Posts Tagged ‘Starting Zones’

h1

Back To Queensdale

September 6, 2012

I think I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that out of all the starting areas I experienced in Guild Wars 2, my favorite was Queensdale. Well, I’m very happy to be back there now, working my way through the map and enjoying its bucolic picturesque landscapes.

No, I haven’t started playing on an alt. In fact, I’ve pretty much lost all motivation for alting in this game, for two reasons — 1) because if I’m on an alt that means my husband isn’t around to be playing together on our mains, and I’ve discovered that unlike other MMOs, I just can’t seem to enjoy GW2 when I’m by my lonesome. And 2) that my alting time is usually limited to during the day when the in-game population is low, and as some of my friends on Twitter have already noticed and pointed out, it becomes nigh impossible to do some of the better and bigger group events when there aren’t enough people around.

So I’m actually back in Queensdale on my main, Kilioe the Sylvari Guardian. I admit I was first lured there by copper. I need tons and tons of it for crafting! Not to mention some lower level gems. I don’t usually craft when leveling up in an MMO (it’s not my favorite thing to do), but GW2 has been different — the experience you gain for doing it is significant enough that I actually feel compelled to. I’m so ambivalent towards this aspect in games that I don’t think I’ll ever decide to craft for crafting’s sake, but I have to say that GW2’s crafting has done more to appeal to me than any other game, even if crafting is still bleh and I and am being solely motivated by the experience gain alone! It’s something, right?

And that’s not all — I love that I can go back to lower level zones for whatever reason — gathering starter crafting materials, in this case — and still feel like I’m accomplishing something, because my level is adjusted and doing the hearts, dynamic events, farming gathering nodes, etc. all give me experience, plus I’m also working towards completing the map. What is that, like, two, three, four birds with one stone?

So that’s what I’ve been up to in GW2 lately. We’re into September now, when gaming life is starting to get a little crazy. While I’m usually terrible at juggling games, I have to say GW2 is working out very nicely as a casual and fun diversion, just as I’d intended. Having no subscription fee, I certainly don’t feel pressured to play it as much as I can, but at the same time I’m also playing more than I expected, despite not having that sense of that “urgency” tickling at the back of my mind.

Just the other day, in fact, I discovered I’m not going as slow as I thought I was. In a guild discussion about organizing runs for Ascalon Catacombs, I could have sworn my character was barely high enough, hovering in the high 20s. To my surprise and embarrassment, I logged in and discovered I was actually level 31! Methinks the scaling down of levels has been screwing with my mind.

h1

Played Lately: Some Thoughts From The GW2 Headstart Weekend

August 27, 2012

In a word, my experience during the Guild Wars 2 headstart weekend was awesome!

One of the things I love about GW2 is the fact each race has its own starting area. Maybe you make multiple characters of the same race, but you don’t want to do the same starting area over and over again. Maybe you love a particular race but hate their starting area or vice versa. It wouldn’t matter one whit, since you can move to any of the other starting zones pretty much right off the bat. It’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about World of Warcraft, and really missed about some of the recent MMOs like Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic or The Secret World where all of us are funneled into pretty much the same zone or limited areas on start up.

This weekend, I only did Caledon Forest because I was a Sylvari and their starting area was the only one I’d never seen, as I had purposely saved it for live. In the future, I’ll likely start in Queensdale all the time, because while I dislike the look of the human models in GW2 and will likely never roll one, I love their lands with their fat cows and little pink hearts.

Ultimately, I achieved 100% completion in the zone, collecting all the Waypoints, Vistas, Skills Points, Points of Interest, and Hearts in Caledon Forest as well as in The Grove. Since GW2 doesn’t have a real quest log, exploring entire maps will do nicely to satisfy my “checklist syndrome”. The was rewarded some nice loot, including a nice chunk of experience as well as a Black Lion key, allowing me to open my locked Black Lion Chests, which led to more loot and more keys. The result was a pile of gear, tonics, and a whole bunch of boosters like the ones you can buy from the store. Better be careful, Arenanet, I want to spend money on your game, but I see you’re not going to make it easy.

The weekend was not without its hiccups. Though I was mainly unaffected, a chunk of downtime occurred on Saturday morning and server errors abounded. Methinks that a few years ago, the quality of this launch would have been hailed as amazing, but the near-flawless launches of some of the aforementioned MMOs in recent years have no doubt raised the bar. The GW2 launch was no where near the best I’ve experienced, but then I have been through worse, much worse.

My weekend was only marred by a few negatives — there were the little ones, things like a non-functioning trading post, and then there was the HUGE one — the wonky overflow system. An otherwise great concept, ironically it sure made it hard to let you play with your friends. As longtime readers know, my husband and I place a lot of importance into playing together, especially during an MMO launch. Alas, out of the many hours we spent in GW2 this weekend, our characters were only able to spend a small fraction of that time in-game adventuring with each other.

We experienced the worst luck of never being placed in the same overflow instance. Sometimes one of us would also log in first, but enter the main world last. We tried every trick, logging out and logging in together, entering cities and exiting together, partying up and not partying up, but we never did manage to find a consistent way to work around it; there just didn’t seem to be any rhyme or rhythm. What we ended up doing was tackling our personal story quests, entering and leaving those solo instances until we randomly happened to end up together. When that happened, we took care not to zone again, which explains why I’m finished with Caledon Forest but still way behind on my main quest line there.

I expect many of these issues would be ironed out by Arenanet, or even disappear altogether once launch hype winds down and the zone populations start to spread and even out. In any case, I still had a great time playing this weekend and hanging out in guild vent parties. Being part of the greater gaming community while everyone is playing is my favorite part of a new game launch; the company and the fun I had made up for any and all obstacles I encountered.

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.

h1

A Canadian Werewolf In Gilneas

December 9, 2010

There are so many things to do in World of Warcraft right now, but on Tuesday night I decided to plow on ahead with my Worgen priest and finish up the area.

Yes, I'm aware I look completely ridiculous. And no, I don't care.

I’m impressed. I really am. And it’s not just my excitement over a new race and a new zone talking. While the novelty of that is there, I suppose, I’m mostly just amazed by how well the entire Worgen starting experience is put together, like a storybook unfolding in front of your eyes. Compared to it, the Night Elf starting area I did last week on my mage was a snoozefest.

For one, I think Blizzard has certainly raised the bar on their starting zone quests. You see these types of changes applied to other lowbie zones like Darkshore and Westfall as well, but even then you wouldn’t normally hit these areas until you’re about level 10-12 or so. Hence to be experiencing these new quests mechanics — stuff like aerial bombing and vehicular warfare —  as low as a puny level 5 in the Worgen starting area came as a bit of a pleasant surprise. It all felt so grand.

That said, there are still quests there to teach you all the basics (my priest had to use her healing ability this many times on an injured ally and yadda yadda yadda) but for the most part even all the dry tutorial aspects are incorporated into the overarching story. Contrast that to an NPC just telling you to hit that target dummy over there a few times. Most kill quests were also implemented in creative ways (like having to launch yourself onto a ship with a catapult), are so visually compelling (like being thrust into a chaotic warzone), or are just so humorous (like blowing up abominations and splattering their guts) that I’m willing to overlook the otherwise mundane nature of the task.

And here’s where I’m really impressed — that even at a time when everyone and their grandmas are rolling Worgens, not once did I encounter any problems having to do with overcrowding. Some of the measures put in place to accommodate the initial onslaught were pretty obvious — like increased spawn rates — but there were also plenty of the type of quests that didn’t encourage much mob camping — like tasks that involve being able to spawn your own targets, or looting from stationary objects, etc. Phasing probably helped a lot too in separating the influx of players into more manageable-sized groups (though it was also the cause of several hilarious glitches). Subtle factors, but appreciated by me nonetheless.

Now I can’t wait to try out the Goblin area. If the fun factor is anything like the Worgens, I’m sure it’s going to be a blast. Plus I don’t know if I can bring myself to go back to the starting zones of the any of the original races again.

h1

Ahroooooooooooo!!!

December 7, 2010

So last night’s foray into night was successful, and I am now admiring the contents of my Collector’s Edition of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. While I’m excited for this expansion, I think living through the launches for the last two have mellowed me out somewhat over the years. I rushed to complete all my goals when The Burning Crusade came out, and did the same again with Wrath of the Lich King, and where did that leave me? All I got for my troubles was a severe case of burnout.

Well, lesson learned. After coming home last night and installing, the first thing my husband and I did last night was — wait for it — go to sleep. And this morning we were rewarded with a flawless start to our Worgen adventures, clear and smooth sailing from login screen to level 5. As planned, I made a new Worgen Priest. Meet Daeshara:

From proud noble...

...to chained dog.

I have enjoyed everything I’ve seen in this area so far, from the gorgeous new environments to the posh NPC accents. I also love the new story-telling aspect in these new starting zones.

Once you start, I have to admit it does get harder and harder to stop. And it’s even worse when you’re surrounded by the giddiness of so many WoW players in the MMO and blogging community today. You want to slow down and remind yourself that all the new content will still be there tomorrow, but the atmosphere is bloody infectious. For better or worse, I’ve got my husband to help me keep a good pace. Mr. MMOGC doesn’t have all that much time to play, so whenever we start new characters together, longtime readers will remember the dreaded Spousal Leveling Contract.

Besides leveling, however, I even hesitate to do anything that might involve any form of progression in-game, lest I accidentally dishonor the contract and invite spouse aggro of a whole different sort. I found out the hard way just this weekend (it’s a week for all sorts of lessons, apparently) when I didn’t think he would mind if I went off on my main to do some of the new zone quest achievements on my own. I’d only done Westfall, Redridge, and Duskwood but from the earful I got you’d have thought he had just found out about my plans to run off with our life savings to live in some remote villa in Tuscany with my secret twin Antiguan lovers or something.

Anyway, to be fair, ever since I came back to WoW after my break, I’ve always thought of it as “his” game since it’s the only MMO he likes and plays. Sometimes I wonder if I would even bother to maintain a subscription if it wasn’t for my husband. And there is something to be said about the joy of being able to experience new things together for the first time, and share those in-game memories for years to come. And it is very sweet of him that he wants to do everything with me, so for the sake of marital bliss I will strive to resist all cataclysmic temptations.

Heeeey, WATCH THOSE HANDS, old man.

h1

Project WoW Noob: Day 2 – Questing…FINALLY!

December 6, 2010

DAY 2

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

Well, Day 2 started off on a rather inauspicious note:

@jarira: “I’m ready to play now!”
Me: “Sure, go head. I’ll be right there.” *logs in, types /invite Saalua*

Two minutes pass…

WoW: Saalua has declined your group invitation!
Me:
*retypes /invite Saalua*

Another two minutes pass…

WoW: Saalua has declined your group invitation!
Me: WTF? *Sends direct message to Jarira* “What’s wrong, are you not past the loading screen yet?”
@jarira:
OMG some random bitch keeps trying to invite me to their party!
Me:
“Wha-? That’s ME, you fool!”

Clearly, a quick lesson on how to use the social window and to add friends was in order. She’ll have no excuse to forget my name ever again.

Amazingly, we managed to get through the rest of our play session with no major problems. We only had some slight issues with combat, when she kept trying to use her dagger on her enemies — *cue the exasperated groans that only a melee hunter can incite* — but come on now, she’s completely new to this so let’s give her a break. First of all, let’s put ourselves in a new player’s shoes. Jar couldn’t have known right off the bat that her bow would do considerably more damage. In fact, I think most would think, Why else would I be given a knife, if not to stab stuff with it too?

Anyway, when we finally got to questing, Jar was able to pick it up really quickly thanks to the markers and the arrows on the mini map.

Also, never underestimate the value of the quest text. More than a few people I know do not ever bother reading those; if an NPC offered a quest to sell crack to children in the next town and convince the mayor’s daughter to be a prostitute they would never realize it. Even I’ll admit that some of us who have been playing MMOs for years can probably afford to quickly skim some of the dialogue when it’s clear it will be a rather straight forward quest. For the newcomer, however, it is imperative to REALLY read the quest and understand the details fully.

Being in a group with Jar, I realized belatedly that my presence might have made her feel rushed. Some of these post-patch quests were brand new to me too, but they came much more intuitively to me than to her.

Here are some of the newbie’s thoughts on her second day of WoW:

The 2nd time around was way more enjoyable than the first. Once you get the hang of things it’s really fun to collect shit and level up, and get items etc etc but I can see how it would get repetitive after a certain amount of time – so I am intrigued to try the next level of gameplay once I get there.

Yes, I should mention that once we started getting the hang of things, Jar really got going — to the point she was finishing quests before I did! So while the game arguably still falls short of teaching a complete newbie ALL the basics even after the changes, they may have gotten the questing part of it done right. From her statements above, I gather Jar is already eager to see content beyond the starter/tutorial zone. It’s not a cry of “Gawd, I’m so booooored!” by any means, but another part of me wonders if Pete might be on to something after all.

Another insight from our newbie:

I can really see how the game can be addictive – especially from a social aspect.

Interesting. It’s no secret that one of the MMO genre’s biggest appeals is the social factor and community. But for that to be the “addictive” part? Personally, I always thought that it is the combination of in-game progression, competition, and a carrot-on-a-stick loot system that makes WoW and other MMOs like it so addictive, because they appeal to our natural inclinations to give ourselves goals and to achieve them. On the other hand, I guess I can’t say I’m all that surprised, since I myself have been known to log in to a game for no reason other than to see what my friends are up to, or to chat in Vent. I’m also wary of sweeping assumptions, but I do happen to agree with the generalization that most women love the social aspect a game offers.

Speaking of Vent, I also want to add that one of my guildies jumped into our channel to cheer Jar on once she found out what we were doing. I really do have some awesome guildies.

Some closing thoughts from Jar:

Before we played last night I went to get dinner with some friends who are gamers (console mainly, only one of them plays WoW, the RP-PvP dude) and we were discussing WoW and the dark path that it can take people down.

My friend claims that it’s not that time consuming, but he forgot that when he started to play again, he had just been laid off and leveled up to 80 in a short amount of time cause he was at home all day and had no money. He works full time now and only plays casually but I don’t see it as a casual game right off the bat.

And we also discussed the responsibility it comes with because a big part of the game is the social aspect, so it’s not like you’re gaming for one anymore, you have sort of a commitment and responsibility to your guild which is what makes us all very hesitant to go down that WoW path.

Another intriguing statement. I originally started this “project” for fun, but it has given me more food for thought than I expected. I’m curious as to what others have to say about this.

Me, I said, “It really depends.” I don’t know this friend of hers, but I do know some people might find themselves in a hardcore guild that demands you commit to five raid nights a week or else you’re out. Others prefer a more laid back environment and a guild that’s more casual and flexible. Some guild leaders run their guilds like a boot camp. Others cater to a large range of playstyles and allow their members to be as active or non-active as they please.

In the end, however, no one should be able to force you or tell you how to play. No one.

But this also made me realize something. Game mechanics you can review, quests you can research, and class abilities you can master…but perhaps the most difficult thing about getting into an MMO is something you can’t really learn — finding a place for yourself in the game’s community. It can take a while to find the perfect guild to fit your playstyle and schedule, and above all else, your personality. It is especially hard if you don’t know anyone else who plays, and let’s face it, the less said about WoW’s dismal community the better.

I feel fortunate that the guild I’m in is friends-and-family oriented, has a leadership that is so understanding of its members’ real life obligations, and that everyone has a good sense of humor, is mature, friendly and supportive. I hope Jar will feel at home, because once you find your niche in the world and a great bunch of people to play with, it’s the most rewarding experience you can imagine. And for a new player, that can make all the difference.

Note: Go here for Project WoW Noob: Day 1.

h1

Project WoW Noob: Day 1 – Getting Started

December 2, 2010

Boy, I had no idea what I was in for.

First, let me just start by saying that it has been a little more than week since “The Shattering” patch hit World of Warcraft, and while I haven’t personally made a new character to try out the changes yet, I’ve been reading up on a lot of opinions coming out of the blogosphere. What I noticed is that amidst the feedback both positive and negative, the one consensus seems to be that the starting zones are way too easy — the terms “hand-holding” and “on rails” tend to come up a lot.

Love it or hate it, I gotta agree that the new Azeroth was clearly not designed for us. Instead, Blizzard has remade the lower levels of WoW with a wider audience in mind, hoping to make the experience more streamlined and intuitive for newcomers. That said, is it even going to make a difference?

Reading Pete of Dragonchaser’s recent post made me contemplate the “spectacle of the new player experience.” On the whole, I find myself agreeing with one of his many points — that perhaps Blizzard is indeed treading a fine line here by coddling new players and making the early game too easy, and ultimately this will end up hurting player retention numbers instead of helping them. On the other hand, I also think that many of us who have been playing MMOs for a long time forget what it’s truly like to be a newbie. Even I find it hard to recall my first days of WoW sometimes, and that was only a handful of years ago.

This is why I was so excited last week to hear that my best friend will be picking up the game (I guess that Thanksgiving weekend Blizzard sale was just too irresistible to pass up). She’s not a “casual” gamer by any means, as her tastes range from games like Rock Band to the more recent StarCraft II, but never has she taken the plunge into an MMO. So what this means is, not only will she be new to WoW, she will be new to the entire genre period.

I figured, what an opportunity to analyze the new player experience! My interest piqued, I asked if I could do a series of blog posts about her newbie adventures, and fortunately for me she agreed to be my guinea pig and provide me with her thoughts and opinions.

* * *

DAY 1

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

Jar and I have been talking about her getting into WoW for days now. I’d originally wanted to step back and play the “observer” in order to avoid interfering with her new player experience, but when I messaged her the other day asking about what class she planned to to make, and whether she would prefer a DPS, Tank, or Healing role, she wrote back with “WTF, speak English please!”

That was my first clue that maaaybe I would need to get a little involved.

So last night she finally got the client downloaded, installed and ready to go. She direct messaged me asking me which server I was on, so I answered, “Silvermoon. Make your character there, then let me know your name. I’ll come find you then.”

Moments later, I get her reply: “I’m Ilthalaine. I don’t know where I am!”

I quickly do a /who Ilthalaine from my main to try and go rescue her…but there were no results. Boggled, I asked if she was sure she was on Silvermoon. Apparently, she wasn’t. Or maybe she was. I don’t know. Because when everything was finally sorted out and I went to the Night Elf starting area to find her, I saw that the first quest giver where you start the game, his name is Ilthalaine. I guess to be fair, you are like, almost right on top of him when you spawn. I was like, “Um, Jar, did you think the quest giver’s name was your name?” She was like, “Oops, yes!”

Damn, if that’s not a /facepalm moment, I don’t know what is. I’m going to make fun of her forever for that one, but that’s okay, she knows I still love her.

Anyway, I invite her into my guild and taught her the basics of communicating with people in the game. And I mean the real basics. When everyone said hi to her she couldn’t say anything back at first, because she had no idea to type /g to talk in guild, or /p to talk to your party, etc. I think she was a little embarrassed, but my guildies were very welcoming and pitched in with the instructions, and one even admitted to my friend that it took her several days to learn to speak in different channels when she first started the game. That stuff really isn’t as obvious as we think. After that though, Jar was able to figure out a lot on her own, including several emotes.

Later on, we shifted the conversation to our guild vent server, to make things easier. Getting that set up was an ordeal too. In fact, according to Jar, the whole new WoW gamer experience was an ordeal, in her words, “a geek out to the usability/gamer side of my brain.” And guess what? We didn’t even start questing yet. Questing can wait, first we gotta let her get a good feel for the MMO world.

That said, I definitely think we take the new player experience for granted. Even with the new changes, for a total newcomer to the game (e.g. the casual gamer checking out an MMO for the first time) the learning curve is still steeper than we think — which is something I did not initially expect. But between bouts of laughing my ass off at Jar’s noobishness, the memories started coming back; the times when I was the confused nubcake, when I was the one overwhelmed by the shear size of the world, who didn’t know what LFG or WTB or any of the myriad of acronyms meant, who didn’t even know how to switch servers. In order to get the entire WoW experience, there’s just so much for a new player to take in. There’s like even a whole new language to learn.

In fact, now that I think about it, the only way I was able to get into WoW was probably because I had my brother to advise me and answer any noob questions I had. And now the tables have turned and I’m playing the role of the guide, helping someone else take their first steps in Azeroth. Jar even admitted she thinks this would be a lot harder without knowing someone in the game. She had this to add:

On the flip side of having someone take you around WoW you dont really get a chance to relish in your own n00bness to figure it all out – it’s like you’re in MMO bootcamp with people telling you to do things and you have to figure them out right then and there as opposed to being able to just wander around aimlessly if you were playing on your own. Which wouldn’t be as fun. I remember the first time I played I ran around killing stupid creatures for like an hr to level up, which wasn’t very exciting.

She also said something else that made something in my mind click. Before she signed out (and I thought it was funny how she was sooo worried that the game wouldn’t “save” when she left, just like someone used to single-player gaming) she wrote, “Although, I’m enjoying my n00bness in WoW more than the game itself so far.” The enjoyment for her may be in the actual learning, upholding the theory suggested by Raph Koster.

Still, I’m a little relieved she rolled a hunter, a very new-player-friendly class and very fun to play. I think she’ll have a blast with it…if she keeps playing. Hopefully we’ll finish up with WoW Basics: 101 tomorrow and get some questing in, and we’ll see if we can make a MMO gamer out of her yet!

Also, since in all likelihood she will be reading these posts, any advice or suggestions to someone who’s just starting out on MMOs would be deeply appreciated.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,304 other followers