Installing a new Operating system is like moving house, or at the very least, redecorating. Just as you have to pack everything up into boxes before you move home, so to do you have to pack everything away when moving Operating System.
Just like moving home then, you dig out those old photo albums that you’ve forgotten about, and have a look through them. I found this picture, dated 21st April 2006, and my first Kill of Ragnaros, and the first Horde-side kill on our server, Khadgar-EU. The Guild was Bovine Intervention, and we owned.
I just want to take the time and analyze the image slightly. It’s a window into a time long passed, 3 and a half years. At this point in time I was at University, and thus, was the prime candidate for Hard Core Raiding.
April 21st 2006 was a Friday, however before you chasten me for wasting a friday night, check the time on it, 2:59 am. This raid started on a Thursday Night and finished a long time later. Fatigued and drowsy, we managed to keep 40 people up and raiding to the wee small hours of the morning. For an idea of how frantic the last few seconds were, I had totally abandoned my healing duties in favour of wrath spam. (Seen a the screenshot taken seconds beforehand)
Note the powers and items on my hotbar. I had Whipper root tubers alongside potions, bandages and fel runes. Compare that to today, when, as a DPS or healer, I never carry potions other than one endless mana potion. My power bar is almost entirely Healing Touch, every rank you can think of, back in the day when you could cast Rank 1 at 2s for almost no mana, and with your +Healing keep the tank up through normal DPS. Nowadays you can’t cast anything but max rank, and with Cataclysm, ranks are being removed entirely in favour of auto scaling powers. I had fire resistence gear. Who has resistence gear any more? The last time I saw resistence gear was only for tanking Hydross in TBC.
Look at the buffs. This was only shortly after the raid-wide buffs were implimented. Look at “Gift of the Zandalar”, we had come straight out of a full Zul’aman clear to come pound down Ragnaros (we had cleared the other bosses earlier in the week). You just don’t get those kind of buffs any more for cashing in end-game bosses. It was one of the reasons people downed Onyxia, or Hakkar, or (if you were going to do Classic Naxxramas), Nefarian, was to get the head buff before going off for other raids. It was a way of keeping old content relevant that you just don’t see today.
So much so rose tinted spectacles.
It took 40 people an entire night, a full raid instance and a week of preperation to down the final boss in the game. It was time consuming, it was hellish. There was nothing else to do in the game except raid. I had spent the entire first year on another server where no-one did raids. The only thing to do was UBRS, which frankly got boring. The Ahn’Qiraj event livened things up a bit for non-raiders, but once it was over it was over.
Nowadays the final boss of the game can be downed by 10 people playing casually. The content can be experienced at leisure, and what do you know, it’s still fun. People are less stressed when they can strole through it, banter is high throughout the whole game. There is little or no cursing or swearing like there used to be and preparing for a raid requires nothing more than repairing your armour and getting buff reagents.
Every single druid in that picture was a healer. There were no Feral tanks, there was no Balance DPS. There. was. no. moonkin. form. Every warrior was a tank, every priest healed, as did every Shaman (Pink names in those days were Shaman, before the cross pollination). There was no room in the game for hybrids. You did what your class did best and that was it. Now I’ve seen Paladin tanks, Deathknight Tanks, Druid tanks, hell, I’ve seen a Shaman hold his own on Patchwerk. There’s a maleability and merging that allows groups to form more easilly than the old days.
My healing hotbar is still full of heals. But now it’s full of different heals. Ones that do HoTs, ones that consume them, ones that are fast cast, some that are slow and big. There’s insta-casts and cooldowns. You never use them all. Not on the one fight. Healing has it’s own style now. A druid healer could be a HoT Monster, easilly keeping up large groups of allies against incoming DPS, or it could be a Main Tank’s prop, throwing the large heals. I can’t speak for priests, as I’ve never played one at high level, nor Paladins, but looking at their powerset gives me the impression it’s the same for them.
Why, you ask, if I’m so happy about the game compared to where it was, am I no longer playing?
While the mechanics of the game have been polished to a spit shine, the actual content itself, while simpler to group for, is begining to insult.
I don’t want to be up till 3am playing WoW just to down Ragnaros, but I also don’t want to plough through Naxx 25 in 3 hours on an alt (which is what we were doing, pre Ulduar), gobbling up Epics like they were some sweet sweet candy. It takes all the fun out of the game if it doesn’t atleast feel like a challenge, and the Colosseum was the final nail in the coffin. It was bland, it was boring, it was too short and too repetitive.
If I hear good things about Icecrown I may consider going back, but my plans for the moment are to stick with CO for another month, then see where the MMO Space leaves me. I may end up back in Fallen Earth, which is both challenging and fun, but is also incredibly buggy and unstable for me at the moment.
My next confirmed visitation to WoW will be for Cataclysm, and finally, a chance to level a priest. A Goblin no less, and through what will hopefully be something as fresh as a new MMO, and as polished and fun as WoW could ever be.