Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blog Azeroth Weekly - leveling from 1 - 10 (Continued)

So, I have been kicking around for a while the idea of posting more than once a week. I often have more to talk about in a week than one post, and I on occasion will have drafts backed up that I could use to make my updates more often. To that end, I am going to try to shoot for two to three posts a week and see if I can keep up that schedule. I will see how this goes and decide if this is worth it, or if it is just me and too much hot air.

A while back I started the Blog Azeroth shared topic of leveling from 1-10. you can find it here. I decided to take some time with BlogMonkey and see how it went. I started out by continuing to run around the Draenai starting area. In about a period of forty-five minutes I had gone from 3-10 by only following the quests that I found as I went. I also picked up fishing, mining and tailoring along the way and started on my path to making millions of virtual gold.

I am not really going to go too deep into individual quests, paths to follow, and the what not because I found much better written by others with a simple Google search. What I want to talk about instead is what I think a new person may feel through these beginning stages.

First, I have to make some assumptions. I wanted to try to give myself the closest to "real" feeling. I decided I would try to mimic the feeling of new-ness that people who join WoW without being dragged in by a friend or ten.I did a few things to try to simulate that for myself. While I couldn't get rid of my knowledge of WoW as a game mechanic wise I could "forget" other things to make it more realistic.

I purposely did not tell anyone I was doing this, and did not send any tells to friends (in fact I never even put anyone on my friends list). I also didn't get myself into my guild. I decided that any people I met/talked to for the length of the experiment would be completely new people. Along that line, I didn't really get to meet anyone or talk to anyone until well into level 8. Now, that isn't for lack of trying on my part. Right from level 1 I tried talking to people I ran into around the world. Often I got no response, or if I did get a response it was clipped and short. At level 8 though I did get a hunter to work with me on a couple of quests. Looking at his gear, he clearly is a vet player since he had a full set of BoA's. Either way he was nice enough, and we were able to plow through quite a few quests in a very short time.

I also did not provide BM (eww, she will not be called that ever again) any BoA gear pieces or gold to get herself started. In general I never felt a want for gold as I played, nor did I feel that I was unreasonably rich. I didn't really do anything special other than selling junk I picked up from the quests and mobs and quest rewards. I never asked for a hand out, nor did I ever play on the Auction House at all. This was a balance that I was really impressed by. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to do, considering I always felt poor in my early days in Final Fantasy XI.

I did not use any of the "quest guides" that circulate around the net as addons or specific sites, nor did I read anything ahead of time. I tried hard to go in as blind as I could to the area and the quests. As I went through and ran the quests, I really enjoyed the stories. Many of them are as deep and interesting as I have seen, particularly considering these are starting area quests that often are there mostly to get you started in the game. To expand on that, I have to say Blizzard does a fantastic job with their lore throughout the game. I love doing quests even now that I am level 80 just to read the stories.

But, there is a negative here that I noticed and was sad to me. There really was no challenge in the new "easier" quests. All of the early quests are against non-aggressive mobs that ignored me as I beat up their friends to get whatever it was that I needed. Even once I got into the realm of aggressive monsters after about level 5 or 6, I never really had a fear that anything I was fighting would truly hurt or kill me. A while back, before the dumbing down of quests for new players I had a friend who did the 10 day trial. He did not like that death had no meaning, and in fact that he could use it as a strategy to get some quests done. I can understand his feeling even though I know that death does have a meaning, though it is more monetary and time at higher levels. Now, death has even less meaning, and it isn't needed as a strategy. I didn't die once in the time from 1-10, and never for a second worried that I would die. The quests have become too easy in my eyes. Between the quest helper map, dumbed down quests, lack of aggressiveness, and overall counts of mobs in areas it is very simple for a new player to advance along without any pain.

I actually find that last negative, fairly large from a personal standpoint. I think that if I were a new player plowing through these first 10 levels I would not make it the whole length. I'd get bored and go do something else that was more of a challenge to me. I believe the pendulum has swung too far, making early levels too easy.

The other way the easy 10 levels to start with can be taken is to give a false impression of one's own worth.A new player is just that new. As they fly through the first 10 levels, one could come to believe that the entire length of the game is the same way; as many of us will attest, it is not. Often things are a struggle, and can be a down right bitch. Once a person makes level 11 or so, they may find themselves being smacked around like the proverbial red-headed step gnome, causing dis-satisfaction and a reason to quit.

All in all, I think I learned a good bit as I went through this experiment. I was helped along the way early by a number of people so missed out on some things that I noticed this time around. I also got to see some of the genius of Blizzard as well as at least one place where they can do some more work.

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