Cross Faction RealID? Why not Zoidberg?

I know what you’re thinking and the title was to prep you by having you read it in Zoidberg’s voice. Hopefully you won’t read the rest of the article like that, but if you do. Not bad.

World of Warcraft has single-handedly made me hate the idea of factions in MMORPGS. At any given time in this game almost 50% of the content is roped off – inaccessible to you due to your faction. Even if you have a horde and an alliance character, you can’t be both at once. Along with that, a decent chunk of the playerbase is roped off to you as well.

At first this didn’t seem so bad – until the population started going down and they added realID. At this point when you’re trying to organize realID raid runs you have to make sure that the personal friends you trusted enough with your realID email have a character on the faction you want to raid on. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Sucks when they don’t.

I’m a fan of putting in Cross Faction RealID, clearly, though I can understand why they wouldn’t add it. Factions are so deeply ingrained in World of WARcraft that it’s almost  impossible to go back now. The thing is though – this isn’t the RTS game. It’s an MMORPG. MMORPGS thrive by having the community interact with each other.

It would be one thing if War were still the basis of this game. Let’s face it – World PVP is dead. There is no more Tarren Mill vs. Southshore…partially because they nuked Southshore off the face of the planet and there are no alliance hubs out there anymore. PVP is mainly relegated to battlegrounds and arenas. Maybe they’ll add something to MoP but isn’t it too little too late anyway?

WoW has made millions off its faction branding. Look at Blizzcon and how easy it is for Samwise to rile up the crowd by just shouting “FOR THE HORDE!” You set this basis of differences in people and that their side (Alliance and horde are both guilty of this, mind.) is inherently better than the other through subtle actions and its a perfect marketing recipe. Hatred sells. The reason they don’t denounce faction hatred or come out and say that one side is preferred over the other is because the players eat it up.

You think I’m joking about the “hatred sells” thing? Look at politics. People walk into traps with that all the time because they see bright lights and big words and get confused. Look at brand warfare. Pepsi and coke will never come out and purposely insult the other brand, but they’re there  in the background quietly enforcing your loyalty because even if you don’t choose their soda, you’re still putting money into the industry.

Because of this, the greatest challenge Blizzard would face with implementing cross faction RealID is the players themselves. Some aren’t going to want to give up that faction specialness for the sake of gameplay. Which means that both sides will continue to be segregated, and great potential for grouping and uses of the cross faction raiding function will be lost.

I hate faction limitations in game. I’m hoping its something the MMO industry as a whole will move away from as more next gen MMOs come out. I hate to hold other games on pedestals but this is one thing Guild Wars 2 is going to do properly. Guild wars is arguably one of the better PVP MMOs out there, and GW2 is shaping up well in the PVP area as well. There are no factions at all, but the PVP is still there in the form of World vs World and battlegrounds. This means that those who prefer dungeoning with friends can and when they want to PVP welp, off they go.

Soon games are going to have to choose to either bank on the short term – guaranteed faction branding loyalty; or the long term – replayability and accessibility.

Me, personally? I’m tired of having 50% of my friends totally unavailable to play with unless they want to roll an entirely new character. I can shout “FOR THE ALLIANCE!” til the cows come home, but that’s not going to fill up my firelands achievement runs, is it?

WoW, Mental Disorders, and Coping Mechanisms

The other day a thread was posted on the WoW forums regarding suffering from anxiety and how WoW can act as a means of coping. It remained blissfully free of trolls and instead had people sharing their own stories of using the game and/or seeking help/treatment for their disorders.

When people tend to think of mental disorders their immediate thought goes to depression, and somehow they tend to equate depression as a “not serious” thing since the term gets bandied about so much on the interwebs. There’s also the issue that it’s very hard when not suffering from something to put yourself in someone’s shoes and think about what they may going through. There is a cognitive disassociation on the internet that I think many of us are familiar with. Most of you probably know it as “Gabriel’s Internet Fuckwad Theory.”

I’d wager a guess that 99.9% of people have had a mild anxiety attack in their lifetimes. That shortness of breath, panic, overall feeling of doom. You’ve been there, haven’t you? Most of us have. For some that’s an every day occurrence. You’ve also probably been depressed once or twice, no? Feeling the weight of the world crushing down on you, either giving up and just letting the sadness set in for a couple of days or instead snapping at everyone you see to vent.  Imagine that every day to the point where you can’t get out of bed. Sometimes associating with this is hard to do, but believe me when I say people suffer from all this and more on a daily basis.

Where does WoW play into all of this? That’s an interesting question. Many of my friends and myself who have what could be considered “Mental Illnesses” or disorders play this game and it could be considered as a bit of a coping mechanism. Nothing ever replaces therapy and proper mental health care mind you, but it pays when you can find a low stress hobby that allows you to escape for an hour or two a day.

It’s different for everybody, but as pointed out in the thread – WoW is a low risk game. Key word mainly being “game.” If you mess up in a heroic the worst your group will do is wipe. It’s not like being at work where if you mess up it could cost you your job. Things begin to get murkier as raiding is thrown into the mix, but it really depends on how seriously you take the game and yourself by proxy when playing it.

There are outside factors that can contribute to a stressful environment, don’t get me wrong. We’ve all had that LFD group with the people being incredibly waspish and snapping at each other constantly. But personally, I don’t tolerate bullshit. If I’m unhappy in a group I will drop. There are literally millions of other players in this game, so I don’t need to put up with the 10 or so percent that are looking to hurt people. More people should do this. It’s incredibly liberating to know you don’t HAVE to put up with it. If you walked into a McDonalds and saw two people standing at the counter shouting insults at each other, would you stand there and still try to get your coffee or would you turn around and go to the Dunkin Donuts next door? WoW is the exact same way – and more people need to understand that.

In terms of mental disorders I’ll come right out and admit I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is one of those disorders along with depression and Tourettes that still seems to be in “okay” zone when it comes to cracking jokes about it.

“Oh yeah I have OCD too, lol! I like to straighten up my bookshelf so it’s all in alphabetical order!”

I appreciate the desire to relate, and I would never judge a friend for joking like this. But there’s a common misconception about OCD in that all it involves is cleaning up and/or washing your hands over and over again. A lot of people with OCD are hoarders that live in filthy houses. You know that show on A&E/TLC about it? I’d wager a guess that 70-80% of those people have OCD.

To put things into perspective – when I go to bed I have a long ritual of things my brain wants me to do, and I would stand there and do them in a loop if the sensible other part of my brain didn’t chime in to tell me I was being ridiculous. If you want to think of it in more technical terms, it’s like there’s coding in my brain that doesn’t have a bracket closed, so the actions continue to loop over and over again. One of the more painful parts of OCD is that most of us are fully aware of how stupid/dumb we look and sound as we’re performing rituals or talking about obsessions.

Compulsions don’t come up just on their own. There’s usually always an obsession that goes along with it. Obsessions aren’t just, “Man I really want a burger right now. I’m so obsessed.” No, think – horrifying visions of death and disaster in your head. I regularly check the area near my heater in my bedroom to ensure I don’t burn to death in my sleep from something waywardly catching on to the heating coils that -aren’t even exposed.- Does that sound ridiculous? It kind of is. I know. But I live with it.

Initially my OCD played a huge role in how I played WoW. My screenshot folder was absolutely overflowing with screenshots I’d take out of paranoia that when I logged back in, my character would have lost a level. Or my bank would be empty. I’m also very slow about putting my auctions up so I can quadruple check that the amount I’m listing it for is correct. Again, I know how dumb this sounds, and yet, sometimes I still do the screenshot thing.

I’d wager a guess that lots and lots of people in WoW have some form of mental issues they’re working through. It probably manifests itself in different ways in game as well, but the important thing is that we’re not alone. I’m sure there are perfectly normal people who use the game as a coping mechanism for their own lives as well, and that’s totally fine. Mental illness still has a societal stigma attached to it where people consider it gross or weird, so I think that’s why so few people talk about it. And you know what? That’s okay in this game. Especially in WoW where you don’t have to be defined by your depression, or your OCD, or your PTSD. That’s part of the beauty of it all. People who want to be open can be, and the people who prefer to just enjoy themselves without thinking about it can as well.

Just remember that ultimately we’re all crazy people in a crazy world.

Moar animations!

SO THE OTHER DAY I GOT MY SWIFT LOVEBIRD:

And to celebrate I did another WoW flipnote animation!

CLICK HERE FOR AWESOMENESS!

This one didn’t take too long because I could just repeat cells over and over again. If you’re wondering what kind of advanced technology I use to make these, here’s a picture!

The worst part is that I’m left-handed and the DSi’s power button is on the lower left-hand side so I have to be SUPER careful.

Anyway. I hope my stupid derpy drawing maybe brightened up your day a bit.

Thinking with Portals as a Mage

So along with drawing terrible pictures, sometimes I also make terrible flipnote animations. Flipnotes are made on Nintendo DSi systems in a really basic animation program. Somehow it’s that basicness and limited capability that appeals to me because I’m an incredibly lazy person when it comes to my art. You all probably figured that out by yourselves though!

Last night I made a short flipnote animation entitled: Mages are Evil. Yes, I had a few of my friends in mind when drawing this.

Mages being Mages

Don’t lie. You know if mages could do this you would be doing it all the time.

Account Bound Achievements and You. Or me!

For those that aren’t forum sponges like I am, you may have missed a blue post by Vaeflare this week indicating Blizzard’s plans to make achievements accountbound at some point in MoP. Neth later posted that people probably shouldn’t get their hopes up too much since it’s still a work in progress, but ultimately this change is going to be a revolutionary boon for the entire playerbase.

It’s no secret that for the last few years WoW has been a major player in changing what people think of MMORPGS in general. Other games definitely add new ideas to the mix, but things like Looking for Raid, cross dungeon grouping, etc. are huge steps forward for online gaming in general. (Even if it took them forever to add transmogrification which has existed in some form or another in other games for years.)

The major arguments I’ve seen against accountbound achievements are that people want characters to feel like their own entities. Why should a brand new level 1 draenei have the kingslayer achievement that person has on their main account? It’s a valid complaint to be sure, but as someone who has major issues getting attached to alts I think this is going to dramatically increase the amount of characters I get to max level.

My topic alt rolling pattern goes like this:

1) Get excited about race/class combo, debate rolling one.

2) Roll said race/class combo. Feel really pumped about leveling until around level 20.

3) Leveling starts slowing down around this point as the reality of playing another character sinks in. I start to think to myself about all the stuff my main has that this alt doesn’t. Titles, mounts, etc. Things I’d have to re-earn if I wanted them on this new character.

4) If I make it to level 30 it gets even worse as friends ask me to do heroics on my main. Now the reality of having to put all the work from my main into this alt again is sinking in. Usually around level 35 I abandon the character for good knowing that I won’t want to bother with it and will always want to play my main due to the work I’ve already put into her.

When we create alt characters, particularly on new servers, they are essentially thrust – naked – into an already established world that has existed for 7+ years. For some this is fun, but to those like me who have already been in this world for that long and experienced mostly everything – it’s not really fair that I end up starting from scratch yet again. Sure, I can maybe mail myself some gold or some heirlooms, but when I look at the empty achievement tab I die a little inside.

Spread across my characters I have a PVP title from vanilla, a hand of a’dal title, the zhevra mount, several tabards that can no longer be acquired, a large amount of achievement related mounts, etc. These things that I have, by all rights, earned, are inaccessible to me as the person who earned them unless I am on that character specifically. I’m sorry, but that sucks. It also makes it incredibly hard to get attached to my alt characters.

At this present time there is no way to ever fully “switch mains” because ultimately by doing so you lose more than just the gear or VP/JP you earned on your previous main. You are losing every hour you put into that character so that you can play a new one you may enjoy more.

Now imagine a world where you roll a new character and instantly have access to all those achievements you earned. Your titles, your mounts, they’re all still accessible to this character. You’ll still get to experience the fun of leveling, playing, and gearing this new character – but the sentimental aspects of your main are still there. How would this change leveling for you? For me it would definitely make it so much easier to trudge through it again because the gain is going to be far more than the loss – something that isn’t true currently.

So count me among those that are incredibly excited for this change. It’s a huge step forward for this game in terms of accessibility. Now I can roll with friends on other servers without groaning inwardly about how this alt will never be as good as my main.

Love is in the Air~

Happy early Valentine’s Day/Love is in the Air people! As a single person, I’m supposed to celebrate single awareness day or whatever thing we tell ourselves to feel better these days. The reality of my situation, though, is illustrated below:

BUT THEN

It’s true! Thankfully if I couldn’t laugh at myself I’d be a miserable, miserable person. And I doubt I’m the only one that’s so incredibly hypocritical like this on V-day.

But you know what? The important thing is that we get CANDY. Even if we have to sneakily go into the grocery store and buy it ourselves.

>.>

<.<

Why no, these are for my boyfriend uuh…Stan…Markstonworthingtonshire. He’s uh. In Europe. Yeeeah. Just gimme the damned snickers!