Sunday, June 12, 2011

12. wastelands of the post-immediate past

I’ve been running my lock through Northrend recently, grinding for chopper rep, and have been amazed at the ghost town it’s become. Dalaran, following Cata release, was still pumping adventurers into Northrend. Now it’s amazing quiet – everywhere else on the continent… quieter still. Questing through Howling Fjord I can go hours without spotting any toon of either faction.

It’s got me thinking about what happens in these spaces when the active toons leave.

The first response is nothing! If an electronic tree falls in an electronic forest surely no one actually hears it?! But that’s not true, NPCs continue to path, nodes sit ready for farmers, battles rage, music plays… the rain falls. These environments which we took such enjoyment in from the time of their xpac until the time of the next xpac continue to live their own inner lives. But we now pass them by.

So what, everything passes? Are we happy with this? If I had my way, if there was a single zone that could be reinvigorated and made relevant again to my game play there’s no question which one it would be – it’s Zangarmarsh. Visually stunning, beautiful soundtrack, some interesting rep grinds, but most of all the warm fuzzy feelings I get when I think back on my time spent there.

At the time this zone was active I was a member of a 25-man raid guild, but I couldn’t raid due to RL time restraints so was PVPing on my druid and fishing. : ) I was just discovering the fun of making WoW gold with my primary efforts being in gathering (ore and skinning) and realising the great profits that were in buff foods. I’d tune into vent and listen to the SSC or BT raid and quietly pass the time fishing and watching the active life of the server pass me by. The lights, the sounds, occasional player interactions, the gentle lapping of the water upon the purple-green shore were engaging and enjoyable.

Memories that now languish, a little melancholy even perhaps… It would seem that though the beauty of the place was important to my experience of it what was more important was my experience of my online community at that moment in time. Perhaps this is why, in the age of the mega guilds and Thaurissan alliance’s ongoing collapse, I have less emotional connection to current zones in game. The community is simply not there.

Perhaps Blizzard is wise in the way they move new content to geographically new areas. They give players a chance to begin again in an area with no associations and no memories; a chance to rise phoenix-like onto a new MMO stage should they wish it.

So a question for readers to ponder: is it new experiences and content we chase in WoW or is it the connection to other gamers like ourselves, to people?


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