on about what a fantastic instance Karazhan was and that there has never been anything like it.

Maybe we’re doomed to stand on our little islands, preaching for ourselves and the other playes who belong to the same generation. Those who loved EQ and vanilla best will read each other blogs and lose themselves in nostalgia and feel awesome as they do this. The TBC babies should do the same. And next up are The Children of Wrath, who will assemble and talk about how good it was back in the days, when Cataclysm has come and “destroyed” their gameplay. Maybe we should just put a stamp on our blogs so it’s clear to everyone what to expect. EQ hugging, vanilla hugging or TBC hugging.

Still it appears a little sad to me. MMOs bring men and women together, old and young, rich and poor, people from very shifting backgrounds, disregarding of prejudices and forge friendships thanks to the game they have in common.

Shouldn’t we also be able to build over the generation gaps, embracing and honouring the origins as well as recognizing that every game will change and evolve over time?

I'll end this post with a comforting final remark that Klepsacovic sent me in antother letter:
"Everyone will find something that they were late for. I missed the first few months or so, so while I saw vanilla and the AQ gates and cool things like that, I never saw old old old AV. Yes, there was a version of AV even more hardcore than the one I played. Even if I'd been in WoW from day one, I missed the beta. And people in the beta missed EQ. And people in EQ weren't there for the old MUD days. And the MUD people missed the early table-top RPGs and playing chess by mail. And so on.

To find someone happy with their timing we'd have to go back to the guy who invented fun. I imagine he'd spend a lot of time complaining how casual fun is these days now that we don't live in caves and aren't regularly attacked by wolves.

I remember a friend telling me a story of WoW from like two months in where someone went a camped the newbie zones killing every quest givers, to get the noobs out of his game. What I'm trying to say is, don't worry when you joined. Everyone has missed something."
Food for thought as I’m calling for the Friday night toast. Veterans and newbies, you’re all welcome to join! At the inn we're one big happy family. At least that's what I'm aiming at.


(Psst all TBC babies out there! You have free drinks tonight, but don't tell those grumpy oldies, they'll just get whiny about it.)

PS After finishing this post I noted that Klepsacovic of course wrote a take of his own on our exchange of thoughts, answering some of the issues I bring up. Go ahead and read it in case you haven't.


spinksville said...

Oh, Larisa :)

I have guys in my guild who didn't start playing until Wrath, and they get anxious about what they missed when they hear people say that they thought TBC was the zenith of WoWdom.

You may even do it yourself without realising. I've loved 25 man raiding in Wrath and being able to see all the content, but if I talk about it in a years time, I might accidentally make newer players sad (especially if Cata raiding is going to be more exclusive.)

You're a hardcore raider with an awesome skeletal dragon to prove it, something that most WoW players can't dream of having. Let the vets cherish their memories. Yes, the player base was different back then -- more coherent maybe, everyone was a gamer. Yes the games were build more like virtual worlds. But it's also really nice to have a wider base, more casual groups, more older players, more women, more solo content.

I have a lot more sympathy for Wolfshead's latest rant about giving out beta keys to longterm players. But even though I am one, I'm glad they didn't decide to do this. That really would have created a generation gap.

Gronthe said...

I think this sort of nostalgia happens in many aspecs of all our lives. To my grandfather, the music of his generation was the best, to my father the same, to me (I'd rather like to forget most of the 80's), and to my kids Hanna Montana is 'the ultimate'.

There are many more examples of this in life, I think it's just the way of the world. When I read those posts I feel excluded sometimes too, but I don't think there is a sinister intent to purge the "not-real-gamers" from their society. If I'm wrong, and that's exactly what they want, then I might have to duel them with my fists.

I could be wrong, of course, but I think all they are asking for is that somebody recognize that there is a market for the kind of games they enjoy, because currently it feels to them that game makers are only catering to the masses who don't provide to their particular tastes.

We don't really get too upset when rich people want to create a "members only" club up in the hills, or get too bent out of shape when they want to buy a specific type of organic tree bark juice from Brazil's Amazon river basin, we sort of recognize that they are a sub-market and allow them to enjoy their comforts as they allow us to enjoy our less refined KFC.

The problem these nostalgists are fighting is that nobody sells Amazon river basin tree bark juice, they're looking for a supplier and can't find one yet.

Syl said...

I don't see how our different perceptions on wow create a rift between us as players. I think it's you that chooses to see it this way and I have to agree with those that try and keep telling you, that by all standards (vanilla included) you're among the top players in wow and would've done just fine back then. but in the end its not about that is it, its about how you feel about yourself and there is only so much others can say to you, to change that.

what I can say is that from my point of view we should always criticize wow, especially if we love it. as a gamer i always look on what I would like to see improved in a game. you seem to think that talking about what was better in vanilla, somehow makes 'everything' about today's wow worse: even though nobody said so. you also automatically assume that the critique of gamedesign is also a critique of the playerbase and that it's about 'keeping a small club': even though nobody said so.

just because people criticize wow doesnt mean they criticize you. it doesnt even mean that they dislike the game. this is a very black-and white view which is rather alien to me as a gamer to be honest.

you can even love wow unconditionally because its your first game or because you missed parts of it and thats perfectly fine. but you have to consider other gamers views too, without feeling that it's a threat to you. you asked 'why should i even read this?' - i'm happy to tell you why. it is in everyone's benefit to talk about a game we all love, exchange viewpoints, have a critical look at what used to be better or worse and our wishes for the future. no game is perfect. If I was new to WoW I'd be intrigued and interested to hear veteran players tell me about what they perceive as the biggest changes. it's a debate on game design and personal preferences, nothing more, nothing less. it's not a debate on the 'quality of its players'. and I've already commented a bit on Klepsacovic's article that WoW really has got nothing to do with 'exclusive', thats plain silly.

so what else to say, take a deep breath and realize that we don't need a 'bridge' because we're all on the same side. :) nobody is 'mobbing you'.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, am the opposite! Instead of reminescing about "the good old days" (started playing in TBC) I'm always "dude what are you saying? Back then we didn't have mount panes, achievements, glyphs, steamlined questing" and so on and so on. My friends convinced me to join a private server stuck on TBC and I hated it. I couldn't stop whinning and went back to retail now a week later.

Shintar said...

I agree with what Gronthe said about nostalgia - it's just something that happens and you don't have to perceive it as threatening. Just listen and try to learn something from the stories of the past. Everybody knows that you can't turn back time anyway (or at least they should!)

That said, I also agree with Syl that this shouldn't prevent us from looking at things critically and making comparisons. To use your party example, I don't see anything wrong with saying: "Hey, remember that awesome party where we played music all night? We should do something similar again some time."

And as Klep said in his post, wanting the game to change doesn't mean that we want different people to play. I know some people who have played since Vanilla but who have turned into really annoying "Gogogo"ers in WOTLK instances, simply because the current game design encourages that kind of behaviour. That doesn't mean that I wish they weren't playing anymore; I wish the game were a bit different to allow us to find more common ground again.

Selyndia said...

Coming from someone who played back a bit in Vanilla, and played EQ, and other MMOs before WoW, there are some things that were done better. Also, there were a lot of things that were done much worse, and I am glad I never have to deal with again. I’ll go over some with EQ here as examples.

Most of those players looking back in nostalgia tend to ignore certain things. Such as in EQ trade skills were at best a joke and sort of shoe horned into the game with no real practical use, there was no real solo content (In fact soloing an equal level monster was virtually impossible for most classes at a certain point). Leveling was a grind, in that you went to a spot, and killed the same monsters for hours. Sometimes a named monster MIGHT show up and it MIGHT drop the item you want. Usually, you just killed a ton of trash. Boss strategies often amounted to “Fight boss in this corner, have clerics Complete Heal chain the tank until their discipline falls, repeat as tanks die off and continue encounter for 10-30 minutes. They don’t go over the hours upon hours upon hours of key and attunement grinding (I remember you Vex’Thal, Veeshan’s Peak, Sleeper’s Tomb and Plane of Time) necessary to even begin raiding (I used to be forced to keep spreadsheets of every member and applicant, and every step in a key process to find out who was on what parts), and that the game essentially was only a “Raid or why bother?” feel to it as there was so little to do besides raid at level cap. I shouldn’t need to point out the irony of having to spend hours grinding for a key to open a zone to grind in. Also, needing a phone tree to get enough people on at the random times when bosses would spawn (Because it would only spawn once for the entire server within a week, and even then its spawn time would be random within several hours) because you’d miss your opportunity if you didn’t log on and kill it right then (Instancing didn’t come till much later).

There were certainly things in EQ I look fondly back on, but I also recognize that gaming as a whole has advanced quite a bit as to what is really entertaining and what is intended to keep players investing time. If I didn’t look at it holistically, I would probably also fall into the pattern of ‘looking to the past.’ One of my best memories from MMOs includes the first time I got to actually fight dragons in EQ; I stayed up till 4 AM to do it, it took 2 hours to get to the point where we could fight them, and we actually ended up just sitting in this one spot for several hours killing the same ones over and over again; at the time it didn’t matter because “Holy Crap, I’m killing Dragons!!” But the thing is, if I actually explain what I did; how I roamed for 2 hours, and died in some bad places that required terrible Corpse Retrievals, went to a spot on a chunk of ice, stood still and attacked monsters in the same place for several hours, before going to bed far later than I should have;” I sound like a raving nut for having enjoyed that.

The intangible context of the situation is a lot of the excitement, regardless of how bad the actual situation was. What I think many miss is those moments of “Great Gaming Memories” that they got in Vanilla WoW, or EQ, or Ultima Online, or wherever are occurring for other people too, but just in different places. It would be impossible for me to have the same feeling as I did in the EQ memory in any other game, because no other situation will put every single factor together exactly the way it did then. It would also be a bit foolish of me to try and go back to that exact moment, because it can’t be exactly the same. Similarly, the TBC players or the WoTLK players will have their own “Great Gaming Memories” and look back on this time, not because the mechanics were so much better, but because their MMO foundational memories, those ones that keep them playing, were formed in TBC or WoTLK.

Ratshag said...

Nostalgia be a cunning seductress. She slides up silentlies behind you, whispers in yer about how good you once were tagethers, wraps her arms arounds ya and slides her hands over just the right places. She know how ta touch you, baby, how ta drives ya wild with passion and longing. How ta makes ya lose interest in the girl what loves ya and takes care of ya. (By the ways, feels free ta swap out them pesky gender-specific pronouns as appropriates.)

Problem is, if'n ya turns around and actually looks at her, turns out she ain't who ya was expectings her ta be. Turns out she's a rotting, mangy ghoul lookin' fer ta eat yer heart, and all them whispers ain't nuthin but smoke floatin' on the breeze.

Me, I been playin' computer games fer over thirty years now. Been some awesome games along the way - Space Invaders, Empire!, Doom, Master of Orion. As fer the Purge, we started out MMOing with EQ, moved on ta DaoC, CoH, WoW, Vanguard, EQ2, back ta WoW. We's pretty much the same buggers we's always been, just more gray hairs. Did we have our funs, playin' them other games? Hells yeah. But that were then, and ya ain't draggin us back ta an MMO what's like the "good ol' days of EQ" any mores than yer gonna get us to go back ta 320x240 graphics. Or ta fill our bags with non-stacking clams.

Now, I started me adventuring a coupla months before TBC. Is close enoughs fer a free drink anywho?

Nils said...

And from this it’s not a far step – at least if you’re Larísa and always looking out for a good reason to bash yourself – to conclude that it’s partly my fault that those veteran players are suffering so badly now.

I am not trying to revive the feminism debate, but this is really female logic :)

On topic:
Nostalgia plays a role. Nobody sane could deny it. But nostalgia is not everything. Nobody sane could deny that, either.

Some gameplay mechanisms are good for one style of play, some are bad for some style of play, some are good for all sytles of play and some aren't good at all.

The market did not just grow. It grew by attracting players with different attitudes, different gaming mentalities. If you want to play WoW like a console racing game, you will like WotLK more than Vanilla. Regardless of when you started to play.

Up to now the companies tried to still make games for all players. But in the future there will have to be market segmentation. A polished Eve Online-like fantasy MMORPG will attract players, who will not want to play together with other players who consider a teleporting dungeon-finder a necessity.

MMORPGs cannot cater to everybody. At some point the developers need to make a stand and try to convince the player that their vision of a game is actually fun. That is what I admire CCP for; and I do not even play Eve Online.

Tesh said...

Life changes. As Remy in Ratatouille notes, "life *is* change".

If anything, these MMO things are way too static. I'd like it if they were always changing, even at the hands of the players. Yes, that means you miss things, but y'know, you miss things in real life, too.

Seems to me that if these games were more dynamic and ever-changing, we might just see more players going with the flow and playing, rather than pining. The alternative, of course, is a game that really never does change. No expansions, no patches, no hotfixes. Then everyone can suffer alike.

(And yes, I think a fair bit of the whine comes from veterans wanting newbies to suffer like they did. It's sadistic, and I dislike it. Klep's thought about the guy complaining about not being attacked by wolves really resonates.)

Rades said...

As someone who didn't get into WoW endgame until Wrath, I feel the exact same way as you whenever someone pines for the "good old days" of Karazhan. Kara this, Kara that, Kara was so much better, we did this in Kara, back in the old days of Kara raids. I'm sure it will be the exact same when newcomers in Cataclysm roll their eyes at the "vets" wanting back the good old WotLK days.

Carrie said...

I think myself that part of it is that the newness has worn off. "Back in the day" everything was new, you were excited to see what came next, and there was a great air of mystery over the game itself. At least, that's what I remember loving about the game when I first started playing (Way back in December of 2005).

There is a lot less mystery about the game now, because us oldbies have "been there, done that", so we know, and the newbies can just look it up and find out. For me, it's not the game itself or the people that I miss (though I do miss some of my old guildmates), it's the sense of wonder I got when I first zoned in to ZG and saw Hakkar flapping his wings at the top of his temple. It's the amazement I felt the first time I saw a purple item drop outside an instance. It's the awe inspired by a hunter I saw walking around Stormwind in the full Dragonstalker set.

I think that everyone feels that way about the way the game was when they first started, because that's when it was the most special. The experiences were more personal and more wonderful because they were new.

Redbeard said...


The real divide isn't between EQ/Vanilla and Wrath, but between pencil and paper RPGs and MMOs.

I may have been late to the party in MMO-land, but my real roots are back around 1980 when RPGs were in the middle of their first big expansion. You know, right before they were accused of being Satanic.

From my perspective, all these "back in the good old days" ruminations seem strange, since we're only 12 years removed from Baldur's Gate. I've been working in IT longer than the modern MMO/CRPG has been around. To hear people talk, it's like MMOs age in terms of dog years: every physical year corresponds to seven MMO-years.

Maybe I'm being cynical, but if "the good old days" were only two or three years ago, maybe you need more perspective.

Oh, and hey you young whippersnappers! Get off of my lawn!

Holly said...

I did a respond post on my blog, but I didn't really address the contributions new players give. I think that it's easy to look over what new players add, particularly since there have always been new players joining the game, even in the 'good old days' there were new people joining the game. New people almost speak for themselves, it's a chance for a good, and competant player, an interesting perspective, and a good friend. There have always been new players that don't become any of those or ones we don't like, peoples is peoples, new peoples, is new peoples. Do you add to the world? Of course, do others? Yes, some may even be as interesting and competant as you, I haven't met them, but it's hard to say they've -added- anything to the game since new people have joined since the beginning. It's hard to say 'more new people joined' since every sign points to the fact the subscriber base has fallen, a lot, so it's not really -more.- I'm glad there are people in WoW, I'm glad new people join WoW to replace the old players, and I'm glad there are chances to meet somebody I enjoy playing with, but...that's really all you can say.

Ratshag said...


I know a bugger what claims the real divide were when they added all that role-playing hoo-ha ta Chainmail and called it Dungeons & Dragons. Nuthin' but downhill since, he sez.

Oscar said...


Thanks for another nice post. I believe the other posters, particularly Spinks, are spot on here.

Personally, I'm neither veteran nor elite, but I simply cannot avoid being nostalgic for the "old days" of WoW. The reason for this is not the amount of "new" players or anything like that. It's just that... well, there is significantly less interaction with other people these days. I log on, I play, I have fun and all that, but I find myself having fun much more on my own these days than with other players. Due to my irregular hours I have never been able to raid, so for me the "old days" consist of the days when I would log in and assemble a group of people from my guild or from my friends list to run an instance. Sometimes it could take a minute, sometimes an hour. It was almost never much fun to do that, but it was always a social experience – I'd encounter other people.

This experience wasn't by a long shot as efficient or as smooth as it is today. The dungeon finder is excellent at matching up players for an instance, but it doesn't do anything for my yearning for social interaction. I still play, and I'll continue doing so, but it's... different.

This feeling of evolution, big or small – that's what I think all these people you quote and refer to are feeling/talking about. It used to be much more social. For many, I should add. I believe you're very active in a very active raiding guild. That's fantastic, and I envy you for that, I really do. But perhaps those others that wax nostalgic for days past are lacking that one aspect.

To put it in a completely different way: guild raiding now is better than it ever was. Really. The old days had bigger raids, but everything else was... less good. The flipside of that is that non-raiding today is less good than it used to be. You need that vent-bound tight community to really thrive today.

It's not about new or old, then, I suppose. Like so many others pointed out: (a) you're no longer new ;) and (b) you're awesome. From this observer's viewpoint, I think that enjoyment is well deserved and you're very, very *very* much a welcome participant!

Anonymous said...

WoW was my first MMO; I started playing in early 2005 (just a few months after launch). The guild I played with for most of vanilla had come over from another game -- Asheron's Call. They were a very nice group of people, but the way they idealized AC while merely deigning to play WoW was a constant irritation. Everything from lack of player/guild housing to loot systems to crafting was held up to -- and always found to be lesser than -- AC. I eventually realized that the only thing to do when they were rhapsodizing was to nod a bit and then change the subject. Nothing I could say about WoW or any other MMO was going to change their memories or alter the nostalgia they felt.

A year ago, Aion came out; I played it for the free month trial and found myself doing the exact same thing. Nothing seemed as good, or as intuitive, as WoW. The grinds were too grindy. The crafting was too expensive. The bank interface was too blue. And get those darn kids off my lawn!

I think it's natural to have fond memories of the moments that stick out for you in a game -- when you really feel like you've put some combination of time and/or effort in to achieve a particular goal. When things change -- be it the game evolving, or playing a different game entirely -- it's easy to 'miss' those old times.

With that said, we also tend to idealize those key times, without necessarily thinking actively about the grind that went into them. I loved Kara too, but did I love doing the LONGass keying quest a dozen times across my multiple toons and those of guildees? No, no I did not. Original Onyxia is classic, but was it actually FUN to track down Rexxar three times in the quest chain, as he pathed back and forth across an entire zone? No, it was freaking annoying. How about the fact that when the first real raiding guilds were working on Molten Core, even if you killed Majordomo, you couldn't summon Ragnaros unless you had enough people exalted with the Hydraxian Waterlords to put out all of runes of fire -- and that's assuming they remembered to trek out to the boonies of Azshara to get their water! So, when people start to go on about the 'good old days,' I take it with a grain of salt. There was as much frustration then as there is now, just in different areas.

In particular, when people start to complain that the game is easier -- I remember that there's a vast difference between easier, and more accessible. While I don't deny that crowd control all but disappeared during Wrath, if you compare fighting the Lich King to Ragnaros, I don't think that 'easier' applies at all. Plus, I'll probably misremember this statistic, but I want to say that only something like 3% of players actually got up to Kel'Thuzad in the original, level 60 Naxxramas. I don't personally think that's a positive thing. Having content be reasonably accessible to all makes a lot more sense to me. If people want to be 'elitist,' there are still achievements like The Insane or Loremaster that they can pour time and effort into.. but let the majority of people who want to, at least see the content they're paying for. :)

Jellybear I Quel'Dorie said...

Having a toon that hit 80 when Naxx was hard and several that are fresh 80's I understand. Things change greatly, even without expansions. I often fret about what I missed because all I have ever done in Outland is power level to get to Northrend. I have run Kara once. ONCE! And that was a zergfest. What else have I missed? So much to the game to explore. Maybe we just need to take the time to give guided tours of the areas we love so that others may experience them and not simply run through the experience to get the achievement.

Redbeard said...

@Ratshag: He's probably a grumpy Grognard*, missing the days when he would play PanzerBlitz or Afrika Korps.

(*For those who don't recognize the name outside of the Napoleonic reference, it's a term of affection meaning a board wargamer, like those who play Advanced Squad Leader.)

Charles said...

I fear I'm repeating a common sentiment here, but I'll say it anyway: I've played WoW since a few months after it was released, and I played AO before that; I've raided at a "hardcore" level in all three endgames... and I honestly think the game has gotten better, not worse. There are bound to be hiccups along the way, but rather than "catering to casuals" what blizzard has been doing is making the game less punishing, less obtuse, less grindy, less like *work*. I've read academic papers on what was wrong with MMORPGs,and apparently Blizzard read those same papers and has tried to improve the experience to be more authentically emancipatory to its players.

I understand a level of nostalgia for the times gone by - there are things about vanilla and TBC that I do miss. But those things would have changed anyway, even if Blizzard had done nothing, never released any new expansions or patches - what I loved about vanilla would be gone by now. Instead, in embracing and directing the necessary change, Blizzard has consistently made the game more *fun* and rewarding.

We'll never agree on every change, and there'll always be an old school of players who want to go back to stuff like Luciferon or Chromaggus. But overall I think Blizzard does a great job of moving forward and keeping us all together. Disagreeing on these things doesn't have to drive us apart, and if you've not experienced the vanilla endgame yourself it doesn't remove your right to enjoy, appreciate or critique the WotLK model.

Anonymous said...

There is a very powerful nostalgia factor that is involved here. I remember how I used to love the old RPGs that I played as a kid. They involved grinding for hours just to beat bosses. I've recently went back to them to play just for fun, expecting to be amazed at how fantastic at how good it used to be.

To my surprise, I found the game a huge bore. The old mechanics and system were just lousy and poorly designed. Completely not well polished at all, and totally not fun. As we look back, we always think fondly of the "good old days". Actually, if we were to relive them now, we might not find them to be so fantastic after all.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Many of the people how thought the old ways were great were probably hardcore raiders. They feel that the game has gotten worse now because their epeen has shrunk significantly.

In the past, they could AFK in ironforge and have people come up to them to stroke their epeen. "Wow! nice gear!" It is an addictive feeling. Playing wow gives them a sense of approval and self-worth. They cannot stand it now that even casuals can get access to the same level of gear as them.

If you were to ask a casual whether he missed the old days, he would probably say no. It is never fun to be excluded from seeing the game that you paid to play. I am not talking about the casuals who are poor players and hence are not of the required skill level to raid. I am talking about the casuals who are gamers and reasonably skillful but cannot spend so much time on the game every week.

zetter said...

I think everyone has been there when you are part of a small ish exclusive club.
You may have been watching a TV program that started small and then got mass market appeal or a computer game that was a slow burner and then suddenly took off in its next incarnation or worked at a company who was small and then got taken over by a larger concern (been on that joy ride).

Suddenly your little club is less exclusive where before finding someone to talk about it was unusual and all the more special for it now now every bugger knows something about it. I think there is naturally a sense of loss in that and to be honest we all look at what has gone before with rose tinted glasses (especially as you get older :) )

Like you I class myself as a BC baby (though I did just ding 60 in Vanilla) and you still think whistfully about when Heroics were dangerous even for the prepaired and a majority of people probably only ever stepped foot in Kara.

However even with nostalgia with my current circumstances I doubt I would be raiding at all if this was Vanilla and only to a limited degree if it was BC. So all hail Wrath that allowed Zetter to finish the end game and extract the maximum potential from the expansion!


Nils said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Many of the people how thought the old ways were great were probably hardcore raiders. They feel that the game has gotten worse now because their epeen has shrunk significantly.

In my experience hardcore raider do not have much of a problem with current WotLK. It is the people who want to enjoy a virtual world that consider a teleporting dungeon finder that puts you into anonymous groups to be a problem.

In response to this post and others, I wrote extensively on nostalgia a few hours ago.

tufva said...

Like people have said nostalgia is a powerful thing.

I played in Vanilla, but I was a complete noob and only got a character to 60 a few months (maybe less, can't quite remember) before BC hit.

Some of the commenters here mentioned people and interaction and I do think that those things may be a large reason why we wax nostalgic for the good old days.

I remember Kara very fondly. We had a roster of 10-12 people and raided 1 evening per week. It took a long, long time to finish it - but it was one of the most amazing journeys for all of us in that team. As much as Kara was an awesome instance a lot of that was due to the amazing people in the group and that feeling you get from working with a tight knit team.

I also look back at Ulduar with slightly rose-tinted glasses. It was a step up in difficulty from Naxx, but it was a great challenge to overcome (and such a pretty place). Taking down Yogg-Saron was such a sweet victory. Again, we were a small, tight-knit team that banded together for those months of working on a common goal.

And I think most people will say that the LFG system is great because it makes it possible for people to do random heroics even if their guildies are not online/available and they don't have a huge network of friends on the server. But on the other hand it means there is little reason to interact and make those friends on your server.

Swings and roundabouts as they say. :-)

Jen said...

Actually, I feel pretty "old" considering I started in TBC. I meet very few people who played in Vanilla, so most are on my level of experience or newer players.

Ironically, the one guy who keeps going on and on about how amazing Vanilla was and how crap Wrath is never actually played Vanilla... I'm sure there's things that were better and things that were worse. And I'm doubly sure that nostalgia is everywhere. Haven't you seen those people who say ICC is bad and Ulduar was the best thing ever?

As for the theory about connections... from a raiding guild POV, Wrath has been better than TBC. I didn't need to spam trade for 3 hours to get a group where I'd meet a great person and join a guild. I just looked for a raiding guild and naturally met people there... There are bad things about the new LFG, but the good ones far, far outweigh them.

Kurnak said...

I come from the old days of tabletop RPGs (paper, pencil and maybe some lead miniature to identify where are you standing) and text MUDs :)
Tabletop RPGs don't fit much into the MMO category, after all you're playing with a fixed number of people who most of the times are your irl friends or people you at least know. The thing starts in MUDs, when you get people from different places gather together in the same place without knowing each other irl. And for me the problem is that even nerfing the game to attract a wider playerbase and make playability easier, a lot of people seems to not care to play properly or have some respect for other players, be veterans or not. I'ts ok if you joined on TBC, you've progressed and learnt to play correctly, integrating in groups and raids without being a problem for the rest. Maybe your path was easier than mine, where the game was harder due to several reasons (specs not as useful as now, harder to get resources, no flying mounts, gear with weird stats, etc), so you've missed this feeling we have about "it was hard but we made it", like it happens in real life when your grandpa tells you that were hard times, they were poor but they managed to raise the family and make the world a better place (work conditions, education for everyone, etc). I think a lot of veterans see that even they worked hard, the world isn't that better today despite the conditions have improved (emblems to buy gear, quest hubs, flying mounts, etc). And thats why I say a lot of people isn't playing properly, because at level 80 they're still acting like a level 10 teenager with an excess of hormones.
So the veterans dream of the old days where there were few players but the relations were much more polite. Yes, we had chinese farmer bots and goldsellers plus the occasional idiot spamming channels, but at the end of the day you felt proud that you made certain dungeon or completed that questline because conditions were harder than today.
"Nerfing" the game isn't a bad thing per se. It depends on how much you nerf it and in which way. Each change in the game has its consequences, be a nerf or not. Like LFD, it's a great tool, but in turn we have to deal with a bigger number of dickheads ruining the game. And these idiots dojn't care because they will join LFD again and again until they hav their frost emblems/gear/whatever and they won't need to stop being a dick to the other people.
In my case I welcome newcomers (and no Larísa, you aren't one). I like to teach them because nobody teached me and had to learn things the hard way. But if that person refuses to listen then I'm just wasting my time, and I don't like wasting my time. And I'm not saying I am a leet player who knows everything or is always right. I may be wrong too, but I try to offer help with my recommendations and hints. I'm sure if there's a teacher irl out there will know this feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I started playing back in Vanilla, a couple of months after WoW came out (this was my first MMORPG). It was fun, but I was in a failed guild, didn't know enough to just quit, and so I never even got to get into Scholomance or Stratholme, let alone do any raiding. Instead I leveled alts because it was pointless running around doing the same things over and over on my main, with little to no chance to progress. BC came out, and things got much better. Karazan was my first raiding experience as well, and I still find it to be one of the more compelling instances in the game (there's my nostalgia zone!). Wrath is also fun, but different. For me each expansion has been like a continuation of the game, different, but in it's own way each expansion has added to the experience. Now those who start in the next expansion, after the old world has disappeared, will miss all of those old zones we loved/hated; but I know I'm going to be leveling at least a couple more toons to get the experiences of leveling in all the bright shiny new/reworked zones as well. IMHO, each expansion has added to the game, while retaining a lot that was good in the earlier versions, and fixing many issues. I wouldn't feel bad about coming in at a time when you could still do all the vanilla zones, but you had a couple more races to choose from and a greater variety of things to do at level cap, along with an increased chance to actually get into it. That's my two cents!

Dàchéng said...

Oh , dear Larísa, instead of whining about how you never got to play Vanilla WoW, why don't you go and play it? It's still mostly there in the old world. Just do it. Go and roll a new character and start playing.

Despite the changes that Blizzard have made over the years, the core game level 1-60 is still not much changed. The Deadmines are still awesome. You still need crowd control in Blackrock Depths and LBRS, and they're still huge dungeons. You can still get the key to UBRS, though you might not need it now). And you saw for yourself how great Maraudon is (not how it used to be, how it still is, if you are just prepared to experience it at the appropriate level). But hurry: you've only a few more months at most before the biggest reset ever in the game washes away bucketloads of the old world and lots of the old game mechanics.

So instead of wasting your time playing in Beta, preparing yourself to be bored with Cataclysm early, why don't you play in the old world before 4.0. Cataclysm will be around for ages. Vanilla WoW, what's left of it, it going to disappear forever, and soon.

And if you carry on playing the Beta instead, I don't want to read a post from you in twelve months time complaining about how bored you are with Cataclysm and how you've nothing left to do. You will have brought that upon yourself.

P.S. I've never been to Karazhan. I skipped from Blackrock Mountain to the snows of Northrend with only a quick glance at Outland. But that's okay. It'll be there when I go back to it on another character (albeit with different game mechanics). But the Thousand Needles won't.

Barrista said...

Honestly? Your post does sound very insecure. Like you are taking their wishes about a GAME personally. You are interpreting it as "they want the old game and i wasn't in the old game so they don't want Larisa." And why do you care if they would want you around or not? I certainly wouldn't.

rubymelon said...

I remember first approaching wow during beta in Korea for vanilla. The idea of having different talent tress within each class was mind blowing (as this was only my second mmo, but u dont get these things in MUDs,D&D and such) and just the way that Blizzard designed quests and zones was so well put together compared to prior games I had played. It was such an epic feeling with so much flavor to the game play.

And I think when people start talking about Vanilla it's because they remember that feeling and wish they could share it with you. But I feel everyone goes through that experience regardless of when they started playing wow.

Also, when you look back at the past, you usually remember most of the good times over the bad times. Yes, it was an epic feeling to be in a 40man raid, and having to pull off LOS and CCs, but how many people talk about what a pain in the ass it was to keep things running with that much people. Oh and the people who were 90% AFK during the fights? And lets not forget that not all specs were viable during vanilla. Moonkins, Shadowpriests, Feral druids, Ret paladins were mostly unheard of or mocked.

Leveling has indeed become very easy, and there are a lot of fun quest lines that ppl now absent mindedly rush through or skip. But I remember when wowhead wasn't there and thotbott(with the most ugliest ui) and a...whatever it was called were the ways u had to keep referring back to for quests u couldnt figure out with the quest content. And how it would take 3-5 hrs to finish ST or BRD because you'd go through 10 people that would leave while everyone is trying to run to the instance (in the days of no summoning stones) or while going through the long complicated instance. (i mean, how many ppl these days actually know how to get the BRD key and know all the paths and know how to get thru ST?) And because there were no summon stones, warlocks had to farm a million shards to summon the 20 out of 40 ppl in the raid who didnt run? And when druids couldn't ordinary res and only had battle res?

O dear God, although Vanilla was very epic indeed, I doubt that many would like to go back and play in that time. If it was that big of an issue, I'm sure Blizzard would have set up a separate server for Vanilla wow only. (I'm sure there are probably private servers like this)

Honestly when the same people who miss Vanilla complain about bg ques or instance ques, it makes me laugh.

It was not unusual to wait over an hour to get a instance group together, and waiting an hour for AV was a given. Not to mention how long the other bg ques were.

Everytime Blizzards improves something, it makes me wish, God why didn't they have it this way when I was leveling. It would have saved me so much time and trouble. And yes while I have that smile tugging at my lips remembering at the rough but golden days of Vanilla, I think all the new things that have come with the expansion are nice too. Besides, if content doesn't keep coming, regardless of how hardcore/casual/wide the net is, we'd all be jumping around inside the banks of IF or on the rooftops of Org.

Don't feel left out because you didn't start in Vanilla. Sure you might not understand jokes like Leeroy jenkins or -50dkp, but I'm sure you've heard of or can find places to read about them, and you'll find that you havn't missed much.

(not to mention that you could always get a group of ppl to raise alts and run those old instances at the original intended level and still get a pretty good understanding of it)

Larísa said...

: Oh, I'm pretty sure I'm alienating some of the newer players. That's why I think it's important to remind ourselves about it every now and then. Putting up barriers that makes you into an exclusive club might be tempting but in the long run it might harm you since it will affect the influx of new forces into the community. The exclusive club is shrinking, that's a fact.

I'm glad to hear that you enjoy the wider base of players!

@Gronthe: I don't think there's any bad intent in it either. I just wanted to point out the effects. How it looks from an outsider. I don't think they always are aware of it.

And yeah. Probably the best reaction to them is pity. They're longing for something that won't happen and all this longing keeps them from enjoying what's right in front of them.

@Syl: I'm afraid I'm failing to make myself fully understood in this post. It's not about my lack of self esteem and confidence (even though I've written about that before). In this post I'm trying to explain what those discussions might look like from the perspective of an outsider. I don't think anyone is mobbing me on purpose.

However, I still think there is a generation gap. I'm interested to hear what veteran players have to say, but their credibility would be higher if they didn't just lose themselves in nostalgia, but highlighted what has become better at the same time. An open mind, a willingness to listen and also a bit of imagination, where you try to put yourself into another person's clothes and imagine what it is to them. I think that would go a long way to improve the communications between groups of players with varying interests and wishes for what direction the game should take.

: Ahappy veteran! That's great to hear about for a change!

@Shintar: I guess the "We should do something similar again and then it will be even better because we have all those new awesome players that have joined since vanilla" remark is what I'm missing. Don't hear that very much.

: Very good points there. And I agree about the Great Gaming Moments fallacy. Players tend to mix it up with how good a game it really was. If they'd replay those games they'd probably find out they sucked a LOT and wonder how they could stand it in the first place.

@Ratshag: I wonder if there's anyone on this planet that misses non-stacking clams. Well apart from the murlocs I suppose then, they were the one keeping them that way in the first place.

It's true that the memory is very, very selective. And the hair is indeed turning grey. I wonder if that isn't the issue. The morning of the lost youth.

And here's your drink. On the house! Of course.

@Nils: You might be right. One size just can't fit everyone. It fits everyone and no one maybe? I suppose that once the MMORPG market grows big enough there will be room for more segmentizing, breaking down into subgroups.

@Tesh: Oh I loved Ratatouille! He was a wise guy that little bugger.
There are games that don't need to change. Chess. But I don't think that's applicable to a computer game tbh.

@Rades: Glad to hear I'm not the only one. Some commenters seem to think it's just about Larísa's bad self esteem, but I think there are more out there who feel this way.

@Carrie: I think so too. Oldies don't seem to fully understand that newbies get THEIR moment of sense of wonder right here, right now. Even in Wrath.

: That's what I call perspective! I'm glad to have you around to bring it. You are right of course. Even counted in dog years, two years in game really isn't that much.

Larísa said...

@Holly: The question is if the people who start playing WoW nowadays are different to the ones who joined back in vanilla. It has often been said that it's aiming for a mass market and new groups that haven't been playing before. Women., Grown-ups. Etc. And maybe we bring something into the community that wasn't there back in time.

@Oscar: I think so too. That some parts get better and some parts worse, but what is better and what is worse varies from person to person. If you ask me I think the questing in Wrath was far superior to TBC. But the multi-player aspect has gone worse. It's getting harder and harder to get to know people due to the LFD mostly. To play with friends you need to already have them. You can't expect to make any new. On the other hand - if you asked someone else they could very well have the opposite opinion, that the current situation is way better.

Anyway: thank you for feeling me very welcome!

: Thanks for sharing those experiences. History is repeating itself. It must have indeed been just as depressing and annoying to listen to the AC nostalgia back then as it is to listen to the whining about how vanilla was better now.

@Charles: "But those things would have changed anyway, even if Blizzard had done nothing, never released any new expansions or patches - what I loved about vanilla would be gone by now." I think you're very right about this. There's no way you can stop a game from changing. It's like trying to block a flood. It's better to try to make it go in a good direction. Which I agree on that they basically have.

: I definitely think that too. If you went back and actually DID try EQ or vanilla exactly as it was, the old players might get an unpleasant surprise.

@Zetter: Hey there, BC baby! Cheers! And yeah, being small and misunderstood is always a great foundation for friendship and a sense of belonging. No wonder they want to stick to their ranks.

@Tufva: Looking at Ulduar with rose-tinted glasses... Has it already been that long? To me it feels like current content and I got my mount only recently. But I suppose I'm just a tad old and slow on adapting.

@Jen: Hm... you might be right. I think a lot of vanilla people actually are leaving or have left. they might be back and check Cataclysm quickly. But yeah... I've got to stop looking at TBC players as newbies. We're actually starting to be fairly old and jaded in comparison to many players.

@Kurnak: If there's any change in the game that I'm skeptic to, it's this you're talking about. The change of pace. The rush. Even if there would be more willing teachers like you around, very few are interested in listening. In pugs, there's hardly any teaching/learning process going on at all. Which is a change to back how it used to be I think. That's sad. I like it when players learn from each other rather than just making a self-tutorial interface thing of it.

Larísa said...

: That's great to hear that you as a vanilla player think that the game only has become better over the years.

@Dàchéng: There are a few guilds around that stop xp gains on their mains to experience raiding of vanilla instances. But even so I don't think they can fully succeed doing it. The classes have changed a lot and... it's just not the same. Anyway: it's not a small task if you want to do that and no thanks, it's not for me. It wasn't really the point of my post either, I think. It's not like I'm begging to run vanilla instances. I was trying to talk about the generation gaps.

: So: you're pulling the "it's just a game" card? I don't know how to respond to that. You see... if you take it from that angle, everything I write at the PPI is pointless and making too big things out of pointless activities in a computer game. Why don't I go and blog about Peace on Earth instead?

About insecurity... no it was not what I was trying to express in this post. But suppose that it was? What's so bad about talking about it? I honestly think that many, many players and bloggers are FAR more self conscious about things, but they're just too much of cowards to be honest about it. Not everyone is strong enough to acknowledge his or her weakness.

Anyway: I suppose I should congratulate you to never ever doubting yourself and for not giving a damned about what other people think. It must be awesome to be you.

: I've seen the old instances in retro raids. I think some of them are beautiful, especially AQ with its Egyptian theme. But MC is underwhelming. Loads of empty space and all mobs except that oversized Murmur guy in the end look the same.

The more I read about how time consuming WoW was back in the days, the more certain do I become that I never could have played the game the way it was.

spinksville said...

"But MC is underwhelming"

It is.

Now imagine for a moment that you zone in there for the first time with a 40 man raid and it's the most exciting thing you have ever seen or done in a game, ever. And then imagine that the pool of players who share that memory is getting smaller and smaller and all people ever say about MC these days is how bad it is.

Sometimes it feels a bit like a culture war of memories. Soon, soon, the TBC and Wrath guys will have won, and their version of history will show vanilla raids as dull and not as good as the Outland experience.

I wonder if there's some of that also. And if there was one thing I wish I could still share with newer players, it would be the 40 man raid experience. At it's best, it was amazing.

Perdissa said...

Where I come from, all men have to go thru 2 years of military service. The military service thus becomes a point of easy bonding between men in my country. We often talk about the old days in the army with such affection that people around (such as the ladies) can't help but feel a bit left out from this common experience.

But trust me, you can't pay us to go back to those days.

Where was I? Oh yes, nostalgia being what it is, I listen to these stories with amusement and think back to the changes I've seen since I started playing in BC. All that stuff sounds interesting, but I wouldn't want to go back to those days.

Jairo said...

Ask and you shall receive Larísa...

While reading your latest blog post I wanted to interrupt you so many times that I couldn't just leave a comment, I mean, there I was reading and I stumbled upon something I did not agree (and could prove wrong) so I tough about mailing you with some background of mine and after that tell you a little about my guild and about one of the guys that got closest to me in this game...

Well, I was around during vanilla, not as early as I wanted to be but I still was early enough to get AQ and NAXX, I was an undead mage back them playing on a PVP server (back when as a mage you could 2-shot simply any class in the game and you were also able to CC/Kite multiple classes at once)... Do I miss those old days? Do I miss the Old Alterac Valley without this reinforcements stuff? Do I miss comming 1 hour early to the raid because I had to conjure water and food (one stack of each at a time) to everyone else that was gonna enter the dungeon with me? Do I miss those old spams on trade chat that were something along the lines of "DPS LFG DM, BRD, STRAT, SCHOLO - Full runs only, No drop out - PST"?

Yes I do, kinda, I guess...

But with each of those memories comes a memory about when a patch was released changing it and how amazing and awesome the new stuff seemed... Can you begin to imagine the nostalgia that it was when mages got a pet? I didn't care it was not permanent, I didn't care I had to give up my AP+PoM-Pyro Spec, all I knew was that I got a pet and he was so cool and awesome!
And when they announced they were changing AV system, what I tought was "What? no more 4 hours AV? This is gonna suck" Yeah, it sucks so much that it's the only BG alligned faction to whom i'm exalted with ^^
Do I miss the "Sorry Guys but Onyxia is still too hard ass for us, let's go back to MC for a few MONTHS so we can gear everyone up for this fight"?

When burning crusade came my brother (whom I dragged into this game) found on ORKUT a post about some guys assembling a brazilian only guild in a low pop server called auchindoun, the guild would come as the fusion of 2 other guilds ( and ) and it would be called , well, he insisted so much and even though I didn't want to play alliance we ended up creating Gnomes (My mage and his warlock) and thus the original "Jabarj" was born.

The fusion didn't work out really well and we ended up a part of , it made us build a real good friendship with some of the members (to a point that my former guild master now raids in as a mage under my command ^^), we later joined a bigger guild called beginning of the end and we were raiding Tier 4 Content and plowing through Grull and Mag and being pretty happy with ourselves. Since nothing can ever be perfect I was Hacked.
Back in the days (BT was not even online yet) blizzard customer services SUCKED REAL HARD and I was unable to retrieve my account, I lost my mages (both the 70 Gnome and the 60 Undead) with everything they had and I simply decided to stop playing. My brother and a few other RL friends (one of them is the Physical DPS CL in nowadays) continued playing and eventually transfered out of auchindoun to a Large server called WARSONG to join a guild called . My friends eventually got me back to the game (I had to get a new account) and I got back to raiding, 's Raid Leader at the time was a Warrior Called Manrage (you might notice that he is a paladin now and that he is 1%'s raid leader ^^) and he decided to take my friend's word for it and rush me through tier 5 content so we could go into BT (which just came out), in 2 weeks at 70 I was 4pT5, we did our Kael'thas, the suntrider first kill and off to BT we went. We killed Illidan (we spent just 2 nights learning his fight) and I felt really good knowing that some people could not even enter Hyjal because they didn't finish the attune yet (which consisted in killing Kael and Vashj) and I had already killed Illidan.


nugget said...

Urro Larisa!

Haven't read the comments on this thread I confess!

Just want to say that, although I was ?am? one of those Vanilla WoW folk (and a MUDder) to boot lol), I really have quit WoW, no intention of ever playing it again, and I still pootle over here now and then to see what you're writing.

...I'm sure I can't be the only one like this.

~_o Surely this kind of pootly approbation can provide a modicum of warm fuzzies?

Lume said...

Anyone who says vanilla WoW or EQ were better than most modern MMO's are delusional.

I'm being blunt, but it's the truth. The people who think so are either want the game to be an endless grind because they themselves have 24/7 to spend on it, or they simply don't remember how terrible MMOs were.

Or they're certifiably stupid.

That said, the genre's progress has been generally inadequate.

Jeromai said...

Oh, pff, nonsense. I date back to MUD and tabletop RPG days, and you know what? I missed EQ, UO and WoW because I sat around hugging my MUD and finally progressed on to a three-dimensional City of Heroes.

I have no clue what people are saying when they wax nostalgic about Molten Core, Barrens chat and whatever else, because I finally got around to trying out WoW about 4 years after all the lowbies had cleared out of the noob zones and were living the high life with epic flying mounts. :)

Yes, sometimes the exclusivity sucks. I can't help but think I'm the only gamer alive that won't understand or appreciate the nuances of Cataclysm because I have no -before- to compare it to.

But eh, it happens. Others won't have a clue as to the intricate politics and updates of every single Issue release of City of Heroes either.

Or to get even more esoteric, the detailed history of each Telling of A Tale in a Desert... (I wasn't there for that either, but I met some of those uber-awesome nice folks when I played that game.)

Nor did I experience whatever space drama is taking place in Eve Online's timeline, epic megacorp vs megacorp fleet battle or ultimate scam thingmajig.

Celebrate it for what it is. The unique culture and history that forms for each virtual world. One person is not going to be able to see it all and know it all.

But one can listen to other blogger's stories about their experiences and cherished memories, and live a little vicariously in that particular world.

Just don't take the whining and negativity from certain bloggers to heart. Nostalgia glasses colors all things rosy. There is no one zenith. Ups and downs of a long awesome tale, yes. No one peak that omgbbq, you missed, and it's all downhill from here.

Your own personal MMO saga is your own tale to concoct.

Diversity of experience is where it's at. As you play more games and hear more stories, what you'll often find is the same lessons repeating, and design features and flaws in both the new and the old.

And culture or generation gap aside, we're all people with a love of game. Yea, we bitch and squabble, we're kinda one big happy dysfunctional family who love to argue about whose game is best and pwnz0rs another. But welcome to that ultimate community anyway. <3 you all, gamers young and old. :)

Oscar said...

I think everything is said now (more than once!), so I'll refrain from commenting. On that. But, you just made me laugh, Larísa.

The thought of a million murlocs now mourning that they get absolutely *no use* for their 1000-capacity clamshell bags...


Sionel said...

I completely hear what you're saying there! As a far newer player than you (definitely a Wrath-baby), I've read lots of posts and articles about how amazing beta/vanilla/TBC/early Wrath was, and I always seem to end up faintly depressed about what I've irrevocably missed.

My experiences with MUDs have taught me a bit differently, though. As a 7+ year veteran and now administrator of a fairly large MUD that recently had its 17th birthday, I can vividly recall hearing the exact same things in my own newbie days. Apparently, I had just missed the best years of the MUD's life - when PvP was hardcore, there was no hand-holding, and the roleplay was just SO much better. Oddly enough, though, in recent years the conversation has shifted so that now the rose-coloured glasses are probably more focused on those years when I was new...or even a couple of years after that, when I myself would have said that things were losing their luster :P

I certainly am a newbie to WoW, but I'm trying not to let that get me down. In a few months, I'll no longer be a child of the current expansion - and then, no doubt, the blog posts will begin to appear about how it was all SO much better in Wrath. And then in a year or two, we can all have this conversation again...oh, what fun there is to look forward to in WoW! said...

Gah get your Gnomes off my lawn! Hey wait, not me!

Ahh Vanilla, I remember it so well... empty servers, 3 unplanned server restarts per week in the middle of prime time, buggy... well everything, the noobs spamming trade chat, the "ur gay" comments, the grind, waiting till 60 until you could afford your basic mount (after borrowing the money off a mate), Hybrid classes that could only be played in one spec...

But Mages ruled!

Burning Crusade, I remember you so well... the grind... the attunements, the bugs, the monthly character, boss and crafting balancing, the noobs spamming trade chat, the "ur gay" comments, waiting till 70 to afford a flying mount (after borrowing the money off a mate), the wipes, the wipes, the PvP geared pugs...

But Mages ruled!

WoLK, I remember you so well... the grind, the AoE bore, the easy bosses, the psycho LFD pugs, the noobs spamming trade chat, the "ur gay" comments, the bugs, the achievements.

But Mages ruled!

How I miss those days... you are so lucky you missed them, but they are memories I will carry to my grave.

Of course, if you ever ask me... these young Gnomes just don't know how good they have it...

Back in my day... Mages ROOLED!

Copra said...

It all comes down to the fact whether you are enjoying the game or not. IF you cannot enjoy this moment and live either in the past (which was so much better anyhow) or in the future (which will be so much better anyhow), you are really missing the point.

It all comes down to what you do, like, enjoy or dislike.

In the end, the only one that matters is you, yourself.

Heck, I've just done my first few raids and I have been in Vanilla before AQ opened. I was around when TBC raiding was hot, but never got in. Still you have (/boohoo) beaten me to every raid in WotLK. Should I feel put down because you bring it up every now and then? (yes, I should, you elitist, exclusive raider you!)

Now, if you concentrate on this moment when you play, what others think doesn't matter. Only thing that matters is your own game, which you either enjoy or not.

I know I criticise and whine about the game in my blog. That doesn't mean I wouldn't love it WHILE I play. I doubt I wouldn't play it if I found it a pain to my brain, nor would anyone else.

As you know, when the flow is there, the raid moves on and there is nothing else in the world.

That's when you are there.

C out

Larísa said...

: Honestly, if there’s one thing I wish I could experience from the old days, it is to do 40 man raiding. In my opinion bigger = better. I’ve always found 25 man raids more epic in the feeling than 10 mans. It’s a matter of personal preference and I know others think differently but that’s just how it is to me. And of course I suspect that a dedicated 40 man raid would be awesome to be a part of. Alas, that is beyond my grasp. However – the surroundings in MC remain poor compared to the modern instances. But it would be a shame if it wasn’t – you really expect them to learn something over the years.

: I think it has to do with the way our memory works generally. We tend to remember the good stuff and forget the bad, but if those vanilla huggers were really honest with themselves I bet many of them easily could come up with a list of 10 reasons why they wouldn’t want to play vanilla again. Ever.

@Jairo: sorry for having the spam filter keeping your comment on hold. You’re free to finish your mega comment now!

@Nugget: We don't close our gates at ex-wow players. I suspect there are quite a few of you hanging around in the inn. Cheap way of feeding your addiction? ;) Just kidding.

You’re very welcome!

@Lume: Delusional might be a hard word, but they definitely have a different idea about what constitutes a good game. Howver it’s a little hard for me to judge who wasn’t there.

@Jeromai: Oh, I loved this perspective, and not the least the concusion.

“And culture or generation gap aside, we're all people with a love of game. Yea, we bitch and squabble, we're kinda one big happy dysfunctional family who love to argue about whose game is best and pwnz0rs another. But welcome to that ultimate community anyway. <3 you all, gamers young and old. :)”

That’s the vision I have for it. One happy family/community rather than generations fighting each other. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one.

@Sionel: That was really an interesting observation. It all goes in circles and nothing new under the sun.

: Raid instances and class nerfs/buffs come and go, but there are some things that never will change, such as the “ur gay” comments. Maybe a safety handle to hold onto to all those oldies who don’t recognize themselves in the newer versions of World of Warcraft?

Curious question though: whenever did mages actually rule? Not in my lifetime! (QQ incoming)

@Copra. I’m glad to hear you’re actually enjoying the game, for the complaints we see now and then. Maybe it would be something to consider for some of the more negative bloggers: a disclaimer that “even if I publish a lot of critizism about WoW on my blog, I still actually love the game. Just as a little reminder. I somehow think we tend to forget that we do that when we get too involved in our how-to-improve-the-game discussions.

Barrista said...

So people shouldn't write about things unless they have a deep meaning? I'm so sorry you took the meaning of my comment in the worst way possible. Oh well.

waterminty said...

(I apologize if this shows up twice. Got an error the first time I tried replying.)

To offer a differing perspective -- while the "old-timers" seem to dominate the blogosphere, they don't anywhere else. Before I quite WoW for good over a year ago, I rarely met anyone who had played before the launch of TBC. Look at the comments -- old school vanilla players are definitely in the minority, where they show up at all. And I don't see much nostalgia for "the old days" on fan sites. :)

I would agree that WoW's "game" aspects are better. While I have fond memories of vanilla that the current game just can't live up to, I also remember the horror of my slog to pvp rank 11. Having to arrive to raids early so I had time to make water for everyone who wanted some. Getting steamrolled in battlegrounds by people in raid gear before I gave in and started raiding. The Ony attunement chain. Handling the whelps. Running around to get world buffs before progression raids. Limited roles for hybrid classes. (Not to mention, creepy guys who wanted to give you their phone number once they realized you were omg really female, but I'm sure that still happens.)

But at the same time, I didn't play the game for all of that maddening stuff. I liked the "world" aspect and the community. But that's not a very mainstream thing -- to put up with unfun stuff just to run around in a fantasy world. So I don't blame for Blizzard for changing the game to make it a more enjoyable game. If I was interested in the "game" aspect -- doing content, getting gear, earning achievement points, etc. -- I would probably have enjoyed Wrath more.

For me, WoW is a much better game, but much less of a "world." But I recognize that most people are playing a game to PLAY it and not for to immerse themselves in a world. It's a matter of differing approaches to MMOs, and I don't think either side is "right" or "wrong."

Wolfshead said...

I can appreciate your perspective Larisa about feeling left out or marginalized by the veteran players.

The reality is that MMOs *need* a constant influx of newbies to make them profitable. I have nothing against new players coming into the MMO fold; I just am legitimately concerned that the MMO genre is becoming far too simplistic.

In any community, you tend to like things to stay the way they are. Let's say you involved in some organization that loves to collect butterflies and then suddenly a bunch of new people show up that like to collect spiders. Naturally there's going to be some tension.

Also here's another example, let's say you have an organization like Mensa. I believe you have to have a certain IQ score to gain admittance into this exclusive club. Well what do you think would happen if people who ran Mensa reduced the entrance requirements to an IQ 20 points lower?

That would have the effect of cheapening the value, prestige and status of the Mensa membership. You can bet many of the existing members would be angry and upset.

So can you see why that some of us MMO veterans have similar concerns?

Still, I think WoW has always been very welcoming to players new to MMOs. Although there has been a general trend of dumbing-down the genre to attract new players, I can't see much of a difference between the newbie experiences of vanilla WoW and the Burning Crusade expansion.

I like to think you would have been just attracted to the original WoW as the Burning Crusade expansion.

In my opinion, Blizzard doesn't need to keep tinkering with the newbie experience -- it's already good enough to attract them. In fact it's needless overkill.

The current WoW is essentially a newbie tutorial comprising of 80 levels. Do we really need 80 levels of tutorial?

I think 20 levels is enough. After that, if you aren't 1) hooked or 2) know your class then there's really no hope for you.

Thanks for a great and thoughtful article Larisa!

nugget said...


Lol. Nah. No WoW addiction here. TBH I tend to skip the extremely WoW posts. I read the stuff that has broader implications in online worlds though.

There are a couple of blogs I read from my WoW days, that I still look through every now and again, because there's interesting content there.

Big Bear Butt's is another one of those. Originally started reading it because I was (among other things) a feral tank. Now drop by because the non-WoW stuff is still good. =)

Guild Wars is (for me) the answer to everything I bitched about WoW not being/not having. I know it makes me a minority of oh, probably 1... XD But everything I bitched about was what I wanted. When I switched to Guild Wars, I got it. =) But that's neither here nor there.

As I said, I pootle here for things with a broader view!

*squees off into the broad view* Of broads. In Chainmail Bikinis. Oh dear, I went there. XD

Larísa said...

: that's actually an interesting observation about the blogosphere. I wonder what the result would be if you did a poll among bloggers, asking them what generation they belong to. I suppose that as you start to play you're so occupied with the basic understanding that the thought doesn't occur to you to start blogging about it. At least that was the case for me. It took me about a year of playing before I entered the blogosphere.

I too love the world aspects of WoW and I wish it wasn't one thing or the other. I'm not a fan of the concept of hanging around in Dalaran, portaling my way around the world, inspite of being a mage. The world has definitely shrunk. However I expect it to expand again as we start enjoying the revamped zones in Cataclysm.

: Thank you. I'm glad you appreciated the post. I know change can be a bit threatening, however I think it's necessary to see it for what it is. Some things change in a way you don't like, but maybe it's the price that you have to pay to change some things that are plain horrible and dysfunctional? I've seen many pointing out that the old style MMO was so time consuming that it only worked if you were a student with endless night and no sleeping needs and no family and work distracting you from it. As those players have grown older they see that this kind of playing isn't sustainable. Their option would be to leave the Mensa club. Or the club would have to change a little to cater to them in a different life situation.

I can see the double edged sword everywhere. And it isn't always easy to say what's better and what's worse. The introduction of the LFD is a disaster for the ability to develop social bonds on your realm. If you're lonely you'll remain lonely. You don't get any opportunity to get to know new players. On the other hand it's fantastic to be able to actually play the game and enjoy dungeons rather than standing for three hours in IF, in vain looking for a group. Developent is rarely ONLY good or ONLY bad. That's what I'm trying to convey.

@Nugget: I'm glad you still find reasons to hang around here, even if you've moved on to Guild wars!

lonomonkey said...

OMG!!! I had missed this post. Bad me!

You speak so many truths in here its mind blowing. I have been guilty of talking about the good old days more than once and I'll probably be again.

I hate it because I believe that for a healthy game like an MMO you need to include the newer players and move on with the times.

Yet you made me realize that I as much as I try I still fall back into old hag habits.