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July 18, 2012

Dear Reader,

First, I wanted to let you know I’ll be going out of town starting tomorrow until late Monday.  With limited-to-no Internet access where I’m going, I expect there’ll be no updates during that time.

On another note, there’s been plenty of discussion about attunements recently, and I think plenty of very solid points have been made on either side.  Some feel they were cumbersome and got in the way of playing, causing people who’ve done them over and over to have to continue doing them to get others on their prospective raid team ready.  Others think they were a great way to immerse yourself more fully in the story line of the raids, helping you understand who these bosses are and why you’re there.  Both sides make very strong arguments, and really the difference simply comes down to play style.  Some people want to explore and enjoy the game in multiple facets, and others view raiding (or dungeon crawling) as the only real point to the game.  There’s no “right” way to play, though, so the debate continues.

I’ve always enjoyed attunements.  I used to do the Karazhan attunement even when you no longer needed to.  Prior to all of my beautiful keys (my preciouses) being stolen, I had done basically every dungeon and raid attunement that you could do without having to put together out-of-date raids (I never finished the Black Temple attunement, as I was a brand new-ish player and was only raiding Karazhan at the time).  I enjoyed the storylines associated with them, and I felt they added something to actually getting into the raid.  Nowadays, when you can step in to a raid minutes after you ding 85, it all feels so cheap, but that’s what Blizzard wants: more accessibility.

Players don’t really have to earn things any more in WoW.  Virtually everything was an uphill struggle for a long time, and that struggle made the few low-hanging fruits of success that much sweeter when you got them.  So much has been sacrificed in the name of convenience that the game has lost the edge it once had.  Now, the entire game is low-hanging fruit, so no one appreciates what they have.  It’s why you see the older players getting bitter or bored.  It’s why you see more and more snotty trolls in chat.  It’s about the degrading of value: the value of success, the value of community, the value of the game.

But there’s a flip side to this coin that we have to be careful of, as well: hazing.  Attunements were a form of digital hazing.  You had to undergo a ritual that was inconvenient (really?  Go to the Dalaran crater in Alterac from Deadwind Pass before old world flying?  REALLY?), painful, and that your friends were frequently involved in.  No lives were threatened unlike real hazing rituals (don’t get me started about how stupid those are, and by those I’m not sure if I mean the rituals or the desperate-to-fit-in “victims” who undergo them), so it’s not a perfect metaphor, but it’ll do.  Part of that culture is to pass the misery on.  Perhaps those of us who love attunements have a part inside us thinking that if we did it, so should the new players.  The inconvenience made us strong, so others should have to suffer it, as well.  Perhaps this is just about hazing.

I don’t think we can be safely sure that we’re not just passing on a hazing culture here.  I still like attunements and would like to see more of them.  I still like to get to revered in my BC reps before moving on (nowhere near possible with how low the BC xp bar is set nowadays; I didn’t even get honored in some of them in this last playthrough).  I still like to go see Akama in SMV.  It was all part of the experience for me, and now that they’ve been stripped of relevance, it feels like an act of respect, of reverence, for old game material that’s been forgotten.  I’d like to see it come back, but I’m sure it would arrive to a fanfare of bitching and moaning from the new culture of entitlement within the game.  Remember the reception the firelands dailies got?  How quickly did Blizz nerf the length of the opening part from 3 days to 1?  The Argent Tournament had the same structure, and it was never changed.  That goes to show both how much more entitled players feel now and how much more willing Blizzard is to cave to them.

No, we have a culture of convenience and ease now, and it comes with its good and bad, just like the culture of struggling did.  Each convenience solved a struggle but created a new problem, too.  That’s the thing about technology; it doesn’t solve problems as much as it changes them.  Consider all of WoW’s advances: LFD, LFR, Real ID, less talent points, no talent points, old-world flying.  Each one has come with its own cost, shifting the problems so things look better.


Stubborn (and attuned)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2012 10:16 am

    Well, ya’s done the attunements what was little more than modest time-consuming formalities. Big whup. I just don’t see how sitting at yer computer hittin’ the “run forward” key until ya finds the dude outside the big purple dome while yer body slowly turned food inta shite an’ waste heat counts as a “culture of struggling”.

    Hazing serves a purpose. Not very well, in me not-humble opinion, but it do create an’ strengthen social bonds. In contrasts, an’ entire guild havin’ fer ta stop it’s Black Temple progression fer a week or two so’s ta run the new recruit from a Kara guild through Gruul’s and Mags and Vashj and Kael’thas served no purpose at all. None. It were nuthin’ but bad design, an’ its death were well deserved.

    • July 18, 2012 10:44 am

      I hardly consider grinding level 70 heroic dungeons to revered status, which was no easy task without tabards and guild rep bonuses, as I’m sure you remember, a “time-consuming formality” any more than stopping progression for a week or two. The stakes of what you describe are higher, and thus the cost is, as well, but they’re both just time consumption any way you slice it.

      The culture of struggling I refer to incorporates more than just attunements, as well. Elite zones outside instances, having to go to instances before summoning stones, little-to-no guild management tools, far less available information (remember Thottbot?), training every level of every skill, defense rating (which I liked), the necessity of getting unhittable on raid bosses, the 5 second mana regen rule, useless hybrids (remember when really only warriors could be main tank and priests main heals?), having to actually discover flight paths, pre-daily gold accumulation (back when 5000g was tough to get), not to mention tough heroics (which cata had at first, but I never remember Shadow Labs or Arcatraz getting easy or becoming an AoE fest), no auto-grouping, no way to check others’ specs or gear if things were going poorly to be able to identify the problem… all of these things contributed to that culture. Attunements were just one other thing.

      I disagree that hazing serves a purpose. I think people believe it does, because “strong bonds” are formed in stressful situations, but as time always shows, unless we’re talking truly life-threatening things like wars, those bonds break down quickly under the pressure of stress and time, like stone eroding under the tide. How many of those “strong bonds” of kara and gruul’s and mags and vashj and kael (incidently, I did gruul’s and mags and kael when they were end game, just not vashj) still exist today? Sure, there are some rare, few people that have somehow stayed in the same guild with the same precise people over all that time, but I’m willing to bet the vast, vast majority are either in new guilds or have new guildies in their old guilds. Those bonds, in the end, were as strong as their digital ties, which aren’t too strong at all.

      I’m not defending the importance of attunements that require multiple tiers of raiding. I’m talking about having a culture that understands that some of the activities in which it participates are a privilege, not a right. Maybe that doesn’t make sense in games, which are supposed to just be about fun, not earning privilege, in which case I have to wonder if I’m just wanting to pass on the inconvenience that I had to deal with, a la hazing.

      A death well deserved is rare enough, but has having lost some of that old culture cheapened the game lives we now live?

      Incidentally, regardless of how often I see it here or on your own site, I’m still in awe of your linguistic elasticity. I’d love to talk to you as an English professor sometime about how easy it is for you to switch modalities or if you ever get them mixed up in speech or writing.

  2. July 18, 2012 4:02 pm

    Found via KIASA (curse those boys and their long titles). Another one for my RSS feed. Just stopping by to /off-topic wave.

    • July 18, 2012 7:26 pm

      Welcome! I’ve actually been reading you on and off for some time via Larisa’s Pink Pigtail Inn (though now it’s closed). Glad to have you here, and thanks for the comment!

  3. July 19, 2012 7:26 pm

    I totally agree with you in naming the entitled culture of the game as the main factor in this devolution towards convenience. Personally I think that this type of person has no business playing an MMO, but they’re here now and Blizzard is damn well not about to refuse their business.

    The thing that I think clinches it for the attunement question specifically is that the logistics of managing a raid group [or instance group, back when instances required thought] are difficult enough even without attunements. It’s not cool that one person’s inconvenience can become twenty-five people’s inconvenience. Raiding in WoW needs to be a game first and foremost.

    [FYI, the BC Heroics did get significantly easier with raid gear; it was just that much more difficult for the plebs to get raid-level gear back then that most people didn’t notice.]

    • July 25, 2012 7:15 am

      You make a good point about the 40 man raid groups vs. 10 or even 25. I never participated in a 40 man raid – ever – so I really can’t comment on the logistics of it. I’m sure it’s that much more difficult to organize and prepare attunements for, and I think your point about BC heroics being trivialized – but at a much, much slower rate – by the raid gear is probably true, too. Still, I don’t think I agree that raiding should be the whole game. More and more data supports that raiding is falling out of favor as the only way to play, and I think devs need to be aware of that and support other interests to the same degree. Finishing attunements appeals to story- or lore-based players, and removing them was just another move to making WoW as a whole an assembly line of levels and gear. I think they helped round out an otherwise repetitive behavior, though admittedly only a tiny bit.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment!

  4. July 19, 2012 11:49 pm

    Hazing? That’s a *tad* sensationalist, and I feel you know that…

    • July 25, 2012 7:17 am

      Well, I think most of the time people use sensationalism to make their opponents look bad, but in this case, it’s my own way of thinking I’m calling into question, so while I don’t disagree with your label, I think the fact that I’m using it against myself makes it a bit more understandable. Besides, finding sensationalism on an WoW blog is like finding sand on a beach! (;

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