Friday, April 17, 2009

Casuals and Guilds

I was a true casual player once. I probably don't qualify as a casual player anymore, based on the sheer amount of blood sweat and tears I put into WoW both inside and outside the game.

I didn't know anyone when I started playing WoW. I had heard a lot about it and decided to graduate from college before I started playing (which I must say was a very smart move on my part). I rolled in as a warrior sometime before patch 1.5(I remember the battlegrounds being added and running all the way up to Northern Barrens to queue for Warsong Gulch). I did a lot of quests, but practically no instances. If I needed to do a group quest, I just randomly invited whoever happened to be standing there with a pretty good success rate.

Eventually, I had a few friends join me. We started characters together on a brand new server. We saved our pennies and created our own little guild, when all you really got was a tabard, a chat channel, and a tag under your name. We rolled around and did quests together, and ganked lowbies. We probably did a few instances here and there, since we did have a healer and a tank. That was about it. They quit playing, I inherited a vanity guild, and I realized that WoW really wasn't a single player game with a group as a convenience. Life without a guild was miserable. I'm pretty sure I was just questing and doing battlegrounds for a while, then I joined my first 'complete WoW friend' guild. It was PvP based, and only lasted for about 2 months, but it was a real turning point in my WoW experience.

That sharp transition from single-player to friends/family to player based guild seems to be what Blizzard is trying to soften with the difficulty levels of the content. Those people in the single-player phase have fun stuff to do, and new content to explore in the patch. Friends/family guilds are likely able to do 5-man hard modes and 10-man instances without too much trouble, because they can be done with a small group of people. Player based guilds can do the full range of content. Hardcore progressionists should, in my opinion, be gunning for the hard modes. I really don't understand people who say that the content is too easy, but also say that achievements are stupid. That's what they are for, to test the high end players yet still let all player based guilds have a chance to see the content.

I have a new WoW buddy at work. It's the first time I've had another RL person to talk about WoW with in over a year, to the point where it feels weird to talk about it without a headset on. That separation between WoW and RL has changed the way I play so much, that I'm having a hard time bringing it together. He's also still in the single-player phase, even though he does have his little family guild. I feel like such a raider snob when I talk to him, but when he gets frustrated by Stranglethorn Vale, I can't help but smile and think about what it was like the first time I got stomped by a Devilsaur in Un'Goro crater. If you're a big time raider, stop and look around before you hit your QQ button. Remember what it was like when you were a n00b. It will really change the way you see the World of Warcraft.

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