Oh look, it’s April.
It’s also the month when Shadowlands will begin to be streamed, written about and plastered all over people’s feeds, and they’re only in a very VERY limited testing schedule. The process is well worn, and much criticised, so there’s no point in rehashing any of that. In times of high stress, I can tell you from very personal experience just how useful it is to have somewhere to escape into where Reality is of low to zero priority.
These are the moments where gaming comes into its own. When you see ‘normal’ people who’d never even talk about playing picking up consoles and posting screenshots for the first time? Yeah, shit got real. However, there are those of us for whom familiar spots to withdraw within are no longer as effective or indeed comfortable as they once were, which is why last night I spent three and a bit hours in CIV: Beyond Earth.
I’ve written enough about why I won’t be playing Shadowlands on release, however brilliant it ends up being at ‘reinventing’ Warcraft. The problem for me is the reinvention itself, that the class I play will yet again be redesigned and fiddled with. I’d have to learn another new set of rotations, grapple with new spells and abilities. It doesn’t matter that they’re things that were once taken away. I don’t feel vindicated they’re returning, but disappointed they had to be taken away in the first place.
The problem here, ultimately, is consistency.
Every Expansion process is exactly the same: actual content is now irrelevant. Storylines are incidental, as is lore. All this is is another attempt to find a magic formula that, by its very nature, must never be found: as long as the vast majority of people buy the game at launch, that’s all that ever really counts. Nothing is ever altered so much as to put off the vast majority of hardcore players. In fact, their participation is now part of that process.
This is the only AAA title that is now effectively constructed by a hive mind.
Paying for the game effectively grants you the ability to be part of an experience both online and on social media, via streamers and influencers picked to maintain interest in new content, and to encourage old content to be consumed in different ways. Then there will be the vital period where you’ll get to play with all those new spells and abilities in an interim patch, prior to the actual launch.
Everybody gets to be a noob whilst all the new abilities and skills get learnt… and then it’s a Pre-Launch Event and off you go. Not this time. I’m tired of having to relearn all my skills every 18 months. I’m disappointed that lore and skill sets keep getting changed for the sake of expediency. There is not enough time any more to collect what I want, in the way I enjoy, without being left often expansions behind. Most importantly, I need a rest.
Warcraft stopped being ‘fun’ to play.
I tried doing it with a US Guild for a while but I was never really part of that group, I suspect my opinions on gameplay weren’t that well received either. I have a UK friend who keeps trying to persuade me to come raid, but it’s just too stressful. Most importantly of all however, the time required to get back to speed and then keep current is simply unrealistic when I want to try and get my writing career of the ground.
Yet again, it’s nothing to do with Warcraft. It’s all my problem, and I know certain friends have lamented my lack of desire to be part of this latest Expansion. I find myself remembering all the people who left the game while I was still firmly nestled within it’s embrace and wondering why what they had been given wasn’t enough. Now I realise, with more than a pang of disbelief, it may well have been far too much.
There is one coda to add before I go back to games with specific win conditions that don’t keep asking me to be better geared to participate. Looking at you, staunch defenders.
When you’ve been obsessed with something the point of it being detrimental to your own health, it becomes quite easy to spot that in other people. This is your scheduled reminder that gaming companies are NOT your family, and they will lay off large swathes of their workforce if it is beneficial to appease shareholders to demonstrate they understand how corporate politics work.
This is not an attack on you or them. This is my opinion. Is is absolutely not facts, but beliefs based on what has already transpired, how I think and feel about events experienced. I am allowed to hold this opinion, please feel free to disagree. That process is called criticism, and it is absolutely VITAL to the process of normal human behaviour. However, as time goes on, people will not allow this process to take place, instead choosing to ignore those who do not ‘tow the company line.’
If you learn anything in the months leading up to the expansion launch, please let it be to allow other people to think differently than you do, and allow them to express those opinions without you attacking them for negativity. Conflict, like it or not, is a part of the human experience. Trying to pretend nothing can be negative because you can’t cope with consequences is living a lie, and can be potentially damaging to your health.
Take it from someone who knows from deeply personal experience.