Monday, May 23, 2011's been a little while

The Cataclysm beta wrapped up.  So did WotLK.  And Starcraft II, for that matter.  Lets go through this all for minute.

Cataclysm Beta:

I really enjoyed the Cataclysm beta (much more than live Cataclysm).  I've spent the past couple of months trying to figure out why.

I think that the answer is the combination of the people and the unknown.  In the beta, everyone was always trying something new, exploring someplace they hadn't seen before, and dealing with new and exciting abilities, bosses, and often as not, bugs.  Everyone was excited and enthusiastic.  Everyone was also friendly....there was a wonderful sense of camaraderie of the sort I haven't seen in WoW since the early days of Vanilla, when your average player still hadn't hit the level cap.  Nobody was expected to know everything, so people asked all sorts of questions and got all sorts of useful answers.  Almost nobody took time to mock anyone for asking.  Everyone was happy to help.  People stopped and helped others with quests...with finding the next hub...with finding ways around phasing problems...with figuring out new class mechanics...all of it.

That was fantastic.  I wish there was a real live server like that.

Cataclysm Live:

I enjoyed it for a few weeks.  I ran a few dungeons and few heroics.  My guild showed no inclination to raid.  I got bored and stopped playing for about six weeks.

I came back just as 4.1 dropped, and I'll admit I've really been enjoying the troll heroics.  They are big, essentially mini-raids.  They take real effort and coordination.

They are actually succeeding in transforming normal expectations for the LFG tool.

No longer are people laughed at for asking about and discussing strats before a boss attempt.  (at least, not so often)

No longer does half the group quit after a single wipe.  (at least, not so often)

No longer do people refuse to use crowd control.  (at least, when you have someone who can)

It has actually made people a bit more friendly and respectful, in my experience.  Everyone understands that it's hard.  The healer can't always keep you up, especially if you stand in anything.  The tank can't always keep the encounter completely under control, especially if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time.  People are far less likely to start screaming L2P!!! and rage-quit.

However, the raids and general endgame is still pretty boring.  I like raiding, but it's hard to get people interested in it.  Everyone is concerned that it's way too hard, and unwilling to even give it a try.  The group that has given it a try is already halfway through heroic modes and getting bored.  Nothing else is available.  Archeology is pretty boring, and doesn't add much to the game.  Tol Barad has boring, repetitive quests, a gloomy atmosphere, and an "open pvp" minigame that's not anywhere near as much fun as Wintergrasp.

Subscriptions are dropping a tad, and we'll have to see if Blizzard tries to pull anything new out of a hat.  I wouldn't mind a world event, pocket bosses, or something of that sort.

Starcraft II

This was the best single-player, story-driven experience I've had since Myst/Riven, or Longest Journey, or maybe the original C&C (remember Seth?).  I loved it, and spent a while trying to get all sorts of achievements.

Unfortunately, the multiplayer was almost nothing like the single player (and, in fact, there wasn't even much unit overlap between single player terran and multiplayer terran).  I got bored of that pretty quickly.  For multiplayer RTSs, I really prefer grand scope games.  Total Annihilation, DEFCON, and to a lesser extent Supreme Commander (which was grand in scope but somehow just failed to have much of a soul).

Where does that leave us?

Well, I'm looking forwards to the rest of the Starcraft II games, Diablo 3, The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Battlefield 3, and to a lesser extent Deus Ex 3 and the redo of Hellgate.  Also, if Dust or that World of Darkness MMO ever actually come out, I really want to give them a whirl.  And maybe I should try Witcher 2...can't decide.

Other than that...anyone wanna put an Indie MMO team together and shake things up?

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