WWTYB (What Would Tempt You Back) to a Game

WoW Character

One of my WoW mains

I missed the original Twitter Q&A posed by @AlternativeChat asking what would tempt people back to Azeroth/WoW, but I’ve seen a couple of blog posts about it since. (Deliver Me) and (It’s Always Been a Matter of Trust) I have to say that I honestly don’t know what, if anything, would bring me back to WoW.

I did give a comeback a try with the Panda content. I didn’t get my money’s worth, not even making it to the max level with one character. If I could put my finger on why, I think it was their insistence on making me slog around on the ground dodging mobs again. Either embrace flight in your game or don’t…

WoW Halfus Kill Killer BunniesFor me, the glory days of WoW are closely tied to being in an active and fun guild, doing content together on a regular basis. We were mutual alt-aholics, trying out different roles to keep things fresh when raiding with a particular type of class got old (for some). We did that for several years, but then there was a shift in design that made the gear treadmill much less fun for alt-aholics. When the old gang broke up and went their separate ways; some tried out different games, some let Real Life take hold, WoW lost the shine. I stuck with it longer than most of my game friends, longer than I should have, but without those friends of old, there is nothing left for me in Azeroth.

A good group of people could lure me back to any game I think, but only if I know they will stick with it long enough so we get to play the content, then get the gear, maybe level some alts too for good measure, and do content that gets us together regularly. Do I wish I could regain those glory days in WoW and have the old gang back together having fun; yes I do. Do I think it will ever happen, or that I’ll have the motivation to find a new gang; no I don’t.

MMOs have the potential to hold my attention longer than most standalone games, but like a standalone game, eventually they come to feel like I’ve seen it all, done it all, and there is nothing new to see and do. Regardless of what the designers put in to try and give us “fresh” or “new” content, it inevitably feels like we are doing the same thing in a different wrapper. Nature of the genre and the activity/reward cycle it presents…

guild fishing trip in WoW

10000 fish but we found a way

What baffles me is how often game design puts in mind-numbing repetitive content that players “should” do in order to support their end game activities. Some of the guild achievements in WoW, 10,000 fish *shudder* comes to mind, were NOT fun group activities. We did them because we wanted the reward, but once we were done, I doubt many of us felt anything other than horror over how much of our time/money we wasted.

I suppose a game that made it easy to come back and dust off again, much the way I do with standalone games that I have enjoyed, might get me back playing. So far with MMOs, that just isn’t the case. I always feel like I’m seriously behind the power curve and the goals I’m asked to reach require more commitment than a “dust off and replay” can support. Quite often the class I knew how to play has changed quite a bit in the interim. The eternal tweaks for game balance make me sad/mad. For some games, it is just that there has been so much content released since I last updated, that by the time the game has patched, I’ve already run out of time in my window of opportunity. Yeah, I know this sounds like a need for instant gratification, but it is just another thing that sets MMOs apart from standalone games that I’ve replayed.

In truth, I’m not sure if an MMO can draw me back once I’ve tired of the particular flavors of “treadmill” that it presents. Each game system has an activity/reward cycle and eventually, the motivation versus boredom factor will degrade the experience. This counts for end game content, crafting, farming, anything that requires us to acquire things in order to reach goals. Games that put in a lot of busy work probably aren’t doing themselves any favors where I am concerned, but they do appeal to a certain type of player. Even riding a giant flaming ball over irradiated gnomes can get old, although it takes a long time for that to happen.

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Spending Some Quality Double XP (and Agent) Time

Since my hubby and I celebrate “Rebel’s Valentine’s Day” in March, rather than this trumped up love day in February, I’m free to spend some time in SWTOR gaining double XP this weekend. I still miss the heady days of 12 times XP, but I’ll take what I can get for one of my many alts.

Arden KothI’ve been playing alts to experience different aspects of alignment and story choices among the various classes. I started an Imperial Agent on a roleplay server (my 3rd! eek!) to see how that might play out. I look forward to gaining some levels and advancing his class story a bit. I’m especially intrigued after learning that there are ways to have the Agent join the SIS as a true double agent. I played a light side Agent my first time through, but she didn’t take that step into full blown turncoat. I’m intrigued that you get a little bit of extra cinematic content as a double agent, so I have decided to pursue that.

If you don’t mind spoilers, here is a class video that shows the Agent’s SIS arc choices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Me2lfd2Yx8

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Cool Mount/Vehicles and Motivation

Well, if there is one thing that will motivate me to repeat daily quests, it is a spiffy ride. This has been true since the days of my Long Strange Trip in WoW.

The Imperial Walker mounts in SWTOR certainly qualify for that category. The fact that I can get one for each faction is icing on the cake. Now I just need a few Ewoks to take pot shots at. :)

Yavin 4 Imperial Walker Agent

Yavin 4 is certainly a pretty place from up here.
SWTOR Yavin 4 overlook Jedi Knight in Walker vehicle

Scale of these seems fine. at least I mostly fit through doorways.

Republic Walker Mount

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Are We Part of A Mocktatership?

footprints on a beachI’ve been watching a lot of memes, gifs, Twitter rants, and other social media “commentaries” hit my feed lately. I’ve come to the conclusion that as a collective whole, our social media communities can be a bunch of cruel, mocking jerks. I’m calling it a mocktatership. Personally, I’m taking a “cleanse” this week and opting not to watch my feeds or walls, at least on my personal spaces.

Are we squashing courage when we mock people for owning up to mistakes? In gaming communities, is the risk aversion overcoming the desire to innovate? Are we incapable of allowing people to make mistakes and then apologize for them? Are satirical gifs and memes going too far? Are we incapable of pointing out behaviors we find distasteful in helpful rather than confrontationally harmful ways? I’m starting to think the answer to these questions is a definitive “hell no! we really can’t.”

More than ever there seems to be a double standard in the communities in which I’m involved. The same people who are insisting that others treat them with respect, will turn around and viciously attack someone over a thoughtless mistake. Would they want to be attacked in that way? I don’t care if a person is making games, involved in the entertainment business, on the public stage in some way, it doesn’t excuse us from having a double standard.

Treat others as you want them to treat you. If I can go through my life remembering this and following it, I’ll be a much happier person. I hope that when I do mess up, I realize it and apologize for it, and that people accept my apology. If those of us who participate in online communities can do this, then we just might see more of the risk taking and innovation we desire, rather than the CYA behavior that a mocktatership fosters.

Sorry for the preaching, things just got under my skin lately. My Facebook is full of spewed garbage with no fact checking, just this shared rabid dog behavior I’ve come to loathe. I’ll get over it, but for now, I’m tipping over the bucket of ugly and letting it wash away.

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New SWTOR Class Specific Quests in 3.0 – Spoiler Free Reactions

Finally got one of every class far enough in the new content to see the side quests that were unique to each class. It was nice of them to put together such a highly requested bit of content, but it was just that, a tiny bite. They brought several of the voice actors in for the classes and the companions, so I was quite surprised at a lack of interaction between your character and your crew. Having most of them mute during these quests was kind of jarring. And heck, my characters have been getting letters from various NPCs from the past, so you’d think the companions would write, especially those you romanced. Nope.

These quests become available after you’ve completed the Forged Alliances Flashpoints and get sent to Rishi. There is a small bit of cinematic content on your ship that is unique to each class. I haven’t actually tried to completely bypass the Flashpoints and the option to use my ship terminal to start Rishi, since you get a couple of levels of experience and some decent gear pieces. After the first 6 or 7 set of quests on Rishi, once you take on the leader of a pirate gang, your quest will become available. Before going into the Blood Hunt Flashpoint, you get a scene that opens up your own class quest.

Anyway, in order of most enjoyed to least enjoyed, here are my very basic reactions to the quests:

Imperial Agent–Absolutely must do this one again
(edit: I’ve done it twice now, once on my female agent and once on my male agent. He had managed to start a romance with someone involved in the quest, and it impacted the dialogue choices, very nice.)

Sith Warrior–Hell yeah!

Jedi Consular–Very nicely done

Sith Inquisitor–Intriguing (some companion interaction)

Bounty Hunter–Not bad (some companion interaction)

Smuggler–Meh

Trooper–Eh, par for the course

Jedi Knight–Really Meh

Overall, I’ve been less than impressed with their game design choices in this latest expansion. The unique class content doesn’t make up for them having both factions go through the exact same content. The new content is fine, mostly enjoyable (other than camping named NPCs, a pet peeve of mine), for the first time through. This expansion is far less re-playable than even Makeb was. I hope Bioware learns from this for their next big content release. Their game encourages people to play multiple classes and factions. They need to continue to reward people with great story for doing that, but not drive them away by putting people with alts through the same content over and over again.

Personally, I won’t be getting very many of my characters to level 60 despite my desire to see the ending cinematic from the perspective of each of the different classes. The slog to get that little carrot, while competing with people doing daily/weekly reputation grinding, is just too distasteful to me. The fact that they have you doing the same things for the main story that people are doing for daily quests is the “icing” on my disappointment “cake.”

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Has It Really Been 3 Years?

I can never remember the official release day of games these days, what with pre-orders and early access play… but folks are saying today is the 3 year anniversary for SWTOR. So I set off my fireworks and stared into the sands of Tatooine, kicked a smuggler or two, chased some cackling monkeys, listened to cantina music along the beach and contemplated the countless hours I’ve spent MMOing Star Wars. Good times.

SWTOR3yrs

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SWTOR: Why Have My Companions Turned Into Dress Up Dolls?

This fight was WAY more epic as my Sith Warrior. My Smuggler just spent a lot of time being knocked out of cover.

This fight was WAY more epic as my Sith Warrior. My Smuggler just spent a lot of time being knocked out of cover.

I’ve had a chance to get a couple of characters to level 60 in the newest Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion, seen their short class quests and one for the Imperial Agent, and started the slog through the Forged Alliances flashpoints, yet again, on my Jedi Knight. I truly hope I still love Star Wars by the time I’ve reheated this same dish over and over and over again.

Maybe that is why my companions have nothing much to say anymore. Maybe their lack of reactions over the choices I make is because they’ve fallen asleep over watching the same rock fall in the temple. Maybe they don’t decry the state of Korriban or Tython because they’re asleep? They don’t participate in my adventures on Rishi or Yavin because they just don’t care anymore? War weary veterans that they are? Sure, kiss the SIS agent or the Sith, we don’t care if you flirt in front of us, not like we send you letters or talk to you anymore. How very sad that they’ve turned characters with personalities, whom we built relationships with, into mindless dress up dolls.

To say I’m disappointed in the design choices made in this latest expansion would be an understatement. There are things I’ve liked about it and they’ve tried some experimentation that has been interesting to see, but there are things that I really dislike about it as well. Camping a spawn point for daily quests is one of those things that makes me gnash my teeth. Knowing that to see the final fight for my various classes will require doing that, over and over and over again, while competing with people farming reputation, really frustrates me.

And how about those “personal” instanced areas in Rishi and Yavin content… Didn’t want to bother trying to integrate your totally unique and game defining group cinematic content Bioware? I usually run new content in partnership with my husband. This has been really weird to do this time around with us being split up to interact with the story NPCs. I can see it being done for each person’s unique class quest, but for all of the content?! I just don’t understand some of the choices made this time around.

I very much hope this is not the model for all future content. They like to change things up, they like to try stuff out, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt this time. If we get one more expansion like this one, with the same types of rehashed content in slightly different skins, that will be the end of this game for me.

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