|Would you trust these men with your expansion?|
I am aware of at least one person who, as a result of last week's Expansion news, has cancelled their subscription.
This was a deliberate move, based purely and simply on the decision of the individuals above to base our next adventure 'in the past.' According to my now ex-playing friend, using time travel as a means to extend Garrosh's current storyline isn't simply pointless, it's a criminal waste of the massively expansive world that the game has already created. It's what 'bad writers' do when they've run out of decent ideas and they need to extend the shelf life of their product. This person's exact response when I asked them why they'd unsubscribed?
'This Expansion has jumped the shark.'
If you're not familiar with this term, let me use Wikipedia to enlighten you:
Jumping the shark is an idiom created by Jon Hein that was used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery, which is usually a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of "gimmick" in a desperate attempt to keep viewers' interest. Its name is taken from a scene from a late-season episode of the sit-com 'Happy Days' when the character Fonzie jumps over a shark on water-skis.
The usage of "jump the shark" has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment when a brand, design, or creative effort's evolution loses the essential qualities that initially defined its success and declines, ultimately, into irrelevance.
I have to say, I can see the point.
This exchange has set me thinking ever since the weekend: mostly because I'd still not decided if I like the concept of the new Expansion's setting myself or not. Reading Matthew Rossi's take on the Lore behind this yesterday, I find myself reassured that he's come to pretty much the same conclusions that I have: there IS canonical justification for all of this looking at previous events, especially on the back of the conclusion to Cataclysm. However, justification is all very well and good, but is that enough? I got unreasonably invested in Pandaria's lore, pretty much by accident, and I think the only conclusion I'm prepared to draw after all this time is making snap judgements based on two days worth of Powerpoint presentations is never wise. I need to see this Expansion on my screen and experience it in my head before I pass any kind of judgement.
I also realise that, at least this time around, the Lore isn't nearly as important as it was.
That's quite a sea change for me, considering I wrote fiction on the back of my response to events in Pandaria. I was the person in tears when Aysa rescues Ji from the Horde and they leave the Siege together. Why, this time around, am I really not that bothered about finding an emotional investment in what's coming? I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that I have absolutely no-one to become attached to in what I've been shown, apart from my own character. This is a male-dominated past, not one of the major players of which have seen has anything to lend themselves to me in terms of interest. However, this may all change before Expansion launch... but part of me doubts that will come to pass, simply because of what I already know to be the lore. So, that leaves me with a choice: do I need to have a strong storyline to ensure my engagement? I didn't care about the game's narrative, let's be honest, at least until Wrath, and that eventual engagement had NOTHING to do with female protagonists or sympathetic characters. The Wrathgate changed everything, and should that kind of moment emerge in Warlords, the possibility remains.
At this point, there's something with far more personal significance that is occupying my interest.
It is my own character that has become a specific focus in the general scheme of things and that's caused a shift of interest that I don't remember experiencing at any point in the game's history. I'm pretty certain that's an indicator of a different level of investment, because Blizzard have unintentionally managed to tap into possibly one of the most important, subliminal reasons why I continue to play the game: my own primary protagonist.
|This is MY dwarf :D|
It's really rather surreal: when I stared at these visuals for the first time, I realised this is how I think my Dwarf LOOKS LIKE NOW. In my mind, when I load up my hunter, this is how I imagine she appears, in my mind. Blizzard have simply taken my understanding of the shortfalls of the gaming engine and are updating the visual look to match with my pre-existing expectation, and that is enough to make me want to keep playing until I can see the results of their efforts on my own screen. Once the allure of that wears off... well, then we might have a problem. However, that's where the updated UBRS and Garrisons and the new approaches to questing might have a way to get their hooks into me... the method by which I have been captured to keep subbing is distinctly different this time around. I have no illusions about this, but I feel I need to be honest. Part of me refuses to argue the jump the shark counterpoint because... well, time travel's a difficult one. I love to go visit the past, but I'm not sure I want to live there. I like my life going forward, not forced to look back.
This is one Expansion I'm going to need in my hands before I start drawing any kind of narrative conclusion.
However, I'm still nowhere near ready to call it a day. The prospect of fighting in familiar territory but in a different frame of reference isn't enough to put me off, but there is distinctly more disquiet in my mind than there was. The fact old zones remain untouched and unaffected by existing events is a continuing concern. The understanding that 'old' instanced areas are slowly being updated and removed from their original contexts... all these tweaks without a proper re-do, because people demand 'new' content... this remains the world everyone travels through to reach the End Game, but I understand very few people ever stay there. There is also the very real possibility that if time-travel happens for Draenor, we may end up getting alternative-Universe versions of other areas rather than amending the places that still exist, simply because it's fitting the 'quicker Expansions' timescale we're now working to. In the end, we won't know how this works until we see it. It looks great, however, and it's going to arrive with more speed than anything else that has preceeded it.
At least I won't have long to wait to make a decision.