Saturday, September 19, 2009

WoW fails to wow me.

I haven't gotten back into my Perfect World routine after this summer's hiatus, so I figured this would be a good time to branch out and give some other games a shot. I think being familiar with other MMORPGs would give me better perspective when I'm writing about games.

So far, I've tried three other games. I haven't played any of them long enough to write a book about them, but I'll give you my impressions of each: World of Warcraft in this post, and Guild Wars and Jade Dynasty in future posts.
How could I honestly call myself a gamer if I've never played WoW? It's probably the best-known online RPG, associated with the stereotypical nerdy, anti-social, micro-managing, unhygienic, acne-prone men living in their mother's basement. (This is unfair and untrue.)
Downloading and installing the 10-day trial was pretty quick and easy. Dialog boxes were helpful and friendly but never condescending. I was feeling pretty good about it when I actually fired up the game.
I only played the game for about 15 minutes. I spent 10 minutes of that in character creation trying to make a night elf pretty.
Other people have done it. I've seen the screenshots. But I'm not sure how they managed it with the rather limited options. There's was no way to make her not purple, not have creepy blank eyes, and not built like a rap star's girlfriend. Honestly, I never really thought of elves as being chunky, but even her ears were fat. I checked to make sure the window's resolution was correct for my wide-screen computer--yeah, I had it set correctly. The models are just on the thick side.
Obviously there's a different aesthetic in WoW than what I'm used to, but that's O.K. Lots of people still like it.
I gave up and entered the game. The first thing I noticed was PURPLE. Well, I guess it makes sense that purple elves should live in a purple forest. I looked up some screenshots of other areas, and not everything is purple--there's a lot of variety in the terrain and environments. I rather like that. Very majestic. I just wish I didn't have to start off swimming in purple.
The interface was honestly a bit overwhelming. There were zillions of toolbars right away--most of them were empty, waiting to be filled up with skills, but they still intimidated me. I found the chat system cumbersome, probably just because I was used to different controls.
Speaking of chat, half of my chat window was filled with gibberish. Excuse me, orcish.
Then there's the combat. Instead of double-clicking on things to attack, use, or talk to, you left-click to select and then right-click to activate. This strikes me as counter-intuitive, but again, I'm just used to something different.
I think I killed one wild boar, or whatever it was, before I decided that WoW wasn't for me. I wasn't a fan of the way it looked or handled.
In retrospect, I think I just didn't give it enough time. Unfortunately my 10-day free trial is up. But it's not too late for you. Don't write off something that so many people love just because I fussed about the chunky night elves. You might join the legions of diehard WoW addicts, even if I don't.


  1. The different aesthetic you're encountering is most likely due to the fact that, unlike other MMORPGs, WoW is based on a pre-existing license. As part of their game design, Blizzard makes it obvious that you're looking at a night elf when a night elf walks across your screen--in other words, they associate specific colors and body shapes with specific races. There's no way you'd be able to have a green tauren and then have someone mistaken you for an orc. This is the case for most of Blizzard's new games games and has actually caused them a great deal of controversy for Diablo 3... Apparently, players were complaining that Diablo 3 was "significantly more colorful" than Diablo 1 and 2 (which were apparently very brown and gray). It was due to Blizzard changing the color palette for enemies to keep them from blending in with the level.

    I've not played it myself, but the orcish-gibberish possibly has to do with a skill that you can learn. I think learning this skill opens up the ability to understand what they are saying. You can probably ask any WoW player just to be sure.

    As for the user interface, there are some client side customizations that you can use to make it more user friendly. (in other words, if you know how to program in Lua, you can customize the interface to your own liking).

    I won't encourage/discourage you to take it up again (for one, I've not played it myself and, two, I understand not wanting to shell out for a monthly subscription).

    However, I do encourage you to watch GameTrailers very informative 3 part video detailing the creation of the WarCraft franchise. It might provide some incite as to why Blizzard went the way they did with WoW. Or maybe it'll just give you a good chuckle ;)

    The videos are here:

    One last little note; if you are going to write for a living, even if it is about games, you should be sure to give a game proper play time and more than one play test. I know it seems like a lot to ask (especially since many games take a long time to complete), but good writing and patience go hand in hand :)

    I've enjoyed your posts so far and I hope you keep up the good work.

  2. WHOOPS! I meant "INSIGHT", not "INCITE" XD

  3. Thanks, Tamar! I appreciate your honesty and your insight. And you're right, I need more patience if I'm going to do this for a living. :)