Spiral Situation

Test Realm April 2011: Burger King Amulets

Having asked Ethic if I could establish a bi-weekly column, I wasn’t expecting to post again so soon after bashing bubbly on the hull of my Spiral Situation. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear but those magical words: Test Realm Status: ONLINE!

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Matters of Etiquette

I found myself in an unusual position last night (no – not that sort of position you dirty minded so-and-sos!) While on the train home, I noticed that a guy with a laptop sitting across the carriageway had an embroidered logo which identified him as obviously being a fellow WoW player and also a fellow member of the gnome munching Horde.

Conundrum: do I make it known to this total stranger that I a) recognise the logo b) that I also play and c) I, also, am a member of the superior Horde. This is Britain – strangers don’t talk to each other. That’s just not the done thing. On the other hand, just like public school oldboy networks and esoteric and obscure societies like the Freemasons and Aston Villa supporters, being a stranger was second to being part of something larger. Just because you have never seen the person before in your life does not stop you being siblings becauase of your shared experience.

I did have a secondary concern which was this: the logo was embroidered on the back pocket of his jeans. Saying something about it would imply that I had been looking at his arse¹.

In the end, I figured what the hell. He was the one wearing the logo and why else would you do that if you didn’t want to announce your interests and allegiances. Even if he did say “WTF? Were you looking at my arse you pervert?” I figured I was never going to see him again so as we were getting off the train, I simply said “Horde for life, right?” He looked askance at first then grinned and said “Yeah. I tried Alliance but I couldn’t stand it.”

“I know what you mean” I replied and then legged it for my next train as fast my legs would carry me.

What about you? Would you talk to someone because you recognised they played the same game as you? Or has someone stopped to talk to you because you were wearing your favourite Green Linen Shirt?

¹I want to try to explain but that’s just digging a hole I won’t be able to get out of so just trust me when I say it was entirely innocent and circumstantial.

Unbearable suffering of being

So I finally got around to completing the Death Knight starting zone that the world and his dog have been raving about. I should be joining in with commending on how good the quests are (they are) and how well designed it is (it is) and what a great, story driven experience the whole thing is but as much as all that really is true, I just can’t bring myself to do anything other than complain.

Nota bene: there will be spoilers and this is fair warning about them. Read on at your own peril if you have yet to roll a Death Knight.
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Collector’s Edition

I decided to cancel my Warhammer Online Collector’s Edition pre-order today. It has nothing to do with my feelings about the game. It has everything to do with thinking about my past CE purchases. Did I get value from them or was it just excitement about the game? I decided, even in the case of World of Warcraft, that is was just about getting something that makes my character a little special or unique. Yes, the lovely in-game items.

All in all, I do not feel it was money well-spent for me. Sure, the art books are cool and the soundtrack is nice, but I have not looked at the art book more than once or twice. The big giant boxes also need to be displayed somewhere, I can’t bring myself to toss them out. So, I ask you: Are Collector’s Editions worth the extra money to you? Why or why not?

– Ethic

The Birds

The BirdsA WoW guildie of mine organized a pretty awesome druid flash mob earlier this week. The concept: Get a bunch of druids together, fly around Nagrand as a flock (in bird form) and find an unsuspecting Horde, swoop down to the ground, surround him, and stare at him until he cracks, a la Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

WoW Insider has a pretty great writeup of the event, which included druid skywriting, mobs of cheetahs running down Horde on Quel’Danas, and other craziness. There must be other cool possibilities here. I think it would be fun to get a lot of hunters to hide inside of a building near a questing area, then when a horde approaches, use Eyes of the Beast to send out a ton of turtle pets to swarm him.

I’m a little surprised fun events like this don’t happen more often in virtual worlds, given how much easier it is to execute creative, crazy ideas. But I guess you still have the burden of actually organizing a lot of people to do something, which is a non-trivial task in the virtual world, too.

Speculating on WoW’s successor

Tobold posted some musings about what Blizzard will eventually do with their next MMO that got me thinking.

Tycho over at Penny Arcade speculated a few weeks back that Blizzard’s new MMO project will simply be an engine update for WoW, but I don’t think this will be the case. It seems inevitable that someone will eventually come out with something better designed, more accessible, more fun than WoW, just as WoW did the same for Everquest. And of course Blizzard would like that “someone” to be them.

I’m also not convinced that “the next big game” will be significantly more advanced than WoW, graphically. When you get into the sort of subscriber numbers that WoW has, you’re reaching far beyond the market segment of hardcore gamers, which means you’re targeting people that don’t make a point of upgrading their PC every 2-3 years. So you’ve got hardware limitations to deal with.

I’m also of the opinion that graphics technology today is already “good enough.” It can (and will) continue to get better, sure, but the main thing that distinguishes WoW for me visually is not the graphics technology, it’s the aesthetic. The art, the architecture, the style and spirit that goes into the world is something I find beautiful. I think it’s wonderful that graphics technology is advanced enough so that artistic beauty is finally the biggest differentiator in terms of a game’s visual impact.

– James

In the Valley, Fer Sure

So, having wrapped up my affairs in Middle Earth, I’ve returned when possible to Azeroth. Sadly, my life schedule continues to allow me little time for playing, but two forced weeks of staying at home let me get into it fairly deeply. I’ve always been more of a social player, and so returning to guildmates and friends was nice. I managed to run the Headless Horseman event a few hundred times to ensure everyone had what they needed (sans a pet for me, or any guildmate *sigh), but what I’ve been doing mostly is PvP, specifically, Alterac Valley by the truckload. Because that’s where honor grinders come when honor grinding is needed. I’ll explain that in a minute, but the wierd part is I’m actually enjoying it.

Ya, I know, right?

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