World of Warcraft

From high above the world, tree tops swaying gently in an afternoon breeze, the world is idyllic, peaceful and inviting. Someday in the not too distant future I will think of this as fly over territory, with its petty problems that will seem relevant for only a short while, a quiet land between coasts, far from well defined territories teeming with evil, corruption and factionalized elements deriving loyalty from repetition. This will become my short term home, and her people will come to me for aid against a growing dark we all sense and share. The warm winds hold a hint of conflict, of battle, of war, and as I drift below the tree line and behind the mask of my avatar I sense the vaporous edges of that conflict wrap me in purpose. To the north, kobolds have taken the mine. To the east, across the thinnest of geographical borders, a softly flowing brook, the Defias Brotherhood have sent their most incompetent and benign followers to hold the crucial ground of a strategic pumpkin patch. As for me, I'm armed with a weapon that may be made of still wet papier-mâché, and dressed essentially in a nightgown. I'm barely equipped to pick flowers, much less collect the bloodied skins of wolves.

I begin the quest anew, Sisyphus at the bottom of the hill.

Platform: PC
Hours Played: 34 Days (816 hours)
Completed: You're joking
Kobolds killed: All of them

I've been here before, of course, solved the problems of the Northshire Valley with a suspicion that even as I turned in my own sack of kobold candles or mangy fur someone else was standing in line right behind me with their own bag full of candles and fur. And, inevitably when I return the same guys are standing around their pumpkin patch looking tough, and the same kobolds are building mostly harmless camps outside their dank cave and contending with a minor infestation of wolves. It's like a small town bar, full of promises that things will be different tomorrow but sporting the same droopy eyed cast of characters days and years later. Nothing changes in this world, only the small-fry adventurers with dreams of epic loot and dragon slaying, and sometimes for the most fleeting of moments it all seems rather silly.

But the powerful lure of diminishing returns, like a growing tolerance to your favorite narcotic, drives me to escalation through the mine, the pumpkin patch, the trials of the Stonefields and Maclures, murlocs and riverpaws. I am on the fertile field of familiar ground, and expedite the process of youth by managing quests properly so that I get maximum rewards from my kills. I tread the Elwyn Forest with confident feet, and venture forth in a matter of a few hours into the barren fields of Westfall.

The world changes in the span of a bridge, from green and verdant to tan and dry, like crossing from Pennsylvania to Nebraska in a half dozen footsteps. Ah, Farmer Fulbrow, has it really been two years now that we've known one another. Two years that poor Blanchy and your cart have been broken down on the side of the road near evil infested farmhouses. One might think that by now you'd have simply walked to Stormwind, after all it only took me three minutes to get here, but you've got issues that need solving and the convenient exclamation point floating over your head attracts me like a frat boy to Adam Sandler movies.

So the slaughter continues, though now, to supplement my violent inclinations, I've begun picking some of the local foliage and selling it at the auction house to the highest bidder. Slightly better weapons, now with at least marginal degrees of danger should one fall on them or jam them in their eye, become available for the right price, and more bumbling Defias Brotherhood flunkies fall to my Sharpened No. 2 Pencil of the Owl. I upgrade my fireball to the kind of magnitude one achieves by putting too much lighter fluid on charcoals, and an otherwise harmless group of gnolls hanging out by a tree burn under my magical fumblings. I cut off their paws and take them to the local garrison for reasons I'm not comfortable explaining.

My powers, such as they are, begin to grow and I specialize in the art of fire. Death does not concern me, largely because I've been to the other side and the great interdimensional leap from the mortal coil turns out to be barely an inconvenience, much less an experience of mortal transcendence. I wonder what local hooligans think after three of them group up to push their daggers through this cloth smock that I call armor only to see me pop from the ground moments later, requiring little more than a short rest under a tree to recover completely.

I exhaust the tasks of Westfall and move on to the Redridge Mountains, an aptly named place of red dirt, occasional ridge-like rock formation, and yet more gnolls whose paws I eye lustfully. Also, the first hint of Orcish infestation. The local magistrate of Lakeshire pleads the case for his lonely village, though I doubt the resolve of his people, because their bridge has been in a state of repair for nearly two years now and I've not once seen someone trying to fix the structure. Everyone just stands around asking passers by to murder the local wildlife or find something they dropped in the lake. Honestly, for people claiming concern about the well being of the Alliance, most of the folks I've met are good only at directing others and standing in place.

Redridge becomes Duskwood, and gnolls become werewolves. Some guy named Stalvan turns out to be pretty evil, which surprises me not at all, and a guy living at a graveyard turns out to have necromantic plans, which surprises me even less. Some other guy named Mor'ladrim wanders past whatever I'm doing on a regular basis just to kill me. I swear that someday, after I've died and resurrected a few dozen more times, putting figures upon which entire religions are founded to shame, I will come back and burn him with my pyromantic proclivities. I am becoming cynical about the jobs with which I am tasked, and perform them mechanically.

Even my primary source of income has divested itself from the practice of killing, and turns instead to the art of grinding up flowers into vials and selling them as useful potions. There is some market for these elixirs, which are basically crushed up bark and flower petals in a jar, and though I want to name the concoction Dr. John's Brambly Vine and Yellow Flower All Purpose Medicinal Liniment, it just shows up as an arcane elixir or mana potion, which is quite the disappointment to my sensibilities.

The medicine show rolls on through the Wetlands and Stranglethorn Vale, and across the ocean into Hordish territories where over-strong guardians of pointless outposts occasionally make me dead for as much as minutes at a time. These inconvenient deaths afford me a strong dislike for my Orcish counterparts and eventually I decide to make my stand in a place called Arathi Basin. Here is war waged between the two factions of the world, as we lay claim to a surprisingly symmetrical crop of land and kill one another over flags while migrant day workers collect food or metal or something to lead us to an arbitrary victory. Eventually the Horde defeats our stalwart attempts to wrest control of the verdant vale, and we are repelled to a nearby town where, were I so inclined, I could immediately fight the battle in its entirety again. Fight enough times and I might even get some equipment for my bloodletting, but the call of the road is demanding.

I am strong now, have ventured into lands blasted by long fought wars, a prehistoric crater with animate flowers and lumbering dinosaurs, woods dripping with the stinking ooze of corruption. I have laid vicious waste to otherwise cuddly bearlike creatures for the approval of the Timbermaw tribe, which appears to measure a persons worth in how many rival teddy-bears they kill. I have scraped bug goo off an underground hive, while giant wasps fluttered murderously nearby. I have waged war against pirates in a hidden cove at the sea's edge, battled the undead through the streets of Andorhal. Eventually I plumb the depths of the Molten Core and defeat a being that rises from the fiery bosom of the Earth.

The world grows old to me, the conflicts too familiar. I have the blood of a thousand species on my burning hands, and the trappings of my very clothes glow with arcane magics that infuse and embrace me. But, at the edge of my consciousness, I am aware of a lost innocence, and a longing grows for the safe harbors of a backwater church dealing with the minor local menace of kobolds to the north and hapless thugs bogarting the pumpkins to the east. What do they know of Gods who would fight mortals in the pit of the earth, or the spreading scourge of Lordaeron, or even the growing army of orcs just over the nearest mountain range? I dream of innocent times where a few silver at the local merchant spelled a poor man's riches, and the world dissolves.

In this dream of innocence and rebirth, a warrior of irrelevant stature and no renown is born. I am again bodiless above the tree tops, the corner of the world stirring below, peaceful and inviting. I settle in behind new eyes and familiar faces welcome me. The smell of pumpkins waft through the warm breeze.

I am Sisyphus at the bottom of the hill.

- Elysium

Comments

Elysium, that is quite likely the best encapsulation of the madness that is World of Warcraft. Well done!

Oh for the love of GOD I am Sisyphusestist too! For some god-only-knows reason I got bored and did a one month subscription (errr.. had been resurrected again) to the steril, static land of World of Warcraft.

After taking 2 hours just to fix my UI.... errr... my bioluminecense HUD like implants for each of my 2 level 60s... errr.. each of my Senior Warlike Killing machines I walked around old familiar stomping grounds with welcome-back pats on the shoulders and jeers of those that remember my tyrany. After about 5 minutes of this I found my local Inn and decided to log out... errr camp... errrr welcome sweet sweet unconscious oblivion. And I have no desire to ever wake up again.

Why 'o Why did I go back!!? I might as well have taken that $14.95 and dipped it in Coconut Oil and left it on the front porch of a homeless shelter.

(and yes, I know I cannot create linguistically beautiful musings like Ely... but hey, I feel better that I spent my $14.95 adding one more post to that ever ellusive personal tag of my choice)

PAR

I restarted WoW for awhile during the summer, and I think my single strongest moment of epiphany was wandering through Stormwind: I suddenly realized that Donna isn't ever going to get her dolly back.

Some other guy named Mor'ladrim wanders past whatever I'm doing on a regular basis just to kill me. I swear that someday, after I've died and resurrected a few dozen more times, putting figures upon which entire religions are founded to shame, I will come back and burn him with my pyromantic proclivities.

Exactly! Oh man, I cannot count the times my guildmates and I gladly signed up to help the mid-20s kill that undead bastard. We know the pain that comes bundled with fighting through Raven Hill. We know it all too well.

"I dream of innocent times where a few silver at the local merchant spelled a poor man's riches, and the world dissolves."

I find those to usually be the most fun times in a MMORPG, when the world is new and the prospect of adventure lies behind every hill and in every dark cave. Every kill is a winfall, and always looking forward to what the next quest will bring.

par wrote:

Why 'o Why did I go back!!? I might as well have taken that $14.95 and dipped it in Coconut Oil and left it on the front porch of a homeless shelter.

Wow, you are the one doing that? Keep it up!

Brilliant, funny, and sad because it is true.

It strongly reminds me of another brilliant article.

You brilliantly captured why I never intend to start playing Wow, ever: because I will get bored as hell yet keep on playing.

I had resisted the pull of MMORPGS ever since I dipped my toes into Evercrack back when dialup was the only option. And yet I managed to get sucked into WoW finally just this past spring. So irresistibly addictive, and though I haven't gotten a character to 60 yet I know the pull all too well to start up something new - wondering how that class or this race plays... that's really what attracted me to this game, the initial 1-20 level advancement where you can play so many different ways depending on your class or race.

Come to think of it, if I'd just played one character instead of screwing around with so many different ones, I'd definitely be level 60 by now.

Maybe, though that's why I haven't gotten bored of it yet, as I can always pick up my Druid or Priest if I get bored playing my Frost Mage. Kinda like I abandoned my poor Hunter, and right after she got a mount too...

Oh, and one last thing...

FOR THE HORDE!!!!

I played ~2.5 days worth of this game. Got some cool stuff, but I quit playing before a month was up. It was good times but I got bored before I had to pay for a month of gaming.

I had 100 combined days played on a hardcore raiding alliance 60 rogue and a hardcore raiding horde 60 warrior. I will never make those mistakes again.

Good article.

...
...
I wanna reroll something now.

I actually cancelled this morning. I typically don't have the time to play it, and I lack the motivation to log in when I do.

Nice article, encapsulating the drawbacks of WoW. My fiancee is playing regularly, but I'm lucky if I log in to check my auctions. I want to at least get to 60, but I'm not that motivated right now.

I started with a 6 month subscription. Then did a 3 month. Then I cancelled and didnt return for 3 months. I've been doing month to month since then. I cancel as soon as I resubscribe, so it automatically cancels my account when the month is up.

That way I can decide after it's cancelled whether to subscribe again, etc.

Usually after it cancels I wait anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks before I subscribe again.

Usually I subscribe only because I have lots of gold worth of materials in my mail that I didn't move out in time. I went through a phase where I was leveling up 2 alts but I stopped that a couple months ago and only go one once or twice a week to play the auction house.

I live for the 5-10 man instances. I plan to get the expansion and once I have exhausted exploring the 5-10 man stuff, I will definately quit. The expansion is the only reason I continue to work on making gold and even considered leveling up alts.

I don't plan to make a character of either of the new races.

If there were new classes, my decision may be different.

My fiancee is into the high end raiding. She has mostly purples. Though I'm in the same guild, I've attended only one raid. I just don't have patience to run a long instance where you need to use teamspeak/Ventrillo to be coordinated enough to take down large creatures, and more likely then not, not get items for your time.

My 60 on that server is a dwarf priest, so finding groups for small runs or pvp isn't usually very hard.

Oh yea, it helps that my best friend and his wife are in the same guild and play often. They play much more than we do actually. But if they aren't raiding, we'll go around and do some fun stuff.

My fiancee's two older brothers also have accounts on our server, Gorefiend. They do not play often (once every 2 months) and are somewhere between lvl 20 and 40.

Hail Sisyphus!

May your blade be sharp and your kills many.

Thanks, Elysium. This brings back fond memories of the game. And even though I have no desire to play any more, I spent almost 9 months enjoying the game. And I had fun until I hit 60 and things got boring. I'd seen it all, explored most everything except the 40-man instances, and didn't have much interest in re-treading my steps.

So like I said, thanks.

/stands up, Kirk Douglas style.

I AM SISYPHUS!

Second time quitter here, 1800-2000 hours invested. God that's a lot of time! I think your comment Kobalds Killed: All of Them completely hits home with me. No matter what you do, within 5-20 seconds the world just simply refreshes, and while WoW maintains the illusion for a while, it's becomes less of an adventure and more of a monster slot machine simulator. Pull the handle and wait for the random treat.

I mean, it took a while to kind of start seeing the 1's and 0
s like Neo, but it just seems more and more like an impersonal experience. Your adventures are not unique, and while you get to choose which ones to engage, your traveller's journal is almost identical to every other inhabitant in this world.

I'm at the crossroads of wanting to start again in January with BC, but I just don't want to invest near the amount of time I have before. In a perfect world I'd be happy playing this game 6-10 hours a week tops, but I know that would take a lot of self control, knowing that your peers are powering through the new content leaving your 'noob ass in the dust. I think that's one of the biggest problems too is that even when you think you're done playing for the night, there's always one more thing to take care of, whether it's checking your auctions, crafting a material, etc.

Great article, brought back lots of memories

I totally agree with this analysis, but still find myself coming back from time to time. It's taken me 2 years to get to 60, with 15 days of playing time, but i've cancelled the account a few times and only come back when i've felt interested. Sure, it's one gigantic Skinner Box, but then aren't all video games, just to different ends? In WoW, you get a shiny Purple Helmet. In Guitar Hero, you unlock the next song. The mechanics of the play are the means to the end, and if its a bore fest, you'll give in sooner rather than later.

Like everything in life, it's better in moderation:)

/NO, I AM SISYPHUS!

Bear in mind, Johnny, that I'm still an active and happy player of the game. I think people are reading a lot more negativity than is meant, bringing their own take on the game to interpretation, which is how it works. I wrote this with a much lighter heart than I think is necessarily getting through.

It's a great effect, taking away the technical aspects and just telling it like a story. Nice piece.

Toward the end of my time in Azeroth I would take long walks and find out-of-the-way fishing spots and just listen to the ambient noise and sort of bliss out. I took to wearing nothing but leather pants and a fancy silk shirt and giving away mooncloth bags to strangers in Ironforge. My 60 druid would show up at the Deadmines and offer to help low level groups only to find that his healing spells were too powerful and he ended up doing more harm than good. He was a stranger in his own land. The sad thing is, everywhere you go in the world you're always just "passing through." On to something else, or even if you wanted to stay, you would never really be home. The cities are way stations, planning areas or bus terminals. A hearthstone does not make a home. And try as hard as I could, I never felt like more than just a stranger in the company of other strangers.

Edit: Just to clarify, since my post falls right after yours, Elysium. I only write about ending the game because your piece brought back some nostalgia and it's nice to reflect on a game once it's over. (Your piece seems to be a rorschach test). Too often it's just "on to the next best thing" with no time for closure. Closure is a strong word, but when you put 32 days of your life into a game and you make and break dozens of friendships while doing it, it does rise to that level of relevance.

I was more responding to the responders, Elysium. I love the tone that you created, didn't think it was negative at all.

I wholeheartedly disagree with Swat that your adventures are not unique. The goals, end result and rewards might be the same but each battle is an individual story. Some stories are short and uneventful. A select few are randomly thrilling and heart warmingly triumphant or hilariously catastrophic.

http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/2...

Sorry for the SSP...

Elysium wrote:

Bear in mind, Johnny, that I'm still an active and happy player of the game. I think people are reading a lot more negativity than is meant, bringing their own take on the game to interpretation, which is how it works. I wrote this with a much lighter heart than I think is necessarily getting through.

I try not to sound negative when posting about WoW but I'm sure it comes through. I remember feeling a lot different about the game before I hit the first 1,000 hours (more like the fondness you hinted at in your piece), so I know where you're coming from.

I think if anything, some of my negativity probably stems from the fact that I'll never have that feeling back again of stepping foot into Azeroth. Like a junky taking his first hit, or a teenager grabbing his first breast (well, that's still awesome!) the first several months I played WoW I was floored at how amazing it was, and wondered why I hadn't discovered it sooner. The last few months I played WoW, it was more of a chore because of the 'been there, done it' feel, and because a good portion of the population is entirely jaded and completely obsessed with the next shiny, instead of the next adventure.

Oh, to get back that feeling the first time my blue-haired Hunter stepped out of the play-pen, and into the eerily beautiful Darnassus. And the first time hitting the shores of Darkshore, which felt a lot more dangerous than ..

Swat wrote:

... I'll never have that feeling back again of stepping foot into Azeroth. Like a junky taking his first hit, or a teenager grabbing his first breast (well, that's still awesome!) the first several months I played WoW I was floored at how amazing it was, and wondered why I hadn't discovered it sooner. The last few months I played WoW, it was more of a chore because of the 'been there, done it' feel, and because a good portion of the population is entirely jaded and completely obsessed with the next shiny, instead of the next adventure.

Oh, to get back that feeling the first time my blue-haired Hunter stepped out of the play-pen, and into the eerily beautiful Darnassus. And the first time hitting the shores of Darkshore, which felt a lot more dangerous than ..

I disagree with you here, Swat. You'll get that same feeling the next time you peel the shrinkwrap from the next big thing, and the only thing that will prevent it is if you give up on gaming entirely.

Make no mistake, folks- WoW will not abide forever. It will be supplanted by something even niftier and shinier and more immersive, more addictive and more prettier. That game may not exist today, or tomorrow, but I guaran-damn-tee you that it'll come.

(And by the way... Blackhand Alliance is a little empty without Nephalim and Tzigane around. Come back anytime. )

Jeb wrote:
Swat wrote:

... I'll never have that feeling back again of stepping foot into Azeroth. Like a junky taking his first hit, or a teenager grabbing his first breast (well, that's still awesome!) the first several months I played WoW I was floored at how amazing it was, and wondered why I hadn't discovered it sooner. The last few months I played WoW, it was more of a chore because of the 'been there, done it' feel, and because a good portion of the population is entirely jaded and completely obsessed with the next shiny, instead of the next adventure.

Oh, to get back that feeling the first time my blue-haired Hunter stepped out of the play-pen, and into the eerily beautiful Darnassus. And the first time hitting the shores of Darkshore, which felt a lot more dangerous than ..

I disagree with you here, Swat. You'll get that same feeling the next time you peel the shrinkwrap from the next big thing, and the only thing that will prevent it is if you give up on gaming entirely.

Make no mistake, folks- WoW will not abide forever. It will be supplanted by something even niftier and shinier and more immersive, more addictive and more prettier. That game may not exist today, or tomorrow, but I guaran-damn-tee you that it'll come.

(And by the way... Blackhand Alliance is a little empty without Nephalim and Tzigane around. Come back anytime. )

It's a different feeling though. I've been playing tons of games since I was a wee lad, and this was my first MMO. I had never experienced, and still have not experienced the kind of fantasy world WoW had to offer. I spent a couple years peeling off layers from the onion, to the point where the exploration was gone (my biggest appeal) and quests were spoken of in a mechanical way.

"I need 10 more furblogs"
"I need 8, that's cool"
"How many left"
"Ok we have to get some goretusk livers"
"Man this drop rate sucks"
"Where does that Rich Thorium spawn here"
"God, I can't wait till these repop, I have to hearth back"
"The Baron has a 0.04% chance of dropping his mount, lets try again"

So the veil was lifted and it became less about the exploration, and more about the business. Of course you have those random social encounters that make the whole MMO thing more interesting (like a Conga line through Orgrimmar!), but typically the places where people congregated turned into either a Tier-3 fashion show (Blue Steel pose!) or a duel-fest (Duel me. Noob)

Even though they have the packaging, I'm not sure I really consider MMO's to be games in the traditional sense. They are more like an alternate life you lead on another planet. Now that entirely depends on how much time you spend playing of course, but you have so much vested in your character, you associate with it with much more intensity than you would say, Hitman or Marcus from Gears of War And really, this planet seemed a lot better before WoW hit mass-culture and a lot of kids started making Chuck Norris references 24/7 in general chat.

I don't know about the shrinkwrap thing - I've bought a ton of other games since WoW. Not one I've opened has even come close to that first feeling. Sure, there have been some excellent games, but none have been up to par with WoW. I guess once you've experienced it, you're spoiled I'd literally be holding the game of the year in my hands, open it up, and toss it aside to check my auctions.

These are just my experiences, coming from a gamer first, and a WoW player second. I'm not about to condemn the game or badmouth it, and I know a lot of people might disagree with my views on the game, but I feel I've earned my badge of honor to speak freely about this after grinding through 4 level 60's and a dozen alts

I think the most interesting thing to see about this game is how passionate the discussion (whether good or bad) becomes whenever it's mentioned. I think that says a lot about the type of game it is, and how much vested interest people have in it to begin with.

I still think it's one of the best games ever made and you'll never be bored when you have it around,

Swat wrote:

I still think it's one of the best games ever made and you'll never be bored when you have it around,

My posture while playing WoW must politely disagree with that last part of your sentence.

The only MMO that can dethrone WoW for me is WoS (World of Starcraft). I just don't see how another developer can make such a fun, artistic, and fulfilling game anytime soon. I compare everything to WoW and I always will, it set the benchmark for my play style.

Sadly, WoW got me in trouble with the wife, WoS will lead to my divorce I fear.

I am kind of excited about Warhammer MMORPG because among several other never-before-seen elements, the enemies in the game actually SCALE IN SIZE according to their level. That feature alone can sell me on the game.