Video Game Thoughts: World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is a 2004 massively multiplayer online role-playing game by Blizzard Entertainment for the PC. I wasn’t into World of Warcraft when it first came out. I definitely heard all the hoopla, but I wasn’t ready to pay a subscription. I couldn’t imagine any game being good enough to part with money every month just to play it. At the time there were several free massively multiplayer online games that kept me busy enough. Back then the free ones were all made by Asian companies in countries like Malaysia and Korea. They were usually fun early on until the grind set in. I assumed World of Warcraft also had that grind.

In 2007, some co-workers at a part-time job convinced me to try World of Warcraft. The game was one of the few that still ran on my old gaming computer. I got the game as a Christmas present from my parents. I was so excited to play, I ended up cheating by downloading the game and starting the free trial a few days before Christmas. I was blown away with how large and seamless the world was. Every other game I played that was this size had loading screens all over the place. I could explore all these locations I knew from the previous Warcraft games up close, in full size. I wanted to get a character of every class to the maximum level with the best items. The game was too good though.

The part-time job already commanded a lot of my free time outside of college. When faced with cutting the game or my studies, I chose wrongly to neglect my studies. This basically meant I mostly ignored one class throughout the semester. I knew my grade was going to be bad, but I didn’t think it would be as low as an F. I got a warning in the mail that another F would cancel my financial aid. That’s when my parents found out about it. They wanted me to quit the job to focus on my studies. I obeyed and continued playing World of Warcraft during the summer. However, towards the end when school was starting again, I quit World of Warcraft too. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my degree.

My break from World of Warcraft didn’t last long though. Only a couple months later, I was playing it again. This time was different though. Maybe the F scared me, but I never let the game get in the way of my studies again. The game didn’t have the same pull as before. I was able to stop playing as needed to get my projects done and study for exams. This was the beginning of the longest stretch I was subscribed to the game. Outside of school, World of Warcraft was my daily home. I played continuously like this until early 2009. That’s when my interest started to wane.

I would subscribe for six months, get bored and take a break for six months, then come back for another six months. Later, it became six months of playing and nine months of breaking. Eventually, it got down to one month every so often. Finally, I quit for good. I have nothing bad to say about World of Warcraft. I consider it the perfect massively multiplayer online role-playing game. I did have some complaints through the years, but by Mists of Pandaria (see below), Blizzard had fixed everything I didn’t like. There’s nothing wrong with the game; it just doesn’t fit into my life now.

The Burning Crusade expansion

This expansion came out just a few months after I started playing the base game. I was still leveling my first character to the previous maximum level (before the expansion) when The Burning Crusade was released. I just continued straight on to the new level cap. Right away I realized that raiding was not for me. Even with neglecting my studies during the early part of this expansion, I didn’t have the time for raiding. Staying up until two, three, or four in the morning to get the best items was too obsessive, even when my interest in the game was at its peak. I settled into a nice casual guild and stuck to random battlegrounds and heroic dungeons.

Wrath of the Lich King expansion

Wrath of the Lich King was my favorite expansion. The guild was doing great. We had a lot of active members. We all helped each other out. I also loved how this expansion went the more serious route. The Burning Crusade had a sci-fi vibe that didn’t mesh all that well with the base game. Outland was an interesting place to be, but I preferred the more realistic Northrend lands in Wrath. I really bent over backwards to help out the guild. Unfortunately, it fell apart soon after. As happens a lot in these online guilds, the leader had relationship problems in real life that pulled him away. The guild was neglected. After taking a break, I came back to find an empty guild. This was the beginning of the end of my World of Warcraft “career.”

Cataclysm expansion

Leading up to Cataclysm, I remember not being very interested. It just didn’t seem to be doing enough to be worth the price. In particular, the developers’ cancellation of one of the big features hurt my interest. I planned to be done with World of Warcraft for good. That didn’t happen. A relative happened to move into the area for college. He was a dedicated player. Talking to him about the game in the months leading up to the expansion got me to remember all my fun times in the game. I bought Cataclysm a month before launch with a six month subscription. I should have followed my initial plans. While I loved the revamp of the low level areas, the game felt like of the same old thing. Not finding a nice casual guild was a big part of it though.

I took a long break planning to be gone for good, but then Blizzard made a very nice deal. They basically offered a full game of Diablo III for free in exchange for a year subscription. I was back. The developers didn’t release much content after that though. I was mostly playing old content that had released during my break. In the end it was also bad a decision to come back. I would have saved money just buying Diablo III for full price at $60 instead of a year’s subscription of $13 per month ($156). It was fun to fully finish up Cataclysm — I had left pretty early on — but I mostly did it for the free game.

Mists of Pandaria expansion

Like the Cataclysm expansion, I didn’t plan on buying Mists of Pandaria. However, Blizzard Entertainment added a nice feature to all their newer games that let players chat with their friends in other games. Many times I would log in to play Diablo III and see old friends playing World of Warcraft. Sometimes they even asked me when I was coming back. That was too hard to resist eventually. I bought the expansion during a sale and subscribed for three months. I took a break as usual for six months but planned to come back. Maybe it was a good thing when I came back and all my friends were gone. It was not fun by myself. After only a month, I finally quit World of Warcraft for good. It was made easier by the fact that my goals didn’t have a place for World of Warcraft.

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