From the Mailbag

By | August 16, 2010

Or mailbox.  Or inbox.  Mail thingy.

I received an email from Jan this morning asking,

Unfortunately, I’m one of those avid wow players who haven’t received any
cataclysm beta invites!

Do you think it’s wise to just wait for the release? Because some people
say playing the cataclysm beta will eventually remove the fun in playing
when cataclysm is released. I’m afraid it will feel like leveling an alt
from 70-80, which is not as fun as leveling the first one. I’m actually
still subscribed in WoW even if I’m not playing anymore just to get a
chance in getting an invite.

Do you still play WOTLK? It’s getting a lot boring now and I’m running out
of things to do…

Excellent questions!

I’m assuming that your “should I wait for release” is for what to do if a shiny beta invite appears in your mailbox.

The answer to that is sort of “your mileage may vary,” but let’s peek into it a bit.  In order to answer your question, I need to shoot one back your way:  how do you see yourself spending time in the beta?

I have to admit I’m a pretty casual beta-er.  I know there are plenty of people who’ve spent as much time as they can exploring the world, leveling up, and drinking in every shiny new pixel.  I’m more the log in for a few hours, do some random things, then next time I log in do something completely different sort.

The people reading the bug reports are probably /facepalming:  “I love the detail in this house in Gilneas!”  (Don’t worry, I submit useful bug reports, too, I promise.)

But you know what?  It’s a good way to experience it, for me.  I get to see some of the world without feeling like I have to do everything omg right now.  And everything’s subject to change.  The quests I do in the beta might change when the game goes live.  Talents and spells are going to change.  Itemization and skills will change.

Knowing that what I see in the beta won’t be the same as what I see when Cata goes live is pretty neat.  It’s a sneak peek of what’s to come.  It’s also a chance to try out a whole bunch of things without having to really make a solid commitment to any of them.  On my character screen, I have Threnn, Annalea and Davien.  The rest are a rotating cycle of alts that I’ve created just to see how things play.  None of them are all that safe from deletion if I need to free up a character slot for the next new shiny to come along.  Worgen priest!  Human hunter!  Goblin warlock!  Troll druid!  Somewhere in there will come a Tauren paladin and who knows what else.

I’m like a puppy in a room full of neat smells:  “What’s this?  What’s this?  What’s this?  Oh, look over there!  What’s that? What’s this?”

I’ve scoped out a whole bunch of spots that will be neat for RP, and as I go along questing, I’m keeping an eye out for story hooks.  Why, yes, my beta experience is totally selfish. :)

You mention that some friends say it will take the fun out of the release.  I think that will depend on your playstyle.  I could absolutely see, if I were to spend all my time in there getting Threnn to level cap and running the instances over and over, that it would feel like a bit of a chore having to do it all over again when the expansion goes live.  If that’s what you’re concerned about, I’d recommend trying something new with your characters.  Pick a spec you haven’t tried before.  If you have multiple 80s, don’t transfer your main to the beta servers.  Poke around on a secondary or tertiary alt instead, one you won’t get around to leveling for a while.  Do you play primarily one faction?  Roll a lowbie on the other side of the fence and play through the starting zones.

Other people I know in the beta are having a blast leveling their mains.  They’re enjoying the new talent trees and trying out the new content.  They’re getting their number-crunching started now and love theorycrafting.  The week-to-week changes are exciting for them.

Whether or not participating in the beta will take the fun out of Cataclysm’s launch definitely depends on your playstyle.  For me, it’s been fun to see a little bit of a lot of things.  That way, there will still be plenty of surprises for me when Cataclysm goes live.  For others, focusing on one character is more their cup of tea.  The advice I’d offer to anyone of any playstyle is this:  if it starts feeling like work, it’s time to switch gears — whether that’s simply playing a different character or logging out altogether.

As for whether I’m still playing Wrath, hell yes!  I’ll be honest, I don’t mind the slower pace between expansions so much.  Right now, Threnn, Anna and Davien are about as well-geared as they’re going to be until Cata greens replace Wrath epics.  PvE-wise, I can concentrate on finding some new shinies for Lyr and leveling my baby shaman.  I’m in no rush for him — he’s been around since 2006 and is still wandering around in Stranglethorn.

RP-wise, it’s quiet for all my characters, and again, that’s okay by me.  If something interesting comes along, they can join in, but meanwhile, they’re doing their day-to-day things, enjoying a little while where the world isn’t falling apart.  I have a couple of loose ends to tie up for Davien, and some others for Annalea that will probably carry into a story line for her in Cataclysm.  Threnn and Bricu are planning for the future, figuring out what they want to do now that the world’s a safer place for their daughter.  Y’know, for now.

What goals do you have left for yourself in Wrath?  Any alts you’d like to cap or gear?  Are there any achievements you’re after or reputations you’d like to max out?  Are there any storylines you haven’t had a chance to finish yet for your characters?

A whole lot will be changing in the starter zones — now’s your last chance to see the old Vanilla world, if there are any races or classes you haven’t explored yet (or if you’re up for some nostalgia.)

What about some silly fun?  Some of my hordie friends have been doing Iron Man runs — starting off in the lowbie dungeons with no gear, and equipping only what drops, then working their way up.

However, if you find yourself bored every time you log in, it’s also perfectly valid to take a WoW-break.  The game shouldn’t be an obligation or a chore, and if you’re hearing the siren song of DragonAge, Starcraft II, or going to the beach, go for it!

All right, readers, if you’re in the beta, tell us what you’re up to.  If you’re not, what’s keeping you busy in-game (or out of it, if you’re taking a break?)  Any advice for Jan?

Let us know!


Itanya Blade on August 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm.

When you are thinking about a beta experience, I think it is a good idea to think about what your focus is going to be in the game when it is released.

One thing I have learned from previous WoW betas is that I don’t really want to ruin the story for my characters. With the new quest helpers that come in the game, I don’t bother to read the quest text or really pay much attention. I don’t want to know the details. At most, I get an idea of which characters will do best in what areas.

The other thing I do, and that is especially true for the current beta, is I ran around everywhere to look at everything. Like Falconesse above, I scoped out areas that were good for RP and I payed attention to things that would be of importance to my characters.

Personally, beta (and alpha before it) has been pretty boring because most of the people that I spend my wow time with do not have it. The people I know in the beta are all Aside.

As for in game, I have a couple of raiding goals, though that is harder and harder to accomplish as more people feel the burnout (which lately, I wish I felt too. Cause at least that way I wouldn’t feel so damn lonely while they did other things) And I have an RP pot to stir. Which is what I should be working on right now instead of reading this blog.

Bricu on August 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm.

Give us your ideas.

Itanya Blade on August 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm.

/hoards ideas

Kyraine on August 16, 2010 at 9:42 pm.

I’ve got a few loose ends to tie up with my paladin. Kyr’s going about her usual routine of earning enough gold to pay the bills, and trying to keep her worg pup from eating her out of house and home. My others are enjoying downtime. It’s nice to have a few months when something isn’t trying to eat the world, and I’m trying to make the most of it.

I admit I didn’t put in for the beta. RL’s a bit crazy right now, which is having an impact on game time. And I also want to see it fresh when I open the box. That’s not stopping me from reading impressions from people who are in the beta. I do enjoy that and I don’t mind a few spoilers, because it could change when it goes live.

Lara on August 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm.

Playing in the Beta will certainly mean that the new stuff won’t “surprise” you when you see it on live. On the other hand, do you remember how it was when Wrath of the Lich King first came out? The new areas weren’t much fun for the first month or so, because they were swarmed with hundreds of people all competing for the same quest resources. It wasn’t a quiet, enjoyable experience at all—it was a big pain in the rump. The channels were full of people giving away the secrets you were supposed to discover as part of the storyline, and you’d spend half an hour trying to tap a quest mob who respawns every two minutes and who was surrounded by other people trying to do the same thing.

On the Beta, you won’t get to keep anything special you achieve, but at least you’ll get to see the quests without tons of people sniping each other’s quest mobs and racing for world firsts. For myself, I almost think I’d prefer to have a pleasant experience that I can’t keep, rather than an unpleasant one that I can.

Arrens on August 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm.

I never put my name in the hat to include myself in the beta test. See, I’m a beta tester IRL, so mixing my job with my hobby just wouldn’t be any fun for me.

As for what I’m doing in game, the truth is I’m doing very little. The summer/pre-xpac/whatever else lull has largely set in. As such, I find myself doing a few dailies here and there, maybe doing a lap or two around Icecrown to stripmine and sell the goods on my alt. But Arrens hasn’t been around much because there’s nothing drawing him in. Nevermind my work schedule (the light IS at the end of the tunnel, btw). But the fact is, I play for RP. And if there’s no RP occuring, I’ve found myself out of game a helluva lot more than is normal for me.