Growl – my very feral druid is sitting about halfway through level 79 at the moment. It’s a great place to be – particularly if you enjoy camping the 70-79 PvP brackets for maximum destructivication of folks that are lower level than you…(seriously – what’s better than 2 shotting level 72 warriors and death knights?) At the same time, 79 is frustrating because you’re not quite 80 yet and thus, not quite ready for all the cool stuff that comes afterward.
At any rate, when Growl showed up in world last night she had two goals. To win two games of Wintergrasp (easy) and to grab the two free Triumph Badges from her nightly random (easy as well.)
The game had something else in mind for her unfortunately and we missed the queue for a WG already in progress. No worries I figured, I”ll just take care of some dailies and queue up as Kitty DPS in LFG. With any luck my dungeon would pop about the time I got my dailies done and I’d be out of my random in time for the next Wintergrasp battle.
It almost worked out.
I’d just finished feeding my baby raptor when the dungeon finder popped. I accepted my place as the 3rd DPS and zoned in.
Gah. Now Oculus really isn’t that bad. I’ve been through it a dozen times or so on Rainchaser, but it just wasn’t the quick in and out dungeon that I had been hoping for. Surprisingly though, none of the folks that had entered with me seemed intent to leave, so I figured I’d stick around. I mean really – how hard could it be?
The first pulls are a pain in the ass for any tank and an even bigger pain for the healer who always tends to get some aggro from all of the widely spaced whelps. Our critical pair were doing pretty well though. We cleared out the first couple packs with minimal fuss. The healer took a little aggro, but nothing horrible. The warrior tank was doing a fine job of rounding baddies up and shockwaving them senseless while I kitty-swiped my heart out.
Now, because I’ve been used to tanking I have a tendency to watch the tanks health and the healers mana out of sheer habit. The warrior was spiking pretty hard, but that’s to be expected. He couldn’t reflect *all* of the arcane blasts the whelps were directing toward him and what got through just ignored his armor. Still, he wasn’t spiking into the realm of OMG LAST STAND NAO and the healer still had nice full mana bar. Yet right in the middle of one slightly too large pull the warrior decided to ninja DC and vanished from the group. Seconds later the healer did as well. That left a mage and a ret-pally and kitty cat me.
So I did the whole druid thing and shifted out to bear. Even though I was using my dps talent spec, most of my gear can be changed out on the fly to my tank leather. Like a good bear I waded into the big middle of the magic spewing dragonkin and started swiping and mauling for all I was worth. Now the pull *was* big, but between barkskin, survival instincts, a nice big health pool and that ret pally healing her heart out – we made it through just fine.
Seconds later the pally transfered leadership of the group to me and asked if I’d tank. I gave a slight bear-whuffle of resignation, swapped to my tanking spec and re queued us.
Now – I’m not going to take you down the whole road of this Oculus adventure. But I do want to point a couple things out. By the time we had a full party again, only the healer and myself had ever been to Oculus before. In most heroics I’ve been in, this is enough to make the more experienced players decide to drop group without another word. I’ve seen it done more than once.
Yet the healer, a well geared Holy Pally was confident and positive.
“We’ll be fine. Growl can tank all of this and I’ll explain all of the fights.”
So with only 2 players that knew the instance at all, we finished up that nasty hallway and killed our first boss.
The healing pally was outstanding, never ran out of mana, kept his cool and never complained when the new players accidentally drug blue guard drakes by the dozens onto us as we flew between platforms. Mistakes were overlooked and where we could we educated.
It took longer than I was originally hoping for, but after taking the time to explain the fights we managed to survive wipe free all the way up to Eregos.
Who promptly tore us apart 🙂
But everyone came back, worked out the time stop rotations and made sure to keep next to the healer’s green drake. A tense few minutes later we were flapping back down to the loot box and slapping each other on the back for a job well done.
And it was a job well done. Sure, none of this stuff is particularly hard, but you know what? In my experience, most pugs seem to disintegrate the moment things do get hard. Having everyone stick together was a nice change of pace. One thing I’ve noticed about WoW’s more experienced players is that many of them refuse to accept anything other than a milk run when it comes to picking up their badges for the night.
It’s a sad loss. New players are rarely able to benefit from the accumulated wisdom of more experienced players. Worse, because so many new players are treated so poorly when they do ask for help a lot of the mentoring that used to be fairly common back in the days before the random dungeon finder seems to be completely gone. We’re able to farm dungeons to our heart’s content, but we do it in silence mostly and with more and more disregard for those we share the experience with.
It’s funny. In the old days people used to flail against the circular problem of raiding. Back then, no matter how skilled you were, it took gear to get you in the door of most raid guilds. People wanted to raid, but could not because they didn’t have the gear. The only way to truly get the gear (of course) was to raid. It drove more than one player to quit the game out of sheer frustration.
These days we seem to have turned the whole problem on its head. Everyone can get gear, regardless of their skill level or association with a raiding guild. Yet as they acquire the shiny epics, there’s absolutely nothing ensuring that they’re learning how to play the game. Worse, the best geared and most experienced players tend to treat new players like some rare form of disease that spreads through mere association. So we suddenly get a skill based hierarchy where new players are left to their own devices or ridiculed until they either quit or stumble their way to competence.
It’s a very negative, very survival of the fittest kind of existence. It’s also one that Blizzard is trying to find ways to combat. After all, they can’t afford to have too many new players give up on WoW. Thus far, Blizzard has been trying to “fix” things by softening the games harder edges. You can now be a successful raid guild with only 10 members. Heroic Content isn’t quite as heroic as some remember it. Reputations grinds are less…grindy…and everything from honor to gear to titles seems positioned in such a way that virtually anyone can obtain something.
But then comes the problem of exclusivity. In the old days you were elite because you raided – you were recognizably elite because you did hard content and won ultra rare gear. In those days, even regular 5-man dungeons could take you 2-3 hours to clear. Everything was a hard mode. These days players are having a harder and harder time trying to find some way to set themselves apart from the crowd. With everyone able to access a portion of the games finest gear through little more than persistance and heroic dungeon farming you have a population of gamers that continues to look more and more alike and with no real way to establish the pecking order that some people truly seem to need in order to function.
Thus – the problem continues. New players stagger around until they’re lucky enough to find a friendly face willing to show them the ropes. Yet the one thing that seems to continue, now more than at any other point that I can remember, is the need for so many experienced players to maintain their sense of exclusivity by browbeating less skilled players.
Wow. I started out talking about Oculus didn’t I?
I guess where I’m rambling around to is this. I never made it to my second game of Wintergrasp last night. I didn’t finish all of my dailies. After that slow and steady slog through Oculus I had had enough and decided to log for the night. Sure, I was a little disappointed that I was going to have to wait another day to buy those shoulders and even longer to finish hitting the level cap, but you know what? Who cares.
This game is supposed to be a social one. It requires players to join together to solve problems and overcome the bad guys. While I know the in game reality isn’t as stark and awful as Trade Chat might make it out to be, it’s getting close. As gamers do we need to reacquaint ourselves with things like “the Golden Rule” or the “Rule of Three“?
We live in this shared world that allows us to transcend so many of the more limiting constraints of real life. In game we’re strong, famous, powerful, beautiful. Yet for all of that digital majesty we seem to be getting uglier inside. Is it so hard to take a moment and give back to the game and the other people in it?
Sure, maybe worrying about this kind of thing makes me a hopeless care-bear, but I don’t think so. Lets face it. We can either treat each other and the game with a little respect, or we can watch subscriptions slowly dwindle away until no one is left but the egoists and elitists preening for one another in Dalaran.
And boy…wouldn’t that be fun.