Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just Make it Quick

Max: [Pig Killer's leg been impaled to the door with a spear]
[Max grabbing the door]
Max: Okay, we're going to count to three. One...
[Max rips open the door, freeing Pig Killer's impaled leg]
Pigkiller: [whimpering, in pain] What happened to two...?
--From Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

The irony doesn't exactly escape me.

Rob Pardo announced he was retiring on July 3rd, but I didn't notice it until today, a day after I decided to take a hiatus from WoW.

I'd been on the fence for quite a while, and I very nearly pulled the trigger when Rob's commentary regarding adding women to the development staff exploded onto the scene. Still, I found that WoW's hooks were still very deep inside my psyche and weren't going to be pulled out so easily.

So what did it for me? I grew sick of growing lack of attention to ridding the game of asshats and racists and bots.

You could always find asshats in WoW.  For pete's sake, all you have to do is watch trade chat to discover that. Area-52 (US)'s Horde trade chat was so full of racists and sexist bile that that was the explicit reason behind my telling my kids that they were not allowed to play WoW. Ysera (US)'s Alliance trade chat is better, but not exactly a model of decorum.  By comparison, SWTOR's and AoC's gen chat --particularly so outside of the fleets-- is much cleaner.*

But what I've found is that in the past year, the sheer volume of asshattery has gone up in WoW space.

I used to occasionally see people with guild names** or toon names referencing offensive material, but now it seems that it's okay to have all sorts of offensive toon names out there. I've caught myself reporting close to a third of the toon names in an average Arathi Basin game for obviously racist references, and I've been musing as to the cause with a guildie of mine.

"Maybe they're just not interested in policing people anymore," he suggested.

"I'm wondering if they don't have the staff," I replied. "If you're laying off personnel, low end and easily replaced people are the first to go."

"The L90 boost may have something to do with it too."

I thought about that a moment. "You know, you're right. Starting out at a low level means that a toon name will be seen by a lot of people who will have a chance to alert admins to offensive material. Going straight to L90 and jumping into BGs means they bypass all that filtering."


The incessant botting in battlegrounds hasn't exactly gone away either.

I've complained about it before, but the bots aren't going away. In fact, they seem to be getting worse as the sub numbers have gone down. That could be simple arithmetic --the number of bot accounts remains the same, but due to the decline in subs they comprise a larger percentage of players than before-- but I also think that admins are overworked and too few to maintain a reliable presence in BGs.

And the fact that every time someone has an issue with another person's play the response is to flag the toon as a bot means that admins have to verify all of those "false positives" as well as the legit botters.***


The result is a game that right now isn't a lot of fun to play at the moment.

But what I found unsettling is that while I've felt that way for months, I've continued to subscribe, login, and play anyway.

Last week, after an Arathi Basin game where one player had a boatload of great gear but also had rez sickness****, I finally said out loud "What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I playing something that gets me so frustrated about things that I've no control over?"

So I decided to finally pull those hooks out and end my recurring subscription.


Before anyone asks, no, this isn't the end of PC.

After all, I do still play a lot of other MMOs, and there are MMOs that I'd like to try out again. I have a Fantasy gap in my MMO stable, and while Age of Conan is interesting enough for me to play in bursts, I'd like another game to hang my hat on.  I'd like to try Neverwinter seriously once more, as well as GW2.

And I'm not so foolish as to think that WoW might not lure me back in again, either, because there are way too many cool people I know who still play the game.

But the time has come for a change, and playing WoW for almost five years has been a long time for me. My oldest has gone from elementary school through middle school and is entering her second year of high school, and our youngest will be entering middle school this fall. My oldest will be driving before Christmas. My son set himself a goal to make it to the national finals of the National Geographic Bee (he made it to the state finals this year), and he's got one more shot this year before he loses eligibility. All three kids are geeks and gamers, and they are the next generation who play MMOs and RPGs.

Were it not for me playing WoW, they'd never have picked up LOTRO. Or SWTOR. (Or, um, other games that I've got posts in my head.)

I've got a few weeks before my paid sub runs out, and then the hooks will be gone. Not so fast as what Mad Max did, but quick enough, I suppose.

*No, it ain't perfect, and there are plenty of idiots wherever you go in MMO space, but I don't have to cringe quite so often when I see SWTOR's gen chat.

**A few years ago, right after news of the Tiger Woods sex scandal broke, a guild named "Do It Like Tiger" appeared on A-52. It didn't last long.

***This makes me think that an admin for Xbox Live must be the most thankless task in the world.

****He was a DK and had only 264k health due to the rez sickness. Several people politely asked him to leave, because they pointed out he wasn't going to be any help at all until his rez sickness expired, and his response was "Screw you! I can do whatever the fuck I want to." As you can guess, we lost that BG pretty badly.


  1. If you miss your battleground fix, you can always try lowbie warzones in SWTOR. Alderaan Civil War is basically Battle for Gilneas and... ok, the others are a bit different and all 8v8, but I always thought the general "feel" of them was similar to what I used to like about WoW PvP.

    1. I think taking a step back from PvP would be useful right now in addition to letting WoW go.

      While I know each game has their own unique quirks, WoW's current PvP state isn't really encouraging me to try PvP in other MMOs. Blizzard pushed people into PvP to get the Legendary Cloak, and they pretty much ruined any decent experience for me in Silvershard Mines because of that. It is very hard to get a win when half of your team is in greens and blues, and the other side is comprised primarily of guild groups who go in trying to get a win so their guildie can progress on the legendary questline.

      It's kind of like the old Children's Week achievement, which means that swarms of PvE players enter into BGs hoping to get that achievement for their toon. Only worse, because it goes on throughout the entire expac.

      Of course, the Horde loves it, because they do the guild group thing far more than the Alliance does, and they tend to win the non-raid size random BGs anyway.

  2. Taking time out of Azeroth right now isn't a bad idea. No bugs or design flaws will be fixed before the lead-in Draenor, no new material will be added, and it's summertime. In my guild, hardly anyone is logging in now, apart from for fixed events (raid night, for instance).

    That said, Azuremyst EU may be a backwater, but it doesn't seem to attract the same sort of vileness in trade-chat as you described in Area 52 US. Perhaps a move to a new realm might help.

    Also, I think you're right about Rob Pardo.

    1. We just had Ysera merge with Durotan, and the (relative) peace in Trade Chat has given way to plenty of obnoxiousness. It's not quite as bad as A-52, but it was certainly up there last night.

      As for the guild I'm in, only one other guy logs in regularly. There's one who connects on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but as for the rest, they've all been gone for months or years. A lot of them faded away during Cata, and while there was a brief revival with Mists most have just moved on. There was an en masse checking out of SWTOR when it came out, but Wildstar seemed to hold their interest the most.

  3. I think my time in WoW would have been very short if I'd continued my short PvP career. I was having the time of my life until I happened to glance at chat and see what they were saying to me because I was level 45 instead of 49.

    Kind of odd too as what they really should have been calling me out for was how bad I was, lol.

    I hope you have fun with whatever you decide to play.

    1. I'm glad you tried PvP. I don't play arenas mainly because I know my reaction time (and my equipment) isn't good enough, and all I'd do is embarrass myself. The best time to try PvP is at low levels, when you can excuse getting blasted due to your level disparity. People who bitch about that disparity miss the point in leveling BGs: not everyone wants to play a twink.

      If it weren't for Blizz pushing people into PvP who really don't want to be there, things would be better for the new Mists BGs. But the bot problem isn't going away.

      Yeah, there are asshats who yell 'you're doing it wrong!' in BGs, and they say that about anybody who doesn't do what they want them to do. But at the same time, there are also people who discuss strategy before a BG starts, and once the BG begins, everybody ignores said strategy.

      Which can drive people nuts.

      I've often wondered whether the worst aspects of heroic randoms and LFR have bled into BGs, and have been amplified in that pressure cooker.

    2. Oh, and thanks for the sentiment.

      Who knows, I may come back to WoW, but more warily than before.