World of Warcraft:
Addictive Gameplay

By Shamus
on Jun 30, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

So now I’ve sunk some real time into WoW. I’ve rolled up a character from almost every race. I’ve played a few of the classes past level 10. I’ve seen most of the early-game content (Alliance-side) and I’ve taken part in both solo and group play. Given the size of this thing, I am still a newbie, but I think I have enough of a handle on the game to start talking about the mechanics and gameplay without flailing about in ignorance.

But even a couple of hours into my first session I could see what imbues the game with its addictive properties. It provides a tremendous number of highly polished activities and goals for the player to pursue.

Exploration

WoW is a rich source of expansive scenery. In the past I’ve praised Oblivion for it’s size, although that game feels like a couple of parking spaces next to the immense gameworld we have in here. The locations are large, beautiful, and varied. Some people fault the game for its chunky, cartoony style but I’d rather have strong art direction than photorealism any day.

What have I been up to in the game? I’ve been roaming through the golden fields of Westfall in late afternoon, hunting down the infamous Defias gang and bringing those sons of bitches to repeated justice. I’ve enjoyed soaring over the mountains at sunset on one of the in-game taxis flying gryphons, rushing through that narrow cleft in the snowy peak to enter the roaring underground city of Ironforge, last remaining stronghold of Dwarven kind. I’ve been prowling along the beaches of Darkshore at night, hunting the scuttling crabs while dodging clusters of Murlocs as they feasted on the carcass of some beached leviathan. I’ve been lost among the towering ancient trees of Teldrassil. I’ve seen the crazy purple crystals and those freaky moths they have around the ruined Exodar. I’ve been diving for treasure, climbing mountains, digging through dungeons, and winding my way through darkened woods.

I’ve been places, is what I’m saying. I’ve seen more spectacle than a dozen other games might offer, and I’ve seen less than a third of the World of Warcraft.


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Combat

Surprisingly, this game is not the click-fest I expected. You don’t just sit there and watch your hero bash on something until it falls over. You’ll have a list of skills and abilities to use in battle, and winning means more than just picking the “best” attack and using it over and over. If you want to get the most out of your character, you have to learn to use it properly. You can go and read all the hints and tips others have written, or you can do what I did, which is try to discover these secrets for yourself. I found it very rewarding to discover some new trick or tactic that would let me bring down larger, more formidable foes, or dispatch more modest ones with greater efficiency. This gameplay gets deeper as you level up and gain new abilities that can be used in new combinations.

An example: The Rogue has combo points that build up on one enemy. The more special attacks you use, the more combo points you’ll get. These points can be unleashed using a variety of special finishing moves. Knowing how long to chain combos and when to cash in on their potential requires getting to know your foe as well as your character.

If you’re not down with the whole hotkey combo business you can have a fine time beating on monsters at your own level, but if you’re in the mood to push you can try new strategies and chains of abilities to see how far you can go. Each class is unique, so if one doesn’t suit you can just try one of the others.

I also like how foes scale above you. I think a newbie with ordinary gear is usually an even match against foes of the same level, while an expert with powerful gear can probably handle foes three levels above him without too much risk. Once in a while I get daring and take a crack at something I shouldn’t. Sometimes I have to run and sometimes I win, but it’s fun no matter how things play out. I wouldn’t want that level of risk imposed on me by the game, but it’s nice that the challenge is there when I’m up for it. The way foes are spread out, it’s pretty easy to pick an area that has the right mix of of risk vs. reward for you.

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Character Building

“Character Building” – which I’m using as a euphemism for leveling here – offers a lot of variety in how you want to develop your skills. Because there are seventy levels, they can afford to hand them out at a brisk pace. (“Brisk pace” being a relative measure, here. Getting to ten takes a couple of hours, but rumor has it that seventy takes months.) It wasn’t until I had a character near level twenty that I began to pay any real attention to the leveling progress meter. There’s just so much else to think about. I found leveling happened more or less as a result of my pursuit of all of my other goals.

The leveling is nice and loose, in that you can fight foes several levels below you and still get some sort of modest XP reward. Also, lower level monsters tend to look the other way when you walk by. Despite doing a lot of exploration-driven backtracking (of my own volition, because I wanted to see the sights) through lower-level areas, I never found myself obliged to hack through worthless foes just to get where I was going.

You get new abilities when you level, and starting at level ten you get talent points to spend that will let you focus your abilities on your particular play style. This stuff comes at a steady pace, so you aren’t making decisions before you know enough to choose wisely.

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Questing

The quests in WoW don’t stray too far from the long-established formulas. Go kill ten of these. Bring me the hides of six of those. Take this item / message to someone else. They’re not exactly breaking new ground, but they’re usually interesting, amusing, or informative. They do an excellent job of giving you motivation and rewards for exploring the map and seeing new things, as opposed to grinding whatever monsters lurk just beyond the edge of town. They also give nice short-term goals so you have something more immediate to shoot for than your next level.

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Professions

You can have two main professions in the game, out of a possible eleven. Understand that for me this choice was painful. I had already chosen one race out of a possible ten, and one character class out of a possible nine. I was already shocked at how immense and varied the game was, and I was only seeing a fraction of it. If I want to try all races, classes, and professions, then Blizzard Entertainment is about to get an awful lot of my money.

The main professions are compelling and fun. Some go together, like skinning and leatherworking, mining and blacksmithing, or herbalism and alchemy. You can pick a pair of professions like this where one supplies the raw materials for the other, or you can just take two gathering professions and sell the raw materials to others. Which brings me to…

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The Auction House

Thank goodness for this. No more idiots standing around populated areas spamming chat with “WTS LS LVL25 15.3DPS PST!!!!” If you want to sell something, take it to the in-game auction house. Wheeling and dealing at the AH is fun and profitable. When a sale goes through the AH mails you the item (or the proceeds) which you can pick up in any major city. You can look at the prices there and get a feel for the actual worth of items, regardless of the price offered by the relentlessly cutthroat NPC vendors.

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Cooking

If you choose to learn to cook, you can turn your kills into food that will confer stat bonuses for a limited time. If you’re out in the wilderness you can build a fire (which itself grants a short-term morale bonus of some sort) and roast up some Spiced Wolf Meat that will give you +2 stamina and +2 spirit for 15 minutes. The more you cook the better your skills get, which lets you learn more complex recipes that will deliver even more significant bonuses.

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First Aid

Not as fun or as meaningful as cooking, but it’s another skill to learn and level if you so choose.

Okay, I haven’t actually done much with this skill except turn linen into bandages, but some people apparently take it further than that.

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Fishing

Learn to fish. The more you do, the better you get, which means you can attempt to fish in more difficult waters, yielding better fish and so on. This combines nicely with the cooking skill.

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I think the addictive nature of the game should be fairly apparent by now. Exploration, combat, character building, questing, auctioning, two professions, fishing, cooking, first aid. Ten basic activities to keep you busy and engaged, so that you’re not doing just one thing for too long. All these various activities combine to make sure that it’s never a good time to stop playing:

You’re killing monsters and cooking their meat. You’re taking their pelts, making those into leather, making that into armor, and then selling the fruits of that labor on the auction house. But during this process you might level up, in which case it’s time to buy some new skills at the trainer and spend some talent points and then head out and see what new quests are available. Those quests send you somewhere new where you find new fishing areas, which lets you try out some new cooking recipe. While you’re building the fire you spot a dungeon, so when you’re done cooking you chomp down some of what you just prepared and head on in. Inside you find a treasure chest with a magic item perfect for the auction house, and that one named monster you were commissioned to slay. Time to head back to town, pick up the quest reward, and then notice you’re just a few kills away from your next level up. You head back out of town…

Cripes. Is it two in the morning already?

And all of this is just the early game content. I haven’t even touched on raiding, earning mounts, PvP, groups, instanced dungeons, guilds, or any of the late game content or social activities. Even at its most primitive this game has more breadth and depth than any other RPG I’ve ever played.

Perhaps later on this game becomes an empty level grind as others have said. But at that point I’ll have gotten more than 40 hours of gameplay out of it and I’ll still have a half-dozen races and classes to try.

Twenty bucks a month? These days we’re paying twice that for a game that offers a dozen hours of gameplay. This game is a bargain.

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  1. Ian says:

    That actually sounds kind fun. I’m actually considering giving WoW a shot now. I’ve always been a fan of crafting and such but I’ve been kinda turned off to MMOs since I saw the confusing EverQuest WTB/WTS lingo in chat.

    The way you describe the auction house sort of reminds me of the market in EVE, which is definitely a Good Thing(TM).

    Can you just download and play WoW after setting up an account?

  2. Drew says:

    As long as you continue to actually pay attention to the content as opposed to just trying to get to 70 and min/max your character, you’re going to love WoW. I think.

    Perhaps the biggest roadblock to this nowadays is the fact that on most mature servers, the overwhelming majority of the population is level 70, and there aren’t too many people around your level when you’re, say, level 35 and looking for a group for some difficult quest or dungeon. That can be a real downer, though you’ve already got a decent social network built up through an established guild, so that should help with that problem. Explore and enjoy. The magic of your first time through the content is hard to match. The FIFTH time you save the Draenei race, well, it loses some luster. At the same time, by that time you’ll have put in weeks if not months of actual in-game time, and really, that’s an awful lot more than you’ll put into your average off-the-shelf game.

    I remember thinking I’d played a ton when I put 100 hours into Final Fantasy 3 (US). 100 hours into WoW, I had barely scratched the surface. That was a hell of a realization for me.

  3. MRL says:

    Darn you, Shamus…I just got OUT of WoW, why are you trying to pull me back in??

  4. It’s interesting to note, Shamus, that despite WoW (along with other MMOs) clearly being a lot harsher when it comes to lack of future replayability when compared with games that just have online activation, you’re more than happy to put up with it in this case.

    WoW won’t be available as a game if Blizzard – and their all-important servers – go under, after all. More than a bit like those games which require online ‘anti-piracy’ activation – although they at least have the (albeit deeply unlikely) possibility of a ‘no activation required’ patch being released to keep the game playable – whereas no Blizzard very much equals no WoW at all.

    And on top of that you don’t pay just once for the game, you pay for it regularly!

    That’s probably the part that saves it, really – it underlines the “you’re just licensing the game temporarily” part. Every game (in the EULA, at least), tells us that we’re just licensing the game – but I know that I’ve never felt that it works like that.

    So is it just a difference in presentation that makes a ‘temporary’ game ok? Because you’re effectively renting WoW anyway, does the concept of your access to it being discontinued entirely just not feel the same as when a ‘normal’ game offers the same threat?

    I’m genuinely curious here, because it feels different to me too (I don’t play WoW, for the record) – maybe it’s just that the temporary nature of WoW is out there for all to see; most players seem to rent it for a time, enjoy it massively, and then move on.

    I suppose when I ‘license’ a standard game, it’s in perpetuity; a subscriber to WoW knows it’s only going to last for a month at a time – but it’s interesting that being more blatant about things, and charging us more in the process, feels nicer than the alternative…

  5. Sarah says:

    “Twenty bucks a month? These days we’re paying twice that for a game that offers a dozen hours of gameplay. This game is a bargain.”

    Thank YOU!

    …I can’t tell people how annoying it is to hear them whine about subscription fees. They do NOT get to tell me playing WoW is a waste of money when they spend three times as much per year on half as many hours of gameplay and enjoyment.

    By the way, spotted you in Deadmines last night, did you make it all the way to Van Cleef?

    A note on First Aid: It’s what you do with cloth if you’re not a tailor and don’t want to sell it. At low levels, using the bandages is fairly uneffective, more like an alternative to eating when you’ve taken damage than anything else. At around 60 I’ve seen people with a high level of First Aid act as the healers for groups, when a healer couldn’t be found.

    Fishing: Is boring.
    And impossible with dialup.
    But, to each their own.

    And maybe for some people it is an empty grind-up. But if you can do all the quests appropriate for your level, even staying as far outside of instances as I had to stay back then, with dialup, and you’re not to 70 by the end of it…there’s seriously something wrong there.

  6. Sarah says:

    Pseudonym:

    It’s an MMORPG. Part of the genre title is “online.”

    You know from the very beginning that the game will need to be online to play. It is the entire POINT that the game be online to play. Furthermore, they aren’t bringing you online specifically to check if you’re a pirate or not. It is so that you can PLAY THE GAME. You can’t play WoW without being in the world…it would defeat the point.

  7. Skip says:

    I had played to 60 before the expansion and gotten really burned out. And I didn’t come back when the expansion shipped.

    But a few months back a group of friends all decided to roll new characters, on horde side (I’d been alliance). We leveled to 20, which can be pretty easily done in 8-12 hours, and then after that we stopped playing them except when we were grouped, once a week. The plan was to stay at the same level and hit all the instanced content along the way that we’d mostly missed in the race to level cap the first time around. I think Dire Maul North was about the only thing we didn’t do.

    Playing once a week, and not outside of that, it took about 7-8 months to go from 20 to 70, and now we’re working our way through all the level 70 dungeons.

    This has been a really enjoyable way to play, and has largely escaped the addictive parts of the game, up until now, because nobody wanted to break up the group by getting ahead. Of course, now, I need a fast level 70 flying mount, so I have to grind cash outside of the group, but that’s different.

  8. Septyn says:

    RE: Fishing

    Fishing blows goats. I have proof.

    The biggest problem I have with fishing is that there’s *zero* benefit to fishing in a higher-level zone. Gaining skill points in fishing is purely a function of your current skill level: The higher it is, the more successful fishing attempts you need to gain a single skill point. There aren’t any “orange” fishing holes to try, where it’s one point for one success, as it is in other skills. To get to 300, you need to spend way too much time clicking that damn bobber, and almost an equal amount to get to 375. Feh.

    That being said, there are some nice cooking recipies that need the high-end fish, which is about the only encouragement I see for busting out that ol’ pole and giving it a swing. YMMV.

    Otherwise, I agree with almost all of your review. It is a massive world, especially when you’re on foot. It gets smaller when you get a mount, and even smaller when you have an epic flying mount, but it’s a pretty impressive collection of triangles no matter how you get around.

  9. Freyr says:

    Dammit, i just had the sudden, and very strong urge, to install WoW and play it. Just glad that it wont run on this Pc of mine here. The Funny Thing is, the Way you describe it, it actually sound like Fun. I played One Character up to level 30+, and after that, I just lost interesst, not enough People that were interessted in Story, too many that just wanted to grind, raid, or whatever it ist, they do for Fun in WoW.

  10. Dev Null says:

    Speaking solely for myself UP, WoW is more acceptable than activation servers because the online aspect is actually part of what I’m paying for. I enjoyed the solo game of WoW the first couple of times through, but the variety that Shamus is talking about meant that I was sucked through it several times in rapid succession, rather than wanting to come back and play something like Baldur’s gate again years later, when the first run through wasn’t so fresh in my mind. I played it again not to see the same thing from a different perspective, but to see something entirely different. So by now I’ve _already_ played the single-player game through 3-4 times, and I’m not sure I’m ever really going to go that route again – its broad, but not that deep. So at this point I’m paying a subscription to a multiplayer game, and without the servers there would be nothing to play anyways.

  11. Shamus says:

    Sarah: I did indeed make it to Van Cleef. That was a pretty interesting experience. (My first instance, first time using meeting stone, first time in a PuG, first real boss fights.)

    I got rubbish for XP, particularly considering the difficulty of the fights. But I still managed a good haul of magic items and some solid weapon upgrades.

  12. Shamus says:

    Addendum: Bind on Pickup items are the work of the devil.

  13. Cybron says:

    Yes, you can do the quests and end up 70. However, far too many of those quests are just grinding to begin with.

  14. Aufero says:

    Very interesting seeing all that from a fresh perspective. I’ve been so involved in the game the last three years, I tend to forget what attracted me to it (and its predecessors) in the first place.

  15. Kevin says:

    I don’t think we’re paying $20 a month. I think we pay fifteen. (Of course my wife handles the bills, so maybe I’m wrong.)

    Anyway, we’ve been playing since WoW first went live and it has yet to become an empty grind yet. She just got her fast flying mount and I’m working towards mine, and we have a great social guild that’s fun to just sit and chat with, as well as go on adventures. Speaking of which Shamus, if you count the dungeons and the expansion you haven’t seen CLOSE to a third of the game yet.

    I’m so happy you’re liking it.

  16. JFargo says:

    It sounds like a lot of fun. I could definitely see myself playing but while I understand that the hours spent playing it make it well worth the $20/month subscription fee, and I would never begrudge anyone else paying it, I just can’t see me spending enough time on the game per month to merit it. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

    Still, I love hearing about it. This is the first really in-depth review that I’ve read, and it sounds fascinating. I look forward to hearing more, though I worry that the game is going to eat into your time too much to keep reviewing all the other games I’m sure you have on your plate!

  17. Drew says:

    Awww, Shamus. I’m sure you’ve realized that without bind on pickup items, the only people running the low-level instances would be people who are grossly overpowered for them, and all of the great loot from them would be readily available in the auction house. That would be an awful downer. If you want that great item from such and such dungeon, it’s up to you to go get it. And I think that’s key to an enjoyable experience.

  18. Cadrys says:

    Unfortunately, Bind on Pickup is the only way to keep the best drops from flooding the AH courtesy of your [insert ethnic here] farmers.

    [One of my favorite WoW videos was the 60 paladin in full epic gear training *every* *single* *respawned* *mob* all the way to VanCleef, then using Consecrate to kill them all.]

  19. bkw says:

    I’ve been playing WoW since it launched. I don’t know how much money I’ve saved, but it’s a lot — and our family pays for four accounts. But: our DVD, CD, and console game purchases have gone through the floor.

    So it evens out, I guess. For a $/hr entertainment expense, it’s unbeatable.

    And as annoying as BoP items are, it does force a character to actually do some work for themselves. Of course I wish I could farm items with my most powerful character (who has amassed more than 2,000 Badges of Justice) to give to my most lowly character … but where’s the fun in that?

  20. Cadamar says:

    Let’s see, I’ve played…
    Star Wars Galaxies
    COH
    EQ2
    COH/COV
    Vangard
    DDO
    WOW

    Of those the ones that I really enjoyed were COH and WOW with WOW by far being the most engaging and balanced of them all.

    Just wait until you get into PVP, Shamus. I started playing WOW on a non-pvp server and recently switched to a pvp one with some of my friends and it makes for a whole different game. Now whenever I am in a contested zone I have to always be on my toes watching out for higher level horde bastards who will ride-by kill you simply because you were on the road. Being a hunter helps a lot because you can track them and see them coming or see them waiting in ambush before they see you. Then, nothing get’s your heart rate up like when you stalk down a player of equal level and go at it.

    PS. Fishing is very valuable if you are a hunter with a pet that eats meat.

  21. Kanthalion says:

    Shamus, you are an evil, evil man. I’ve been clean & sober for nearly a year now and your post really has me jonsing for a WoW fix.

  22. Zukhramm says:

    Unimaginative Pseudonym, it is exatly like that. Because of the subscription and server model, I (and I believe Shamus did say something to the like in some Guild Wars comment) from that start, am agreeing that I am paying for a service, unlike when I, not matter what the EULA says, for other games pay for a product.

    In any case, Shamus is here describing the WoW I wanted to play, but the one that in the end turned out to be something else. What he describes is what I felt early in the game, but later on, it just became boring and felt pointless.

    Shamus, I dislike you being so positive about this, because anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. :)

  23. Psychoceramics says:

    @Septyn:
    True, there’s no benefit in terms of leveling speed by fishing in higher waters, but there’s other benefits to be had. Leveling fishing is a great way to level cooking as well, since nearly fish to be caught can be cooked into something. If you don’t want to use it yourself, you can put it on the AH or vendor it for pure profit.

    It does get very painful to level at higher skill levels though. Something like 13 casts per skill up. It’s best to rack them up when you’re waiting for something to go next to a pool of fishable water.

  24. Nilus says:

    I just can’t interested in this game. I downloaded the demo once and it didn’t pull me in. My other problem is if I play my wife will want to play, so its $40 dollars a month. I wish a MMORPG would come with a family plan.

  25. Aaron Nowack says:

    Yeah, Bind on Pickup is occasionally annoying, but in general the benefits outweigh the problems. BoP items are a reward for doing something. They encourage people to get out there and actually play the game instead of just finding the best gold/hr and doing that over and over.

    It also lets gear… umm… mean something, I guess. It shows that I killed that boss, or completed that quest, or finished that reputation grind, or climbed the ladder in Arena, or what have you. It becomes a workable proxy for player experience (useful when pugging) and a way to show off my accomplishments.

  26. BlckDv says:

    Shamus;

    I’ll echo the several “follow the story” comments. I’ve leveled several toons to 70, both Horde and Alliance side (If you haven’t done it yet, the Blood Elf 10-20 storyline is by far the best starting story in the game).

    My wife also plays, we did not begin play together, I moved my main Horde toons to her server when Burning Crusade came out. After leveling 60-70 with her and her siblings who play, I was able to convince her to start a pair of new toons together that we would only play as a team.

    I was very firm on following the story of each mission, not just tracking the objectives and turning them in… by the time we got to 20, she was blown away with how much backstory and plot there was in the static game, and is now having a lot more fun with thee game, even if we might spend a whole session flying back and forth to deliver letters instead of the tight “only take quests that are local and fast” game play her family had taught her.

    From all I have read on this site… the game for you is the many interwoven epic tales (Fair Warning: Most everyone turns out to not be a totally good guy).

    And as an unrelated aside, I’d love to hear about it if/when you start playing with interface mods. My love for the game nearly doubled once I started using X-perl and other addons.

    Edited Addition: Also, my personal greatest frustration with the game is the inability to “quit” my side. While I grasp the game balance need for me to be Horde or Alliance, I have never played a PC past 50, and few past 40, who would have, given the choice, continued to consider himself part of the Alliance or the Horde. Having to bear their mark fills me with shame.

    -D

  27. yd says:

    Don’t dismiss first-aid. It’s pretty useless at lower levels, but it’s indispensable at higher levels – especially when soloing. It’s a lot easier to level it up as you level, as the materials are dropping at the appropriate levels and you don’t have to farm (or buy) materials.

    Of course, the materials can fetch a pretty penny at the auction house, too…

  28. Solka says:

    Ahhh… World of Warcraft. The part I loved the most was exploration. To go to new frontiers. To seek out new life, and new civilizations. And to boldly go, where no Orc has gone before..

    ..eh? Oh, sorry. Anyway, my most memorable gaming moment was in Ashenvale. The area is about lvl 21-22, but I wanted to visit the damned forest right away, at lvl 18-19. I managed to trek trough it, avoiding the damned Night Elf village that IS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!, fleeing from high level mobs.. I even once used my sole speed potion to run trough a whole clan of [insert strange bear name here] because there where no other way to come back from the western coast village (and still trying to discover new zones).

    Once I got my mount, explorations was WAY easier, but to keep things fun, just never stopped exploring. I had to discover every single point (and flight path) of the freakin’ game.. at level 45. Eastern Plaguelands weren’t easy, trust me guys. Specially the ghost village. A literal ghost village..

    And I never managed to go trough the Furbolg (got it!) cave that lead to the.. err.. snowy plateau?

    The funniest part was trying to have “Azeroth” on my map. The poor little lvl 10 cuties were quite afraid of Ghaurk.. hehe..

  29. Avatar says:

    Leveling speed’s been increased in a recent patch. The amount of experience rewarded for doing quests was given a significant buff from levels 20-60, and the total XP needed to level was reduced by about 20% from 30-60.

    If you’re going all-out and are familiar with all the quest hubs, you can theoretically go from 1-70 in less than 120 hours of “played” time, not counting people who get other characters to help them level. Of course, you’re not going to do it anywhere near that quickly your first time around – that presupposes knowing exactly what you need to do to complete quests, the optimal order to do them in, access to a higher-level character for bigger bags and mount money, etc, etc. Not to mention the virtues of stopping and sniffing the flowers!

    The auction house is nice, but not the best implementation I’ve ever seen. EVE, of course, is a financial system that happens to have a space sim attached. FFXI also had an excellent auction house, which provided more information about the past sales history of individual items. It provided much better stability for commodity prices (WOW’s can vary wildly depending on spot changes in supply and demand), but I don’t think it would cope as well with the plethora of loot that WOW throws at the players.

    The biggest failing with the auction house is that it’s difficult to just browse it, looking for commodities that are currently in short supply. It can tell you that there are fifty-five separate auctions for a single Large Brilliant Shard being run by the same seller, but you can’t just say “okay, what’s the metal market look like today?” and notice that there’s an excess of iron, but a shortage of mithril and a total lack of thorium or truesilver. Thus, it’s hard for the player market to correct – the easiest way is, rather hilariously, to just level up another character with the particular gathering skill you need, and go farm it yourself! ;p

  30. Davesnot says:

    I paid for NWN1 5 years ago.. and there is new stuff for it almost daily.. fishing, first aid, cooking.. it’s in there.

  31. Sarah says:

    Shamus:

    Do not pug anything except deadmines. You will literally kill yourself out of frustration. Other than that, deadmines isn’t really FOR xp. You go in there over and over again until everyone has the shiny new item and armor they want. Blackened Defias sets are very popular.

    Sidenote: invite me next time, I have a Holy Priest about that level. I love to heal.

  32. Duffy says:

    To just answer a couple of those “its just a grind” posts. I’d like to point out that no matter what game you mention, there is probably a 95% chance it is based on grinding in one form or another. RPGs just happen to directly assign values to the grind as a measure of success. Opposed to simply being bodies of your enemies that are no longer in your way in say an FPS title. The goal of a good game should be to some degree disguise the repetitiveness of the game itself.

    I had the grind problem with Diablo 2, I was bored out of my mind with it while my friends thought it was the best thing ever. Yet I’ve been able to play WoW for 4 years running. I recognize the grind, but it rarely bothers me due to the short term goals that the questing and crafting system promote. The social aspect is what keeps me playing the end game raiding as much as the new content. If you just don’t like that RPG style of play, well WoW is not for you, no hard feelings.

    To Pseudonym:
    While you are technically correct, the package is marketed exactly as what it is, an MMORPG that resides on server farms. You play on the servers, not on your machine. You know this going in, the game would not work without this deal between you and Blizzard. The scale is too large. Thus we understand that one day WoW could be gone, but we know that going in since we do not and cannot, run the hardware necessary for this style of game. (And yes there are private servers…that can barely maintain stability with more then a few people logged in, even the best ones I’ve heard of cannot handle more then a hundred people or so.)

    As to the “service” aspect of games like WoW: People love to say that Blizzard is making billions in profit, however thats probably a complete (or at least out of proportion) lie. While server farms are not my expertise, I’m sure they are far from cheap to maintain practically 24/7 for years on end with minimal service interruption. Not to mention paying all those that continually develop content for WoW and the technicians that see to it that all goes smoothly. Oh, and they still need to turn a profit or there’s no point to going through all this work in the first place.

    I think that all justifies the business model behind MMORPGs.

  33. Shamus says:

    I do concede the point that without Bind on Pickup, the world would be flooded with magical crap and would be lot less magical.

    What really bugs me is that I can’t even dis-enchant the items I don’t want. I can ONLY sell them to a vendor. That’s what really bugs me.

    Particularly since it really IS hard to get items to disenchant.

    I guess I would rather you could GIVE the item, but the other person couldn’t USE it. (except to disenchant.) But then you’d have people tricking others into buying their soulbound items.

    Meh. It’s a mess either way. It just stings when one character is unable to obtain magical items and the other has extra to throw away.

  34. Rubes says:

    Damn you, man. Damn you.

    Okay, maybe I’ll just try the demo. But that’s all. Just the demo. Seriously.

  35. The Lone Duck says:

    Have fun! Enjoy yourself, and set some goals. If you want a human mount (horse) or a Dwarfen mount (ram), start doing quests for the humans/dwarves/whatever while you’re a lowbie. On one hand you should horde your money for skills, and those dreaded mount training fees. On the other hand, you should enjoy yourself. If you wanna buy a parrot, or a cool sword, or a new recipe, go ahead. Enjoy the game at your own pace. If the gold spent gives you entertainment, than it’s worthwile.
    My laptop died, that’s why I quit. The reason I haven’t started up again, is that my guild fell apart right around the lappy’s death. It seemed like people weren’t interested in checking out content. I can’t tell you how many dungeons I’ve never seen because people are just interestedin better gear. The game is excellent. The community wasn’t interested in the same gameplay I was.
    Anyway, enjoy. It may be weeks, months, or years, but you too will tire of WoW. Until then, enjoy.
    P.S. you can disenchant BoP items. They may be above your level, that might be the problems. If the item is bound to you, you can disenchant it. Next time you’re in a PUG, and there’s an item no one can use, say you’re an enchanter. They should give you the item, you disenchant it, and then you roll on the shard.

  36. Skelnik says:

    BoP is certainly necessary to keep the economy stable, particularily at higher levels.

    If you do an instance with an enchanter, they can disenchant the unwanted BoP items (typically by rolling Greed when everyone else will either Need or Pass), and then everyone can /roll to see who gets the shards. The shards can be used to get your own equipment enchanted, or otherwise can be sold in the Auction House for more money than a vendor would have paid for the original BoP item.

  37. bkw says:

    The enchanter’s inability to disenchant other people’s gear has long been a sticking point; Blizzard has been pretty adamant about not changing the system.

    But they also used to say that you would never be able to sell enchants on the AH (some nonsense about preserving the ‘face to face’ aspects of the game), but I’ve read that’s changing in the forthcoming expansion.

    So who knows. Perhaps they’ll change their minds about this as well.

  38. Thanakil says:

    Not only do they force you to choose only two professions, but even then you have to choose between two (sometime 3) paths once you reach a certain point to “specialize” into something. Which adds to the pain of not being able to see everything with only one character, but which adds diversity, so that not everyone with the same profession do exactly the same thing at high-level.

    I actually love Fishing, there’s nice thing to do with it. Like a tournament every week or so, which gives a nice hat (I think? Dont remember) or a fishing pole, or some other weird stuff. Like a stone (or necklace? not sure anymore) that transforms you into a fish, letting you swim around easily. It doesnt have MANY practical use (still, a few…) but its simply a funny thing to see/use.
    And Burning Crusade (the expansion) actually rewarded me for having Fishing (in some way) by adding more cool stuff.

    I made a buttload of money once the expansion came, as there was many little crates and stuff floating in the water (damn pollution!) who were filled with materials (for crafting), potions, or simply money.

    And then there was a random “item” that would appear to people (kinda rare), some kind of crab (I don’t remember, it was a long time ago) who would either give you some kind of reward, or a pet, or ATTACK YOU, and some other stuff I don’t remember.

    And THEN, I was able to fish some materials needed for enchanting in the water, making lots of money by reselling it in the AH. Fishing it was easier and faster than killing monster (made of water) to get the same material, as such many people began to learn fishing, but everyone who already HAD fishing (simply for the fun of it) had much of a head-start, which was cool to see. Fishing has quite a few use, it was used to summon a Raid boss pre-expansion too. (a Boss that I actually LOVED)

    Something that could be added to the big List of stuff that make it addictive :
    Pets. It may seems crazy, but some of them are just really really nice to have, some are rare (I could show you one alliance-side that not a lot of people get, but who is actually pretty nice).

    PS : The quests in Burning Crusade are more original in what you gotta do. Not ALL of them are, but overall I had even more fun leveling in BC because of what they would ask us to do. I’m hoping for the next expansion to do the same (which seems to be the case, from what they told the players, it would be sad it they took a step backward, but that seems unlikely by now… I’m usually a pessimist, but by now I know what they can do and believe they can do it just fine.)

  39. Tryss says:

    I used to regularly party with a warlock who also had enchant/disenchant. he’d offer to disenchant for us to boost his skill and give us the materials he got left.

    Somtimes the materials (mats) would fetch a better price on the Auction House than the item itself.

    are you using UI plugins? I recommend auctioneer.

  40. Sarah says:

    Well, I think the idea is that you don’t loot it if it’s Bind on Pickup unless you intend to use it. You can see everything the item has to offer through the tool-tip, so it’s pretty easy to tell if you need it or not.

    Some items are sellable, and some are only earnable. *shrug*

  41. Dev Null : WoW is more acceptable than activation servers because the online aspect is actually part of what I’m paying for […] I’m paying a subscription to a multiplayer game, and without the servers there would be nothing to play anyways

    &

    Sarah :You can’t play WoW without being in the world… it would defeat the point.

    See that is the part that didn’t really cross my mind (highlighting the “I don’t play WoW” thing, I guess) – that it’s not that the servers allow you to play the game; it’s that they make the game what it is.

    That definitely makes a difference.

  42. Huckleberry says:

    Shamus,

    it’s been a loooong while since I’ve last played WoW (had to quit cold turkey, I’m one of the addicted ones) — but as far as I remember, there is a slot in your trade window where you can put items to have them modified without handing them over. iirc — and I might not — you can put a BoP item in this slot and someone else can then disenchant it (with your permission).

    Edit: Seems I’m wrong. Apparently I need to get back and play…

  43. Flamefist says:

    This is exactly what hooked me into WoW in the first place. I kept with it because I had friends playing it already, and found more as I leveled up – so the fact that the game’s content becomes increasingly group-oriented as you progress was an advantage rather than a problem. With so much to do, if you don’t like one aspect… who cares? Plenty else to do! I, for instance, don’t like fishing. So I don’t! Plenty of people willing to sell me furious crawdads to cook up on the auction house.

    A note on First Aid: besides providing a faster way to heal up between kills when you’re out playing solo, this skill really comes into its own in higher level dungeons. Especially in raids. Sometimes, the magic healing has to be reserved for one or two party members. In that case, everybody else better have some heavy-duty bandages in addition to their healing potions.

  44. Dirty Dan says:

    *withholds unhelpful anti-MMO commentary*

    Hey, you know…

    *no, keeps withholding*

  45. tom says:

    Heh, I just had somthing really funny happen to me while playing. I got a quest where the rewards were a sword, a club, or a staff. I decided I wanted the sword so I go off into the quest area and kill a few enemies. The second guy I kill actually drops a sword that is BETTER than the quest reward sword.

    What sucks about this is that I was a hunter, and thus couldn’t use either of the swords.

  46. Danel says:

    I just got into WoW this morning, trying out the free demo. It really is quite addictive. I’ll see if the world of Azeroth sucks me in totally over the next ten days, but from my experience of CoH I know that you can drop and get sucked back into these games really easily. I’ve grown bored with and been drawn back into Paragon City about five or six times now over the course of the last four years.

  47. Katy says:

    I’m between jobs right now, so I enjoy the luxury of lots of free time. I started WoW about 5 weeks ago with a Blood Elf Rogue. I’m now at level 63, soon to be 64. So, if one had four hours to spare every night after work, I’m sure they could get to 70 in two months, perhaps two and a half. This assumes, though, that you also have friends in your guild who will help run you through dungeons, which is a good XP boost in the 20s and 30s – and can give you good loot for the AH or your own use.

    I can’t wait until you try some PvP! You’ll learn about twinks (which suck at lvls 19, 29, and 39) – people who get a character to the top level of their bracket, get the absolute best gear and enchants as they can for that class and level, and then do PvP. At lower levels, twinking makes a big difference and can mean that several twinks on Horde-side will turn an even match into a slaughter. Let us know what you think of the different PvP battlegrounds when you get a chance to play in those.

  48. Phlux says:

    So cooking, fishing and first aid are separate from professions? These are like additional skills that anyone can have? If so I applaud this, especially if it doesn’t take away from skill point earned by leveling (assuming WoW has those, as most RPGs do).

    I always hated the idea that if my character was REALLY good at one or two things, that he had to be absolute rubbish at everything else. Cooking, fishing and first aid are good examples of items that you should be able to get “for free” without worry of limiting your skillpoints elsewhere.

    If I’m way off base then please disregard.

  49. Avatar says:

    One thing about the quests – I find a lot of them to be entertaining, even if most of them boil down to “go here, kill this, get me these”.

    The flavor text does a lot to flesh out the characters of the various races. A lot of it’s just broadly comedic. Good example is the dwarf guarding the pass between Loch Modan and the Searing Gorge… she’s adamant about not letting people through. The quest to get the key for the tunnel is not particularly interesting (kill mob, get drop, go to her, go to IF, go back to her), but if you read it… “There’s no way that horn belonged to Margol the Rager. I’d lodged my axe in it. (True – darn thing broke when you touched it.) And it was eight times bigger!”

    Lots of goblins cheerfully plundering in the name of finance. Lots of gnomes saying stuff along the lines of “how was I supposed to know it would explode?” LOTS of dwarves and alcohol. Even the humans get in on the act – not just Star Trek references, but Pratchett.

    It’s not as funny Horde side – lots of “we are actually deeply spiritual and good people even though we have big ol’ fangs!” Only the Undead really have humor involved, and that’s usually black as midnight. Richard from Looking For Group would (did!) fit right in.

    There’s still a good mixture of humor even in the expansion. Sure, there’s plenty of “we have to fight the advancing demon hordes!”, but there’s also plenty of odd stuff. There’s more than one quest where you have to dig through poop. At one point you are demanded to -bring a shrubbery-. Then when you do, you are demanded to bring more! ;p

  50. sithson says:

    Shamus

    If you were an enchanter, you could disenchant the worthless bop items. In fact, many farmers do just this.

    As to people be-moaning fishing here, let me tell you that fishing in different waters rock. True you dont have to go to x y or z to fish, but at leas tin each different area, you will find different fish to catch, cook, and sell. Many of the fish are needed by other professions, and deviant fish sell for 1 gold each on my server becuase they have a random effect, 5 gold, if you have the recipe that makes it last longer. By the time you get to end game fishing, you are fishing up 20 gold stacks of cresentfish, and electric eels, and furious crawdads, to which, theres a possibility of getting a pet from. Plus its relaxing, i think, sitting ther for ten or twenty mintues (Thats all i can stand usually, theres typicaly so much mor eto do) but if i Want to fish, i can go anywhere.

    Secondly, bandaids are for real pros. If you dont pvp alot, you dont need them, or if you dont raid alot, but if you do, you better have the good stuff. it does mean life and death soemtimes when the priest or healer cant get you, but I really think that they shouldnt be cast over time, instead a hot that you have to appy once and then get back into the action. It would make banaids 500% more useful.

    Anyways, i cant wait to hear more about this game, that I have 4 level 70’s in. The grind is silly stupid easy. I did it two measly hours a day for a total of 11 days total played (it took me a year on my first 70) and then the others took 1/4th of that time, becuase i knew where to go and what to kill, and I was never Powerleveled.

  51. Tuck says:

    You’ll have a list of skills and abilities to use in battle, and winning means more than just picking the “best” attack and using it over and over. If you want to get the most out of your character, you have to learn to use it properly. You can go and read all the hints and tips others have written, or you can do what I did, which is try to discover these secrets for yourself. I found it very rewarding to discover some new trick or tactic that would let me bring down larger, more formidable foes, or dispatch more modest ones with greater efficiency.

    This is exactly the same setup as in Guild Wars and yet you complained about it in GW…

    Or would the above paragraph apply to GW as well if you went back now? :P

  52. Thanakil says:

    @Phlux : Yup, they are separate. They are lesser professions, in a way, but still fun to level up. (and all bring a little something)

    You don’t use skill points, you simply learn the first level of the profession, then you level it up by using it. So if you have mining, you bring it up by actually mining. And by smelting the ore you mined too.

    Then if you got Weaponsmith (to go with mining) you will level up weaponsmith by creating stuff with that skill.

    The higher you go the more recipes you can learn, and at one point you will have to “buy” a higher level of that profession, but it’s only money, no skill points necessary. (the game doesn’t really use skill points, you simply buy skill from a trainer every 2 levels, and use Talent Points to increase/modify your character)

  53. Sheer_FALACY says:

    Cooking, first aid, and fishing are “secondary professions” – they don’t count toward your two maximum professions, but they use the same mechanics as other crafting professions otherwise. Well, fishing doesn’t, but the other two do.

    First aid is an invaluable skill for leveling up if you take damage. Which, as a hunter, you don’t. You’ll need it someday if you ever raid but it’s trivial to level, and other than that it’s not a very hunter-focused skill. Roll a warrior and you’ll see that first aid is wonderful.

    Crafting skills don’t interrupt your leveling at all other than taking time. You gain skills when you level, and have no choice about when you gain those. You also gain a talent point on leveling, which you can put into making you do more damage or gaining a new ability or whatever – there are a lot of choices for talent points. None of them relate to crafting, though.

    And it’s only $15 per month, or less if you commit to staying a longer time.

    And if you’re an enchanter, you can disenchant your BoPs just fine. If you don’t, you don’t really need the stuff from disenchanting – there’s no huge point in working hard to get the materials for an enchant when you’ll replace the item in a few levels anyway, when you won’t even gain skill in enchanting from doing it.

  54. Duffy says:

    @Phlux:

    Actually, I completely overlooked just how well they did the separation of skills compared to other RPGs.

    The way it works in WoW is that every level after lvl 10 you get a talent point (essentially a skill point) that you can place into talents from 1 of 3 trees (think diablo 2) that offer various benefits to a particular style of play. The tiers build upon each other and open up higher and “better” talents. This is also 100% refundable for a fee of gold. (It maxes out at 50g a talent refund and decreases I believe for every month you don’t use the refund. This amount is pretty trivial with the amount of Daily gold farming quests currently in the game.)

    Professions are broken into two groups, professional and everyman skills. Profession levels are based on how often you create items or in the case of fishing how often you successfully fish, the hard caps are level based, if you pick your skills asap you will find that they progress parallel to your normal character progression in terms of whats available in each lvl range’s zone. When you hit the hard cap and you have the appropriate lvl you buy the next “rank” essentially increasing the skills lvl cap.

    The everyman skills you can have all of; they are Cooking, First Aid, and Fishing. The professional skills are limited to two per character at any time, these are the ones that have specializations and can create highly sought after materials, items, or effects. They are herbalism, mining, skinning, enchanting, alchemy, engineering, blacksmithing, jewelcrafting, leatherworking, and tailoring. Professional skills can be dropped and new ones learned, however you lose all progress and ranks of the skill you dropped, so if you switch back you start from scratch.

    In my opinion they handled this pretty well, the only drawback is that certain skills are more lucrative or useful overall. For example, enchanting is always in demand but generally requires a collection of rare drop recipes. Smithing is not as useful as you would think until you can make the BoP (only usable by you) end game weapons and armor which are pretty good until you get into the higher tiers of raiding. As you could guess the gathering professions are the biggest money makers, since materials are pretty much always in demand.

  55. John Fiala says:

    Another neat thing that folks tend not to bring up is that occasionally they’ll have special holiday events, where some interesting new game is released. Right now is some sort of summer fire celebration, and you can get gold and xp by running around and honoring various fires in cities of your faction, or a little more by dishonoring various fires in cities of your opposing faction.

  56. Mr. Son says:

    @Phlux

    Cook/Fish/First aid are “secondary” professions.
    You get two “primary” profession slots, and you have to choose which of the primary professions you want. I *think* that if you end up not liking a profession you choose, you can unlearn it and pick another. But you don’t have to choose between the secondary professions, you can get all of them. All it costs is money for training and in the case of fishing, equipment.

    Edit: Thanakil beat me to it, and better, too. >_< I'm such a slow typer...

  57. Shamus says:

    Tuck: I still don’t know how I’m supposed to know which powers to equip before I leave town. Sometimes fire magic got it done, sometimes it was useless. What do I use – Trial and error? Read a hint guide?

    Going back to town to try something new just doesn’t appeal to me. Nor does having to FIND the spells I need.

    I know some people love it, but I don’t miss the game at all.

    And after the varied scenery of WoW I think I’d rather a punch in the face than another hour of the ashlands.

  58. Mike Lemmer says:

    Shamus, I imagine you’ll bypass most of the “get bored halfway through” problems some of us have. Since you’re leveling up with 3-4 friends, you can actually do instances without resorting to the dreaded Pick-Up Groups. It makes a difference; it’s like going out with your best friends, versus going out with complete strangers (one of which might try to steal your wallet).

    And if you want a measure of how much content there is in the game, my main warrior character has reached 70, completed almost all of the quests, gotten almost all of the best loot & enchantments you can get without raiding, and has been in half the endgame raids.

    Total time played? 120+ days. Even if you drop 40 of those days (pre-Burning Crusade runs that are obsolete now), that’s 2000 hours of playtime on a single character. Maybe 500 hours of that was “meh”, the rest was about as interesting as single-player RPG.

    And yes, you’ll want to level up First Aid; it’s a last-resort ass-saver. If you can get the enemies off you for 6 seconds, you can restore 30% of your HP, a lifesaver when you’re low on health & mana and just can’t get the last mob down fast enough.

    You won’t use it often, but it’s a lifesaver when you do.

  59. HeatherRae says:

    :-D Thank you, Shamus, for putting so perfectly exactly what I have experienced with WoW thusfar. I just got my first character to level 40 this weekend, and now I have a big blue CHICKEN to ride around on!

    (My only beef? I want a horsie. I want a real horsie. Not an undead one. I WANT A LIVE HORSIE. And I do not want to play a Pally or an Alliance goob. :-P But my big blue bird will do for now. hehe)

  60. Alexis says:

    Bargain is bang on. I’m well over 200 days now. 5000 hours.

    You still have 90-95% of the game to see. Levelling slows down significantly after 20 so you go through a lot more zones.

    Fishing skillups were buffed significantly in 2.3 iirc. It’s still a bit painful to grind up, but if you do it while waiting for boats etc it probably isn’t too bad.

    I never hear anyone complain about the grind in Quake or the number of quest types in CS:S.

  61. GAZZA says:

    Just a side point that doesn’t SEEM to have been made yet.

    While WoW doesn’t really do the DRM stuff – for obvious reasons – it certainly used to install some very invasive spyware to make sure you weren’t cheating.

    Now, I trust Blizzard a lot more than I trust any other gaming company – come out, WoW, Diablo and Starcraft? Gotta love those guys – but that sort of privacy invasion was one of several contributing factors that led me to leave a couple of years ago. (The other reason – and to be honest, the more important one – was as several posters have said: it’s the social aspect that keeps people coming back, and apparently I don’t play nicely with others).

  62. Duffy says:

    @Gazza

    You are referring to Warden I believe. Which is still around and while the legality of them is questionable, it is mentioned in the EULA that you agree too. As to how it works, it scans your running processes in RAM and looks for matches against their database of known hacks. It only reports when if finds a hack and even then only the name of it and what account was running on the machine at the time. As far as anyone can determine without working for blizzard it does not save logs of user processes and honestly seems unlikely. That would be a huge database with little worth unless you were specifically monitoring an individual over time.

  63. GAZZA says:

    Oh, I wasn’t questioning whether or not it was legal. I was questioning whether or not I wanted to allow them that sort of access, when I was already considering leaving for other reasons – and my answer was unequivocally “no”.

    As to what it does, and how harmless it is – I haven’t seen the source code, so I have to take Blizzard’s word for it. Like I say – I trust them more than most, but there’s a limit.

    I’m not trying to cast nasty aspersions on Blizzard here, by the way – just pointing out that it seems a tad inconsistent to complain about DRM and yet allow invasive spyware.

  64. NRD80Y says:

    In regards to saving gold for a mount – be aware that the next patch (v2.4.3) is due soon and will allow you to purchase mounts at level 30 (instead of 40) at a cost of around 40g. This will help with your exploration and questing immensely! So start saving Shamus (but I’m sure your server friends will lend you the g)

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