Those of you who follow me on Twitter (or who have read other blogs I’ve written) have probably already heard this story in bits and pieces. You may not have realized it, though, because I’ve held off on just sitting down and really flat-out saying… well, exactly what the title says… why I’m leaving. I made it known a few months back that I will not be renewing my subscription once the year pass agreement is up. I started saying goodbye to characters. I just haven’t talked much about how I made the decision to leave, or what pushed me to that point. Between the number of “Cataclysm in Review” posts I’ve seen lately and the fact that I got a new diagnosis from my doctor today, I think I’m ready to talk about why I’m leaving Azeroth.
Let’s start with my thoughts on Cataclysm…
I’m a very story-oriented player. I will do damned near anything I can to see the story, but there are a lot of things I wouldn’t do without compelling story driving it. I guess that’s part of why I can’t maintain an interest in PvP, no matter how much I enjoyed it when I got an itch to do battlegrounds or the one season I was part of an arena team. Yes, there’s story context for why a battleground exists. It just seems like that story never goes anywhere.
I expected more from Cataclysm when it came to the story. It was wonderfully done in some places, and not just areas that had been radically changed geographically. Pre-Cata, I absoluted hated Duskwood! I think it’s now one of the best examples of updating story without changing too much. It’s mostly the same old quests, but some of them are done in a different context now and others have an actual reason that you have to do this again. It’s acknowledged that this has been done before. (Usually by “some adventurers a few years ago”.) My only complaint about the zone was that worgen aren’t sent there. Assuming you just follow the trail of quests, worgen are in Kalimdor doing Night Elf quests when humans are sent to Duskwood. I really feel like worgen should have been sent there to get some more of the background on the curse (I’m thinking about players who had never seen those quests before), as well as finding out what became of some of their fellow Gilneans. I often heard people say you don’t see worgen again until you get to the Plaguelands or the end of Felwood. There are worgen in Duskwood! Not only do you find out what some of them have been doing since leaving Gilneas, but Tobias Mistmantle says something about choosing to keep his human appearance while he’s in town because seeing worgen really sets the citizens of Duskwood on edge. That’s some relavant information about how people might respond to seeing a worgen, and how worgen might choose to handle the situation. Good for context for anyone, and especially useful for roleplayers.
I wish they had pulled the story out longer in some places and just not made it necessary to go through Outland and Northrend at all. I know they’ve said they had more story than levels, so they just didn’t update some zones because they couldn’t squeeze it all end. Yes, you could have, Blizzard folks. Rearrange the levels a bit, fill out Old World Azeroth with all that story, let people completely skip Outdatedlands and Notnewsanymorerend.
I really expected more about the dwarves. About King Magni, about Moira and the Dark Irons… about that one Dark Iron we just KNOW was lying and taking the blame for something he wasn’t guilty of! (Honestly, if that’s NOT how that turns out, I’ll be even more disappointed because it means the writing was just plain crappy there.) I didn’t necessarily expect that everything would play out and then be resolved for the dwarves before Cataclysm ended, but I expected to see more than just what happens before you get sent on to Loch Modan.
I expected to find out what happened to Koltira. Horde characters actually see Sylvanas drag him off, and Thassarian either knows what happened or it just didn’t take him much guessing to figure it out. He tells Alliance players he’s going to go find out what she did with Koltira. I can give Blizzard a break on not updating the story for Death Knights in general. I’d like to see that, but I do believe them when they talk about this having been such a massive change to the game that they just couldn’t update everything. But this chapter in the tale of Thassarian and Koltira is a new one, and I would have liked to see how it played out.
I think Blizzard has pacing problems with their story. See, I don’t think it’s just a case of adventurers have been gone, always moving on to the next thing, so it doesn’t make sense to suddenly send you BACK to follow up on things. While I do understand Azeroth is bigger than it seems (the book “The Last Guardian” talks about Medivh and Kadgar flying THROUGH THE NIGHT - Kadgar even falling asleep on the back of the gryphon - to get from Karazhan to Stormwind) we’ve been sent back and forth before. Mages have portals. Engineers have wormholes. Hearthstones. Warlock summons. Arcane-powered thingamabobs. Jaina just up and popped us right into Grommash Hold once. Hell… it probably took months for adventurers to travel by ship to get to Northrend, but not so long to travel back to Stormwind or Orgrimmar after the Wrathgate, over the the Undercity, and back to Northrend.
Or maybe it did. That could explain why everything sat at the end of Wrath for so long. Time had to catch up.
Blizzard doesn’t have a problem with asking us to suspend our disbelief and accept that we can easily travel back and forth across Azeroth when it’s about driving the bigger story forward. See, that’s the difference. The battle for the Undercity needed to happen in Wrath. It couldn’t be something you just got around to later. I didn’t see Burning Crusade when it was current content, so I don’t know if there was an explanation or not for how you were going from what was left of Draenor back to Azeroth, and then making the return trip, to visit the Caverns of Time so easily. Since there was a portal to the Caverns of Time in Dalaran, we can write easy access to Culling of Stratholme in Wrath off as “a wizard did it”.
But what happens when a storyline doesn’t NEED to be tied up now? It sits and does nothing. Or, okay, I’ll allow that it could be part of a bigger plan. It’s not that it’s on the back burner because it’s not necessary right now… maybe it’s really and truly not supposed to be tied up until later. But in that case, I feel like we see a lot of bad handling of those storylines. It often feels like they just drop off unfinished. I understand some events in MoP are a result of what’s going on in the Southern Barrens in Cataclysm. I played through there as both Alliance and Horde. On both sides, it doesn’t feel like this is “the end”… that it’s all resolved, no more problems… but it did feel “wrapped up for now”. It didn’t feel like it was just dropped suddenly simply because it wasn’t over. I wish more storylines that can’t be finished right now could be handled as well as that.
Okay, okay… no more chattering about the importance of STORY. But I think how we moved through that story had an effect on overall satisfaction.
Plenty has been said about the very linear way questing was done, both by players and Blizzard, and I’m on the side of “didn’t care for it”. I could live with it, though. It certainly didn’t stop me from playing through things again. I just made sure I got into whichever path I wanted to be on wherever I knew there was an opening in the quests to do so. And that’s all I have to say about that.
But what about the impact these epic storylines may have had on overall satisfaction with Deathwing being dead? I’ve seen a lot of people talk about just not feeling much of a sense of satisfaction there, and not just from a raiding perspective but also from a being part of the story perspective. I am horribly unqualified to talk about raiding, so again it’s the story I have thoughts on. I’ve said before, and had people agree with me, that I cared a lot more about those characters and their stories along the way, and less about Deathwing. I think there’s a problem there. Deathwing is a character that matters for me, for reasons best left to a different post, and I had to ask myself how I could possible not really care about how the story ended for him.
I didn’t get to kill Arthas, but I really wanted him dead! I wanted him dead because of all the times I couldn’t set things right. I wanted Arthas dead because of Sylvanas. Because of blood elves. Because of Sindragosa. Because of Invincible. Because of his father. Because of Pamela Redpath. Because of, whether he really had a better choice or not, Stratholme. Because Forsaken Death Knights are one of the most tragic things ever. Because of the years Muradin Bronzebeard didn’t know who he was, and Brann and Magni thought their brother was dead. Because, really… with the way Blizzard does things, what ARE the chances that David Trias and Elling Trias aren’t related? Because it was just Arthas in there, and I had a bone or two to pick with the rest of the Lich King, as well.
Time and time again, I couldn’t really set things right. So much story from Old World Azeroth through Northrend drove it home for me over and over that heroes are sometimes as helpless and useless as everybody else. What good was being a hero when you couldn’t do anything to set it all right? I wanted to be able to take that out on Arthas.
I just didn’t feel that about Deathwing. I didn’t feel a personal sense of betrayal. He flew over a fried me a few more times than he really needed to, but that was more a sense of annoyance at the RNG. Had I been more invested in draenei or some flavor of elf, I can see Burning Crusade content having that emotional tug I felt with Wrath. Deathwing? Not for me.
I was rewarded in such a big way over and over and over as I played through those epic storylines, I think it robbed me of that sense of, “This dude needs to finally go down!” I didn’t feel like a worn-down hero who had had enough of being the good guy on the losing side. I felt like I was a pretty big badass, even if I was walking away from a village that had burned to the ground. I think the epic stories with big endings and a fancy blue spoiled me.
Still with me? You must be really interested in where this all went wrong for me! Or you’re hoping for bear pictures. Keep reading.
That’s all just me pointing out what I think could have been done better. If those things were my only problem, I’d live with it. I’d probably still write a few posts complaining about it and offering suggestions, but I’d stay.
My biggest problems - the things pushing me out of Azeroth - are the focus on end game, and my inability to easily handle group content.
I’ve endured attitudes. I’ve spoken up over and over about how something being easy for some people does not mean everyone it’s not easy for is stupid. I’ve talked about problems with looking at changes as “casuals ruining the game”. I’ve also held my tongue in many cases. Sometimes because the argument wouldn’t be worth it, and sometimes because I just felt too battered and broken to be able to speak up again.
Many of you reading this probably know about my social anxiety. I didn’t always have it. I am not, by nature, a shy person. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition that mimics the effects of a brain tumor. This has seriously slowed my ability to process and respond to things, and it has made turning the thoughts in my head into words for others a task I sometimes just can’t handle. I also have a mild hearing problem. Using something like Vent just isn’t doable for me with this combination of things. This also has led to me becoming so panicked sometimes when trying to communicate with other people that I’ll just freeze up and run away.
I’ve also been fighting chronic pain and fatigue for three years. I’ve been shuffled back and forth by doctors. One thought CFS and fibromyalgia were the same thing, that I had that, and that my neurologist would be the one to treat it. The neurologist had to send me to someone else, and the whole issue of CFS and fibro NOT being the same thing was cleared up, but… well, this is a long boring story that finally ends up with me getting a diagnosis today. For three years, I have been living with untreated osteoarthritis. And that explains why it’s been getting worse. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition.
That’s why I couldn’t raid. That’s why running five mans with strangers hasn’t been something I could handle. Not because I’m stupid. Not because I’m a “casual”. Because I have a neurlogical disease that mimics a brain tumor, and I’ve been living with untreated osteoarthritis.
I’m going to say what I’ve wanted to say since before Wrath ended. I’m only going to say it once, but I’m not going to apologize for it.
If you’ve ever complained about the effect people who just don’t play as well as you have on the game… not dps who pulls for the tank, or people who really just STAND in the fire, but people who don’t move immediately or aren’t completely familiar with a new dungeon a month after it comes out… you’re a fucking asshole, and you made the game very unpleasant for me at times.
If anyone’s still reading this, there are things Blizzard has done that haven’t made this any easier for me.
I wanted to get Kiril so badly so I could be an ENORMOUS bear, but I needed better gear even to do LFR. I was in a guild, and my guildies would go with me for dungeons when they could, but there were plenty of times no one could or just not a full group could. But I couldn’t choose which dungeons to queue for and still get points. It was trying to run dungeons I wasn’t really ready for yet that gave me such a horrific panic attack I wasn’t able to tank again. My brain locked up because I was overwhelmed by everything going on and didn’t feel like I was in a safe social environment to let us wipe and be honest about what happened. I had one trusted friend with me, but the rest of the group was random people.
That could have been avoided if I could have been selective about only getting into dungeons I already felt okay with when I would be getting into a random group and still getting points for it.
The leveling process was SO streamlined in Cata that I had nothing but endless grinding or leveling alts (to get them up to the endless grinding point) to do at end game. I know that’s good for someone who wants to get to the raiding, but it was bad for me.
I made my decision when the previews of MoP started coming out and I saw that one zone starts with a dungeon. I wasn’t even ready to start doing the Cata dungeons that came out of the box until after Zul’Gurub came back. It took me the whole expansion to make peace with the fact that I just wasn’t adjusting to the hunter changes and find which class I could get comfortable with playing. I have no reason to believe that wouldn’t happen again in MoP, and I don’t want to be missing a chunk of story from the beginning of a zone because I’m not okay with doing the dungeons yet.
That made me look at the rest of it. How I was putting so much more effort into the game than I was getting out of it. How I was working just as hard at night in my “play time” as I did to manage regular life during the day, and how I was just coming up with longer and longer lists of realities I had to accept about my limitations in the game. I’ve been working way too hard to have such a long list of “I want to, but it’s not an option” or “I want to, but I’ll have to wait until they nerf it and I outgear it”.
I’m glad there are people who are still enjoying the game, and I’m not judging any of you for that. Playing WoW is often compared to relationships, and I think that’s probably because we really do put a lot of ourselves into it… especially the social aspects of it. So I think a lot of people leave WoW and need to feel like it wasn’t them, it was WoW, and that they know their “mutual friends” will still like them because they’ll be leaving WoW, too. When my ex-husband and I divorced, I told people we weren’t going to play the blame game. It wasn’t that he was a Bad Guy. It was that he and I had failed ourselves and each other because we were moving in directions in life that we could not travel those roads together, nor was it fair for either of us to abandon our road for the other. The divorce was about giving us both the chance to thrive indepently of each other, rather than continue to choke the life from each other. That’s how I’m leaving WoW, too. The things that are a problem for me may not be a problem for the game as a whole. They do, however, mean that I shouldn’t be playing this game. When the effort put in so greatly exceeds reward, and especially when the fruits of my “play time” effort are a lot of pain and disappointment, then it’s just not a good game FOR ME.
If you like WoW, I want you and WoW to be friends. Just don’t forget your favorite precious and soft bear. I’m looking at Guild Wars 2. They have Norn! (“”\ ( -.- ) /”“)