What Blizzard Does Right

When scouring the deep dark places of the internet, otherwise known as reddit (yes, I have finally grown an appreciation for this god-awful app. I like memes.), I was trying to figure out what to write about for today’s gaming article. To be fair, my reddit reading is typically limited to the r/90DayFiance, r/BostonUprising, r/wow and r/CompetitiveOverwatch subreddits though I do find myself on various other ones like r/nottheonion, r/ThisIsUs, and r/GilmoreGirls. Don’t judge. I have a variety of tastes.

Back to the original point. I read through r/CompetitveOverwatch and I considered writing another congratulations to Monte and Susie Kim while berating the culture for how she thought she couldn’t be openly happy with the public because they’d dismiss her many talents and accomplishments. Because women can’t do anything without men. But there was enough of that and they should just be allowed to be happy in private or in public. That wasn’t blog worthy for my needs. I considered talking about the new team reveals, but people seemed to have forgotten that Washington DC and Vancouver even had teams so that didn’t seem too important.

Then I traveled to the r/wow and finally something interested me enough to write about it. A debate about the state of Blizzard. How they just take something that was already there and made it better. That they weren’t innovators, they were “make-betterers”. That’s a valid point. They didn’t do anything that was absolutely original or new. They just did it better. To dismiss that is the same as simply dismissing any of Apple’s products because they aren’t innovative. They aren’t. Though the difference is that Apple products just aren’t better than the other options available. Blizzard is, at this point. Name an MMORPG that is better than WoW. Overwatch is becoming a top eSports game and is considered to be one of the top FPS games. So what if they are remastering Warcraft III? That’s something the fans wanted. Who cares if they are redoing Vanilla WoW? The fans have been begging for it. They could have charged for the game, and people probably still would have bought it. But they didn’t charge us despite the fact this could have been a decent cash cow for them.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what Blizzard does right. They value their fans. The issue is that people expect them to please everyone, and that’s not realistic at all. But they try their best to make the majority of their fans happy. Blizzcon is a testament to this. So many fans couldn’t afford the trip or get tickets in time, so they gave us a digital ticket that does just enough to make us still feel like part of this massive community of fans. Chris Metzen and Mike Morhaime proved their appreciation for fans every time that they walked on stage at Blizzcon or walked around the floor where they happily listened to their fans. Mike always gave the best and teary-eyed speeches as he opened up Blizzcon, something that will be missed. (Please don’t ever stop). I never once questioned whether or not they valued their fans, which is why I’m absolutely a Blizzard fangirl. That’s what they did right. That’s what they continue to do right.

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The Pre-Patch Event That Was Promised… but Did It Deliver?

During the Overwatch League, I continually spent my Monday Gaming posts discussing the leagues, recapping the important/shocking/interesting details of the week. I should have dedicated more time for my love of Uber and Mr. X, Soe, Puckett, Reinforce, and Bren. But I focused on the game. Next season, I will mention them. Because they are awesome and deserve it. Also, Uprising should definitely keep Avast because despite not playing, he is a huge morale guy that needs to stay. Just saying.

However during this time, I lacked the ability in my one day of gaming posts to mention my other gaming loves. In this case, my hardcore love of WoW and leveling alts. I have been streaming my beta/alting experiences (though apparently I still can’t figure out how to get my mic to work), but haven’t been able to really delve into the current happenings of the game. Today is that day.

The War of Thorns event was one that I played through its entirety in one sitting on the beta. I didn’t have the cut scenes, but the core set of quests were there. It was haunting on the beta, even without the cut scenes. It really was. I couldn’t get the “Can you hear the screams?” out of my head for several days. When I did the play through on live, which was separated into 2 parts, I again was haunted by the same voice line. It sticks with you in the most beautifully tragic way. The cut scene/Warbringers video of Sylvanas was emotional. I felt angry. I had the same feeling of sadness as watching Ysera’s fate in Legion. I actually wanted to PvP to kill horde players for their part in this madness. I read the pre-xpac novel. I was already bothered by the path Sylvanas was taking. She was becoming the cruel leader that Garrosh was.

It’s sad that they keep doing these storylines where the horde leader is a villain. I hope that this finally leads to redemption for the horde, and I don’t even main horde. But there is a bigger issue with this pre-xpac event: it was long and drawn out. There was a lot of hype going into it. I even loved it playing on Beta, though the alliance side was heartbreaking trying to save all those people only to have the screen flash with “Quest Failed” on a quest that you were meant to fail. If they had released it all at once, I think it would have had a better impact. You would have been fully immersed in the event, rather than going “Oh, part one was meh” then having a strong reaction to the second part. Did they have no faith in their product so they had to disappoint before delivering? It was likely because they didn’t want a huge roll out in case of bugs, but guess what? It was a disastrous rollout anyways. Hold off the event in a different patch, then release the event in its entirety at once rather than 2 parts. I’m not a coder or game designer. I’m not sure if that’s how it works, but I’m pretty sure they could have separated the code for the stat squishes from the patch events. Again, no expert here so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

I hope the Battle for Lordaeron is more successful. I hope that the cut scenes are just as amazing. I hope that Zappiboi is the new Warchief, with the wise and honorable Saurfang as his advisor. I hope that the expansion delivers the hype better than the pre-xpac events did. Until then, I will be streaming on Twitch. You can also find the link on my sidebar. Feel free to follow me.

Girls and Gaming

I’ve been an avid gamer for a long time. I’ve been big into online games since Vanilla WoW, though I’ve been doing more beta than live WoW these days. There has been a lot of talk about girls and their treatment by other gamers. I have decided to weigh in as someone who has been doing this online thing for probably just over a decade. I don’t really want to do the math because some days I already feel older than I’d like to admit.

Gaming was a lot easier for me before I started raiding and had to speak on Vent. Before then, I could just be a good player. Okay, mediocre at best. I had potential, I just get in my head and decide the living is more important than the meters. It was easier back in Vanilla. There were defined roles. Priests were healers, backing up their Paladins in the 40 mans. It was cut and dry. Then instead of just being a player, you became a “girl player”. That was that. Girl first, player second. Eventually, for a short period of time, I became a named GM as part of a council. My peers, male, were regarded as just being “boys”. If I had to reprimand someone or give orders in raid, I was the bitchy girl bossing them around. It happened. The guys laughed. It bothered me a little at first. Not because of what they were saying but because I know why they said it. Anytime I was in an Officer style position after that in WoW, it was the same thing.

When people made jokes about me, they treated me like a wounded animal. It’s okay, they’re just jerks. It’s instinct, right? Protecting the little girl. It sucked but you sucked it up because you couldn’t show weakness. I started mouthing off and not taking it. That’s an easy way to make you a heartless bitch again. You get over it. After a while, things in the game got better. Aside from comments like “we have girl players. Some of them are actually good.” You have to work harder than your male counterparts.

Games like Overwatch are much worse about this. I refuse to talk on chat, unless it is absolutely undeniably necessary. Why? Because despite being praised earlier on in a match, the minute I spoke and came out of my gamer closet as a girl, I was suddenly no longer a badass. I was now terrible at the game. I was playing the same level of play that I was earlier on in the match, but suddenly now I have to get off of competitive because I have no idea  how to play. They would have respected me more if I pretended I was a pre-teen boy who hadn’t experience puberty yet.

It does scar you a little bit. It makes you not want to fully engage the game. Sometimes you get lucky. Maybe there’s another girl in the group. Maybe there are some more open-minded gamers. It’s not even a majority of the time you experience it, at least in my case. If I’m on a winning streak with a group and got 3 PoTGs (Play of the Game) in a row, I’ll speak up and get comfortable. But when it does happen, it stings. I shouldn’t be afraid to chat while playing a team based game. Look at what happened to Geguri. She is ridiculously good, so she obviously has to be cheating as a player. I’m not entirely sure she would have faced the same scrutiny if she were a male gamer.

The moral of this story: it depends on the game and the people you surround yourself with. In WoW, my guild treats me as one of the guys. They don’t care about anything other than that I’m a team player who shows up and does my job. There’s still a little bit to go with games like Overwatch, but I feel as though part of the problem is the age and maturity of the players. As more women dominate this game, I think it will be a strong turnaround.

The Return of Vanilla WoW

It is very likely that sometime this year, WoW fans will get to achieve their long-awaited dream: going back to the beginning. For a long while, a lot of fans that got into the game later on wanted to have that Vanilla experience that they missed when they were making fun of their friends for playing the game. There was still plenty of content by then for people to enjoy. I enjoyed my time in MC and Naxx, though the AQs were more difficult to get into as everyone had played them out so much by the time I got into the game. I didn’t get to experience the opening of the Gates, an event that I’m told was equal parts frustrating and exciting. (It was certainly more exciting for those who weren’t booted from the servers so that they could experience the moment.)

Nostalgia really is often times more amazing than the experience itself was. People can get clouded by remembering something was greater than it was. How many times did people lag out because of bugs in the game during important fights? Or remember when you finally killed Rag but you were Alliance and all shaman loot dropped? Sure, your guild bank got enchanting materials but you want something for your time. These bugs did give the game character, but it was more frustrating than it was worth sometimes.

The thing is, while the content was amazing and fresh in Vanilla, that wasn’t what I missed most about it. I liked how hard it was. There were only a few add-ons that you needed, but you could’ve gotten by successfully without them. You just managed to do your job. But there was a unique social aspect to it that really drew people in. You needed to be in a guild to see content. You couldn’t just LFR it like you can now. Sure, I like that I no longer have to dedicate so much of my time for raiding. But I miss the friendships that you could make with people across not just the country, but sometimes the globe. One of our tanks was this hilarious guy from Egypt. There was this shadow priest from Australia. You could connect with people while working together to complete these pixelated goals that meant so much to people.

With the newer expansions, the emphasis grew to making the game better for casuals who didn’t have the time to raid but still wanted that experience. But in the process, the game lost something that made it so special to begin with. You really cannot form these kinds of friendships and bonds with people anymore. I still talk to people, albeit sparingly, that I played with nearly a decade ago. (Probably a decade ago now) We mourned when a friend of ours died. We mourned a person that we had never met in person but yet had such a profound impact on (at least in my case) our lives. The Vanilla server could be a good thing if it was able to bring back that same level of comradery that drew so many people into the game to begin with.