Rant time Ho ha-ha!
Well, maybe not a full on rant so much as my normal rambling with a disgruntled slant.
But first it’s story time!
Way back when I was a wee little Tiger… wait, no, not that far. Back in 2004ish or thereabouts I was a bright starry-eyed wet-behind-the-ears Animation student in college. Like most liberal arts schools, a large percentage of the attending populace had no compunctions about tagging themselves as ‘gamers’. I was one of them.
Even farther back, when I was a wee little High School student I became hooked on one of my first ever computer games (barring King’s Quest and Lode Runner) Can you guess what it was? If you guessed Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness then you’d have guessed right. I played human more often than not and after the liberal application of Glittering Prizes I managed to beat the game… I think… maybe… actually I can’t remember if I ever finished it, but it was darn fun to play and, according to my parents, was less evil than Diablo II so was allowed in the house.
(I bought Diablo II and barely managed to get it installed before my parents told me to return it despite my protests that your character was fighting against the devil for the forces of light… but cest la vie)
And so, I merrily played my RTS until about college time when Warcraft III came out. I was dating a real winner at the time who wouldn’t let me buy my own copy, nor would he allow me to play on his, claiming the game was too hard for me and I wouldn’t have any fun. Me being the sweet-as-milk obedient girlfriend I was I contented myself with occupying a chair behind him and watching the pretty graphics as he spread Arthas’ teachings far and wide. I would ocassionally wander off to boot up my copy of Diablo II when the boredom became too much. (I was in college now, and no longer under parental surveilance, har har har)
Whilst in college, World of Warcraft was released. The only knowledge I had of it were haughty remarks and flippant gestures handed down from on high by an art school’s version of the ever-present Jock. You know the kind, I’m sure. They call themselves “Hardcore Gamers”. The kind of people that know more than you, are better at playing than you, and have been playing a hell of a lot longer than you no matter you’re ten years older and they think Atari is just a company that makes software.
Anyway, yes, I have a point here. I didn’t get in to World of Warcraft until much later because I was so put off by these people. I tried very hard to strike up conversations comparing various games but they would have no critique of their beloved game of choice. So, curious about what this whole MMO thing was all about I began trying other things. I pre-ordered and played in the Guild Wars Beta, tested out Star Wars Galaxies and even dabbled in the test copy of D&D Online. All were good games and all had their strong and weak points.
Finally, I decided to try WoW. It was a lot of fun. It’s very easy when leveling to just turn off your brain and go, relaxing and easy. While I have found WoW to be fun, addictive, and relaxing, I have not, however, found it to be a particurlarly brilliant, witty, or original game.
Oh noez stopp the presses I haz offended ur deliket sensubilitiez!
Oh please! Let’s be honest here, ok? I’m not going to go into a full-fledged anti-WoW rant because, frankly, I abhor hypocrates and have no desire to become one myself. I’ll say I enjoy the game, why else do I play it? But I also won’t hold it up to the light and worship the creators like they’re some gift from on high.
After a number of employees left Blizzard to found Arenanet, Blizzard has not had a track record for being either fresh or ground-breaking. The are, however, very good at looking around them, at competing games, and picking out good qualities and implementing them into their own game.
At first this infuriated me. Here I saw these jocks of the game world lauding WoW as the best and most original thing since sliced bread and all I have to do is open my eyes and look around to see that WoW is very good at copying others. I fought this fight when the WoW in-game voice chat was introduced. That nifty little feature, my friends, was pioneered by Valve and Counterstrike. Its first use in an MMO (as far as I know) was with the release of D&D Online. Shortly after the release of DDO saw the implementation of WoW in-game voice chatting.
I fought this fight down in the trenches, wailing like a banshee (the irish kind, not the Sylvannis kind) when Warhammer Online was announced. Less educated parties laughed and derided the new game, calling it World of Warhammer. I’d like to refer to this Penny Arcade comic and accompanying article on the subject to let you know my feelings. I played Warhammer Fantasy, the TABLETOP. I fielded an army of Lizardmen the likes of which had only been seen in the vaunted Games Workshop display cases. When my two Stegadons thundered onto the field and charged through my rank upon ranks of Saurus warriors all backed up by the chillingly blank stare of the Venerable Lord Kroak… the world trembled. Oh yes, did it tremble. I loved Warhammer Fantasy, I loved the lore (in warhammer, it’s called fluff) I loved the rules, and I loved the models and the painting. I had also done a research paper my first year in college about Warhammer and Mage Knight, comparing the two games and which was a more worthwhile money and time sink. So when the accusations began to fly about how Mythic was stealing all their ideas from Blizzard I was ready. Ooooh yes I was ready with months of research, publish dates, and copyright information. Games Workshop was alive and kicking before Blizzard was even a glimmer in Michael Morhaime‘s eye. Blizzard was founded in 1991. Games Workshop was founded in 1975, I rest my case.
The point I’m trying to make here, is that when I logged on last night and saw the information on the new Wrath of the Lich King’s Player Achievements… that old flame to fight was reignited. Why, you ask? Well, simply because Blizzard is doing what Blizzard has done best, taking some of the most successful aspects of Other Games and assimilating them. HA! I just made a Borg pun, lookit me lulz!
I think I’ll stop here. I’m going to concede. While Blizzard’s lack of innovation saddens me, I know such paltry things as facts will do nothing to sway hard-core fanatics and, at the end of the day, practices like this is really just good business.
So, tonight, I’m going to go home, boot up WoW, and run Karazhan with only a small twinge on my conscience marring my simple enjoyment of the game.