28 Mar 2010

Angry Mage is Angry

I managed to get pissed off at so many things yesterday. It seems laughable looking back on it, how can a videogame get me so worked up? It’s stupid, right? I mean, I’m a grown adult, so why let a game affect my mood so much? Why let it get to me?

Right.

I’ve been getting seriously annoyed with the loading screen bug. The one which seems to have only started in 3.3.3, where you’ve chosen your character and you’re waiting for the game to load. The progress bar fills up and seems about to run then just sits there. I can hear the dulcet tones of Dalaran zone music in the background, so I figure it’s just taking a while before flipping to in-game. Maybe some data got dropped between here and Paris, and it’s just taking  while to resync. It’s like some kind of digital tease, tormenting me while it sits there and does nothing.

No point waiting though. The game has hung, so it’s back to alt+F4 then going through the whole thing again. Email address, password, authenticator code. And I’ve usually got one of those bits wrong, so I usually end up typing it again, hammering each key deliberately as if my keyboard is being held personally responsible for my failure to type.

Trouble is, it won’t stop happening. It’s like an itch that you can’t scratch, growing more and more irritating. It feels like I have to log in two or three times just to get the game to load. When I’m switching servers or hopping between my two accounts, it’s a real bugbear.

That’s just one issue though, and a technical one to boot. Getting worked up about it is a bit like having a rage against a server. Sure, you might want to pull on your steel toecapped boots and punt it round the datacentre a bit, but that isn’t going to suddenly make it work. You might feel better, but it doesn’t fix the problem.

The thing that made me throw in the towel today was just sitting around in Dalaran. I figured that after a successful raid on Wednesday that I’d try my luck in VoA. There’s badges, there’s Tier 10, so it’s worth a go. We’ve just won Wintergrasp so I pipe up in Trade and LFG that I’m looking for a VoA group. As soon as I do it, there’s something like 4 or 5 other mages all saying “Take me, take me instead!” It’s reminds me of a birds’ nest, with a clutch of mage chicklets all chirping away hoping to be the one to get the invite worm.

I don’t know where they all came from. It feels as if everyone just said “You know what, I’m going to play my mage today.” So I go sod it, I have alts, I’ll play them instead. Sod the competition, I’ll see if I can do something in the guild another time.

I fire up my priest. I figure that he’s got the tier 10 robe, so there’s a good chance I can find a ToC or ICC PuG for him to join. Earn some rep, get a few badges, maybe snaffle a few drops at the same time. I find an ICC10 group looking for a healer and tank, so I join up. I should have realised something was up when there were only 7 spots filled, but I shrugged it off. I alt-tabbed, fired up Google Reader and scanned through some blogposts while I waited for the raid to fill.

From there things went from bad to worse. An hour later we finally enter the instance after suffering numerous joins, dropouts and so on. We have a resto druid attempting to MT heal with 1FPS. A resto shaman who is watching TV half the time. Another tank who has to leave because “something else came up”. One wipe at Marrowgar later and the raidleader’s having to replace people.

We finally get a group back together with a replacement for the tank and resto druid. We’re all set and ready to have another attempt at the boss. Only the resto shaman is AFK. She’s watching TV, asking us to wait while her programme finishes. At that point, the tank that just arrived sees the group for the joke it is and leaves.

I follow shortly after.

I know this is an MMO – that it’s supposed to be Massively Multiplayer. I get that this is the point. But sometimes the biggest selling point of the game is also it’s most crippling weakness. The sheer amount of asshattery that goes on in the game is a nightmare, and it feels like it’s something that’s only become worse since the cross-server LFD tool. It means that the decent people – the guilds I’m in and the people I play with – are all the more valuable.

It also means that sometimes I just want to treat it like an RPG. Like Dragon Age without all the cut-scenes and dialog trees. I just want to choose an anonymous alt, sit somewhere and go questing. Everyone else can shove off for a few hours. Just play it like a single-player game with a chatbox and mash buttons for a while.

There are always going to be asshats. You’ll find them in every game, from Counter Strike to Checkers. No amount of programming wizardry or karma system has been able to remove asshats from a game, or to generally discourage asshattery so much that it’s no longer worthwhile. All you can hope to do is minimise the effect that they have on your game, or ensure that the density of asshats is so dilute that their overall impact is negligible.

Meanwhile I’ll sigh, shrug my shoulders and carry on playing. After all, it’s only a game.

Isn’t it?

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6 Responses to Angry Mage is Angry

  1. carocat says:

    Technical issues are meh. I play a lot of Splinter Cell on Xbox Live, almost daily and it has a lot of issues, but, and this is tying in with the rest of the post, some days it’s more annoying than others.

    One of the main reasons I play Live is for the community. There are some awesome people on SCDA, but there are a lot of not so awesome people, too. Having a not so fun group of people AND tech issues sucks, especially if there’s nothing you can do about it, like lag, game crashes.

    Other days when there’s good/fun people online a crash here and there is just a minor inconvenience.

    Take the last few days:

    Monday: Played with the usual suspects, but nothing spectacular and I quit after a few games. Wasn’t bad, wasn’t amazing, just normal and I was distracted looking at LOLcats every time we were in the lobby.

    Tuesday: None of the people were online when I was and I ended up playing with random people.

    Wednesday: Had a great time, partially due to one of the usual guys being hilariously drunk, some nooby [hate that term, but appropriate in this setting] kid that talked too much and two other guys I normally play with, but we played in different teams and thus had to change strategies. Not so easy when it’s just me, a drunk guy and a kid that got excited with four kills over a four-fiveish hour period!

    Thursday: Two of the regulars online. Laggy games, quiet day on SCDA and just not many people to play with. Didn’t play for long.

    Friday: Two other regulars online. major issues joining games and not lagging out/crashing or mic issues. Gave up after an hour and only one completed game.

    Did have a great time with some other people on Halo ODST though.

    So yeah, I’d say long story short, but well… 😉

    What I’m trying to say is, and you know this already anyway, there are good gaming days and there are bad gaming days. The bad days make you feel incredibly annoyed and the good ones leave you exhilarated.

    Also, somewhat related: I go through phases with games and gaming in general. Sometimes I get so annoyed with the games I have, the hard single player levels, etc or just the various technical/community issues with online gaming. Taking a break is what fixes it for me, sometimes a day, sometimes weeks. Just so long that I miss games and gaming so much that going back makes me enjoy them fully and maybe even more than before.

    tl;dr version: Tomorrow you’ll have a great time gaming, water under the bridge. 🙂

  2. Gypsy says:

    I’m having the same Dalaran issue. I was haunting the tech forums earlier and found a post about doing a DNS flush which is supposed to help. http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=23767164132&sid=1 if you hit the blue thingy in the corner, it’ll take you to the blue answer where the link for the DNS flush thingy is. I don’t know if it worked yet because I was only having the issue when I logged in the first time in a day. A lot of people have said it’s working though.

  3. Pindle says:

    Thankfully I’ve only had the loading screen bug twice in the last few days. Being on holiday though, I’ve decided to do two thing’s I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, namely level my ex-twink rogue and farm for a rare non-combat companion.
    With my rogue it’s been disasterous. Thanks to the twinking, he’s overpowered for the quests given and breezes through them. In the random dungeons it’s a total failure though. I’ve had mages that melee, tanks that use no weapon or shield, prefering to hit things with their fists, warlocks that do nothing but use pet attacks… Makes one wonder how these people even get their characters to 30ish. Surely by the 5millionth death while questing they could come to realise that they’re clearly doing something wrong. I’ve tanked just about every instance I’ve joined on my rogue, with little or no healing usually.
    In the farming side, I’ve chosen the Hyacinth parrot in STV.. at exactly the time that some guys with no pvp experience or gear decided to start a prolonged war on the beaches, exactly where I want to farm. More often than not I get sucked into the fray, forcing me to mop up with my hunter just to get a few Bloodsail kills in.
    All in all, my holiday aint working so great and I find myself playing solitaire more than WoW 🙁 I agree with the part that sometimes I just wish I could switch off everyone else on the server and spend a few hours playing it for the RPG part instead of the MMO part.

  4. Gazimoff says:

    @carocat

    You’re completely right – there are good gaming days and there are bad gaming days. I guess the trick is to make sure that the good days are greater than the bad. Being able to switch games is also a great thing – it’s why I have different characters on different servers.

    I think it’s also being aware of what I can fix. The people issue I can do something about, by changing character or server. The technical issues are harder to resolve, meaning that I’m waiting on someone else to fix things. When things are out of my control and rely on someone else to resolve, it drags the entire game down. This is especially true when it stops you from getting into the game to begin with.

    @Gypsy

    I’ve tried the DNS flush, with no joy. Sometimes I wish they’d announce if they’re changing their DNS mappings so that we can anticipate if things are going to be screwy for a few days.

    @Pindle

    The stupidity of things that I’ve found thanks to the LFD tool is incredible. If you’re not taking it seriously and just being a spectator in the ludicrosity of it all, it can actually be quite funny. Of course, if it keeps on happening and you don’t make any progress, frustration may set in…

  5. Poneria says:

    “I just want to choose an anonymous alt, sit somewhere and go questing. Everyone else can shove off for a few hours. Just play it like a single-player game with a chatbox and mash buttons for a while.”

    This is me when I level. I don’t get why people think me running AWAY from them, even in the middle of my quest, means I want to GROUP with them. /facepalm.

  6. Jaedia says:

    Asshats.. le sigh. I don’t need to say more.