For those of you not in the know, WoW is short for World of Warcraft, one of the newest Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) recently unleashed upon the world.
This cartoon from the guys at penny-arcade prettymuch sums up my experience when it comes to playing these games with friends and family.
Being of Indescribable Power
My experience with these games started way back in 1999 with the original Everquest. Before long, most of my friends and family were hooked as well. The biggest problem I found is that not everyone has equal time to play the game. So, the more casual players get left behind. I’ve seen it happen on every game I’ve played, and I’ve tried most of them.
Why is this a problem? Well, in most of these games, you have to group with other players. A group can consist of up to 5-8 people. Most people prefer to play with people they know. But, the problem is that most of these games restrict what levels you can group with. In Everquest, a level 10 character cannot group with a level 60.
So, you try to play catchup. This can be an exercise in frustration. For example, you have a friend who’s one of those ‘play until you pry the keyboard from my cold dead hands’ types. He’s level 20, you’re level 5. So, he pesters you to play more. If you could just get to 20, the game would be so much better, and you could play together. So, you find some extra time and after a week or two, finally get to level 20. Well, by that time, your friend is now level 30ish, and now he’s telling life is better at 30. And so on…
I had another friend who got hooked on Everquest about three years after I did. He worked on a single character, switched servers to play with another old friend, and worked his butt off to get a character to level 65, the highest level in the game at that time. He didn’t understand why I didn’t have any characters at least his level. He didn’t realize that by that time I was only playing 2-3 times a week for a couple hours at a time compared to the time he was putting in.
Now, getting a chance to play with some of the hard core guys is an experience, especially when it comes to raids. Raids are another type of grouping. Instead of a single group of six, you can have multiple groups combined up to about 72 people. Raids are designed for very high level monsters/dungeons. I had a chance to join my friend’s uber guild on some EQ raids a while back. These are guys that raid 4-5 nights a week for 2-3 or more hours at a time, and it shows. Watching them execute a raid with military precision made it hard to go back to raiding in my guild, where most players are new to the concept.
I used to spend a lot more time playing than I do now. Even in WoW, the newest game, where I have a good portion of friends and family hooked, I don’t spend a lot of time playing. So, that puts me with characters about 20 levels behind almost everyone else.
Once I get to that point, I start to experiment with other classes. So, instead of spending time playing one character to 40, 50 or 60, I may have one guy at level 25 and a bunch of characters at 10 or under. : )
I’m in that indecisive mode now. I’m trying almost all of the classes that WoW has to offer. I think I’ve narrowed it down to three classes…
Fortunately, WoW is relatively new, and it still caters to all players. Everquest now focuses almost entirely on the uber players, and most of them have left for other games ( Everquest 2 came out in November – a week before WoW ).
The biggest difference I have seen is that WoW is drawing in people who normally would not play this type of game. There are lots of true ‘newbies’ on the game. The down side is that there are a lot more younger players ( 17 and under ) on this game. You see some of it in general chat, but you really start to see it in the guilds. The older players tend to get a little raunchy in guild chat, and it will offend the younger players.
So, what I’d like to see is a way to check for ages. My friends and family are talking about forming our own guild in WoW now and trying to restrict it to ages 21 and older. If we find out you’re underage – you’re out. Of course, there’s no true way to ‘card’ people in a virtual world. And, no, age isn’t everything. Some folks over 21 can act like they’re 13 on the game and vice versa.
Still, the game is a fun game overall. It is probably the best game out there at the moment. I also think it’s probably the best one for people completely new to the genre.