Leaving Azeroth

My wife and I have decided to cancel World of Warcraft, and head for a new virtual world.

You might think we have grown bored, or are tired of the grind, or find the endgame unsatisfying, but in the end you’d be wrong about our reasons. So why are we leaving Azeroth?

The conundrum is that we like the game TOO much…

As you may know, we have been fairly serious about the MMO raid game, and have been a part of some top end guilds. We are also parents and working-class professionals and though this has been trying at times, it has always been a delicate balance that we have found the ability to maintain.

However, the pace of the game and the need for complete commitment to it in order to maintain the level of in-game success that we strive for, has started to strain on us outside of the game. At some point, enjoyment of the game, its mechanics and the people that you are playing with, can no longer sustain you through sleep deprivation, and a complete loss of freedom to pursue other activities outside of the game world. Raiding takes on a life of its own, and 3 nights a week becomes 5 nights… 5 nights becomes 5 nights plus a few hours of farming…

So we decided to call it quits. Other less drastic option are available of course, but we have ‘been there, done that’ with everything short of the current top tier raid content, and we did not have a desire to explore a more casual experience in that game specifically. Ironically, we both agreed that the casual pace of LoTRO appealed to our present desire to continue to MMO game, but to avoid the power-gaming urge for a few months or more.

Is the need to power-game in Warcraft a design flaw? Pursuing the advancement path and level of play that we did, was definitely a choice, but at what point is the necessity to push faster and father and more, in order to stay competitive in endgame raiding, cease to be a choice, and more a forced path of a flawed design model?

Is it even possible to design an endgame that doesn’t require more and more time and commitment in order to stay interesting and fun?


21 thoughts on “Leaving Azeroth”

  1. I truly understand what you mean, my guild redeemed on burning blade is feeling the pressure of the added night complex and while reading your post i see why. Blizzard opened more content then guilds can do, we still run karazhan one night, gruul and mag one night and a 3 night schedule prevents any true progression so now we add a 4th night to do ssc and the eye, if they didnt release t5/t6 for awhile and let guilds farm the bosses they needed for a while 3 raid dungeons etc. Then they could make a clean break and forget about having to gear up their players from the the earlier dungeons. Imagine naxx aq bwl zg and mc all coming out in the first 5 months of the game that would mena you skip alot or you power through and dont farm the prior raids but clear and move on.

  2. I’m on Landroval if you are not decided on a server. It is considered the “unofficial” role-play server so there is always something interesting going on.

  3. I think we just need to get away from the idea of an “end-game” in MMOs. Move harder and harder towards a constant stream of content. Even 3-months between updates can be too long for many players.

    I think a good balance between a dynamically changing world (think the ports in the upcoming Pirates of the Burning Sea) and a stream of content coming in regularly (chapters a la LotRO) would be a good mix.

    But one thing’s for sure. Blizzard really needs to keep content coming faster, it’s been their biggest flaw for these 2 years. You’d think they’d learn to polish a bit faster, you know, use an electric buffer or something.

  4. Landroval! Woo!
    Yeah I quit WoW for much the same reason. In fact I did not even start raiding BC dungeons, and have never entered kara. I just remembered my experience at 60, and thought “do I really want to get back on the treadmill again?” And basically in WoW if you don’t raid, well there is stuff to do, but you are not progressing your character.

    However, I don’t think the game forces you to raid more and more, or go to multiple dungeons at once. I know of a number of casual guilds that raid only 2 -3 nights and refuse to do more. I was just checking up on some people i used to know with that new site http://www.wowjutsu.com/us/ Sure they are just getting out of Kara at this point but they are raiding and staying casual.

    But even with that, raiding 2-3 nights means farming 2 more nights per week. And mandatory attendance (esp considering I play a priest). So even casual raiding I was not interested in.

  5. I can totally understand your reasons because I’ve been there myself. When my friends and I first started playing WoW, we formed a casual guild whose focus was fun. Eventually, we all got to level 60 and turned our sights on raiding. We recruited more members and started organizing raids. In the beginning it was fun and challenging but soon enough, raiding started to take over both our gaming and real lives. Unfortunately, the dynamics within the group changed as well and the stresses of raiding – yes it was stressful! – caused friendships to be broken. I don’t know if it was all this drama or just the repetetiveness of raiding that finally soured me on WoW. Perhaps it was both. In any case, I’m glad that my new MMORPG “home” LotRO doesn’t have any of that end-game craziness.

  6. I think perhaps the problem with the need to power-game is that it’s an all or nothing thing. You can either be completely casual, or keep up with the end game at the frantic pace of your peers. Most guilds that try to casually keep up with the endgame are actually cases where a portion of players are hardcore and want to go faster, and another portion aren’t really that interested, and are just doing some raiding for fun and to check it out. This obviously results in a dead guild pretty quickly, or a guild sans those casual players.

    Don’t really know if it’s a choice or a forced mentality. I’d say LotRO isn’t really better in that mentality, it just doesn’t have much of a raid game, so the choice is removed. Also, a lot of the people starting LotRO came from WoW, and left WoW because they needed a break from the hardcore scene, and so start out LotRO with a casual mentality. Basically, LotRO just got lucky with it’s playerbase mentality (atm).

  7. @ Ethic: Landroval it is then!

    @ Verilazic: I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. Its where tired raiders go to die.. ;-)

  8. My husband and I left EQ1 for EQ2 for the same reason. While our guild didn’t understand that we couldn’t just throttle down, it really was the best thing for us. Fast forward a couple of years to present and now we’re playing WoW and I can see us raiding casually in the future, but I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go back to a schedule like we maintained before.

    It’s sometimes a hard decision to leave friends, but congratulations on having the fortitude to end it before things get bad. =)

  9. One day they’ll design an engine that updates itself constantly. Then the developers can sit back and watch.

    … of course then we would have the inevitable robot uprising …

  10. It’s best to get out of WoW now, the content is starting to be a serious retread but on a smaller 10 man scale. I think you made the right decision, and wont be missing much especially with the good titles coming out.

    You two will find a new home I am sure :) Wife and I dont miss WoW one bit, or the community for that matter

  11. I understand the conundrum 100%. I have been there in many games (online and off) and there comes a point where you need to stop.

    I have picked up platforms (FF, Okami, Guitar Hero) and go into a routine of gameplay that only grows on itself until I tell myself I have to put the game down.

    The worst is online. I have been there a few times in EVE. Trying to run 2 characters full time was a mistake which I have undone. Also, living the 0.0 life on my main turned into a full time job. Eventually, I had to back off and say to myself what was appropriate.

    The worst is when a game loses its escape value and turns into a job or chore or obligation. Remember, no matter what ANYONE tells you, it’s only a game.

  12. Yup, definitely agree there. We went through something like that here at home too.

    I think at this point, however many years into the lifespan of the game, Blizzard needs to just go ahead and solve the logistical side of raiding to stop bleeding those customers. And yeah, I said solve. Not ease, not tweak, not modify, not retouch lightly. Solve.

    They already took the first step in BC when they realized “OMFG Epic experience” didn’t have to take 40 people. 40 people was a logistical pain in the butt and a design mistake. Now they need to keep walking, and take the second step which is realizing they need to remove the necessity to farm, get keyed, achieve special conditions, etc. pre-raid.

  13. […They already took the first step in BC when they realized “OMFG Epic experience” didn’t have to take 40 people. 40 people was a logistical pain in the butt and a design mistake. Now they need to keep walking, and take the second step which is realizing they need to remove the necessity to farm, get keyed, achieve special conditions, etc. pre-raid…]

    I felt like the commitment to real serious raiding got more complex and involved with less people than it was with more. There is absolutly no room to take a night off when your team is so reliant on your very specific set of skills.

    Take my wife and I for example… I a Warlock and almost always the top damage dealer, and she a Priest, who is typically the main tank healer, due to her skill level. If we had a bad night or didn’t show up at all, the raid basically didn’t happen or went very unsmoothly. So the pressure to always perform at your best, and the phscological obligation to your team is stronger now than ever before.

    Back in the ole days of EQ’s 70 man and wow’s 40-man teams, if you didn’t show up, they could almost always replace your, or hell, just go with 39. If you had a bad night or were off, it was almost unoticeable. Instead of 2 Holy Priests in the raid, we used to take 8. Instead of 2 warlocks we had 5. Instead of 6 total healers we had 15, and so on. Each person’s impact on the success or failure of the raid was smaller.

  14. Agreed. But that’s ultimately questionable encounter design. Not so much due to pure numbers, I don’t think.

    If you design your raids and encounters so hard that first you leave very little room for error, and second that the path to success that you present to the players relies on optimal group composition, then yeah that’s a design mistake. You’re designing for the 1% of your playerbase that can handle it.

    The team size issue is a bit deceptive. I think it’s one factor, no doubt. However you slice it, a 40-man team provides more redundancy than any other smaller team, but the solution is not to design for 40-man teams or bigger to count on that redundancy, because that’s a bit lazy and ignores the logistical side. The best solution in my view is to keep the required group size small manageable and design your encounters in a way that doesn’t require optimal group composition or hours spent getting keyed or farming.

    Reducing the group size was a good move. Making the encounters quite unforgiving if things are not ‘just right’ wasn’t. It’s like writing with your hand and erasing with your elbow; it doesn’t matter how much easier it is to get 25 people together instead of 40 if now you make them even more susceptible to failure than before.

  15. And before I get rocks and sticks thrown at for being such a pussy, I’ll say this:

    If you design a game, you need to do it aiming to provide fun to as much as your playerbase as you can, for as long as you can. That means making your content accessible.

    Designing for the 1% is bull. There, I said it ;)

  16. It happens. At some point one has to make a decision about priorities, and balancing one’s lifestyle and figuring out what motivates us to play a game and the types of experiences we find enjoyable.

    In a way, it’s rather educational, as we end up forced to confront and analyze the aspects of a game we enjoy and those we don’t.

    I’m curious if this all-or-nothing achiever need to raid and grind endlessly for days tends to strike us in the first MMO we play, simply because it is the expected path laid out by the game. Then it tends to follow us across games in our mindset until we realize it has become too much of a chore.

    (An achiever-raid type MUD I played had approximately a life cycle of four years for its hardcore players before they exhausted its content and got tired with the ‘same old same old’.)

    Maybe the design of the virtual world and its definition of ‘success’ is also partly to blame. Certainly it is easier to put down more casual MMOs than something that glamorizes or awards prestige to activities that require a huge time investment.

    Yet there’s still a subset of people to whom a game is a challenge to be beaten and they -must- play in an all-or-nothing style. It’s just their personalities.

  17. I have really enjoyed all of the discussion that this has stirred! Great insights, everyone.

    For anyone that wants to stop in and say hello, my wife and I have rolled charachters on Landroval. I am Cyndre the Elven Minstrel, and she is Alontis the Elven Champion.

  18. Have been through similar thoughts recently. My wife has never been into raiding on a regular basis though, so life in BC has become boring for her and she’s not logged in for a couple of months. Our guild is trying a casual/serious mix, with some running 3-4 nights a week, while I’ve dropped back into a less pressured Weekend-only raiding group.

    It’s worked to an extent, but with 2 groups now pushing for Gruul in the near future and our weekend group a light-year behind on gear because we haven’t made the same progress in Kara yet, we’re looking at some up-coming problems I think.

    What I’d like to see which would take the pressure off would be relatively simple to achieve I think. Simply remove the automatic raid-reset on a Tuesday. Let guilds spend longer working through an instance than just one week.

    We spend one night clearing the 1st half of the bosses and then the second night working on 1 or 2 bosses. Let us choose when to manually reset the instance (minimum time 1 week) and let us work on the same Kara instance for 2 or 3 weeks. It would reduce the drops for some of us, but it would actually achieve the goal of removing the pressure to raid more often than we want, just so we can see the end of that place.

    To bring this back to the original topic though, my wife and I tried out LoTR a few weeks ago. It was fun, but it’s sat untouched on our desktops for the past couple of weeks. I think it will turn into an interesting game, but right now it feels too unpolished to want to play for long periods. Some nice touches, but it feels like a weaker WoW clone struggling for an identity of its own. Aside from the odd Hobbiton moments, I struggle to feel any real attachment to my characters & the link to LoTR isn’t particularly immersive :( Still, I think we’ll come back there every few months and see how it grows with time.

  19. It does seem that a certain segment feels compelled to raid the end-game at all costs. Despite everything else. How else to explain level 70 Belf Pallies and Draenei Shamans weeks after TBC release?

    My first ever character is still only 65.

    My Molten Core raiding Shaman does BG’s now for amusement.

    My Warrior’s tanking level 70 instances.

    The wife and I have a myriad of characters and play styles to enjoy together, and that goes from level 20 through 40, and our level 70 duo.

    And I’ve been playing since release.

    Some people play the endgame like there is no other game. And, heck, if you aren’t outdoing Nihilium you’ve kind of lost the race, haven’t you?

    Kind of like just creating your level 20 PvP-Only character in Guild Wars and never seeing the 1-20 content. Or those that argue if you’ve got one 60 then all your other alts should be 60 too. No fair making you do the content, the confounded content, twice. That’s no fun at all.

    The game doesn’t require end-game raiding. The game allows it however. And certain personalities can’t resist the purple gear. It does become a drug. Reminds me of the guildie, ex-guildie (they got sick of her and she /gquit) who kept hankering after heroics, heroics, heroics, she needed badges, badges, badges, and when nobody jumped to the bait, most listening weren’t even 70, she just went back into her battlegrounds, lusting after the purple loot to be had there.

    Time to step back and stop and think about it.

    Sounds like you have and will find a slower pace in LotRO. Enjoy the shire.

  20. /quote
    Is the need to power-game in Warcraft a design flaw?


    It was deliberately designed & developed and 8 million players signed up for it…

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