Dinged Up

As my World of WarCraft character — yes, we’re talking about that again — crosses that final threshold of manhood, or in this case Death Knighthood, and enters the domain of level 80, I instantly realize how much I will miss leveling. That bone-wearing, mind dulling experience of traipsing about mythical lands to do the arbitrary bidding of whatever random slob has a problem with the local population of rats, zombies or zombie rats, all for a pittance of gold and merit. Yeah, that thing.

I’m totally going to miss it.

If my character were a song, he’d be “Where Do We Go From Here” from the Buffy Musical, and then he’d probably get beaten up by a fifth grade bully for being a dork. Troubling and incongruous references aside I feel like I have just finished the climb up a surprisingly steep trunk of some grand tree, only to find myself facing an even higher climb among thousands of possible branches, each of which I seem equally unprepared for.

I have the sinking feeling all that leveling was just an extended prologue to whatever the story of my character might be. No, seriously, where do I go from here?

Understand, this is not a crisis of fun, so let me save you the time of suggesting I just quit. For one thing, I do enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from being level 80. I fly the frigid skies of Icecrown atop my epic mount, soaring across peaks and plummeting into valleys ripped asunder by the marching hordes of the Lich King, and sometimes I even make whooshing noises as I careen about. Alone in the skies I can embrace an illusion of superiority.

For another thing, I seem to have had an easier time quitting smoking a decade ago than I do permanently laying World or WarCraft to rest. I mean, for God’s sake, I once deleted alevel 70 hunter and level 60 mage entirely, only to come back 3 months later and rebuild anew. I appear to be completely ensorcelled, so let’s not dally around with this quitting nonsense.

Still, I end my march to 80 with all the burdens of my habitual soloing ways. I am a max-level death night in green armor, which is a lot like saying I plan to attend a black-tie dinner party wearing acid-wash jeans and an I’m With Stupid t-shirt. I am better prepared to fix the Nigerian economy than I am to run a raid like Naxx or Ulduar with the guild.

Not the least of my problems is a language barrier. Despite playing this game for as many years as it has been released, I still find most higher level theorycraft (yes, they have the audacity to make it sound like an academic pursuit) to be filled with the kind of arcane and obscure language one might expect from a middle-renaissance Italian dissertation on the metallurgical mysteries of alchemical processes. People begin discussing DPS charts and dual-spec models, and like you my eyes glaze over.

I couldn’t dedicate that dedication of thought to my college degree and I’m sure as hell not making an exception for a video game.

I like the simple and uncomplicated linear level model. Here is level 10 and in umpteen-thousand arbitrary units I will increment that number to the next ordinal position. I get that!

Call it an old-school throwback to scoring in games, a practice abandoned far too soon, but I gravitate to empirical measures of advancement. After level 80, where the world opens up to endless possibilities I can choose to run instances, engage in player-versus-player conflict, grind out reputation through daily quests, play the auction house, gear up for raids, advance through the Argent Tournament, work toward clearing achievements, and so on and so on and so on — well, how the hell am I supposed to choose?

Really, WoW? Are you telling me that 80 levels were nothing but a glorified tutorial? Really? What kind of grand time-sink purgatory have you opened up for me?

Even now, I see friends far off in the distance frolicking in their Dream-Mail of Many Colours, knocking the old gods from their pedestals and beckoning me like sirens from rocky shoals. Between us a foggy bog, paths twisting like a minotaur’s maze, and I feel vaguely like calling back, “No, I’m good here. Thanks anyway.” What I secretly want is someone to just tell me what to do.

Ok, so you have a Death Knight wearing armor apparently made from industrial strength crete paper, so what you do is … and then there would be an elaborate explanation for the correct path through the tree. Preferably that advancement would involve incremental numbers that I can track obsessively, and maybe some candy.

Instead it’s all about what I want to do. Oh, am I dual wielding or 2-handed? Blood spec, hybrid, unholy? DPS or tank focused? Should probably focus on hit gear, but don’t forget expertise and resilience but only if you can socket in some strength unless you’ve got good crit, and oh what do you mean you haven’t got any of your gear enchanted. *deep breath* Well then, you can either …

Oh honestly, I can get more conclusive answers about issues of divinity than I can about a sound path through post-80 WoW. Can’t someone please just ask me to go kill 10 of something, maybe those shifty eyed demon-mages, I think I heard them say something about your mother. Someone should really kill a bunch of them, and oh look at this, I have a sword!

Days of playtime in, and still I can’t argue when I am exposed for my absolute ignorance. I have made the error of approaching WoW as if it was something to do in my spare time instead of dedicating entire lobes of my brain toward its intense study. I begrudge no one who chooses not this endless cycle of diminishing returns, but I am entrenched now and I know secretly that once I get my bearings I’ll be happily playing a jaunty tune as the Titanic sinks around me.

So let’s see, which of these options have the most numbers that go up…

Comments

There seems to be a small percentage of WoW players that find their joy from leveling and nothing else. Get a player to 80 then start all over again. I believe Leaping holds a world record for most characters to max level. I think he has like 3 level 80 pally's by now. I don't get this mentality but it doesn't matter if it works for me, only that it works for you. One of the things that WoW does so well is appeal to so many different play styles.

Perhaps you should fire up a game of Diablo2 or Titan Quest ...

This article is insta-win for referencing the Buffy musical episode.

Yeah, when I hit 60 (before the expansions) there was nothing for me to look forward to. 40-man raids with all that organization bullsh*t required to actually get anything done? No thanks.

DorkmasterFlek wrote:
This article is insta-win for referencing the Buffy musical episode. :D

Before the last patch I was Going Through the Motions....

One of my dear friends from the now defunct Eldain LoTRO guild had to buy a second account as she had run out of character slots, so that she could continue to level up alts, including alts of the the same class.

I will have to ask her what levels they all are currently, but I know she has several approaching the post Moria cap of 60, and at least 5 more 40 and up. And all of her characters are hobbits.

While she would join us for the occasional raid, and could hold her own quite well, for her the fun was always the journey.

alingis wrote:
DorkmasterFlek wrote:
This article is insta-win for referencing the Buffy musical episode. :D

Before the last patch I was Going Through the Motions....


And for your first Molten Core raid, did you Walk Through the Fire? Sorry, I'll stop this now.

Hm. Maybe WoW isn't for you. Maybe this might be more to your liking.

I normally really like your article's Elysium but the old "I've reached max level in WoW, what do I do now?" article? Maybe it's just a rite of passage that all reporters/authors who play WoW have to write.

On a more positive note, as a level 80 DK I'd be glad to explain and show you the steps you could be taking at 80 to get maximum death knightyness out of your DK. The different talent trees really are quite different and enjoyable to play in their own unique ways.

I normally really like your article's Elysium but the old "I've reached max level in WoW, what do I do now?" article? Maybe it's just a rite of passage that all reporters/authors who play WoW have to write.

Is this something that's common? Honestly, I haven't been paying a lot of attention. I write what I'm doing.

I miss leveling a lot too. I'm looking forward to when I get my main toon stabilized in her raiding so that I can go back and level with my druid. Right now I just don't have time to level & Raid at the same time.

Honestly, I enjoy the theory-crafting, but since I don't have time for a alt right now, I definitely don't have the time needed to specialize in it. I find the game after leveling is more intellectually challenging to me, but no less fun. I like reading the resources put together by other people who devote more time to number crunching that I ever will. I also cheat by asking Reap questions that are usually of the form "X or Y?"

Find a DK or 2, figure out if you share things that you find enjoyable in game and go from there. On the plus side, there really isn't a wrong answer, just one that isn't quite as optimal. Besides fun is fun

Nevermind: problem solved. Peggle and WoW have fused. It was good knowing you all:

http://www.wowinsider.com/2009/04/23...

When WoW was about to be released, I was still mostly ignorant about MMOs and their lingo. I remember people referring to "End-game content" and I thought, "How cool - a MMO with an ending!. I'll be working toward this narrative climax along with people from all over the world."

Ha! I still think that would be a cool idea, and much cooler than the evolution the game has undergone. I guess I'm similar to you - I would probably still be playing the game if they just kept giving me cool new leveling content that wasn't just presented as an entry requirement for the max-level content.

Hell, maybe I'll go resub and start a new character.

Elysium wrote:
Nevermind: problem solved. Peggle and WoW have fused. It was good knowing you all:

http://www.wowinsider.com/2009/04/23...

Dear god. I think that calls for government intervention.

Elysium wrote:
I normally really like your article's Elysium but the old "I've reached max level in WoW, what do I do now?" article? Maybe it's just a rite of passage that all reporters/authors who play WoW have to write.

Is this something that's common? Honestly, I haven't been paying a lot of attention. I write what I'm doing.

Maybe it's just me but I've read dozens of that same article except yours is up to date with including the Argent Tournament, which I do appreciate

I'll ask the dumb, non-World of WarCraft-player question: why not just level up a new character? If it's the leveling you like so much, why bother at all with the post-cap game?

why not just level up a new character?

I had at one point in the article included a section about alts, but it was getting a little long so I cut it. Here's the long and short:

I have

80 DK
71 Paladin
70 Shaman
70 Warlock
62 Hunter
and a few others 50+

I have done plenty of new character creation.

I left WoW after leveling 2 characters to level 60. Yes, way back before any expansions. I found myself with a load of level 20 somethings passing my time away.

So what did I do once I was max level? I closed my account and found something else to play.

Nothing against WoW. I guess it is MMO's in general. I started to feel like I was paying to work...

Happy Gaming!

Liso

First, sir, damn you to hell for mentioning songs from the Buffy musical during a workday. Do you know how hard it is to write with "the Battle's done / and we've kind of won / so let's sound our victory cheeer!" running through your head?

Second: I'd offer the opinion that ultimately what you do in WoW after you hit 80 is indeed 'the point'. Don't view the 1-80 experience as a tutorial, because it's clearly more than that. It's an epic experience at many points along that journey, and when you crest the final rise and look out across Azeroth as a newly minted 80, you can feel really good about yourself. Don't sell yourself short just because you feel like you're coming late to the party or anything like that. Hell, thanks to moving and move-prep right on top of Lich King's launch, my main isn't 80 ... she's 77. I just got cold-weather flying earlier this week. (And man is it sweet to come back to my epic flyer.)

What you do now though, is indeed 'the point'. You've invested all that time, you've invested yourself in the character, and now you can proudly walk across the world with a sense of being pretty awesome. Whatever you choose to do is a reflection of what part of that investment you find important. For a lot of people, the 'next step' is raiding. That's because for them, the investment is in the gear and the companionship they've found in their guild. Getting better gear and having new experiences with their guildies is what the game is now 'about'.

For you, you're looking to do quests and have experiences very similar to what you went through on the way to 80, and I'm happy to point out that there are actually a lot of opportunities to indulge in that! Factions and their associated daily quests are aimed squarely at the kind of experience you want. This way you can set yourself goals like "I'm going to get a cool red drake mount" or "I want to snag that adorable penguin pet from the Kulu'ak", and you only have to run through a few quests every day to get yourself there. This has the additional benefit of allowing you to limit your time in game to manageable level. If you feel like you want to play a lot on a given day then, hell, you can do 25 daily quests per day! There are many factions out there to raise your rep with, so that's a lot of content to work through.

Yes, after a while it might get a little rote, but a lot of the Lich King dailies are head-and-shoulders more fun than what Burning Crusade offered. The Sons of Hodir quests are downright awesome. There's your new 'experience' bar for you.

As another alternative, why not just go play through some of the zones in Lich King you didn't finish? Do you have an epic flyer? What about a mammoth? Running through quests in untouched zones will net you a ton of gold that you can put towards a big purchase someday.

So, you dismissed out of hand Argent Tournament, and I'm a little confused by that. It's aimed squarely at guys like you, man. The Blizz devs have as much as said it's for casual players. It's this awesome jousting event where you can pick a racial city to represent in these grand games.

The best part about all these reps and suchlike is that all of them offer really good gear as their endgame rewards. So if you *do* someday (I know this is crazy talk) ever want to walk into a dungeon, you can equip yourself with blues and even some purples that will stand you in good stead.

Go explore Northrend with your 80 boots on, man. It's a wonderful world out there.

It's a pretty common story. One has three choices at max level: quit playing, play casually (to include semi-frequent raiding, small instancing, group quests, and achievement point accumulation), or go full-bore insane and become obsessed with the smallest minuate of the game. This model is what makes MMO's so insanely successful, the player is able to enage in any style of gameplay chosen for a virtually unlimited duration of time.

While the stereotypical poopsocker is pretty-well represented by the posted picture; MMO's have a much more diverse playerbase than what is commonly thought.

You're an excellent example of the sort of casual player that MMO's, and by extension, GWJ Alliance attracts. You're a seasonal player in that you'll show up when it suites you, you're often quiet in guild chat, reaches max level, and you'll slowly fade away after you hit max level. You're interested in seeing the more difficult content but you are not interested in the time invesment that is required.

As an aside, the guild is still pulling people in who listen to the podcast and then decide that GWJ Alliance is the place for them. I don't listen to the podcast, not because I'm not interested in what you guys have to say, podcasting just ain't my thing. I have no idea how much you discuss the guild, if at all, but it's apparently frequent enough that people continue to ask for a guild invite.

So, thanks for that, jerkface.

EDIT: Regarding Naxx, Blizzard has tuned it to be so easy that you can safely bring your DK in and not worry about your performance at all.

Elysium wrote:
Nevermind: problem solved. Peggle and WoW have fused. It was good knowing you all:

http://www.wowinsider.com/2009/04/23...


You're off the show until you publicly condemn this union as unholy.

So, you dismissed out of hand Argent Tournament,

I didn't mean to. Actually that's what I've been doing.

You're off the show until you publicly condemn this union as unholy.

It's as unholy as my dual-spec DPS Death Knight. It's also my new god, and I will wage an unholy war against heathens. I look forward to returning to the podcast in 2012.

Also, I totally love what an enabler Zonk is. He fills me with hope and the desire to abandon countless real world responsibilties.

Gee, Elysium, if you were going to go South Park on us, you should have used this (Slightly NSFW)

EDIT: Regarding Naxx, Blizzard has tuned it to be so easy that you can safely bring your DK in and not worry about your performance at all.

You know, it's really interesting. I have this very strange relationship with the guild. We ran a couple of instances recently, and I'm sure you noticed that I spent a lot of time feeling like I had to apologize for my lack of knowledge. Even when I see requests in guild chat about some lesser run, I hate to expose my ignorance on the matters (like having to ask where an entrance even is) and so I tend to stay mute.

If I were really honest, I'd point out that much of my soloing days stems from near crippling insecurities. Fortunately, I'm never that honest with myself, so it doesn't come up.

Elysium wrote:
Nevermind: problem solved. Peggle and WoW have fused. It was good knowing you all:

http://www.wowinsider.com/2009/04/23...

It amuses me that firing up WoW to play Peggle will be way less of a hassle than rebooting into Vista.

I never knew what to do at the level cap either. Having been a long time EQ player, though, there was one thing I knew I never wanted to do again: raid with a bunch of other people.

In "classic" WoW, that was kind of an issue, since there wasn't really anything else *to* do.

Honestly, the endgame in WoW is pretty screwed up. I could never stick with it long - I'd just go back and play alts until I got bored enough to cancel my subscription, waiting for the next expansion. I spent the most time on PvP, but the gear imbalance there is especially painful on new players.

From my perspective, it's just best to think of the level cap as the end, not the beginning.

After level 80, where the world opens up to endless possibilities I can choose to run instances, engage in player-versus-player conflict, grind out reputation through daily quests, play the auction house, gear up for raids, advance through the Argent Tournament, work toward clearing achievements, and so on and so on and so on — well, how the hell am I supposed to choose?
Choose? You're supposed to do them all!

You could probably save some grind time if GWJ is willing to carry you through Naxx until you can hold your own; that way, you don't have to grind 5mans for months (just buy a decent set of blues so you're not entirely dead weight). Besides that, you'll just have to figure out what you want from the game.

I have the sinking feeling all that leveling was just an extended prologue to whatever the story of my character might be. No, seriously, where do I go from here?

I hear some people have deleted their characters before. Crazy I know :p

Copingsaw wrote:
There seems to be a small percentage of WoW players that find their joy from leveling and nothing else.

I think there may be more players like this than you think - I've met quite a few in my years in WoW and am one myself.

At first when the cap was 60, I did spend time PvPing in battlegrounds and enjoyed myself for a bit. But I got burnt on doing the same BG's over and over. With TBC I ended up getting three characters to 70, because once I capped out it stopped being fun really quick. Finally with Lich King I only got one character to 80 before I burnt out entirely. Due to preference and my family situation, I never raided in the 4 years I played the game. Just didn't want to commit to locking myself at my PC for 3+ hours at a time and further isolating myself in voicechat - just not fair to my family and honestly not how I like to play anyway, I'm not into gaming commitments - so much so that I rarely even did regular dungeons. Being able to stop playing at a moment's notice is really important to me - as well as playing when I want to and not as a raiding schedule dictates.

Anyway I am three months clean from the game and I really doubt I'll ever return, even though I still feel a void where WoW used to be in my gaming life, I've tried various other MMO's but all feel like pale imitations. I think it's time to go without an MMO at all for a while.

Elysium wrote:
If I were really honest, I'd point out that much of my soloing days stems from near crippling insecurities. Fortunately, I'm never that honest with myself, so it doesn't come up.

Right, but if you've never run the dungeons ... how are you supposed to know how to run the dungeons?

I'm not in the GWJ guild (FOR THE HORDE), but I assume your guildies are a lot like mine: they understand that everybody starts as a newb and aren't going to beat you up about it. As long as you know how to play your class on a basic level you'll be fine with trash. When you get to bosses just say "Hey, I've never run this one before. What should I do?" They'll fill you in and you'll down him like it ain't no thang.

Plus, if you really feel insecure about it, WoWWiki has a strat on every boss outside of Ulduar, and Ulduar strats are available if you browse around.

Dungeon running is awesome, man. I'm just as noobish on this stuff as you are and I embarrass myself on a regular basis just the same.

Elysium wrote:
I have

80 DK
71 Paladin
70 Shaman
70 Warlock
62 Hunter
and a few others 50+

If you've leveled this many characters you're talking about many hundreds of hours played, right? Maybe you've just worn out everything the solo game can give you. Maybe it's time to either get into raiding with the guild or go cold turkey. I've been playing solo a lot and it's often seemed to me that I'm missing something important. So much of the game is based around gear, and the best gear is always based around group play. I've developed a serious love/hate relationship with the game for that reason.