Why I left WoW, and Why I Keep Coming Back

Well, Blizzard made quite a splash at BlizzCon 2011 … again.  They’ve opened up the flood gates of the QQ by going back on saying they would never have the Pandarens be in game–they were just a fun Easter Egg.  A spoof.  But, looks like it’s here, and if my guesses are worth anything, I’m going to utterly postulate a Q2 2012 release.  There’s a lot of rage on the interwebs about WoW, which I mean seriously NEVER happens.  With all the people threatening to leave the game, or leaving the game, or claiming that Blizzard is desperate for subscribers (which, it’s not … ), I started to wonder why exactly I left the game, and what it is that keeps me coming back – because I do.  Every few weeks, I resub, or log back in and try the game again.

I started playing WoW right before the release of Burning Crusade.  I floundered around in game as my lowly rogue, and solo’d content all the way up to mid-40s before failing to be engaged in the game, I wandered off elsewhere.  Fast Forward 6months of basically not playing and I restarted (for reasons beyond me) found a great guild that hooked me for the next several years.  Here was my hook – the people made the game.  In fact, the game actually served as my social life for quite a while, and I was OK with that — I was a pretty transitional period in my life, and that was what I needed.

But then, as all good things must, towards the end of Wrath, my guild started to flounder, and eventually die.  While the guild itself exists, it’s pretty much non-existent in terms of people in it.  The people that drew me to the game wandered away, separated … I still keep in touch with a lot of them outside of WoW, but the game itself lots it’s appeal when the group dispersed.

I’ve found it particularly challenging to re-integrate myself into the game.  I find it pretty inaccessible to me to find a new guild, a new group of people to play the game with.  WoW for me, was never about the mechanics or winning or downing the boss, it was about doing things with friends.  Things that often involved math and pretty pixels. But regardless, it worked – who cares?  I wasn’t the best, we weren’t the best, we didn’t care to be the best.

Despite trying other games, WoW is something special to me.  I started my MMO life in Anarchy Online and loved it–one of my best gaming friends I met in AO, and we still talk at least once a week.  But when I left Anarchy Online, it felt like time to leave.  I didn’t have that with WoW.  Maybe I’m missing closure, or something … I dunno.  Every few weeks I log back in and see if it’s different.  Thus far, it hasn’t been.

I’ve tried to come back to WoW.  I really want to find the “magic” in the game that I had before, but I haven’t been able to.  To be fair, as much as I love MMOs, no MMO has been able to give that to me.  It’s not that I’m trying to find the “perfect fit” like I did the first time, but rather, I don’t find a fit at all.  I’ve joined guilds and would for a while and log in and lurk.  But I never found the drive, I never build any relationships that kept me coming back.

It comes as some what of shock to me to realize that I want a game to have meaningful relationships in it–and that having meaningful relationships over games (or using games as the medium to enable those relationships) is important to me.  Somehow, I feel like I’ve been conditioned that these relationships shouldn’t be important to me — that I shouldn’t strive for them.  But I do.  The relationships I built with people during my time in WoW are important to me.  It’s with some irony that I realize that the lack of relationships is why I left (leave?) WoW, and it’s the relationships that I found that I keep coming back, hoping to find that place again.

Review: Bug Village

It’s ironic that my first game review is only happening because the game is question isn’t even really a game.  I think what bothered me the most is that this advert is just more or less a thinly veiled attempt to weasel you out of your money or make you sign up for services to earn the in-game currency.  This isn’t a game, this is software that’s designed to print money.

The Good: Beautiful graphics, fun music, engage mechanics (for the first twenty minutes or so)
The Bad: The game requires that you continually spend money to continue to progress at anything beyond a snail’s pace; a geriatric snail’s pace.

The game starts out like many other strategy games, with kind of a god-of-the-bugs vibe going on.  It reminded me lightly of Populous.  You start off with a basic tutorial walk you though building houses, piles, and gathering food.  To get more bugs, you must have housing for the bugs.  To get more housing, you must have piles to generate one of the two resources in the game, Acorns.  Acorns are used to build more piles, to get more buildings, to get more ants to work more piles to get more acorns to … I totally forgot why I was doing this again.

As you complete the mini-objectives, you level up, which raises the cap for the total number of builds that you can have.  The real kick of the game though is that there are gold coins which serve partially the same purpose as the Acorns, but also have the added benefit of speeding everything in the game up.  For example, when building a new house, normally it would take an hour to build.  Real time…OR you can pay 1 gold coin and complete it immediately.

The same goes for your piles–which you build as a structure, and then have to put ants to work in to generate more Acorns.  Again, you can speed up both the completion of the building as well as the production of the Acorns by using gold coins (in varying amounts).  The kicker is–there is no in-game way to earn these coins.  You get a certain number when you start, and the only way to earn more is to complete “offers.”  This part reminds me so much of the gimmicky “Complete 5 offers and get a free laptop!” scams, that I was immediately turned off.

However, throughout the tutorial, the game gives you coins to spend to speed up the process, and then refunds them at the end of the tutorial, which is where you have your 20 or so coins upon starting the game.  What this does is shows you how fast the game *could* go with coins, making just letting the time run out when building things seem painfully long.  Thus, making it so that you complete offers or spend real money to buy coins.

You can earn coins by directly buying them through the game and Google Check out (at not that great of a conversion, truth be told) or complete offers in the game to earn coins, such as signing up for Netflix, GameFly, downloading certain games off of the Android Market (note: there was no requirement to actually play the game, just to install it.)  It looks to me like they are basically trying to pad the number of downloads for certain android market games and get referral kick backs for the Netflix and GameFly services.  (I’m purely speculating on this–nothing I’ve said should constitute anything more than pure conjecture on my part.)

In my opinion, the game is downright unplayable without continuously paying.  As you advance in levels and get more advanced buildings, it takes longer to complete the buildings or complete the tasks for getting your resources  from the piles.  Like, 24hrs to 48hrs kinda long.  You can still rush the building or tasks with coins, but the longer the task, the more coins (approx. 1 gold coin per hour, near as I can tell).  So yah, those 20-some aught coins that you start with go fast.  Then, the pace of the game hits the proverbial wall.

I think it wouldn’t be bad if you had a way to earn those coins in game, even at a much slower rate (like 1 coin every 12hrs or some such).  As it stands, you can’t without offloading a ton of money, the game slams into a brick wall and loses its charm pretty quickly.  What could have been a fun, interesting game falls woefully short in GluMobile’s mad-grab for money.