WoW, zombie armies, and me.

2008-10-23 01:17

World of Warcraft remains one of my favorite leisure-time activities. This evening, I decided to go hang out with some friends online, and play World of Warcraft.

I’m what they call a “carebear”. There are two components of Warcraft; Player vs. Environment (PvE) and Player vs. Player (PvP). I only play PvE. Why? Because I have an interesting mental quirk; I can’t enjoy conflict-based competitive play. I will happily play games where players compete to achieve an end, but I really hate games where players attack each other. Something’s off in my head (I suspect it’s the autism thing), and ANY kind of conflict between characters makes me feel like there is conflict between players. I can’t play games like this with anyone, no matter how confident I am that they like me and it’s just a game; my brain just takes it wrong. To give a rough magnitude estimate, imagine the experience of having someone in a blinding rage shouting at you from close enough that it’s hard to focus clearly on his (or her, if you prefer) face. That’s about how my brain interprets ANY kind of PvP action. So I avoid it.

Warcraft offers both. Some servers, called PvE servers, have PvP as an optional component; unless you ask to enter PvP mode, or try to raid an opposing faction’s capital cities, you pretty much don’t see it. Other servers, called PvP servers (see the clever naming convention?) automatically enable PvP combat when you leave your faction’s home territories. This is implemented through “flagging”; a character who is “flagged” can be attacked by characters from the other faction. Other characters can’t; you can just walk right past people and they can’t hurt you. (Unrealistic? Maybe, but it makes the game fun for people who don’t feel like playing PvP, right?)

There’s currently a really awesomely-conceived “world event” going on. Normally, the World of Warcraft is pretty static; the same people have the same quests every time you see them. You play a character, you meet a guard, he’s looking for a missing friend, you find the missing friend. Start a new character, come back… Same guard, looking for same missing friend, missing friend is in same place. Well, okay, it’s large enough that people don’t mind too much.

In a world event, something actually changes. For instance, right now, there’s a zombie plague. The zombie plague infects players, turning them into zombies. Zombies are comparatively weak, but can swarm, and can infect other characters (such as non-player characters), or other players. The infected players become zombies, and so on. The zombies are weak, so people mow down hordes of zombies, and much fun is had.

Only there’s one tiny flaw. Zombies are able to attack any player. At any time. With or without the PvP “flag”.

And this means that, for the duration of the event, the game is completely unplayable for me, and because it’s a dynamic, active, event, they aren’t about to tell us how long it’ll be.

Annoying.

IGN wrote about it — and yes, they used my thread. Woot! (BTW, I got banned from the forums today; although Blizzard hasn’t said why, I’m assuming it’s because they were offended that I didn’t like their content.)

Peter Seebach

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