Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Byte: It's all about the journey

I was taking stock of my characters on World Of Warcraft earlier this week, and came to the realisation that I'm probably not your typical MMORPG player. Discounting my two Horde characters on Sylvanas (whom I've not touched in months), my six Alliance characters on Zenedar have gained a combined 110 character levels between them - give or take a level or two. That's particularly frightening when you consider that this adds up to probably adds up to around 300-400 hours or so of game play. (Yes, I admit it, I've lost track of just *how* long...)

If I'd plugged all those hours into a single character, I probably would have hit Level 60 (the current WoW level cap) by now, but I don't actually feel particularly motivated to reach the top of the level tree. I'd much rather experiment and find out as much as I can about what the game has to offer by mucking around with different professions and discovering the weaknesses and strengths of each particular character class (which makes it so much easier to fight in PvP, coincidentally - since you know what a particular class is more vulnerable to), and so on. I've seen the majority of the game world by now (excepting perhaps the Instanced dungeons), so I don't particularly feel like that I'm missing out by not plugging all my time into only one character.

Having more than one character also has its advantages. Firstly, if you specialise different characters in separate professions, you can very easily make items (such as armour kits, potions, bags, or just pretty shirts) to send to your other characters, saving you the cost of having to buy them from the Auction House. You can also transfer funds from one character to another, grouping resources so that one character never needs to grind linen or silk or something to raise the cash to buy a new weapon or spell. Having more than one character also allows you to get to know more people, as you're never stuck with the same group of people questing in your character level range. It's also handy to use higher level characters to get rare weapons from instances that your other characters can use in the future, without having your low-level characters risk their life and limb trying to get them. Is that cheating? Hmm, well, maybe. It's certainly an exploitation of the game setup, but I'm sure practically everyone does it. Tarithel, my Level 15 Priest, (another character name stolen from Doomdark's Revenge) currently has a linen bag full of Uncommon armour items that she can't use yet, which my two highest level characters (Shareth and Karrina - levels 36 and 28 respectively) have picked up for her. So whilst that takes up a whole load of bag space that otherwise might be usefully utilised holding quest plunder, it does mean that she's not going to be stuck with crap armour when she hits Level 20, or (even better) pay extortionate prices in the Auction House...

I know a couple of people who've hit Level 60 with their characters, and they've lamented to me about how there's not much left they can really do other than PvP and helping out lower-level players in instances, so I'm not sure topping out your character is something I really want to rush. Sure, you need to tick over the levels fairly regularly to feel like you're not stagnating, but (for me at least) the more rewarding part of the game is the social interaction - not the stats, the combat or the eye candy. The journey really is more important than the destination. It's the little things, like spotting Nessie in the lake as you take the Deeprun Tram between Ironforge and Stormwind. Or watching wolves callously savage rabbits in Dun Morough. Or making sure your character is properly colour coordinated by buying them a sexy blue linen shirt from the Auction House. Or just saying "Heya!" to a player you've not seen in a few weeks... I get turned off by players who are just trying to grind their way up to the top, so they can have a petty little power trip over the "lowbies". Fortunately the server I'm on has very little of that - because it's a somewhat cosmopolitan server, there's quite a good community spirit. Things only get slightly nasty when you get big PvP struggles and everyone's using as many provocative emotes as possible. Though even that's more amusing than anything else. It's like being at a Ramones concert, so many people are spitting on each other...

Still, I'm glad that I chose WoW to be my first attempt at an MMORPG, because it's an outstanding game and really pushes all the right buttons, as far as I'm concerned. My journey with it isn't going to be over for a long time yet. That road is still winding steadily off into the distance and over the horizon.

Post a Comment