I recently received a cryptic email from one of you which simply stated
“I get it! You hate WOW! Why do you keep playing!(?)”
I feel obligated to respond, and I figured that on the chance that this could be a widely held misconception, I should do so publicly.
Let me start by talking about a movie. No Escape came out in 1994 starring Ray Liotta. It’s a rather typical Sci-Fi action movie with a bit of gang warfare thrown in. It could even be called pseudo-post-apocalyptic, as it takes place on a penal island with little to no technology. By many measures, it’s a bad movie. The script is predictable, the acting is mostly uninspired, and the special effects leave a lot to be desired. In comparison to other movies, it didn’t do much, and the critical reviews say so.
Still, I love No Escape. Against all logic, it’s one of my favorite action movies (Waterworld is, too). It came at a time in my life when I was first really recognizing that I wanted to be a movie connoisseur, had just started to pay attention to actors and directors, and had become interested in post-apocalyptic settings. The first “Making of…” special I ever saw as on No Escape, and I still remember a discussion of how they shot a falling scene that was measurably longer than any previously-shot falling scene. It came at the right time in my life, and it’s stuck with me since.
I don’t hate WoW. I have hated WoW, and I certainly dislike some elements of it, but I don’t hate WoW. WoW was my first MMO, and as a result, it has a special place in my heart. WoW has many excellent elements that redefined the MMO genre, and as such has become the template that every other game seeks to remake or break away from. Many individual elements stand out about WoW even now: the music, the ambient noises, the class design, the lore.
However, when you put it next to a game that came out in 2012, it doesn’t necessarily fare well. Should it? I suspect that if we put Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004) or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (2oo4) against modern games in the same genre, they wouldn’t fare well, either. A handful of titles survive from then. Katamari Damacy, GTA: San Andreas, Fable – but most have fallen into the dust of ages. The video game market has an incredibly fast turnover time, and WoW’s outlived its siblings exponentially.
That said, I am critical of WoW. I dislike many of the ways in which it’s changed. I feel a lot of decisions have unforeseen consequences that have just come to be accepted as part of a whole package, as if we can’t design a better system. LFD is an obvious example. Talent trees are another, and I have no doubt there’ll be unforeseen consequences to their elimination. I think some of the new developers have different priorities than those who founded WoW, and while I’m not going to judge the overall quality of those priorities, I can say they’re not things I personally like. The players, too, have changed. Some have become far more jaded (like myself). Others simply got bored and left. Others developed exclusive and elitist attitudes. So you see, dear reader, it’s not so much WoW I don’t like, it’s what people have done to WoW.
Of course WoW can’t compare to The Secret World. They’re apples and oranges. One is class and race based, one isn’t. One has had 4 expansions, one hasn’t. One has been built entirely on the foundation the other laid. You wouldn’t expect a Neanderthal to favorably compare to modern man, would you? However, by identifying the differences, you can see a lot how we’ve changed, and that’s where I find the comparisons to be useful. That’s what gives them merit. Not to tear WoW down, but to build it’s grandchild, TSW, up. Grandparents want their grandchildren to succeed, and if WoW didn’t compete with TSW, there’d be a lot more overt camaraderie about it. Still, I bet there’s devs at both companies that play each others’ games and hope that the other succeeds.
So I apologize if I loosely throw around my comparisons and make it seem that I hate WoW. I’m disappointed in it right now for a variety of reasons, but it’s still a comfortable home for me. The fact that despite my feelings I still play shows something about both the game and my feelings for it. It’s like a first girlfriend. You’re going to move on, and you might be angry at her for some time, but you’ve still got a history, and you don’t want to see her abused by the world.
Now, I throw the question back at you: Why do you seem so angry that I am so critical of WoW?
Stubborn (and responsive to readers)
On the topic of why there’s so much Star Wars hate, which I read has been called on par with hatred reserved for divorced spouses, it’s because that’s a fair analogy. If you hate your ex-spouse, it’s because there’s a lot of emotional baggage there that all ended in let down. Excitement about discovering one another, pleasurable anxiety about mating, financial transactions (this makes it sound more like a prostitute, but I don’t mean it to)… all of these things turn to bitterest gall when they turn out to be a long-term letdown. As I paraphrased before (from The People vs. George Lucas), the fans’ passion has turned inward into hatred, making them the very sith he imagined. Star Wars is hated so much specifically because it is Star Wars, not “Space Wizards Go to War(craft).” That they love the IP so much is why they hate it.