Archive for December 13th, 2010

h1

Project WoW Noob: Days 3-4 – Contemplating The “MMO” And The “RPG”

December 13, 2010

DAY 3 & 4

Player: @jarira
Character Name: Saalua
Race and Class: Night Elf Hunter

Little elf lost in the big city.

After how smoothly Day 2 went, we decided to see how Jar can hold up in the game on her own. So I was pleasantly surprised to log in one night and see that she’d been online just a few hours before, and had actually gained a level by herself. I quickly shot her a message and asked her how Day 3 on her own worked out. Not so good, apparently. I gathered from her replies that the major highlights of her experience was that she had gotten lost, accidentally ran into a named mob three levels higher than her which killed her pet, and then it took a while for her to figure out how to rez him again.

After questing on my own the other day, I’m not so sure WoW is a game I would play on my own much. Its just so much more fun with someone else, especially when everything is new, and I literally get lost like all the time (as you saw today in the cave lol) I think it’s just my lack of experience with RPG type games, but I am really really bad with maps. I know the arrow is “right there” but I will wander around and have no idea where the hell I am going, and it’s not just in WoW, it’s happened in Zelda and stuff like that which is why I’m easily turned off by RPGs.

Having someone guide me around really helps – and even if they weren’t experienced with the game, running around lost together is much better than wandering around alone. Hence my point about WoW being a social thing – it’s like you’re hanging out with a friend in a virtual world.

Despite the quest markers and the mini-map arrows, getting lost still seems to be the main problem for our newbie. Not that I can blame her; Teldrassil is notoriously difficult to traverse (everywhere you turn is a damn hill or a massive Kalimdorian tree trunk in your way) and so on Day 4 we decided to quest together again.

One of the first quests we tackled was The Relics of Wakening. Does anyone else remember this awful, awful quest? At around level 8, a quest giver sends you into the Ban’ethil Barrow Dens, an underground labyrinth crawling with furbolgs, to pick up four sacred items. Well, this quest was given a major facelift in the Shattering patch. First of all, once you find the entrance, a Sentinel Huntress NPC will magically appear out of nowhere to offer to “guide” you through the den. Talking to her will open up a dialogue box with options to take you directly to the quest items, which makes me wonder why they’re sending me on this quest in the first place, if they know where everything is already. But I was like, whatever, this is nice. Choosing a destination will prompt the Huntress to summon a globe of light, which then leaves a lighted trail showing you exactly where to go.

She’s like an in-game GPS system! Now instead of wandering around the caves aimlessly getting more and more lost, we just follow the GPS lady. I suppose this is the definition of hand-holding, but I can’t say I minded it so much, because let’s be honest, this quest needed it bad. And for an MMO newcomer like Jar, this stuff is like a godsend. Here’s what she had to say:

I would say that RPGs are the genre of gaming that I have the least amount of experience with, because I’ve never really liked them. I know it’s blasphemy but I do not like Final Fantasy, Zelda, etc. I clearly cannot handle the open ended gaming worlds and I really need to be hand held and be told ‘do this, do that’. GTA is a good example of a game that is open enough but not too open for me to enjoy. Although, GTA is somewhat RPG style with the missions, etc. there is a lot more structure to GTA and a definitive end to the game.

The big difference with WoW is that it is online, with other people. So what I’ve always disliked about RPGs, it’s not so bad when there is some sort of social interaction to it, and someone around to help you out (real people, not those guides that show up in the game lol – although I must admit, as lame as they might be, they are really helpful, and a nice touch from a usability point of view). They’ve managed to create a help system by integrating it into the actual gameplay. It’s kind of neat.

Her statements sort of bring up another point — I think her feelings about RPGs and her limited experience with them are obstacles that might make it harder for her to get into a game like WoW. For one thing, MMORPGs can be a lot of work when you’re just starting out. Not everyone will have the patience to weather through the learning curve, and I think people already familiar with RPGs will find the transition much smoother and easier. Jar’s a self-confessed ADD gamer, and what she wants is to get in there and play, right away. Keep it quick, or you’re going to lose her attention. Still, I was glad to see that the process of leveling was at least somewhat rewarding, according to what Jar wrote to me:

When I see the (XP) bar about to cap off, I can’t wait until I level up. I’m by no means a completist gamer, but new quests are still exciting to me…and the prospect of getting cool items is still a novelty (I am going to be the worst hoarder, I am so sure about that already).

While I am enjoying the game so far, I can see how my patience might start to wear thin – I think at this point it could go either way (whether I stay with the game or not) but for now, I give my 3.5 days of WoW experience a thumbs up.

While we’re on the topic of RPGs, I also want to make a comment about lore. Pete of Dragonchasers made a statement that the game lore and narrative will mean nothing to someone brand new to WoW, and I made it a point to ask Jar specifically what she thought about that, since I was curious too. Well, he was absolutely right, at least when it comes to her. As a newcomer to WoW, Jar’s initial interest in the lore was non-existent, and it was far from being her first priority when it comes to getting into the game. I am sure as well that her lack of interest in RPGs to begin with also contributed to her ambivalence:

I pretty much don’t know anything about the lore in WoW, what I know is what I have observed in the game, which isn’t much. I have no idea what I’m doing within the game means in a larger context. Right now, to me it’s just a world with different races, that run around doing quests to get money or items.

Of course it would be nice to put everything into context and to know the story behind the game, but I prefer having the story integrated into my gameplay as opposed to massive amounts of exposition. Obviously, lore adds a huge amount of depth to a game, and it enables that emotional connection that I mentioned, but for me it’s like a vicious cycle – I want the strong story line to grasp on to in the game but I don’t really want to be bored by the details of it all cause I just want to play. I am just a huge child! Find a way to tell me without boring me!

I think that’s definitely what Blizzard is trying to work on, because integrating story into the gameplay is sort of what I’m seeing in the revamped Azerothian zones. But I still don’t think that’s going to be a big draw to a new player, at least until he or she starts making an emotional connection to the game.

And I have to say, the starting areas for the pre-Cataclysm races still leave a lot to be desired. At the end of that day, I had a revelation myself — I hate the Night Elf starting area.

Even with the changes, it’s just too bland, too tedious. I kinda got the feeling Jar felt the same way. Plus, based on some of her comments, I think what she really likes about an MMO is the “Massively Multiplayer” aspect, the part where you get to be with other people and be social, and I think Teldrassil is a tad remote for that. It was time for a change of scenery.

Well, I figured if she wants to see people, I can show her people. And since she sounded so enthusiastic about taking a boat the other day, I decided to take her across the ocean to the human lands.

Ahh, I can still remember my first ever venture into Stormwind. Just the grandness of it all, crossing the bridge over the Valley of Heroes, seeing towering statues on both sides and the shining white walls of the city just ahead. And the music! And the people! Definitely one of those MMO moments I’ll carry with me forever. I was hoping Jar could get that same sense of awe that I felt, and from the number of “OMG”s I got from her as we traveled from the harbor to the Trade District, I’m guessing she did:

I can’t believe that there are banks and auction halls and everything! And the amount of people in Stormwind is crazy! When I couldnt find your character in the crowd it was hilarious, it was like we were literally lost in a crowd!

I think she was glad we didn’t start out in the human lands, because it was so much more fun for her to see the hustle and bustle of Stormwind after being in the relative quiet of the Night Elf area. Since that was the eve of the Cataclysm launch and I had to haul ass to the midnight release, I left her after that hoping she would do some exploring on her own. Exploration is one of the three pillars of MMO gaming after all, and even though I didn’t think she was into that, I figured if being in Stormwind doesn’t make you want to explore, I don’t know what will. Sure enough, I got an email from her the next day:

In the night elf area I never felt compelled to discover the area cause there was really nothing to discover, but Stormwind is a whole different story. I actually didn’t mind exploring a bit before I looked for any quests – and trust me, that is a lot coming from a lazy ADD gamer.

It was funny to see little children running around and stuff and the different merchants there are. I ‘talked’ to one of the guards just to see what kind of places I could go to, and yeah, there were a lot. I found the profession guy that I was looking for. I picked up a few quests and had the intention of starting them, and after crossing a few bridges it seemed like it was kind of far (or I got lost, who knows really lol).

So, at this point, I’m not sure if WoW is going to be a game for her, but at least Stormwind was a big hit, and I had a feeling it would be.

I actually bought candy from a candy vendor cause I thought it was so funny. I was like OOH CANDY!!!

Oh yeah. I totally did that too.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,370 other followers