Being someone who wants to make games for a living, I find it disappointing how much I miss or don’t complete in the games I play. Time seems to slip away and I ask myself why I didn’t do more. One of my big goals this year and prior was to rediscover what I’m passionate about, what motivates me. Fantasy and games are two things I love.
July has been a month of reflection and trying to get back on track. Instead of talking about what and why hasn’t, I’m going to focus on what has happened and I want to happen.
This month I’ve been preparing for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth. This includes taking care of some things so I don’t need to backtrack (ex. flying) and achieving some things before they go away for good (ex. artifact appearance).
First I want to reflect on my thoughts and feelings on flying being gated and in-game items (gear, appearances) going away after the expansion ends. I’ll bring Diablo III into this as well, as it has gear and other goodies it rewards players when they finish season achievements.
Even though it was way late into the expansion, I was able to gain my flying in Legion, something I didn’t do in Warlords of Draenor (previous expansion) . So this was a special feat for me. It was challenging given my availability, I am balancing games with family and side-programming. This means I have to be selective about what I invest my time in and it’s possible I won’t get what I want. It also means I need to be smarter about how I do things, something I’m still learning.
Not having flying during the leveling experience definitely helps with immersion. Flying makes it easier to escape and access areas more easily, but waters down or nullifies the experience of exploring and adventuring because the danger is no longer there and discovery isn’t as much of a challenge anymore. In this way, I appreciate what current and past expansions have done when they lock down flying. It makes the danger and achievements feel that more real.
With that said, achieving flying in Legion was a challenge and I had to step away from it at some point. I found myself stuck in progressing through the main storyline because of a reputation gate and my timing was off for dungeons and raids. I tried chipping away at the rep, but at the time I still had at least three factions to gain reputation with and it felt cumbersome.
When I came back to the achievement, I had a more focused effort by only doing world quests for one faction at a time and using WoWHead to get passed the quest blocker I was running into. I also finally knuckled down and completed some quests in raids.
I’m hoping in Battle for Azeroth I will have an easier time keeping up with the rep grind, I think that’s the biggest factor that made me step away. As much of a pain it was, being challenged to get flying made the expansion better. I experienced the full content when I would have skipped out on Suramar and missed the conclusion of that questline.
Game Items and Limited Achievements
There are many things I wish I had achieved/acquired that went away at the end of expansions. At the top of my list is the Legendary Cloak from Mists of Pandaria and there’s also the Legendary Ring in Warlords of Draenor. There is also a “Ahead of the Curve” achievement I would like to get some day. Even though I’m regretful I didn’t get these, by not having them I have an appreciation for these types of achievements. It makes them special.
I don’t believe these items or achievements have requirements that aren’t unfair. What the game devs are doing is giving players a reward for playing their content to its fullest at the time its relevant.
As time has gone on as a MMO player, I have become more consistent in my game play and continue to better myself as a player. I’m describing my own personal experience, it has nothing to do with age or necessarily years spent playing an MMO. In some part this is because it is easier to jump into things like dungeons and raids these days and I have a guild that helps its members with progression.There are also great resources out there like WoWHead, Icy Veins, and streamers on Twitch and Youtube.
The interesting thing is by completing these challenges/achievements lately I’ve been learning how to be a better player. In World of Warcraft, working towards the in-game rewards encouraged me to work through more content and to put more effort into improving my character’s gear and adapt to different situations.
I still need to learn to fit my game playing into a more consistent schedule. MMOs like Warcraft are grindy. I still game in bursts, which doesn’t work so well when achievements are designed to be earned by returning to the game often.
Diablo III is a little different, but its season achievements/rewards were also grindy. It wasn’t like you hopped in for a few hours and got everything. It has several chapters of quests to complete which involved running through the whole game on a new character and then doing other things like running rifts up to a certain level and using Kanai Cube.
There was an artifact appearance that would no longer be available after the pre-patch, which hit July 17th. I buckled down and did my research, upgraded my gear and worked on getting around the mechanics. This involved changing some of my skills, which changed my rotation and toolset, making the fight more challenging.
There was a lot of dieing… and I wasn’t familiar with potions and other buffs, so this endeavor felt like a money-sink.
Current state of things, taking a nap… on the floor (made it to the third phase, progress) pic.twitter.com/uG0Ge8Fa9r
— Justin Osterholt (@CodeMageHattraz) July 15, 2018
Buff food/potions cost gold so every failure kinda stings. Hoping to get it down in time. pic.twitter.com/p2JJWfj4up
— Justin Osterholt (@CodeMageHattraz) June 29, 2018
Eventually I remembered there was a gear vendor in the most recent zone of the expansion that sold upgraded gear. In addition, I hadn’t upgraded my legendary gear to max. So I spent some time grinding Veiled Argunite and Awakening Essence to upgrade my gear.
Mage Tower saga continues. Remembered Thaumaturge Vashreen (Vindicaar) sales upgraded gear and relics. pic.twitter.com/urPvGo8V7v
— Justin Osterholt (@CodeMageHattraz) July 15, 2018
Upgrading gear to increase your power and defense in WoW is pretty essential. Doing so was a game changer. But that’s just half the battle, working through the mechanics is the other half. I was having trouble using Cauterizing Blink in order to keep my HP up and I kept dieing to some of the mechanics because I wasn’t comfortable with my new rotation yet and my timing was off. So to fix this, I had to break out some Rush (Tom Sawyer FTW). And then bam, rotation was locked in.
Back to Dalaran I went to get the artifact appearance. While the new aesthetic is cool, it’s overcoming the challenge that is most fulfilling. It made me stop, think, and invest time into learning the fight and overcoming it.