“You can come home now.”
I’ve never actually been to Mulgore – no one has. I have a strong sense of what it is like to be in Mulgore – I’ve stood in the plains, with the grass under my virtual feet, and the mountains and mesas off in the distance while plainstriders graze nearby. It was the first place I returned to after my hiatus from World of Warcraft, and the closest I’ve come to having a home in-game.
I had an in-game home once before, though. In a fit of frustration, I tore it down, and fled. With all my possessions stowed onto a vessel, I floated through the cosmos until the galaxy itself blinked out of existence.
I am a Star Wars: Galaxies refugee. After the New Game Enhancement destroyed the freedom of SWG by replacing the open character building with predefined class models (such as WoW has), I left the game, and eventually relocated to WoW. I quit SWG because the game I had been enamored with was destroyed around me. Staying and attempting to learn the new system felt like it only rewarded the world-killers that had mismanaged the game into oblivion. It was easier to search for a new game experience of my own choosing, and ultimately I settled on World of Warcraft. The fact that my experience with cooldowns and level-based skill acquisition learned in the NGE helped me settle into WoW was of little comfort. Rather than play a Warcraft imitation, I opted to play the superior original, and I’ve spent the better part of six years in Azeroth, substituting the grasses of Mulgore for the sands of Tattooine.
They say you can never go home again. Now there’s an invitation that will test that theory.
The Star Wars motif will be gone, but that was only what lured me into the world at first glance. As a fan of the movies, I came looking for an interplanetary adventure, and was greeted with a completely player-built economy and character development that relied on your playstyle instead of dictating it. The Star Wars veneer was shiny, but the heart of Galaxies was the worlds that it created. The planets may have been named Coruscant or Naboo with designs adhering to canon, but once immersed in the game, they could have been called City-place and Marshland-town. The activities of hunting players and taming creatures and building houses were what made Star Wars Galaxies into more than just a Star Wars game, and Sony’s failure to understand this resulted in SWG’s neutering. The Star Wars trappings remained, but that wasn’t enough to sustain those of us who had invested in the game. We were betrayed and had to leave.
When your first love leaves you, you always miss her. You may get over it, and move on and get married and have a family, but you still miss her. Smedley’s comments are your ex from twenty years ago finding you on facebook. And of course she’s single.
Rationally, you don’t (or, at least shouldn’t) do anything because you have your marriage and your kids to protect. In the case of an MMO, there is no marriage and kids – unless you count the characters raised from levels 1 to 90 as children. There are no relationships to tarnish by leaving the game (disregarding guilds, who may come with you), but you can lose all the time and effort spent leveling those characters and acquiring gear and items. Part of a game is the experience, and those memories can never be lost, but part too is the ability to look at a character and see the results over many long years. Plenty of Dungeons & Dragons players still have character sheets from old campaigns, and can pull their binders out of mothballs and reminisce by looking over the stat changes and eraser marks and notes from years of gaming.
The same applies here. This is why companies love MMO’s – the ongoing character development makes them sticky. Once a player is invested in their character(s), quitting means losing all that achievement and severing that bond. It’s why most WoW players have been playing for five years or longer. At that level of commitment, quitting is a major decision. (Or it means that a player will continue to subscribe for two or three months before realizing they are paying $15 for a service they are not using. Again, a win for the publisher.)
We know nothing about SOE’s new game. Plenty of games have promised a better MMO experience and fallen by the wayside. I probably will not have to seriously think about quitting until the expansion after Warlords at the earliest, and life itself could creep up and force my hand well before that.
But for now, I’m not deleting that facebook message. Don’t tell the missus.
There’s going to be new Challenge Mode Dungeons in Warlords! The current challenge is patiently waiting for beta. https://twitter.com/WatcherDev/statuses/432666498633433088
New screenshot of Talador! It, uh, looks like WoW… https://twitter.com/Abrosiabi/status/433452087674806273/photo/1
New Artcraft about building Garrisons! I like the art style, but I prefer my Garrison‘s to look like they were assembled from construction paper. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12811675/artcraft-building-a-garrison-2-11-2014
The Scroll of Resurrection is being retired! I guess that means its moving to Florida, where presumably it will find plenty of old people to not resurrect. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12850026/the-scroll-of-resurrection-retires-2-11-2014
Blizzard announced the winners for their stream awards! NO ONE TOLD ME THERE WAS CASH PRIZES!!! Coming soon: WoW! Streams! http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12841349/and-the-winners-for-the-blizzard-stream-awards-are%E2%80%A6-2-10-2014
Love is in the Air started this week and runs through February 24th! Its good Warlords is still in development, because otherwise love would be on the ground until Patch 6.1. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12850025/love-is-in-the-air-february-10-24-2-10-2014