Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's in it for the new guy?

Not too long ago I took my warrior out for a spin in 1k needles and after 9 or so characters levelling through there I figure I know the area pretty well. And still something was different than the last 8 characters I put through there... something was very different.

It wasn't the half a trillion new graveyards that would practically spit me out next to my corpse whenever I died. It wasn't the increased run-speed while dead, or the incredible leveling speed or even the fact that I was happily sitting on a mount at level 30... no:

It was the silence... the silence was absolutely deafening.

I had spent a solid 2 hours online and hadn't run into anyone all the time I was out questing. I went to 1k needles and there was nothing (Except loads of ore numnums). I went on to hillsbrad foothills to find a whole lot of no one... out of curiosity I even took a peek at stranglethorne vale and found [6] players. 3 of them level 80s that were obviously lost, on their way to Kara, grinding bloodsail rep or... well... lost.

I didn't see anyone out there outside of Booty bay... but /who clearly stated they were there.

I decided to take a look at the LFG channel for my level bracket, looked at the blank list for a while and decided to just go back to questing.

I've been a bit of a loner for most my wow existence. I like crowds of people, I enjoy the social atmosphere lots of people bring to the table but when it comes down to sticking my blade in things I always preferred to be by myself (or in exclusive company).

But what if you're not the loner type? What if you just bought wow and expected to see teaming masses of people all over the place? Expect to run dungeons in groups, explore the world and do cool things 'with' other people?

What if you really wanted to see all there is to see in the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor in the way it was meant to be seen (not some bored level 80 burning through an instance leaving a path of corpses [and you] in his/her wake)?

Are you well and truly hosed? Can you even expect to see a 'real' player before you step foot in deathknight peninsula? Is it really going to be good for a new player to have his/her first contact be with some poor soul's DK alt?

After all this time I always figured WoW would die a certain death from a collapsing economy (mudflation) or suffer defeat at the hands of unmanageable numbers (large number syndrome) but looking at what the game is now it seems like there is a new danger forming. New player frustration.

Sure, levelling is faster than ever... but would you really want to play an MMORPG for 55 levels (which is still going to take a while to get to) if you're surrounded by the overwhelming feeling that you're either completely alone or so late to the game that you'll never catch up?

I am not sure I would... back in the day when I started Azeroth was already a bit of a wasteland... but there were still people, they were annoying and talked a lot of nonsense but they made places like the barrens feel alive...

Now the barrens are just that: barren.

So whilst I am glad that my lowest level character is level 34 which puts me at least well on my way out of azeroth the question begs to be asked:

what's in it for the new guy?


Ziboo said...

I honestly believe much of what you recently experienced has to do with the server you're on. There are still new players or new alts in most start areas on the medium+ pop servers. (I play on 4 servers)

As, I didn't start playing WoW until well after BC hit, (didn't like it the first two times I tried it), I've always been behind so to speak! Anytime you come into any game that has established community, you'll likely feel like the new kid in school.

What I notice with WoW is the overall focus towards raiding and the rush to reach max level, with the first 70+ levels almost considered unworthy which I feel is a shame. So if someone is new or isn't raid oriented, I imagine just questing/leveling/exploring could be a bit lonely.

Azeroth is an interesting world with fun quests, humor, etc. I'm always finding new areas that I haven't seen or experienced before, but then I came from EQ2 and love the questing & exploring, so tend to spend much of my time poking in corners.

Misamane said...

A lot of the focus of WoW is put on raiding and endgame, and I think unfairly so.

I think there is a certain kind of person that will quit by level 20 or so after not seeing more than 3 or 4 people except in Org and Undercity.

But then again, the server thing is also true. There are always at least a few people in every area on my server, and Barrens chat is still, for the most part, "Barrens chat."

When I get someone to try the game, I always make sure I start a new toon with them, because IMO, the game is more than twice as good if you have at least one friend along for the ride.

Captain The First said...

I think blizzard could do a lot in this by just making the world more homogenous for all. There is no reason that there are no level 80 mobs crawling around in azeroth providing challenges for high level players.
There are no reasons that northrend quests don't link back to azeroth and outland more.

Server population aside. A new player who signs up now is not going to check if their server is high or low pop... they'll sign up and they'll have expectations either based on the sheer magnitute of subscriber numbers on wow or by having played something else earlier.

An almost empty azeroth will take a lot away from that crucial initial impression.

MomentEye said...

I'm new too.
My server seems to have a range of people but it's still quite weird.

It kind of feels like everyone's jaded and been-there-done-that.

It's a shame 'coz I'm still enjoying everything being new.

LarĂ­sa said...

I guess this is where the seasonal stuff comes in. You know, going all over the world to eat candy, lit fires or whatever. it gives us a reason to at least bring some life into the far distant fp:s. Hey, even the egg collecting did that, even though it was concentrated to just a few spots...
Barrens seem to be doomed.

Copernicus said...

When I started out, I purposely looked for a low population server. I like being alone in an area. I don't like seeing an arrow zing in and tag the mob I was just getting ready to attack. I don't like random group invites. I don't like whispers asking me if I've completed so and so quest yet. I don't like grouping with others for more than five minutes as we take out this hard boss that I'm unable to do by myself.

However, in a social game like WoW, people like me get looked at sideways when we say, "no, I don't want to group with you, because I like to do them by myself."

I would tell people to go to a higher population server if they're having troubles locating group members.

We have had a few new players join our guild over the last few months, and one is definitly the type of person who MUST have someone to group with or their world is ending. It drives me nuts.

TheSwauzz said...

There is no reason WOW should have to change it's demographics to accomodate the lack of "population" in an area.

Honestly, if you want to group all the time, that's what guilds are for. There are craploads of guilds that invite lowbies who's population ranges from 1-80. I was in a guild that had three people that ALWAYS leveled together and they met in game through that guild. They also had several 80s assigned to do runs for lowbies a couple of hours a day. Other people were able to tag along.

Not checking server population before joining is a big BAD IDEA. Blizzard makes the game very conducive to people that DO and DON'T like to be alone. That's why there are so many servers to choose from.

I started playing right after WotLK was released and I never had any problems finding groups. Every area that I went to had enough to make up at least one group. I'm on Whisperwind, so if you want a "populated" server, try that.

I joined a guild that was small but growing. I then had guildies to group with. And if you are in a guild that doesn't ever want to group with you, then leave and find another.

I agree that the game is now focused on 'end game' material, but what do you expect? What incentive would you have to make it to 80 if it was just "The End. Thanks for Playing!"

I don't know.. I suggest talking to someone who is familiar with the game and server population. And definately, DEFINATELY join a guild. Joinjoinjoin.


TheSwauzz said...
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Anonymous said...
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Misamane said...

Captain...dude...know what would be awesome?

If like...some insane world boss was chilling in like...Shimmering Flats or something. Some like...bring-39-other-80's-cuz-it's-gonna-be-a-shitfest amazing thing that had like a 4-day respawn timer and just fucked people up.

Or like...if a new dungeon opened up in Azeroth or even in Outlands. Seriously, it wouldn't be THAT hard to work into the story...i don't think...

And worst-case...the entrance could be a fucking hole in the ground or some crazy thing in the sky.

Something to bring everyone back would be fun, you know?

It wouldn't even have to be permanent...they DO do a good job with the holidays, Brewfest churning on and on outside Org, sending people back to kill the Brewfest boss, SM getting the Horseman, eggs in the secondary starter cities for Noblegarden...god forbid the noobs running into UC right before WotLK dropped and quitting 45 minutes later screaming "Goddamn zombie bullshit!!" But we can forgive that one because it was funny as hell.

Looking at the overall, there's a lot of things Blizzard is doing to keep Azeroth alive and kicking...but there are always things they could do bettter.

My vote?

Giant lvl 100 viper escapes from WC and rampages into the Shimmering Flats. Call your closest 39's gonna be insane.


David said...

I started playing WOW during the tail end of the Burning Crusade, though at the time I had no point of reference to even understand what that meant. Prior to that I had only played games solo on Xbox 360 (most notably Oblivion which lead me in search of something similar). In the beginning for me to playing a game where there was even one other "real" person involved was significant. Because of my background in gaming and possibly my own misanthropy I've always been more on the solo-ing side of things. I rolled on a medium sized RPPVP server (because I perversely seem to get off on danger), so not seeing someone sometimes was a good thing (no ganking). I can't say that in my current experience when leveling an alt that I've ever seen the Barrens actually barren or been the only one in Tarren Mill. It seems that there continues to be a steady progression of people who are levelling through content on my server. Nonetheless I think it behooves Blizzard to start weaving the end game back into the "old world" in certain aspects, if only to bring relevance to certain areas that were hardly relevant at all, if ever (e.g., Azshara, etc).

Here's hoping for the Maelstrom in the next expansion.

Captain The First said...

Lots of interesting responses today... methinks I will have to make another post on this topic at some point.

Thanks for all the replies and insights.

WoW Blogger said...

I'm feeling your pain. Having just purchased my heirloom shoulders and trinket, I finally decided to level up that warlock that has been my lvl 8 bank alt since the beginning of time.

While leveling my previous alts, I never felt alone because my guild chat was active, even though others weren't in my zone...or even in the same continent. But, my bank alt is in a guild by himself. And the's so quiet and empty.

Things I like about it...I have no competition for mobs, mining nodes or herbs.

Things I don't like about one to /wave or /smile at. No one to do low level instances with.

It's very strange. I too wonder how new players view the game since they don't have the crowds and social interaction we veteran players had. That probably changes a bit when they get into a guild. But still...

Lucint @ Bronzebeard - US said...

I'm still running some lowbie toons through odd places. Anyone looking to lvl horde on Winterhoof - US, msg Saintluc, high 40s pally. Looking to lvl horde on Hyjal - US, msg Vumpler, teens shaman. I have a rogue there too. Just drop me an in-game email, I tend to go in spurts of playing one toon for a few days and then another. And I'd love to find a Bronzebeard group doing heroic 5mans during the week and some 10 or 25 mans on the weekends on a reasonable east coast time frame. In-game msg Lucint if you need a mage or Jeremecium if you need tree heals.

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