Monday, August 26, 2019

Reflections While in Queue

I've just gotten back into town and haven't been able to read the rest of the MMO blog-o-sphere. I'm going to guess it's mostly people posting pictures of their time in queue.





This isn't anywhere near as bad as I anticipated, but I'm also not playing on one of the higher population realms. This might be the first time that I've had to wait in a queue that spanned into the thousands (or tens of thousands). I spent most of my time on a PVP server named Darkspear, which apparently gained a small amount of infamy as a "streamer" server, but spent most its life as backwaters.


I eventually grew frustrated with the PVP play style. I don't really require structure in my PVP, but it does need to be something other than faceroll. I think it was late Burning Crusade, after my real life friends had abandoned the game, and my raiding guild had imploded, that I was stuck on a low population server and feeling pretty glum about it. I think I was trying to farm Primal Mana is Area 52, got corpse camped by a random hunter, and then just transferred my mage to low the population realm I could find, Blackwater Raiders, an RP server.

PVP, even corpsecamping or getting corpse camped felt a lot better back when I was still part of a community back on Darkspear. Being part of a competent guild where I could call for back up and that would eventually result in a zone-wide all out brawl between several allied guilds. It was also fun having kill-lists of players or other guilds. It could be lighthearted, finding someone from an enemy guild while leveling, killing each other as you leveled or farmed, jumping into their Ventrillo and giving each other light-hearted banter about it. It could also be petty where I had the misfortune of interacting with some of the biggest egos I've ever met in my life.

But when I lost that sense of community then it was really just other players being in the way of what little I still wanted from the game at that point. I transferred to a role-playing server to just not have to deal with people any further. But this was ultimately a mistake, it wasn't the PVP really (although it had mostly just gotten annoying), I was just burned out from the game.

Ironically, PVP is what actually got me back into the game. While I still find world PVP to be a chore, battlegrounds and arenas can be honest fun if the designers have the right balance ticking that expansion. Near the end of Burning Crusade I started leveling a Priest as a healer. The goal was to do dungeons, but those eventually got stale. At low level you simply don't have enough tools or challenges to make healing interesting, especially in the early days of the game.

Battlegrounds became my jam. Healing was so fundamentally different in a PVP setting is set my mind on fire with the freshness of the approach. Killing things in multiplayer is the most common thing in the world. You kill units in Starcraft, shoot other players in Counter-Strike, punch each other in Street Fighter, but no where else had I ever experienced the idea of "support" in a multi-player game.

As I learned later, this wasn't a fundamentally new idea in the games world. But it was new to me. I loved not only a break from the mindless repetition of DPS, but the huge effect I could have on the outcome of games. Keeping up a flag carrier as they made a wild dash across the coverless expanse of Warsong Gulch felt great. Holding the line in Alterac Valley or defending an Arathi Basin node against a superior force felt impactful. There was a real difference in the game's outcome in how I played. And people I healed often displayed a genuine sense of gratitude. A feeling I genuinely had missed while playing World of Warcraft.

A lot of the novelty of healing has worn off by this point. And healers are a common sight in all forms of PVP to the point where it's really just expected. I also ended up consolidating my characters on Thrall, a not-so-surprisingly Horde heavy server that seems to be reasonably popular. The old-school honor system grind is not something I want to subject myself to. It's not fun and, frankly, unhealthy to try for High Warlord. But as wait for this interminable queue to go down, I do hope I rediscover that fun.

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