Star Wars: The Old Republic Video Impressions

I decided to pass on writing another article regarding my impressions with this game to instead bring you my thoughts in video form. In the following videos I basically just show a few basic things, make comparisons to World of Warcraft, and struggle to locate a turn in point for a quest.


How Blizzard Is Ripping You Off

It’s no secret that gamers have to pay for just about everything in World of Warcraft these days. What do you have to pay for? Well…

1. Initial Game Cost
2. Monthly Subscription
3. Server Transfer
4. Race Change
5. Faction Change
6. Additional Content (Expansions)
7. Micro Transactions
8. Login Authenticator

Almost all of these are not required. WoW could still exist as is without any of the above costing money. Does this sound hard to believe? Well, it shouldn’t and here’s why.

Initial Game Cost & Monthly Subscription
In this day and age, many MMORPGs opt to only have consumers pay for monthly subscriptions. Downloading a client and then either playing a limited free version or paying for a full subscription is the norm. Blizzard forces consumers to buy the privilege to play World of Warcraft and then they must set-up a $15 monthly subscription just to play.

ArenaNet, former Blizzard employees and makers of Guild Wars, have openly stated that developers do not need to charge gamers to play MMORPGs each month and that it is nothing more than a cash grab on the part of the developers. Considering how easily ArenaNet could have fallen apart if the original Guild Wars bombed without including monthly subscriptions, it’s not hard to believe what they are saying. Monthly subscriptions, though common, are NOT required.

Account & Character Services
Want to turn your dwarf into a gnome? It’s going to cost you approximately $15 a pop. That’s right, changing your race in World of Warcraft costs as much as it does to play the game for a month. If that isn’t ridiculous, then I don’t know what is…. especially considering that in other MMOs such as APB or Champions Online you are able to completely change every aspect of your character’s appearance without spending even a single cent. Imagine that! WoW’s faction change is not any different and only takes seconds for the game to process. You are being charged a quarter of a hundred dollars for a five second computer process.

Then there are server transfers. Many MMOs do not tie characters to specific servers and you can instead come and go as you please. Other games, like Rift, will plop your character onto servers of your choosing but you are free to transfer them whenever you want for no fee at all. Whoa. In WoW, if you want to move your warlock from Shadowmoon to Hyjal, it’s going to cost you something like $25 to disguise it as something that actually requires effort on Blizzard’s part… But to play with people from either realms in dungeons or battlegrounds is completely free? Where is the logic?

Additional Content
Pretty much all MMOs will charge for this kind of content except games that have adopted free to play mantras (subscriptions become optional). For example, Champions Online is currently working on increasing the level cap from 40 to either 45 or 50 and an entirely new city will be explorable. Sounds pretty substantial! While expansions are allowed to make money and I don’t view selling them as an evil act, they don’t need to cost as much as full retail games.

Micro Transactions & Ingame Stores
Considering everything that Blizzard forces their players to pay money for, it just seems so insanely wrong that they offer ingame mounts for sale at a price of $25. Yes, you can purchase a digital horse for a digital character to ride on for a whopping $25. You can also purchase vanity pets that serve no function at all for about $10 to $15. Wow. You can purchase thorough DLC for other games at a fraction of that price. For the price of one imaginary flying glitter pony to ride on, gamers could purchase several DLC adventures for Dragon Age: Origins or upgrade their Street Fighter 4 copies and obtain several new characters and stages.

While everything Blizzard charges people for is certainly extremely wrong and unnecessary, I suppose one can’t really speak out about it too much. The players are willing to spend money for these ridiculous services, so why should Blizzard stop? In a way, I suppose it is OUR fault that Blizzard earns money for all of these services which shouldn’t even cost money.

Shame on Blizzard for offering these services and shame on us for utilizing them.

Rift vs World of Warcraft Comparison Video

After posting my impressions of Rift a few days ago, I thought afterwards that it would be a pretty cool idea to actually make a video and compare Rift to WoW.

The end product is below and I hope that it will help those bored/tired WoW players who are on the fence about trying Rift to come to a conclusion.

To check out my previous impressions, click here.

Rift vs World of Warcraft Comparison Video (Part 1)

Rift vs World of Warcraft Comparison Video (Part 2)

Has World of Warcraft’s reputation hurt the Warcraft brand?

I was just thinking about the games that I used to play when I was younger, and some games such as Warcraft 2 came to mind. Remember how crazy people were over the first two Warcrafts? And then the third game came along and it was pretty much hailed as the best RTS around and was critically acclaimed by, well, pretty much the entire planet.

Afterwards came World of Warcraft. Back in 2004, it was just a tiny MMORPG that was well received by many and was hoping to make a difference in the market. WoW seemed harmless enough back then, and playing it was actually encouraged by most gamers, as well as Warcraft fans who wanted to see the franchise reach new audiences.

It’s interesting what only a few years can do.

Despite the graphical limitations of World of Warcraft today, it continues to push the envelope and constantly redefines what MMORPGs are and how they should be played. Despite the game looking and playing better than ever before, it is no longer looked upon kindly by most people. Yes it does still have millions of active subscribers, but for every subscriber there are several people who condemn the game and say that they will never touch it. A lot of WoW players even admit to being afraid to tell others that they play WoW, because they do not want to be embarrassed by them.

I look at how beloved Warcraft used to be in the hearts of PC gamers and then at how the franchise is treated today, solely due to World of Warcraft. With so much anti-WoW hate circling the internet these days, it makes me wonder…. If Warcraft 4 ever sees the light of day, will the WoW naysayers, some who are former Warcraft fans themselves, embrace the new RTS? Or will they dismiss it solely because it has “Warcraft” in it’s name, and they do not want to associate with anything that is even vaguely similar to World of Warcraft?

In 2004 and 2005, it used to be cool to play WoW. In 2009 and 2010, it is cool to hate it. Could this hate affect how people view any future Warcraft product that does not tie into WoW, or is the general public smarter than this?

Given how influential we are as a people and how easily our opinions can be swayed due to silly reasons, I’m leaning towards believing that the Warcraft name itself has probably been permanently damaged and a Warcraft 4, even if it is the most advanced and impressive RTS game of all time, will not win back any ex-Warcraft fans easily. Some would surely come back, but how many? And how long would it take the naysayers to not lump this game in with WoW just for sake of wanting to further enhance it’s bad image?

Return to December 2010 Articles

Why I Still Play World of Warcraft

In August 2005, I was pressured to play World of Warcraft by a group of online friends from a site called Gaming World. At the time, I was not particularly interested in trying the game out, believing that it probably wasn’t that spectacular of an MMORPG.

I was wrong.

My initial experience as a Human in Elwynn Forest wasn’t too great. I actually ended up deleting that character and then making a Night Elf. Teldrassil felt much more interesting to me, and I stuck with the character.

The fact that I continue to play to this day, even though I stopped playing several times since August 2005, says a lot. It’s been more than five years. No other game has commanded so much time from me, and I’m not even a WoW addict!

So, I’m going to look at WHY I still play this game to this day, and HOW I can still be entertained by vanilla content which, arguably, should have become boring three or four years ago.

Reason #1: The World

Barren wastelands, charred valleys, dense forests, harrowing deserts, lush jungles, and arctic mountains are just some of the zones in this hugely detailed and expansive world. This isn’t even factoring in the zones found in the two currently available expansions, nor the third which should hit store shelves in November or December of this year.

Before I even talk about the zones, I want to share a few pictures of the zones in WoW for those who can’t grasp how diverse the world of Azeroth truly is.

Here are zones from the original vanilla World of Warcraft.

Perhaps a little dated, but for a five year old MMORPG, WoW still looks decent. Here are a few zones from the 2006 The Burning Crusade expansion.

Here are a few zones from the current 2008 expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, which is nearing the end of it’s life cycle.

And here are a few zones found in the successor to Wrath of the Lich King, the yet-to-be-released 2010 expansion, Cataclysm!

There is so much diversity in World of Warcraft. As of Cataclysm, the game will feature a total of 74 zones. That is a lot of exploring for new players! On top of so many zones, there are several major cities and dozens of dungeons to check out as well. To check out a zone quilt that I made, just to get an idea of how expansive WoW is, click here.

World of Warcraft succeeds because practically all of it’s zones are diverse, interesting, and original. They all have their own unique feel, from the depressing wastes of Desolace to the lush wilderness of the Arathi Highlands. All low level zones (up to level 20) are faction controlled. Beyond level 20, zones are contested and, in some cases, feature open war between the Alliance and Horde factions.

What I really enjoy about the diverse zones of this game is that everybody will find one zone that they click with and really enjoy. For me, it is the desolate and saddening fields of Westfall. Despite the zone being so gloomy due to the Defias invasion, I absolutely love the scenery and the music. I can literally just sit in Westfall and chat with people forever, and fishing, a task that is usually quite boring, never gets old to me when I am in Westfall.

Overall, the world is fantastic and is, without contest, the most diverse game world I have ever explored in a video game.

The only weakness that WoW possesses is that a few of it’s starter zones are not up to modern standards, since they were first made available in 2004. Elwynn Forest, which is where human characters start, is dreadfully boring and not very immersive. I’ve witnessed several people give up on WoW or not give it a chance, and these people mostly all started in Elwynn Forest as a human. Some decided to give other races a try and stuck with the game, ending up as very loyal players. My suggestion to new players is avoid Elwynn Forest. Start as a Tauren or perhaps a Night Elf. They have more interesting starter zones by far. If a new player has Burning Crusade, then roll a Blood Elf without question!

Of course, when Cataclysm hits near the end of this year, all of the vanilla starter zones will be brought up to modern standards. I have only heard of the revamped quests in Durotar so far, but they sounded very good! Bored players will definitely find some enjoyment there as quests are brought up to the standard we are used to experiencing in Northrend.

Really, in a world as big as Azeroth, it’s crazy to let your WoW experience by ruined by a single unspectacular zone. The world has so much to see and do, and I wish that more people I personally know would experience this rich world. It is by far the best game world ever created by Blizzard.

Reason #2: The Music

Even though I usually play with the music off these days so that I can listen to my own music in iTunes, I cannot deny that the music in WoW is absolutely fantastic. Here are a few themes in the game that still stand out and are exciting to me, even today.

And here is the best of the bunch, as far as I am concerned. This is the Stormwind City theme in all it’s glory!

For an MMORPG, the music in World of Warcraft goes above and beyond to deliver an immersive experience. Some of the themes in this game are, to be honest, among my favourite video game tunes ever. Stormwind’s theme is one of them for sure. Hearing these great tunes as I write this post makes me want to turn my music back on next time I play, and I believe that I will do just that!

Reason #3: The Experience

For Warcraft fans like me, playing WoW for the first time was really magical as I visited so many locations that I only heard of in Warcraft 2 and Warcraft 3. Visiting Andorhal, Hearthglen, and Stratholme felt completely amazing, even if each city had been corrupted by the Scarlet Crusade and the Scourge. Visiting the Lordaeron throne room where Arthas killed King Terenas, his own father, was really awesome. Bits and pieces that we saw in the Warcraft 3 cinematic were present in the throne room, which was so cool.

It was really refreshing to be able to experience the world of Azeroth as a race besides the two central forces of Warcraft, Humans and Orcs. The Alliance, led by the Humans, is comprised of Dwarves, Gnomes, and Night Elves. Draenei joined the Alliance in the Burning Crusade expansion, and the werewolf-like Worgen will join in Cataclysm. The Horde is led by the Orcs, who are allied with the Tauren, Trolls, and Undead (Forsaken). Blood Elves joined their ranks in the Burning Crusade expansion, and a Goblin sect will join the Horde in Cataclysm.

Playing the game as these races and experiencing the culture of each is really amazing and I have to commend Blizzard on that. If you play as a Night Elf or Tauren, you will truly feel in tune with nature, and you will respect it tremendously. Play as a Forsaken, and the stagnant zones they inhabit, filled with undeath, will most certainly get to you.

It’s a sheer joy to follow the Alliance storyline. Viewed as Warcraft’s good guys, it’s cool to see them start to stray from their noble purposes in Wrath of the Lich King, as King Varian Wrynn begins to feel the urge to show the Horde the might of the Alliance.

Meanwhile, if you play Horde, you will be torn and unable to decide if you are playing bad guys or good guys. The Tauren and Trolls are certainly respectable races who are not clearly evil, while the Orcs continue their savage and ruthless war-like habits, and the Forsaken seem to have a vendetta against anything that has a beating heart.

The inclusion of the Burning Crusade races, and the two that we will get in Cataclysm, only make the experience better!

Reason #4: The Community

This is the biggest reason of all. Of course with millions of active subscribers there will be a few jerks, but the majority of WoW players are surprisingly nice! In all of the guilds I have joined since 2005, I’ve never been in one that I did not like becaue they were asses. Hasn’t happened.

On PvP realms, where tension between the two factions is incredibly tense, the people are unbelievably kind. Even if I got slaughtered many times by other players while questing, I still had nice people to talk to. That really mattered.

After quitting the game for half a year during 2006, I came back and never played on a PvP realm again, since I’m pretty weak on my own. I found the folks on my new PvE home realm of Hyjal to be amazing! They knew me as Rasche the Night Elf hunter, and they watched me grow from level 10 weakling to level 68 masterful hunter. I really came into my own, learning how to be a truly good hunter. It helped having them support me and offer me tips, and I won’t forget how much they helped me better myself as a hunter, which is now my class of choice.

I gave up Hyjal when I found an even friendlier home on a realm known as Moon Guard. It happens to be an RP realm, which of course stands for roleplay. This means that most people act as their characters, bringing a whole new dimension to the game. I still play on Moon Guard to this day, finding it impossible to play elsewhere.

I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, and being a huge supporter of roleplay. I would play games outside with my friends that involved roleplay, but back then we never called it that, of course. When we were kids, we were “pretending to be other people” and such. This even spread into offline video games that had local multiplayer support. I seriously roleplayed with friends in RACING GAMES! That tells you how much we enjoyed the aspect of RP, and it is why I’ve become so comfortable on the Moon Guard realm. The roleplayers are, basically, like me. They are really kind people, really helpful. If you are not questing or instancing with them, then you are probably roleplaying with them. For creative story tellers and old D&D players, World of Warcraft offers an amazing foundation for the sort of roleplay they desire. From a social aspect, this game is unmatched in every single way.

World of Warcraft has brought people together. I may not be one of them, but I’ve read success stories of people meeting on the game and even getting married. Of course there are some bad people who play the game, but a lot of good has come out of World of Warcraft too. From uniting lovers to making the slow hours of the night pass by chilling with online folks in Silvermoon or Stormwind, World of Warcraft has had a positive impact on the lives of many.

In Conclusion…

I could go on and on about the reason why I am still an active WoW player. With everything above combined, WoW has become an MMORPG that cannot be replaced easily to me. I have played almost every other major MMO on the market (APB, Champions Online, D&D Online, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, etc.) and none of them can even compare. While some may almost have the same awesome gameplay, they never have a community that is as active or friendly. The opposite can also happen, an MMORPG may have god-awful gameplay that is terrible to play, but could have a good community. World of Warcraft, thankfully, has both good gameplay and a fantastic community. I really do urge everyone to give WoW a try. Honestly, it’s a very cheap and affordable MMORPG. The fact that people from all walks of life, and of all ages, can enjoy WoW says so much.

This is an MMORPG for everyone. Play it, and if something disappoints you in the game.. Well, try something else in WoW! Overall, this is the ultimate MMORPG. Over ten million players cannot be wrong.

Five years on and I am still playing, and do you know what? As long as content continues, I’ll play for another five. Kudos Blizzard, you’ve created the best MMORPG that we may very likely ever see.

Final note, if anyone would like to touch base with me in WoW, here are the characters I’m playing. Currently trying to get an 80 again!

Image is dated September 29, 2010 so levels may differ depending on the date that this article is being read. Click on the image to access the Armory page of my main (the Blood Elf hunter pictured, Sylessia).

Return to September 2010 Articles

The Jedi & Sith of Gamers

The Jedi, masters of the Force and guardians of peace. The Sith, fallen Jedi who have given in to the Dark Side and become emotional, selfish. The Jedi and Sith exist in us all.

It could be asked why I am using Star Wars references for this article. It’s simple, I just finished watching the prequel trilogy and am on a bit of a Star Wars high.

Anyway, so the question has to be asked. How are gamers Jedi and Sith? Well..

Jedi Gamers: They get together just to play games and have fun. Emotions never run high since the atmosphere is warm and friendly. Jedi Gamers do not hesitate to teach their friends (ahem, padawans) how to play games that are new to them, helping them learn how to be competitive and spread the good will of gaming. The Jedi Gamers will laugh, have fun, and the losers will typically not be bothered at all by the fact that they are being beaten into the virtual ground since they’re just having fun with fellow gamers!

One of the gamers will then decide to invite a friend over to play too. Unfortunately, the friend being invited isn’t quite a Jedi Gamer, no. He is one of the…

Sith Gamers: Sith gamers like to pretend a lot. Oh sure, you think they are having fun.. You think that they don’t mind losing to you.. But inside, they are losing control of their emotions. Despite saying that they don’t mind losing to you, inside they are probably on the verge of snapping and strangling you with a controller’s cord. The more a Sith Gamer loses, the more it will become evident that they are this kind of gamer. They will begin to trash talk you, accuse you of being cheap or using something that shouldn’t be allowed. When you go for a pee break, they’ll probably activate a cheat and not tell you so that they can slaughter you and then gloat about it. They may even conspire with the other Jedi Gamers and persuade them to join the Dark Si… er… join up against you so that you won’t win.

Jedi Gamers can play and win forever and ever and be decent about it. It’s also okay if they lose constantly, because it’s all in the name of fun. Sith Gamers won’t play if they are not winning frequently. If they are losing a lot, they will express their discontent. If they win, they will verbally rub their “superior skills” in your face.

Jedi Gamers practice hard to become good at their chosen games. They play online with friendly people often, and also spend a lot of time in training modes. Sith Gamers only play against the computer, probably on easy. They can dominate with ease this way, making them believe that they are unbeatable. Thus, they never train and usually get humiliated by the Jedi Gamers.

Jedi Gamers will want to make sure that the playing field is fair. If the opposition are at a severe disadvantage, they will even the odds in the name of fun. Sith Gamers on the other hand will not do this. They will go out of their way to change game settings in whatever sneaky way they can to have an edge over other players. They may also tamper with environmental factors, such as the room temperature or furniture positions. They may also drink all of the Jedi Gamer’s favourite juice in the fridge so that the Jedi Gamer will have to settle for a second rate drink during gaming breaks. They will do anything to have an advantage!

When all is said and done and the gaming is over, Jedi Gamers will tell the losing player, the Sith Gamer, that they had fun. The Sith Gamer will then, in turn, say “FUCK OFF.”

This is usually when the Sith Gamer will complain about being rusty, too drunk to be able to play well, or accuse the Jedi Gamer of having a lucky gaming session. The Sith Gamer will become resentful and gaming will cease…. Until the following day when it all repeats again.

A few Sith Gamers become Sith Lords, or Darth SephirothX/Vegeta1984/MasterGamer. The Sith Lord Gamers are, unfortunately, NOT a laughing matter. In reality, these are the crazy freaks who snap and end up doing something terrible such as inflicting bodily harm on others. Sith Gamers typically become Sith Lord Gamers while playing Counter-Strike, Farmville, Maple Story, Team Fortress, or World of Warcraft.

If you sense a Sith Lord Gamer in the game you are playing, immediately exit the area that they are playing in as it is extremely dangerous to socialize with them. Allowing them to get to know you is often very dangerous, especially if you yourself are a devout Jedi Gamer. Befriend a Sith Lord Gamer and, unfortunately, you may end up as a Force Ghost.

Moral of the story? Avoid potential nutjob gamers in real life and online. Play to have fun. Don’t be an asshole and lose your cool if you’re beaten. Gaming is fun. It’s a hobby, a stress reliever. Let’s keep it that way.

May the Force be with you.

Return to August 2010 Articles