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The Great 21st Century Timesink

July 14, 2008

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for about a year and a half now, except for an eight-month hiatus, so I think I’ve got enough experience with the game to finally sit down and write some thoughts about it. First off, what inspired me to write this was a blog post from the 20-Sided blog by Shamus Young. If you’re a WoW player, check it out because it’s a good read. Shamus makes some excellent points about the game and how utterly ridiculous some of the elements of it can be.

Last night I finally dinged 60 on my Undead Warrior. According to the game I have played for almost ten days worth of time. That’s nearly 240 hours of gameplay in 547.5 days, or 13,140 hours. That means that 2 percent of the last 2 years has been spent doing nothing but playing World of Warcraft. That doesn’t seem too bad. There are people out there who, I’m sure, have a much greater percentage than I do.

What I would really like to figure out is how much of that gameplay time I have spent actually playing the game. This doesn’t include sitting and eating to heal damage, running (riding or flying) between locations, or running around capital cities trying to find stuff. Prior to level 40 all travel is done by foot, or across great distances between villages and cities via flight paths. At level 40, a mount is now available which allows you to move 40% faster. Your next big mount purchase is available at level 60 which allows you to move even faster. The costs can be very prohibitive, however, and if it weren’t for the deep pockets of one of my guildmates I very likely would have only just had the money to buy my first mount recently. My level 60 mount, which I have been given the gold for, would be even further away.

I find the most frustrating thing for me is the balance between questing to gain levels and increasing your profession skills. To level, you need to do quests and dungeons. To increase your professions, you need to perform the most difficult profession-related tasks in order to get better. In my case (blacksmith and miner), I need to mine ore and smelt it to get better, and to smith I need have metal and other ingrediants to create metal items to get better. This costs money. Looking at some smithing guides, they say to level up your smithing skill you could need something like 200 iron bars. That’s a lot of damned iron. You need to either buy it on the auction house (more gold to spend) or go out and mine it yourself (more time to spend).

This can be daunting (and, with me being a cheapskate, it means I don’t want to spend gold on leveling my professions), and therefore gets ignored. This means that though my warrior is level 60 – well over the half-way point to the level cap at 80 – his smithing skill is sitting where a more dedicated player’s smithing skill may be at level 30 or 40. Mining levels up any time you mine ore, so as long as you are mining more difficult ores for your mining level it’s easy to get better.

To be honest, if it weren’t for the friends I have that I play with (these are Real Life™ friends that I spend time with outside of WoW as well), I wouldn’t last in this game. It gets dull. Real dull. Real fast. Collection quests are the devil’s handwork and if I didn’t have guildmates to play with I probably would have shelved the game a long time ago. This has a lot to do with my casual gamer mindset, and there are many things about this game that do not appeal to the casual gamer. Dungeon quests can sometime take upwards of two hours to complete, and this has to be done in one sitting. If you don’t get into a good group for doing dungeon quests, you can run into people who are greedy about the special pick-ups, who don’t play as a team and run ahead (“Leeeroy Jenkins!”), and generally don’t help the group. This happens more often than not.

If you get involved with a good group of players, you can spend a lot of time with this game. Even questing on your own can be enjoyable, but I strongly recommend you use a leveling guide to help you make your time spent as efficient as possible. Use add-ons for the game like Cartographer, QuestHelper and Auctioneer to make your time spent and money spending/making more efficient as well. These add-ons can be easily downloaded and installed from websites like @Curse.


From → video games

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