It was then, during the server switching, that I noticed it.
Ysera-US had fallen so far in population that it now had the dreaded "New Players" tag on it.
I didn't know that an old server such as Ysera could get the New Players tag, but there it was.
I perused Area 52-US where Q and Neve reside, and it was still going strong. Actually, it was even stronger than before because I noted it was full, something that only rarely happened during Wrath and not at all during Cataclysm. But now that I think about it, that 10:1 Horde bias on A-52 probably explains its activity. If you're tired of fighting unintentional PvP such as in the Timeless Isle, it's easier to simply move to a server where your faction is the majority.
Perhaps this is the true fallout of the decline of WoW's population: the biggest servers get huge and the not quite as big suffer.
I guess it's not too early to consider what class I'll be playing in the next WoW expac. The past few expacs I've played classes that were natural enemies (Warlock and Rogue), the newbie special (Paladin), and the glass cannon (Mage). I'll also freely confess that a small part of the reason why I decided on a Rogue this expac was due to Rogues carving people up left and right in PvP, not guessing that Blizzard was going to nerf Rogues heavily in response for Mists.
Therefore, this next expac I'm going to choose a class that will do the following:
- Not a class I've previously played to max level (or close enough to max level)
- Hold its own in PvP/BGs
- Not be a candidate for major nerfing
- Not require a complete overhaul of my UI
- Be fun to play
As it is, I've been looking into a Druid or Shaman for the next expac, but I'm more than a bit concerned about the UI portion of those classes. I could swing any of my previous classes with one or two UI tweaks (of course, back in Wrath era the Pally Power add-on was absolutely essential to track Blessings), but knowing both classes will require a larger investment in time for the UI doesn't exactly give me the warm fuzzies.
Time to do some research, I suppose.
In spite of my best attempts, when faced with choices in a video game I tend to choose the "good" option. Like how my son explained his decision to abandon his Imperial Agent in SWTOR, I have a hard time doing morally bad things.
So I have an even harder time explaining why I'm playing my Bounty Hunter more balanced between light and dark side than any other toon.
I think some of it was due to the class story on Nar Shadda, where I showed mercy to someone and it turned out that they squealed on me after all.* That surprised me a bit, and probably influenced my decisions from that point onward to not give someone a chance to shoot you in the back later. Were it not for that, I'm almost certain I would have played out the decisions in the immediate post-Nar Shadda questline differently.
And yes, I'm not comfortable making those decisions.
I definitely went dark at the end of Makeb expac (Imperial side), but that was more due to the accumulated dislike of the main antagonist, and his gloating about how we were going to lose in the end anyway. That, however, didn't change the overall outlook of my Sith Sorcerer. She'd survived through the Machiavellian nature of Sith politics and had gone primarily Light Side to do it, so this one turn to the Dark Side after a long period of trending Light wasn't going to have a great impact. But my Bounty Hunter's personality is still forming, and the Nar Shadda incident had a greater influence than I'd like.
Those people who are able to explore the dark side of a game, such as SWTOR or Baldur's Gate, have caught both my appreciation and my curiosity.
To understand where I'm coming from, I'll reach into my gamer past with one of the classic Machiavellian board games, Diplomacy. For those who don't know it, Diplomacy is a game about the great European powers in World War I, but it was really about psychological manipulation. Each player took the role of one of the major powers (Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire), and would each turn move armies and/or fleets into different territories. Movements were submitted secretly and then read out in order and placed on the board. The movements were simple enough, and you couldn't lose an army or navy unless your unit had to retreat and had nowhere to retreat to. The complexity in the game centered around the period before the moves, which is when the players would talk among themselves as to what to do. (Think of the television show Survivor, and you've got the idea.)
I used to play Diplomacy a lot in college. Initially my friends and I would play in face-to-face games that would last hours**, but then when we gained access to the VAX system on campus and it's e-mail, we migrated online. As you can probably guess, a few players were more conniving and bloodthirsty than others, and other players were just very good at manipulating others. What I discovered was that with few exceptions the people who were the best at playing Diplomacy were the people you didn't want to hang around with outside of Diplomacy. Very often, those people who were great at Diplomacy were like that in real life; they couldn't establish boundaries inside and outside the game.
This brings me back to playing a Dark Side/Evil character. For those people who can separate the game playing from real life and can play a Dark Side character, I think it's great. I'm glad you can. But I can't do it, and I wonder about some of the people who do play those Dark Side characters, and whether they're just letting their personal beliefs manifest in game form.
No, I don't mean everybody, and I certainly don't believe there's a ton of really scary people playing some of these MMOs, but there are people who I run into online who set off the "Danger, Will Robinson!" alert in my head. And when some of those people open up their mouths in Gen Chat, well... Let's just say I'm glad they don't live next door to me.
*I'm aware that the story probably adjusted to whether I showed mercy or not by inserting that extra line about "So and so was right after all", but it still doesn't diminish the impact when I heard it.
**Much pizza was consumed during those games, typically the cheapest we could find.