Loading... January 2, 2006

By John Hoskin -

Happy New Year folks!
The first Loading... of 2006 is upon us. Many would write about what happened in 2005, but that's the past, history, old news, Martha Stewart if you will. Many would write about what is to come, the future, the hopes, Vin Diesel if you will.
I'll have none of that. There is a far more important issue on the stove and it needs to be addressed. Someone typed something in World of Warcraft general chat that made me think. Yes, it's hard to believe and yes, many of you are shrugging this off as a halucination induced by sleep deprivation, but you would be wrong. Some brilliant piece of work typed the following, spelling errors and all, into general chat, in the Barrens no less: " U can't raid in WoW inless u use vent or TS its impossible". On the bright side he didn't type "unpossible".
For those of you that have been in forced confinement the reference to "vent or TS" is a reference to voice communications. Rather than tapping away on a keyboard to communicate with the rest of the raid the players can communicate via voice. I have no idea how you enunciate "U" instead of "you" or "Ur" instead of "you're", but there you have it, and it's what all of the cool kids are doing.
Let's get the facts out first. I have never raided in World of Warcraft. I did raid extensively in EverQuest with one of the most efficient guilds going at the time. We did everything and we did it first. Perhaps World of Wacraft raids are an order of magnitude more difficult than EverQuest raids, but I have my doubts.
If the raids aren't more difficult then what is the problem? Why is voice communication required?
WoW players are a unique breed, or at least, many of them are. Many of them are unique, put that in your hat and think about it for a bit. WoW's success is partially due to the fact that anyone can play it. Unlike EverQuest or Final Fantasy XI or the slew of other MMOGs out there, World of Warcraft is a game in which anyone can find their groove. Whether you are a new player of MMOGs or a veteran, you can pick up WoW and play. This leads to an interesting melting pot of player types.
There is a vocal group that will latch on to the most inane saying and repeat it indefinately until they either pass out or hear another saying they prefer more. Enter Goldshire or The Barrens and you are sure to hear people blathering on about Chuck Norris, screaming FROST SHOCK in capital letters, or otherwise acting like Rainman. Definately not someone to group with, definately. Definately not someone to group with, definately.
There is another vocal group that was born with a gene that forcibly stops them from reading quest instructions. You will find them in just about all zones asking where a quest mob is. After asking, and being answered repeatedly, they will spout some gibberish about the game being too hard and that nobody in WoW helps anyone else.
You will also find the hardcore group lurking in the instances and gaining levels faster than Kirstie Alley fills her plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
What does this have to do with voice communications you ask? Here is my theory...
Before World of Warcraft attracted the masses, those that chose to raid were hardcore players who put the social aspect of the game behind the need for accomplishment. They understood that paying attention to the leader's orders, eyes glued to the chat window, was the path to success. They refrained from typing anything into the chat window, for fear that it might break the focus of the group. They had played together as group members to reach the highest level in the game, not necessarily because they wanted to, but because you could not solo. They were forced to become good group members and raiders by the mechanics of the game. They were forced to understand how their class fit into the group picture in order to continue playing. The game itself trained them to be ready for what was going to be thrown at them in the end-game.
Then came World of Warcraft, where you rarely see a group formed outside of instances. Players solo to level 60 and then attempt to raid. They have never built and refined the skills necessary to act in a group. When it comes to raiding they simply don't know how to act. Many of them simply don't care about the other players in their group or raid as they never interact with them outside of that environment. The solo mentaility has become imprinted on their gameplay style.
The game mechanics of WoW that take the player to level 60 are very different than the ones in place when you attempt to raid. The game trains players new to the genre how to be a poor group member and raiders, then throws them into the midst of the veteran raiders in a Frankensteinish soup that is destined to turn out badly. The old school raiders are forced to educate the newcomers in a freakish battle of ideologies. The mere fact that if you join a group and heal someone else they weep with joy and disbelief is testament to the mindset of many non-raid WoW players. I don't envy the veterans and their uphill battle to form raid competent groups.
Maybe the Barrens Monkey had it right when he typed that you can't raid in WoW without voice communications, but I am going to be very disappointed if I find out that he was right.
New Comic - We have posted a new comic titled, "Other Work".
Here's what's new on the network!

  • Guild Wars: Welcome to Ascalon 101

    This is not a walk-through. It may seem like one at first, but it's not. I'm not going to tell you how to do every quest, and I'm not going to take you step-by-step through pre-sear. That would be extremely boring, and if you managed to install the game without setting your house on fire, you can figure your way through most of the tutorial it without my help.
    These are answers to the questions I found were frequently asked in pre-sear Ascalon, with special attention to the things that were being answered incorrectly or inadequately. If you're new to Guild Wars, I hope this helps you. If you're experienced at Guild Wars, this will probably be stuff you figured out already, so why not go read our selection of articles and strategy highlights?"
  • Vanguard: Snow Days in Paris

    " Our virtual tour of the Vanguard community continues as the year draws to a close with Vanguard Mondes-Persistants. You will remember that we began this stroll through the Affiliated Sites in September with RP Union - they have remodeled since our visit, you might wish to stop by again. We then moved in October to look about Silky Venom and see what their staff of writers has been working on. Last month, November, Raya helped to show us around Vanguard Stratics and now, as the snow falls in Paris, our path brings us to a holiday conversation with Gardomyn. "
  • DDO: Breaking The Holy Trinity Mold

    " An understanding of the Pen and Paper game and its followers should give us the answer. As an avid player in a number of campaigns I can tell you that with the right mindset you can get away with not having a healer, or a crowd controller, or even a tank. (Although not having a tank is pushing it a bit far.)  D&D’s class system alone can change the thinking of a player. Having a cleric – the traditional holy trinity healer – stand toe to toe with a giant, wielding a flaming great sword and wearing full plate armor isn’t a sight you see in many MMOG’s. Yet in D&D it’s possible, in fact not only is it possible, but with the right set of spells running the cleric can out tank the tank quite easily."
  • Auto Assault: Clan Spotlight Interview - 1st Mechanized Infantry

    " Want to join up with the Biomek army? Well 1stMI can recruit you within their ranks! That is, of course, assuming you want to go through the horrible process of bio-mechanization. Hey, you only have to do it once right? Joking aside, 1stMI is an awesome group of people who not only enjoy Auto Assault but many other games as well. That's why we've gone behind the scenes to get the full scoop on them, straight from the mouth of 1stMI's guild leader! So if you want to find out more about the 1st Mechanized Infantry to help with that hard decision on which side you should ally up with, check it out here!"
  • What's In The Can of Spam?

    " If you've ever wandered into the Non-Gameplay section of the forums you know who Asterothrax is.  Touting his mighty 12k post count his ability to comment on almost anything is unchallenged.   What is it, however,that is behind the "w0rd?"  Most people who frequent Asterothrax's posts also aren't aware he is a high end player, raider, and overall veteran MMO player.    Utilizing my numerous "connections" I arranged for me to sit down and pick Aster's brain.   After we bandaged up his head and he stopped screaming I asked him some questions to get a little more insight into what goes on in his mind.   Unusual?  Undoubtedly.  Insightful?  Indeed.   At some points terrifying?   Totally.   Prepare yourself...."
  • EVE: Training Time Converter

    "The idea of an offline training system like EVE's might throw some new players for a loop. We now offer a simple utility script that will calculate exactly when (in your local date and time) your skill training will be completed, using the countdown timer values."

Now on to the real world. You can't make this stuff up.

As always, thanks for visiting TenTonHammer.com,
-- John "Boomjack" Hoskin

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