Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts on Mists of Pandaria

Well, Blizzcon is over and blizzard has officially announced MoP the next world of warcraft expansion. I'm still deciding if I simply don't care, or if I'm actively upset about that. That's kinda sad that I can't even really tell, isn't it? I mean, a whole new expansion, a whole new race, a whole new class, tons of new features and ways to play, that should be a good thing, right? I should be totally stoked right? Right? But everything just seems so damned silly... I love wow, I'm a big enough man to admit my true feelings. I love the story, the history, the characters. I love how fleshed out it is. I was gonna say how real, but that's not at all true. Perhaps how real it is to itself. That's not entirely true either, but I'll go with it.

I'm not an RPer, I've tried a few times, and I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons over the years, but I just can't pretend to be a character. What I like doing, however, is experiencing a story as a character, to use that character as a medium to tell a story even if I'm the only audience. I like to think of my characters as existing within their fictional worlds, as having an impact upon those worlds and upon the fictional people around them. They are toys to play out the scenarios in my head, since I'm a poor artist and a worse author. Ideally I would create my own comics or cartoons, if I had the skill, but I will settle for these digital avatars.

What does this have to do with Mists of Pandaria? Oh, only just everything. If the game becomes too silly, thee it becomes a joke and not a story. It loses credibility as a setting and loses meaning. It becomes something to see instead of something worth experiencing. How many comedies are good cinema? They're fun, as a quick escape for 90 minutes, but they generally don't hold up well over time. I feel the same thing is happening to wow. Blizzard realized people loved the little jokes here and there, the sly winks in the quest text, the little pop culture reference here and there. Blizzard slipped it in to bring some levity to an otherwise solemn occasion, and it worked oh so well. But they went overboard in cataclysm. Goblins are ridiculously over the top, an entire zone devoted to a bad Indiana Jones joke, quests that go beyond a wink and a nudge and full on bring you out of the game and into our own world. I hope it doesn't turn out this way, but I see what came before and i see where it's going, and I can only hope that I'll be surprised to find my fears unfounded. Unfortunately, I think my fears are WELL founded, and I feel the game suffers for it.