The Game Doesn’t Always Begin At The End

February 12, 2010 at 7:42 pm (Navel-Gazing, Raiding, WoW General)

So, I’ve been fairly quiet.  Part of that is, of course, being gainfully employed once again, which is keeping me busy.  But also, I’ve found a somewhat unexpected experience when I came back to WoW this time around.  The game and I just haven’t clicked.

I’ve taken hiatuses (hiati?) before.  I figured I’d get ramped up for raiding and be good to go.  I ran a few heroics, got a few badges, and just Ran. Out. Of. Steam.  I found I lacked any enthusiasm for gearing up for raiding.  Now, I’ve always had a bit of that essential laziness (I don’t think I ever did get exalted with Sons of Hodir), but this time, the chore just seemed even more tedious than usual.

On some level, this bothers me.  I really want to see Icecrown Citadel.  My entire mental conception of my character and her history requires her to go into Icecrown Citadel.  I’m not going to see Icecrown Citadel if I go a month at a time between logons.  But I don’t, however, appear to want to see Icecrown Citadel badly enough to gear up from Naxx25-Ulduar10 level gear to where I’d be ready (assuming my guild even still exists such that it would be an option – it’s been a month since I logged on, so I have no idea).  But when my alternative is pugging Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle again, I feel a piece of my soul die.  And not in a good warlocky way, either.

Meanwhile, the siren song of Lord of the Rings Online has sucked me in entirely.  My hunter (think WoW hunter, but without a pet, so playstyle’s an almost more mage-style nuke-em-before-they-get-to-you) is level 44, and I have a small stable of alts I’m playing with as well.  Another few levels, and I can begin heading south towards a certain rather nasty dwarf ruin of considerable notoriety.

(And once again, Turbine, I’ll go into considerably more detail about the awesomeness of  your game if you send me a big fat check, so I can be one of those Kept Bloggers I keep hearing so much about!)

Why, I find myself wondering, am I spending time in a new MMO while precious raiding hours slip away?  After all, raiding has been what I’ve organized my endgame around since I first hit 70 on the lock.  And that, I think, is what it comes down to – it’s endgame.

Everybody has heard the claim that “WoW begins at level cap”, or that the endgame is the real game.  I’ve made the argument (I forget where) that that’s only true after you level your first character to level cap – the first time through, every new zone is exciting.  Leveling alts, that’s not as true – by a certain point, you’ve either leveled through a zone before, or you don’t actually have any interest in doing a particular zone (the latter is the case for me with most of the forested Kalimdor zones, for example – I’m just not interested.)

The raiding endgame is something I got into from the perspective of being an explorer.  I wanted to see what the inside of Medivh’s tower looked like.  I wanted to see this Kael’thas guy I kept reading about in the quest text (yes, I read quest text).  I wanted to see what was behind door number 1.  That said, raiding is also about the furthest thing from exploration there is.  The whole point of exploring is to boldly go where noone who is you, at least, has gone before.  If you show up to a raid, on the other hand, not having watched the videos that tell you precisely what to expect when you enter the boss’s room, you’re not doing your job.

It reminds me of how my dad and I used to play those old Sierra adventure games – King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and so forth.  Those games, for any of my readers who are too young (/cry) to have played them, had a point system that was your score – up in the corner, you’d have a tag that said “Score: 135 of 280”, for example.  You could, if you went through the game without exploring around the edges of the game too much, complete the game with considerably less than a maximum score.  I usually did.  I wanted to see the next part more than I wanted to be absolutely positive I hadn’t missed a point somewhere in the room.  My dad, on the other hand, wanted the maximum score.  Different types on the Bartle Scale (though as I read it, despite my characterization of my motives and his, my type would actually be “Achiever”, and his would be “Explorer”).

And that’s where things stand right now – there isn’t really anything in WoW to explore.  LotRO is nothing but exploration for me right now.  And so, that’s where I am.


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