Thursday, July 9, 2015

Always on, I see

The first thing I noticed about logging into WoW after being away for a little over a year was that somebody was always on.

Whether or not people are actually logged into the game, they're never more than a smartphone away.

That was somewhat unnerving, as I first logged in to discover that yes, Azshandra, Tomakan, and Co. were still part of the old Alliance guild. I'd logged in extremely early in the morning as I used to do, not expecting to see anybody online. Well, that wasn't the case as there were a few people who were logged in via smartphone to guild chat.

And I expected to find myself sitting atop Honor Hold in
Hellfire Peninsula when I logged in. Silly me.
Nobody said hi, but I was perfectly fine with that. I hadn't thought ahead of what to say should somebody yell "RED!" or something; after all, I was pretty sure I'd been purged as would have been expected after that length of time of inactivity.

I did some puttering around on old toons**, mainly checking to see what was there and how the toons looked after the "graphical upgrade."

Barkeep, hit me again and put it on the Archaeologist's tab.
I've spent a long day working on portals.
I realize that comparisons between before and after pics happened a year or so ago, but one thing that struck me is not the cleaner lines in the facial features but how similar the toon design was to the original WoW toon design.

If you look at the clothing and cloth armor shown above, they're still stretched across the basic graphical frame. No amount of extra polygons could change that basic design of WoW toons, where the cloth --and to a lesser extent the armor-- are placed on the skin of the frame and not around the frame.

To change that, I think, would require a complete overhaul of the graphical engine, and would likely cause some issues with players on older and slower machines.*


It felt, well, eerie being back.

Have you ever gone away to college --or your family moved away from the neighborhood where you have your earliest memories-- and then you come back to visit later? That feeling of not quite fitting in, but-everything-looks-so-familiar-and-yet-I-hope-nobody-recognizes-me-and-wants-me-to-talk-about-things-I've-not-thought-about-for-years?

Yeah, that feeling.

The one thing that is a truism in MMOs is that you're anonymous. Sure, some asshat might give you some grief for not doing it right***, but nobody is checking you out through your webcam. In theory that affords the squeamish --or the reluctant-- a bit of freedom.

Blizzard did take away the ability to be anonymous to an extent by the friendship listings, and I understand what Kurn was concerned about when she felt she had no control over her ability to "be anonymous" in a Blizzard game. In a very real sense, it pushes you away from playing a Blizzard game when you just want to be alone in a crowd after a long day at work.****

The funny thing is, Warlords is designed for more solo activity than social activity. I didn't even need to purchase the expac to know that; tons of electrons have been spilt opining on the solitary nature of Garrisons. But while you may do your thing inside a Garrison, there's still plenty of social connection possible in a guild (courtesy of Guild Chat and Vent) and via the friends list. It's this weird dichotomy that I can't seem to wrap my head around.

If you want peace and quiet, a Dalaran bank will do nicely.
Tomakan must be some sort of pensioner, waiting for his monthly allowance.

Maybe my big issue is that I'm concerned I'll get sucked back in when I'd decided that I was going to give the game up. After all, that's a (potentially) $180/year commitment, and it's not like Blizz is going to finally fix the holes in the storyline continuum from post-Cata Old World to Outland and onward.

I did see that they created a specific "pre-made" PvP selection, but that doesn't preclude premades from invading casual BG runs. I'm not so foolish as to believe that BGs have suddenly skewed away from Horde dominance, either.

But still....

I spent time reading some quest text. Played around with zapping a few neutral animals in Darnassian Forest.***** I essentially got my feet wet, and memory took over. I stared for about 5 minutes at the keystrokes for my Dwarven Ret Pally on Moonrunner-US, rearranged a few things, and then decided I could brave Alterac Valley. (And, naturally, the wait time was 38 minutes, out of my range.)

What started as a simple matter of logging in, making sure my toons will live another couple of years, and logout, and now I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to end up doing.

*Even with the upgrades that Blizzard did to the game's graphical engine, it still takes much less oomph to run than, say, SWTOR or GW2 does.

**And in the process I actually did miss a "RED!!!" from Ancient. Um, sorry about that, Ancient.

***Or be hit on or something like that. I've thankfully not had to worry about that in MMOs since I dropped WoW, but you never know.

****My current non-online game of choice: Civ IV. No CD or DVD needed, and more importantly, no Steam needed either.

*****For the record: easier to kill than Flesh Raiders on Tython.


  1. I should know when I see a level one serious banking business is afoot!

    1. Ha!

      Not that serious, I'm afraid. Judging by the stuff he had, I haven't been doing much buying or selling in ages, even before the unsubbing.