Thursday, 4 August 2011

All Azeroth's a Stage

WoW is an old game, 6 years old to be exact. It has, in this time of unequaled video gaming success, to my (mildly odd) mind, become like some great Shakespearian comedy, acquiring 7 ages of player:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
+50 Culture Points

The epic passage, and summary of the life of one man can be quite analogous to the growth and development of the WoW player, if you have as odd a mind as I dear sir...
The difference being, that for as long as they can, a hero of Azeroth attempts to stop the boat at a point that fits her play style.

Many players, these days, have found there sweet spots and forgotten all about the other points on the road, and as I make movements from act 3 to act 4 I thought I might pause and have a look at where I've come from and what stages lie ahead.

Teh N00b: "At first the infant," You clicked that friend request made the account, and have no idea where you are. For me I was in the middle of a farm, with a church over yonder and a human knight telling me to visit these and other sites, where rat people would accuse me of taking their candle... to this day I have no interest in their candle, and saw no point in what I was doing, luckily at this point, my friend appeared online, they told me of the wonderful rich history of Azeroth, and I was hooked, a Tolkein book I get to live in. Move me on to the 3rd age! But... some people have a little in-between

The Solo Player: "Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail" Although many of us go straight into the Massively Multilayer Online part of the world -we're there to game with our friend and make new ones- For some WoW is a solo game, they remain un-guilded, favouring the Hunter, the Paladin, DeathKnight perhaps... Solo-ing the game and interacting only with NPCs, it's a game like any other to dip into as they like.

The 'Casual': "And then the lover, Sighing like furnace" I could be wrong here, -because this has been the majority of my WoW life- but from the (awesome) members of the bigger community I have seen, this is one of the larger (largest) type of player. They love the game, their friends in their social guilds, the shared geek out. Questing, Alts, instances, getting ontop of Heroics and surviving PUGs, the best-in-slot non-raid items... this is what they shoot for, progressing through the world Blizzard has to offer at a pace that suites them and with the people they chose to share it with.

The Social Raider: "Then a soldier" At some point, a social guild gets big enough, or a casual gets curios enough, that they feel the need to really push against the worst Azeroth has to offer, a good group of friends (or friends you just haven't met yet). Performance and numbers become important to the fight, because at some point not enough of either, is going to get others killed, but over all the bent is still to enjoy the extra content, spend a few hours working with friend, and making sure the bosses go down while your mates stay up.

The Hardcore Raider:
"Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation, Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice" That quote could have been written for the Paladin raider, but for us it is the Hardcore. For them the game has become a job, with deadlines, targets, spreadsheets, and military drill. For them everything Blizzard can create, every mob, boss, meter and mechanic is a direct challenge to they themselves, which is met with Azeroth's equivalent of Special Forces precision. It isn't the life for everyone but it is the 5h age.

The Lore Master:
"With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side," There are of course those who go hardcore the other way, dive into the back story with total emission, and lets face it, Blizzard aren't starving us! Warcraft has a depth of Lore to rival Middle Earth (while not necessarily being a collection of cultural master works) it has spread the story of the heroes of Azeroth to games, books, comics, manga, even movements for a silver screen release. The stories told in the world the Titans made is gloriously rich and the community is blessed by amazing writers and speakers who collate together the masses of story from our world and present them to the masses. These are the Lore masters, the 6th age, that we tip our tinfoil hats to.

The Burnt Out: And then the 7th age; the one to be avoided by all who read this "Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history," The star that burns twice as bright burns half as long... for some of us, the push to end game, the push to best-in-slot, the push to max profs', finally getting the best possible numbers, is a killer, burning out of the game, building feelings of resentment and despondency. When the time synch shows through the suspension of disbelief, all of use will burn (Ragneros rejoices....)

Which brings me to my point actually. Cataclysm feels like Blizzard realised all of this month ago.
For those in the first 2 ages, the entire world hath been rebuilt for thee. Go fort and quest!
For the 3rd your plite has not been forgotten, find thyself a dungeon LFG. Ones dailies shalt randomize and progress for thine own amusement. Real ID shalt group thy brothers together in glorious battle betwixt the realms and level your Alts as one whilst!

For mine good self, balanced precariously as one is, seeking desperately that elusive beast betwix the 3rd and 4th, The blessed nerf from the mighty Blizzard doth blow! Teir 11 they did decree, shall be open to thee!
The 5th bestow upon us their wisdom, as doth the 6th in their own violent ways.

And for the 7th we morn...
"Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

All that said, I'll shut up with this: Where ever and how ever you game, game on, I would date to say that right now, far from showing it's own age Warcraft is in the best shape it has been for all play styles and types. So who ever you are, how ever you enjoy Azeroth... go play already!

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