Raiding Research Online

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Archive for the ‘levelling’

Cataclysm launch and the selfishness of levelling…

December 08, 2010 By: Ladan Category: Cataclysm, level 85, levelling

So the results are in and a whopping 64% of you had plans to stay up all night or day and push the levelling. I wonder how many actually made  it through–some of you may still be going strong! A smaller number (18%) intended to go through the levelling content as quickly as possible, but were not planning to burn the midnight oil. And a much smaller percentage (3%) were waiting to see how things were before committing to a specific plan, while 15% were not planning to change any approach to playing in relation to the new expansion. I suppose this might also mean that some respondents have not actually purchased the new game software yet.

But at the end of the day, we’re a community that gets excited about new content and, if at all possible, likes to dive right into it the second it’s available. For some of those on the EU servers, that meant a challenging hour or so trying to get past the login servers (while we cursed the lucky ones who seemed to get in at the first try!) before the mad rush for Vashjir or Hyjal began. And what a strange rush it is. I’ve decided that the levelling up process, especially when you’re going from one level cap to another (such as level 80 to 85), is viewed by a lot of raiders as a nuisance to be endured in order to get to the “better” game content. I also think it’s a time when raiders can exhibit behaviour that appears more selfish and self-oriented than usual. Especially when you consider their approach to raid participation.

We camp out for certain mobs, we ninja kills or items, we race to grab a herb or mining spot… We rarely talk to the people we’re running into in the game and we view each other as a problem, getting in the way of our personal goals. It’s a bit like a huge traffic jam on a motorway somewhere. We’d be home by now if not for the other damn cars.

Does that make the levelling up process essentially selfish? I suppose in a way it has to be selfish–after all, if you’re in an elite or hard core raiding guild, you’ve probably been given a deadline by which to be ready for raiding (in some cases, the deadline might be “yesterday”). That often means being focused and moving quickly to get ready to go. But does it have to be selfish? That is a more difficult question to answer as I suppose it comes down to how we view people in an online environment, particularly when they appear to be a hindrance. Even I, who prides herself on being friendly and helpful in game environments, will sometimes find myself groaning internally when I see a long-ish queue at a respawning boss.

Due to unavoidable circumstances in the past, I’ve never been able to experience the mad rush of launch night. So I was always a bit green with envy when people were racing around a new area that I hadn’t even been able to enter yet. I decided I’d give it a go this time. I cleared my schedule. I got the digital download. I even had stash available (lots of fruit, nuts, and a bit of nougat and chocolate!) and some good tunes queued up. But I was a bit of a fail. See, I actually like to explore and experience new content. I blame this on my background playing a MUD. In a MUD the atmosphere and setting is essential; it tells the story and gives you your framework. I also blame it on my own geographical nature. I like to know where I am and where I’m going and part of that, for me, is acquiring a familiarity with place. Launch night is not the time to aimlessly wander through a new area, smelling the roses. That’s probably going to get you killed (if you’re on a PVP server) or at least trampled on. And never mind enjoying the view. Aside from a few sweeping vistas and an overwhelmingly big tree, I still don’t quite know what’s in Hyjal…. And actually reading a quest before starting it? Forget it!

I also wonder if I’ve managed to transfer my tendency to sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by crowds  in real life to the game. It’s just too many people all crowded into one place. You can’t even see the quest giver!

Now it’s not to say that I don’t love the zooming around that one can do while working on quests and there is something so delicious about watching your XP bar fill up quickly. And I also love doing dungeons with guildmates. But I just couldn’t move as fast as my guildmates and with some of them already at 85 or almost there, I’m only in the middle of level 82. I reckon it’ll be at least the weekend before I get to 85. But I’m ok with that. At the end of the day the game is a game and has to suit each player who plays it. And Blizzard has always been adept at making it more accommodating and appealing to a wide audience–you only have to check out the new entry level areas in the game to see that. As a friend recently told me, he’s finally really enjoying levelling up a character again.

But in the case of the raider, since the primary focus is on the raiding content, levelling continues to be a challenge where we have to take off our “team player” hat that we use while raiding with our guildmates and put on the “power leveller” hat to slog through the quests and dungeons to get to the level cap asap. And some of us have managed to get around the questing grind to get to the level cap, as our controversial “first to the level cap” celebrity Athene (now Forscience) keeps showing or as our elite or hard core guilds often do by churning through dungeons as their levelling up plat du jour.

The fact that we can now get to the next level cap in a matter of hours. So even you (or Blizzard does it) exclude Forscience and his controversially viewed levelling approach, the first player to level 85 was Owld who got there at 7.34 am EU game time, according to wowprogress.com. This almost seems to suggest the irrelevance of levelling up. It’s become “too easy” some might say.