Into the Breach

It has technically been four days since I started playing WoW again.

Awakening at my favorite spot after 1.5+ years.

Awakening at my favorite spot after 1.5+ years.

I say “technically” as the first two sessions were 1-2 hours long and essentially involved me downloading and configuring over a dozen addons because Blizzard’s UI options are atrocious. It has been more than a year since I last played, and I understand that a lot of my ire would not exist had I been playing continuously this whole time. But that is exactly my point. To someone just coming back into WoW from a long absence, the returning user experience is pretty bad. Not quite PlanetSide 2 starting experience bad, but close.

My first issue was with the UI scale. When I looked at my old WoW screenshots, it looks like I was running around in 1280×960 resolution, which was fine at the time. Now that I have a 24″ monitor that nags me for being in anything less than 1920×1080, within five minutes I started developing neck pain from having to look to the far corners of the screen to squint at quest text. My initial scan of the options left me with the impression that no scaling UI option existed, so I ended up spending most of Tuesday mucking around with the impenetrable MoveAnything addon and reconfiguring by hand. Eventually, I wised up and Googled my way to the UI Scale slider, but this was way after any rational person would have given up.

Something has gone terribly wrong.

Something has gone terribly wrong.

After two days of screwing around, I did approximately six of the new Pandaria quests before I simply logged off. Unlike a lot of GW2 ex-pats, the clunkiness I experienced with, say, the combat had nothing to do with standing still and trading blows – it was with much simpler things. For example, I kept trying to press E to interact with NPCs or loot bodies. Nope, I have that key bound to Crusader Strike (or whatever primary attack I have for the class/spec I’m playing) because, you know, solely clicking on shit with the mouse never went out of style. And can a brother move a goddamn window please? Maybe I want my quest text a little more to the center of the screen. You never know how much you can miss simply moving shit around until it’s gone.

There were some things I appreciated though. When it came time to assign talent points, I did not feel the immediate need to look builds up on ElitistJerks. In fact, it was the first time in years where the entire talent selection process felt… pleasant. “Huh. I’ll probably use this one more than that one. Oh, this one looks fun… I’ll take it.” The glyph system felt similarly serine, although that was mainly because there did not appear to be any actual useful glyphs for Retribution.

Which reminds me: designers, stop being idiotic by ignoring opportunity costs. I can understand the rationale of changing the glyph system to be different than simply +5% DPS options; the Enchanting and Gemming system already has you well covered there. But why would you give people 20+ glyphs with upsides balanced with downsides for three limited slots? If you ask me to choose between X and Y, the downside to X is losing the chance to pick Y. If Y is so bad no one would ever choose it, yeah, maybe it looks like X has no downside… but that’s the designer’s fault for screwing up Y. As it stands, my paladin glyph choices were made based on which ones I could take that inconvenienced me the least. If I felt more comfortable having empty glyph slots, I would have left them that way.

Anyway, some other things I appreciated were the “What Has Changed” tab and the rotation guide thing. The spellbook being divided into spec-specific abilities was helpful, even though it baffles me why Retribution is so limited ability-wise. The Dungeon Journal interface is incredibly slick, and this was the first time I ever looked at it, believe it or not.

Whoever finally convinced the devs to do this deserves a raise.

Whoever finally convinced the devs to do this deserves a raise.

When one of my (ex-former?) guildmates was showing off some of the new pets though, trying to bring out one of my own felt like opening one of those trick cans that shoot the snake and confetti out. “Oh, right, the Pet Battle thing.” It looked pretty overwhelming, to be honest, but I like the way it was set up graphically (I haven’t actually battled anything yet).

I am going to stick with WoW for now because playing games I don’t immediately like until I do (or until the cognitive dissonance kicks in) is my M.O. around here, but I just want to say: good lord, my first impression was bad. If there was ever a moment that I doubted WoW’s longevity was primarily due to social inertia, it has finally past today. It isn’t about the graphics or combat mechanics being old, it’s about downloading a bunch of 3rd-party tweaks just to make the game somewhat playable¹. Which is completely ridiculous if you think about it. If I were a normal person trying to come back again, I would have uninstalled within the first half hour.

But (un)luckily for you, I’m not, I didn’t, and god have mercy on my soul free time.

¹ “Playable” being a term relative to the other games one is playing, of course.

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Posted on December 14, 2012, in WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. good luck to your new start. If you like dailies will be a good game for you. The game now reward very generous the consistent player(peon) rather than the actual good player and not by surprise..it is something that is successful in wow playerbase.

    Yes the talents are better now, at least better than Cataclysm, although I prefer them in TBC. You could really do some good hybrids back then and all people didn’t had the exact same build…they first made the talents like shit in cata and then they said “since everyone have the same build why not get rid of talent points?”

    The game used to be a world, now it’s just a fantasy environment, a backdrop from which you can select which mini-game I want to play.

  2. I find the default UI fine except for a few things. I have to download a bag addon so I don’t open bags individually. I also have to download vuhdo for healing. I have a hud addon too, because looking to the corner for your health/mana is awful. In fairness, you can now move your unitframe freely. This time i also downloaded something that autosells gray crap out of my bags when i visit a vendor, and something to make the auction house more user friendly.

    I’ve resisted so far getting recount, on the grounds that I just don’t care that much anymore.

    Also, since you like the current-tier focus of Wrath/Cata, you’ll be pleased to know that they are abandoning it. They see LFR as the way for people to catch up now. All I can say is that is going to be one long catch up process.

    • Hmm. I guess we’ll see how much they abandoned the current-tier model in 5.2, as I have my doubts that they could get away with releasing new dungeons (assuming more are coming out) without a corresponding increase in ilevel. Then again, the whole upgrade system puts a wrinkle in everything…

      Either way, I highly doubt I get sucked back into the full-time raiding scene.

  3. Your post is interestingly timed for me, as I just completed a three month (classic locust!) stint of WoW and quit without regret. I had dipped back in almost entirely for social reasons, to help a friend establish a new guild – doing a bit of early tanking for them and such.

    Social rewards aside, it was not especially pleasant. If you can stomach the interminable reputation dailies, LFR, Sha, and the drudgery of capping valor points weekly in order to remain competitive, you’re more resilient than I am. The game has become very joblike, with a lot of homework boxes to tick each day and each week.

    If you stick with it, you’ll probably be amused by the design of the new economy to discourage AH power-gaming and goblinism. (e.g. oversupply of raw materials, crafting/research gated by BoP world drops)

    Kind of surprised at your distaste for the default UI, though. Apart from small rigidities like the immobile windows, it has come a long way.

    • I had an entirely more negative post written up before I Googled my way to the UI Scale slider, so I cannibalized some of that post here. But I do still think it absurd that you cannot simply move the screens around as you please; if nothing else, GW2 spoiled me on that account. And, you know, that being a inherent feature of 99.99% of the addons in WoW.

    • Social rewards aside, it was not especially pleasant. If you can stomach the interminable reputation dailies, LFR, Sha, and the drudgery of capping valor points weekly in order to remain competitive, you’re more resilient than I am. The game has become very joblike, with a lot of homework boxes to tick each day and each week.

      I’ve started to think that it’s a deliberate move by Blizzard to get rid of players who are not able to restrain themselves by overwhelming them until they quit. A bit like they made gearing up easier so that elitist e-peeners left the game to go play EvE. When people complain about the dailies/valor capping, they always answered “you don’t need to do that to be competitive”…. and it turns out it’s true….. I raid (not in a world-first guild, but we still do HM), and reputations/valor REALLY are useless (I slowed down a lot after one week and now I just don’t do any). If you want to run instances or raids, knowing how to play your class is way more important.

      @Azuriel, on the subject of UI: I get the feeling that the mod community has made Blizzard reliant on those mods for the UI. And BTW I have the same interface troubles you have while playing other MMOs….. and unfortunately they don’t have a mod community as strong as WoW’s, so you’re stuck with the base UI.

  4. After such a long time of abstaining it is better to delete (while making a backup of) your WTF and perhaps same for Interface folder and build something up from the ground. Other than that the first thing I run before I fire up WoW every day is Curse (note there are alternatives for Curse). If you want a complete UI experience which looks good out of the box I can recommend you ElvUI. In 5 min you got a good interface running which looks fantastic, and you can customize it all the way.

    My glyph experience has been very positive on my main and my alts. During all content (from solo, 5m to high end PvP and progressing on a HC raid) it is a matter of how and what you want to min-max for on top of a matter of preference and theorycrafting. Keyword in my opinion for both talent tree and glyph is: experiment! I haven’t really tried my paladin though. The one thing which I did not like was the massive taints which required reloadui. This appears to have been fixed now.

    And welcome back.