Looks smaller from above
One of the little secrets of Vanilla was that there were three Stormwinds.
There was the Stormwind you saw when you approached from outside.
There was the Stormwind you saw from within the city.
And there was the city you saw when flying by.
One gimmick they could pull off this way was to make Stormwind Keep look ENOURMOUS. I’m not even sure what that is behind the gate – a hill? But at any rate, the thing fades into the mist from the streets outside the Trade District. In Retail, it’s a lot less imposing, because in Retail, there’s only one Stormwind. And that doesn’t allow them to engage in any of those nifty little tricks of perspective.
What Classic gets right (or very wrong)
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been puttering around on my Hunter and Priest (started five levels apart) and really enjoying myself. It’s painful, inconvenient, slow, grindy, and painful. And yet I have not felt at all unhappy about it.
We’re looking back at a version of WoW that had perfected the Skinner Box model without realizing it, or taking much trouble to hide it.
If you’ve never heard the term, “Skinner Box” is named after a psychologist that theorized a thing called an Operant Conditioning Chamber, which is a fancy way of saying that it trained animals using mostly positive reinforcement. Push the right button, get a cookie.
In WoW, this is illustrated by the nearly constant positive reinforcement mechanism that kicks in after level 10. Every time you level up, you get something, often many somethings. You always get a talent point. And sometimes you learn new spells or abilities. If you’re a Hunter the phenomenon is doubled thanks to your pet.
Contrast this to BfA and Legion, where I believe it’s fair to say that aside from the changes to the core game at the start of the expansion, you gained nothing new.
Hell, the last time I got a new Talent is at level 100 – the end of WoD.
Did leveling up mean anything to you in Legion or BfA? I mean, did they even lock out zones based on your level? (spoiler alert: they didn’t).
The modern niceties of modern WoW are sometimes a curse in disguise. A game based on conflict that has basically greased the rails to max level doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Yet here we are.
But … about that Skinner Box thing.
The Skinner Box scenario is generally looked down upon by most “serious” gamers. It’s the perception that, instead of making a good game, the team has created a grindhouse in which you respond like … well, like a rat in a Skinner box. Green light goes on, you hit the button. A pellet of food comes out. Green light comes on, hit the button again. Eventually, what you’re conditioned to do is to press the button whenever you see a green light, and expect a pellet of food.
This reminds me of one of my favorite stories about “sick culture” work places. It goes like this.
Imagine a cage. In that cage are five monkeys. It’s a big cage, don’t worry.
Now, hang a banana in one end of the cage.
Now, whenever a money approaches the banana, ALL the monkeys in that cage get hosed with a firehose.
Eventually, you’ll train them to never approach the banana.
Now, replace one of the monkeys with a new one.
The new monkey will approach the banana. But instead of hosing the monkeys, you let the trained monkeys do your work: they beat the hell out of the new monkey until he too won’t approach the banana.
Keep doing this until you’ve replaced all the monkeys, then do a complete rotation again.
Now, you have a cage full of monkeys that have never been hosed, but won’t approach that banana.
And if they could talk, and you could ask them why they won’t go near the banana, they’d probably tell you, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done things.”
I wonder if Blizz did us a favor by getting away from the Skinner Box approach?
And then one day … I got in
I wasn’t foolish enough to attempt to log in on Classic on Day 1. Following days, however, I’ve been checking to see if there was a queue. Today, I got lucky and managed to log in on my bebe Hunter.
- The starter zone is a good facsimile of the original, but it has been nerfed a little bit. Back in the day, you couldn’t cut right across the starter zone to deliver that beer, you’d get ambushed! That was the entire challenge of the fedex quests. The zone changed, but the quests did not.
- You REALLY miss the mapping enhancements we have now in Live.
- Bebe hunters can still die.
- That dead zone can diaf.
- There are a surprising number of addons that work in Classic.
A note about that. I’m still salty over that LFG addon – again, not planning on using it, but to see Blizz bend the knee to a bunch of gatekeepers that were howling over functionality that was there in Classic all along is a pretty bitter pill to swallow. That’s right, the difference between now and then is that somebody thought of it this time.
And the number of “not in classic” addons out there that NOBODY is whining about is amazing. TBag and WeakAuras, for example. WA is a game-changer for me. How long was it before TBag came along? IceHUD, one of my favorites. Even TSM is trying to make a showing.
Point being, “the classic experience” isn’t the addons. It’s being level 5 and barely having a silver to your name. It’s having to look around for the right kind of mobs to kill. It’s hunting around for those toolboxes without the aid of sparklies. It’s no blue highlights over your minimap telling you where your quest is. It’s reading quest text for clues about where to find that elusive character. It’s having to pay for training, and coming up short.
I haven’t even tamed my first pet yet, so I have even more to look forward to, but when I do there will be the need to train the pet, the need to find food it likes, the need to care for it or lose it.
I love that shit.
I’ve always been about little details in my games, and these all share that DNA. Little fiddly bits, like training up your defense and weapon skills. It rewards the detail minded, rather than the grandstanders.
I take the victories I can.
At any rate, I’m here. I won’t be playing this so regularly, at least not until my guildies show up (they’re currently engaged in Dragon*Con activities), but I’m still not sold on the whole “classic experience” other than, well, I still, at this moment, like it better than BfA, for reasons that make no sense.
But I won’t be neglecting my little toons, either. I love a challenge, and Classic is all that.
I was sad to hear that an addon that was planned for use in WoW Classic is set to be sabotaged by Blizz itself.
The addon in question is a tool to aid in the process of finding others for dungeon and raid runs – a tool that more or less subs in for the current, modern game’s LFD and LFR tools.
Now, I’m pretty sure that Blizz, left to their own devices, wouldn’t have done anything about this tool. But there was a group of alleged purists – I say alleged because I bet they won’t last six months in Classic – that whinged about how this tool was taking away from the “classic experience” or some sort of bullshit like that.
And once again Blizz listened to a bunch of losers whining about how OTHER people play the game.
I wasn’t even planning on using it, but the circumstances piss me right off.
Listen, it’s simple. I made a flowchart to help you understand.
Nobody forces you to use an addon that others are using. If you prefer to be one of the idiots hanging out in Stormwind spamming /y, you go right ahead. I thought they were idiots when I played through Classic the first time, and knowing that they had a choice and blew it this time, they’re even bigger idiots.
You can’t just dictate to others what “the classic experience” is. For you it’s that stupid bullshit associated with LFG. For me, it’s that scary level 13 run from Darnassus to Stormwind. Doesn’t mean I’m going to impose that terror on you just because that’s MY “classic experience”.
The sad totality of this is that all they’ve done is shift what they perceive as “the problem” to another venue. Somebody will come up with a website, or a database, or something else that will facilitate the gathering of players in dungeon and raid groups. We already have tools like that for cross-realm. It’s just a few lines of code difference and the gatekeepers will be thwarted.
I’m just waiting for them to come for WoWHead. You know, because “we didn’t have that back then.”
Here I am on Pagle
Since I’m Alliance, and a filthy care bear, I’ve rolled my toons on the Pagle Classic server. Right now I’ve reserved Grimmtooth, Jasra, and Floramel (the max possible for now). Looks like my current guild will be rezzing up there as well. If you’re on there, feel free to drop me a private message (or public message me for contact info) for an invite. Not guaranteeing we’ll do anything with it, but back in the day, this guild raided all the big raids.
Feeling the Call
This article on WoW Insider (https://blizzardwatch.com/2019/04/22/expect-hunter-wow-classic/) really highlights the downsides of playing a Hunter in Classic.
And I’m okay with that.
I won’t go over every little bit, but the highlights:
- No dual class (that applies to everyone) and the need to visit class traders to swap.
- Pets. The feeding of them. The training of them. Oh my goodness it was convoluted.
- Stat sticks!
- The 3-8 foot dead zone.
But also, there’s those glorious talent trees. Remember that BM didn’t happen until you got all the way to the top, and then you, if you were careful, had *just enough* to get all the way into the good trapping skills at max level. Maybe.
All these things exist, and I’m … kinda feeling the call.
I wonder. If Classic swells and BfA (or whatever) starts to shrink, will they get the idea? Will they start to realize that players WANT a little bit of challenge in the game? That the current method of handing everything to you is maybe just a bit too much?
I have to make a disclaimer – I never came up through max level in Vanilla as a Hunter. My main back then was a Warrior, and I sucked so bad at it that I quit at level 53. I actually nuked each and every one of my toons in the process – made a big production out of it. Grimmy (Mk 1) jumped into the fire pit in Ironforge. My Warlock – a guy named Yardif Bey – doused himself with brandy and then cast a fireball spell of some sort. And so forth. I was just … fed up with it.
And then I read the adventures of Big Red Kitty in BC (Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8YJ272Vlps – but don’t go looking for the site. These days it just serves up some cybersquatters crap.) and fell in love with the BM spec. I decided to start again, re-rolled a new main, and never looked back.
But the point is, I never actually lived through the pre-BC days for reals. I didn’t start the reroll until just a few weeks before BC was released (I recall I was in The Wetlands at the time). Though the post-BC experience was similar to the pre-BC experience, it wasn’t 100% the same.
I have said time and time again that I have no real interest in playing Classic … but posts like this make me wonder. Make me think, well, maybe I’ll roll JUST ONE toon in Classic and give it a whirl. Maybe a Hunter. A BM Hunter. Somebody … that I didn’t actually play during Vanilla.