The Original World of Warcraft (or Why I Hate Battle.net)

wow[World of Warcraft] Last week, my friend who is cursed with a crappy computer got a gift certificate to Fry’s Electronics. Not being able to buy anything useful with the $40 certificate and having a computer not able to handle any newer games, my friend went with an old favorite: Warcraft 3. He got the battlechest which includes both the original and the expansion.

I remember when the game first came out. My friends and I were in the awkward stage where we were just starting college and desperately needed ways to blow off stress on weekends, but too young to go to bars or clubs. We made a local cyber cafe our hangout of choice and we played a lot of CounterStrike and Warcraft 3 (later tower defense). I look back at those times with found memories because after that everyone kind of went their seperate ways. Well, this past week, it was just like old times again as my friend called everyone up and we played some Warcraft 3.

It was actually a very interesting experience after spending the last year playing World of Warcraft. I never realized how much lore World of Warcraft drew from Warcraft 3. A lot of characters, items, spells, and buildings that I thought were created for World of Warcraft came from Warcraft 3. For example, I didn’t realize that those giants bats you ride around on from World of Warcraft were actually a Horde air unit in Warcraft 3; I always assumed they just needed an equivalent for the gryphons the Alliance rode around on and bats looked cool. For a RTS, Warcarft 3 was much deeper and had a richer backstory than I gave it credit for when first released. Even the load screens for Warcraft 3 contained maps of places never visited in the game, but are accessible in World of Warcraft. The upcoming Burning Crusade should bring even more of the RTS Warcraft games into the MMO world. Blood elves, who fought for humans in Warcraft 3, will join the Horde and perhaps NPC Burning Legion enemies will look like and have abilities that the Undead had in Warcraft 3. The Undead are probably the most different from Warcraft 3 to WoW as that the WoW Undead are a faction that broke away with the Arthas led Undead of Warcraft 3.

The trip down memory lane also reminded me of some of the things I hated about Warcraft 3. Most prominently was Battle.net. People who know me in real life know that I am a calm person who pretty much avoids conflict. I am the same way in World of Warcraft. Occasionally I’ll run across some jerks who think they are MMO gods and want my priest to heal them when they’re at 90% health. I’ve largely avoided these people ever since I stopped doing pick-up groups. Even when I did run into these people, it was easy to leave and I never ran into anything that I felt went beyond whining and name calling. I’ve been fortunate to never have been ninja looted on *knock on wood*. For the most part, if I joined someone elses group everyone will stand up for the guy since they know each other and instead of arguing with them I just leave. On many occasions I’ve had private messages from others in the groups apologizing for their friend’s behavior. If it is a random group where neither of us know each other, people usually back me up. Sometimes because I am right, but mostly because they don’t want to lose their healer.

In my year of play there have only been 2 occasions where I actually did something besides leaving. Once I reported someone to a GM for using a racial slur. It didn’t apply to me and wasn’t really directed at me, but the guy was such a jerk I guess I kind used it as an excuse to nail him. The other time I had a disagreement with a guy that bought an enchantment from me and then didn’t like that his weapons now had different color glows. I offered to give him his original enchantment back (it was low level and I had plenty of materials), but warned him the one he bought from me was much more valueable. He said it was fine, he was more into the way his character looked. After completing the second enchantment he said he though I was giving him a higher level enchantment with the same color glow, not the same enchantment he had originally and he demanded his money back. Little did he know that I had been chatting with one of this guild leaders who I had grouped with a lot during the early days of the game. His guild ended up settling the matter for me :)

So in World of Warcraft I could deal with negative players by either ignoring them, leaving the group, contacting a GM, or contacting their guild. I’m not a whiner (believe me, there are people out there who report every little thing), but I’ve been playing mostly MMOs for the past year. I was addicted to WoW for about half a year, played some City of Heroes, Matrix, and Guild Wars the rest of the time. In this time I bought 2 non MMO games (Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines [which should have been a MMO] and The Punisher) both really fun and both put on hold after a few hours to concentrate on WoW. I also occasionally played the PS2. I guess in the time playing solo games and moderated MMOs, I forgot how generally moronic humanity can be at times. In the past week during which I reinstalled Warcraft 3 and started playing again, I’ve probably cursed out 5 people on Battle.net. I’ve been called a homosexual, a vagina, and a leaker, not in those words (except for the leaker) by people who expect you to know how to play a map your first time through and belive being new at a map (or n00b) is somehow connected to how slutty one’s mother is. Sorry I don’t have the time to drill each map a few times before I play. I even had someone complain because I didn’t know how to play a custom tower defense game where the tooltips were in Chinese. Also there are the people that have to direct verbal abuse at those who download custom maps before a game. How are we expected to have every map when people will change on subtle thing and release it as a new map? In truth there’s maybe 1 Defense of the Ancients and 4 tower defense maps out there. The rest are all just versions of the originals except someone went back and named the characters after Harry Potter or anime characters. Hermione tower for the win!

And you know what the worst part is? Sinking to their level. I tried to ignore them the best I can knowing they are probably all 12 year olds living in Seoul. However, one can only take some much talk about their mother before you have to say something. You can’t really leave since that forfeits the game. Like Popeye you eventually can’t stands no more. Its so easy too. It isn’t real. You can’t see the person so there’s no guilt in telling him what you did to his fat mother and there’s no chance we’ll punch you in the nose. I try not to curse in real life. People might even describe me as quiet, but on Battle.net I’ve stringing up a chain of vulgarities that would make Eric Cartman blush. Afterwards you sit in front of the computer screen full of remorse thinking: am I in high school again?

So if anything this past week had taught me two things: 1) Blizzard deserves credit for how much lore from the RTS Warcraft games wound up in World of Warcraft. 2) Not having GMs, guilds, or any sort of real control brings out the worst in everyone. Which brings up an interesting question: is big brother necessary in MMOs? Would WoW just turn into a huge debacle if there were no social controls?

While you ponder those questions, the comedy site SomethingAwful has a funny article about “Power Gamers”. Need a good laugh? Click here (vulgar language warning)

DC