So many of you have probably read the few posts I have of me taking a small hobby of playing World of Warcraft on the intarwebs… Sole blame rests on Cousin Sol for dragging me into the mess as I have burned down many a day when friends have bailed on me to real world meetings. I kid about blaming Sol… LOL! I like many other gamers thought “Pay to play gaming… get serious… that’s crap!” but once I got my character to level 10, my opinion quickly changed. The chat channels are pretty clean of gold spammers advertising their “services” as it is harder to make a spamming account if you have to shell $30 just to take a risky venture in then an additional $15/month there after. If anything, there may be a little bit too much swearing and pre-pubescent children dropping the F-bomb because they wanted to win a certain battleground instance… though that’s not too big a deal to me.
It’s a bit of a change from Guild Wars and being sent random whispers from gold farmers promising me mythical riches for the ability of being able to finance my “dreams” of a guild hall… or just seeing my chat box full of spammers going “Go to my site here and for $9.95 our pro players will load you up with whatever you want!” or bratty kids begging you for some rare gear you have because it’s not locked down to you. Then again, the entry fee of World of Warcraft does exclude out a lot of others who would otherwise try to exploit a gaming environment for the sake of real world material wealth. I digress…
World of Warcraft is quite an expansive game as the realm spans over 3 realms with hundreds of quest and so many variations depending on whatever race or class you choose. There is some realism to the game as time is totally designated by the server affecting the in-game time. In addition to that, travel is somewhat realistic… as using a mounted animal will let you fly or ride past certain locales and rapidly improving the speed of travel. The only case that a person is beaming in and out of realms is if they are being summoned to a location or if they use warping/portal spells. The world expands supposedly this November with the release of [The Wraith of the Lich King] due to open up a Necropolis for the legendary Death Knight class and the city of Dalaran. My only gripe about the realms are that some of the “hub” cities or towns are not quite as equipped as say an Alliance or Horde fortress/castle town… That can be a drag when you need to buy something, but come to find that you took the wrong boat, flew to the wrong town, or teleported to the wrong capital city that lacked the vendor you needed. I do hold hopes that with the new expansion that change could definitely happen with balancing some of those sparse towns.
The game’s realm concept almost has a realistic element to it with the fact that if you’re too late to something… then you miss out. Looking for that one elusive beast that drops a body part you need? Well if someone got to the proving grounds before you and slayed all iterations of that monster… You may have to wait your turn when the monster comes back into the realm. No, you can’t hit the magic “reset” button and magically watch the monsters come back… because the realm is much like the real world. You can’t “zone-out” of a place just to force a monster to reappear either or to spawn exclusively in your own private zone. The only exception is dungeons and instances where you can reset the zone for say a friend who may have missed out on the first boss of a dungeon.
Socially, the game ends up being one of those “It’s a Small World” sort of game. This applies even more so when you join a pretty decent sized guild that’s made of members who were former members of ones that had petty drama. I have also found that should you keep a good reputation… it will follow you as you progress in the game. I have gotten a whisper or two from a friendly player who remembered me inviting me to partake in something fun every now and then. Sometime from just one’s own guild tag can be the firestarter of a conversation, just because your leader may have built their reputation with such a positive note.
Communication is rather dynamic in World of Warcraft to say the least. The in-game voice chat is a nice addition, though with the lack of adjustments like you would find in TeamSpeak or Ventrillo… It’s just not adequate for things like Raid coordination for a 25+ character battle. The chat system is a little clunky as you can only add the character’s name, but not a friend… However, this makes sense as Horde characters cannot communicate to Alliance characters in chat or via in-game postal service. So, if your friend chooses to make a Horde-side orc character to try meeting your Alliance character… They could be typing something like “You know Zero, by chance? I hear he’s a good frost mage!”, but to your chat window it would show up as “[Orcish] Gral gug grrr gra ralg.” Vice versa would apply as well. In addition, when you make additional characters, they aren’t bound to the guild your first character joined and same if you’re on a character with a different faction.
The game is also separated by different servers as well, as not to overload one central realm with millions of players all with different intents. By intents, I mean things like those who want to play the game for the game (Normal servers), constantly duel and fight for kill/honor points (PvP), and recreational acting of a part (RP/role-play servers). The governing rules on each server are a little different… One can only surmise that PvP servers are a no-holds barred killing spree of an orgy when you meet that poor bastard on the opposing faction (I would assume the Illidan server would be the pinnicle). Role-play servers, I have rather enjoyed as the community is a little more sympathetic and really get into their character roles. That has lead to some fun experiences (campfire stories in the wee hours of night) and as well as some disturbing ones (gnomes randomly having sex in a bedroom at an inn). Normal would be just what you would expect, players just focused on the game and just wanting to fight gloriously.
Skills and professions are all things meant to suppliment your character and even help flesh their details out. The combinations are almost endless… Supplimental skills like fishing, cooking, and first aid are all essentials that anyone can have. Once you get into the primary professions, that’s where everything goes deep… You have mining, blacksmithing, herbalism, alchemy, engineering, skinning, leatherworking, enchanting, tailoring, jewelcrafting to start… then depending on what you really want to specialize into inside those professions gets even deeper as well. As far as charater talents, each character has 3 path “talent tree” which determines which your characters battle skills and abilities. You can “re-spec” your character… but beware that initially it is cheap, but the cost rises as you decide to re-spec more and more. A “disadvantage” to some as games like Guild Wars allow for re-specing your character at will as long as you’re in a town. So re-specing your character could be a costly thing if you can’t decide what build you want or if you’re in a rather competitive PvP (player versus player, for the non-gamer folks) guild that requires you to be flexible.
As far as things offline that do somewhat affect the realm in-game… Blizzard has promotional conventions where attendees can get redeemable codes for promotional in-game items. A great example of this is to coincide with the release announcement of Diablo III, any attendees of Blizzard’s Worldwide Invitational got an item code for a special in-game pet of Archangel Tyrael that is permanently bound to the character you redeem the code for. Blizzard also has teamed up with Upper Deck Entertainment to create a World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, which also does link with the game as certain cards reveal codes to allow a character to obtain rare items. These rare items are typically novelty, however… there are promotional mounted creatures/devices that can be unlocked such as the Spectral Tiger or the X-51 Rocket.
I think the majority of what has made a positive experience with World of Warcraft is that the community is very strong. It’s interesting when you have a cousin (Sol) who’s in a lax guild and in turn you just run into others in the community who, being excellent gamers also turn out to be unique people outside of game. Funny enough is… My new staff editor, Miss Wyno, is one of those unique users. Funny how it happens, eh? With all fairness… with every gaming community, they have their share of good and bad users… I have enjoyed meeting the good users in World of Warcraft, even if I did have to suffer through some of the more childish users like Sol did who are apparently parents, but don’t mind screaming “Fucking shamen!”