Sunday, December 29, 2013

Up the Hill Backwards

The End of the World is... oh, never mind...

We're in that sticky bit between Christmas and New Year, when increasing numbers of people begin to grasp the unavoidable truth that, like it or not, we've run out of content.

'Now hang on,' I hear some of you say 'but only YESTERDAY you were telling us how Old Stuff (TM) is content and that we can do that if we get bored!' Why yes, yes you can, but the problem there is that you've got to WANT to do it to begin with, and that's a bigger issue... there's knowing what you can do but being able to reconcile that with playtime. The biggest single issue with a game that is no longer 'current' is the desire for the people who have made it to go back and change things, especially when said people have gone on record as stating all their effort is being directed in another area (NEW EXPANSION PLEASE DON'T STOP.) That means you make your decisions based on some very clear understandings, and when you do, you choose to take on board the consequences... except a lot has changed in this game in a year, perhaps more than many people recall, because of the sheer speed stuff was implemented.

Here is a perfect example of how Stuff Changed (TM)

Back in 5.0, grinding for the Royal Satchel recipe was horrendous. There were one set of quests a day and that was it. Yup, just a trip to one of three random spots and you had no other choice, and frankly we've all decided just how stupid this was in hindsight, including (as it usefully transpired) the Devs. It was, however, MOST EXCELLENT CONTENT GATING. If you want to hold people up when you're beginning a game, there is nothing more robust that sticking the item people want behind a daily timer, which in essence is what this still remains. However, as Anne quite rightly points out, a year down the line this now sucks, which is why the quests are no longer the only way to pick up the rep:

The speed at which people gathered around Anne's Tweet yesterday and provided this advice is also testament to what is undoubtedly most useful at this stage in the game, especially if you're coming to things late: logistical understanding. It is no longer enough to simply know that to get X in the past you needed Y: so many new wrinkles and additions have appeared in Pandaria in reference to how one gains rep and how one can obtain it faster, it can be difficult to keep on top of all the possibilities. Having friends who also play therefore is an absolute lifesaver, saving you hours of wasted effort by the simple expedient of a larger knowledge base. After all all, all the Guides in the world are one thing, but if you don't know things have changed, you'll be none the wiser.

No, we don't mean THAT kind of logistics, UPS ^^

It's also a great deal about knowing how the game works: take Mr Alt as a perfect example of this. Only ten minutes ago he asks me why he can't catch the Piranha he needs for the Anger's Fishing daily he's on:  I ask him if he's in the right place for the quest, if he's fishing in pools or open water... and then I discover he's simply using his twine and thread. These quests are dependant on a certain skill to catch the fish quicker, so as soon as he makes the effort to equip his proper rod and hat, the fish magically appear. There is a depth of knowledge that spans far more than simply Pandaria, that extends back to Vanilla, but that is also tempered with the understanding that not everything works the same way, that certain places are their own quirks and exceptions... and suddenly having been here a while give you an advantage that really can give you the edge in certain circumstances. Yes, you can read a Guide, but there really is no substitute for having learnt your trade in the wild. Having people like @wowcynwise on your Twitter feed is arguably better than a Guide: after all, there is no substitute for human knowledge. If you're not using Twitter as a game companion, you really ought to, you know.

To all of you who spend hours on your farms, we salute you. We need more people prepared to break the game down to is nuts and bolts, to provide the vital nuggets of information that often get lost when you only have a couple of hours a week to play. Information is power, especially at this stage in the game, and being able to do stuff quickly and easily makes everyone's lives better and ultimately keeps everyone happy. It's not the end of the world if you can't do something instantly: coming in late does give you an edge, too. The chances are someone's already done the work for you... all you need to do is ask.

No comments: