I've tried to keep this an IT only blog, but I'm very annoyed right now, so might as well blog.
Why am I annoyed, you ask? Because I can't log in to World of Warcraft (WoW)...again! Yeah, you might have heard of the game...apparently it's the best selling Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) of all time and it's only a month or so old.
I've had a love/hate relationship with this game since day one when I purchased it. First let me say why I like the game and why I'm addicted to it.
The crafting system is bar none the best I've ever seen in a game. It's actually fun to craft as opposed to Ultima Online (UO) or Asheron's Call 2 (AC2) where it felt like I was working after work!
The WoW world is huge and it looks really nice. It's fairly easy to get around thanks to gryphons that you use to fly from city to city.
Combat is fun if not quite as intuitive as City of Heroes (CoH) but then CoH is a simpler game in many ways.
Character progression is fun as there is plenty of equipment (eq) to get and Talents which you can use to upgrade your spells or skills.
No need for mules in WoW thanks to the addition of a mail system. So instead of having to give cash and equipment to a friend who's online, you can mail it to your alternate character instead. Only problem with this is that the mail system is oftentimes very very slow, but this is still a great feature.
The amount that experience needed to gain a level ramps up at a slow and steady pace, although the maximum level is 60 and many people have already hit this level. So this is a plus, but a mixed one.
OK that was the good, now for the bad.
Server issues. Can't stress this enough, from the first day to today, there have been constant server problems. At least every other day during the evenings, the login server is down so I can't play for a while until Blizzard fixes it. They have big problems with the intercity mail system and the auction house, especially at peak hours. Also when they do have problems, they originally had problems letting their customers know what was going on, but they've gotten a little better on this front recently.
Lack of choices when creating your character. Yes, there are the usual variety of classes, but the choices of how your character looks are very limiting and ugly if you ask me. Very few hair color choices, very few facial choices, etc. You want to see a game that got this right, go check out CoH. You can customize the look of your character umpteen ways to get it to look really cool.
The social or grouping system. It's basically the same as AC2's. You don't get exp for killing mobs (computer controlled enemies) that are 5 levels below you typically, unless they are elite mobs. There's no good way to group with someone who is 10 levels younger than you.
Contrast this to City of Hero's grouping system which allows any level player to group with any level player. They have some novel ways of doing this such as sidekicking, where you fight at one level lower than the hero that is mentoring you. You still get quest bonuses and experience (exp), but at a level commensurate with your own actual level.
And they have the reverse concept called Exemplaring, where a lower level character will exemplar a higher level character, causing the exemplared hero to fight at the same level as the lower character. Now heroes do not gain exp while they are exemplared to a lower level character, but they do accrue wealth and can quickly get rid of exp debt (when you die in CoH you are given a certain amount of debt that makes you gain %50 exp until the debt is gone).
So there is plenty of incentives in CoH to group with other characters, where there is basically very little in WoW unless you are doing elite (really hard) quests. Plus since you only get quest bonuses once, if you later on help someone else do a quest, there's, again, very little incentive for you to do so as you will be losing exp that you would otherwise be making by doing your own quests.
Running or traveling. Another great thing about CoH is that you get travel powers at level 14 and you move FAST! With superspeed you run at like 80 mph (and no I'm not kidding). In WoW you run from one location to another very slowly and this doesn't improve for most characters until they are level 40 and even then it's maybe a 50% improvement. So you spend a lot of time moving from place to place when you could be doing stuff. Travel powers are one of the big things that I miss from CoH, well that plus the friends that I still have on Protector server.
Another negative for WoW is the rarity of instanced missions. In CoH just about all missions are instanced, which means you don't have to worry about another group coming into an area and killing mobs that you need to finish a mission. Since many missions in WoW are item collection missions and there is a very small area that contains the mobs that drop the item, it takes a much longer time to collect items for a mission than it would if the mission was instanced.
Did I mention the server issues? Well since I'm currently unable to login right now (which is why I'm writing this) I will mention it again. From all accounts and from my experiences, CoH was a very smooth release. Now I can and have given Blizzard some slack that perhaps they really didn't know how many people would buy the game and didn't have enough servers and net bandwidth to handle the load, but it's been over a month now which should be long enough for them to fix these issues that keep reoccurring. But I also question how they handled the release. It seems like they knew how many boxes they shipped out to various retailers and probably had a good idea of how many preorders for the game there were and should have adjusted their infrastructure accordingly.
At any rate, they have had ample time to fix the most glaring server issues and still they have problems.
So why not just quit, you say? Well I've already plopped $50 for the game and spent countless hours playing. It's a fun game when it works (although any game reviewer that gave it higher than 70% was either smoking some good weed or played in the early morning when the servers weren't busy...the server issues are that bad that they reduce what is a great game to a merely above average one, in my opinion).
I want to get my money's worth out of the game. Typically I play MMORPGs for at least 6 months before moving on and I'm only at month 1. Not a good money to months ratio at all in comparison to other games I've played.
So anyhow, Blizzard, if you are watching the net, you are blowing it big time with what could and most likely will be a huge money maker for you. But if you piss off your most loyal customers (and most of them will eventually get fed up like me as these problems linger on) you will eventually lose the cash cow that you now have.
So while I blog about IT stuff here, I will also be blogging about any outages I experience while playing WoW. Perhaps if enough people complain for long enough Blizzard will hear us and change or enough customers will leave that WoW no longer is profitable for Blizzard.