August 26, 2009

Doing It Wrong

Apologies for the lack of updates. Real life has been busy, but I made a commiment to keep this blog updated, and my ass has been slack. Sorry. I'll get back on track.

So... I was playing WoW the other day, with a friend of mine, and we were both playing our low level rogues- mine was 25, his was 21. He decided that we should do the Shadowfang Keep instance- designed for people 18-22, in a group of 5. That sounded fine to me, but these days, finding groups for a low level instance is a nightmare. So I said... "Hang on. We're both rogues, the kings of utility and soloing. Why don't we try to two man it?" And so we did.

And you know, we didn't finish, we died a fair few times, and we ran for our lives more often than that... but it was a blast. Seriously, at LEAST top 10 best runs I've ever had, and that's competing with things like the time I won 3 pieces of Tier Gear in one go. It was incredibly, incredibly fun. With the rogue's vast arsenal of tools, we literally could handle any situation... as long as we played near perfectly. And after the first 5 or so pulls... we were. Throw a distract, double sap, ambush, eviserate, feint... it was an amazing flow, we were in the zone. It wasn't like a regular instance, it wasn't "what button combinations will kill them the fastest". It was part action game, part tactics... you had to minimize the number of enemies you were handling at once, and reduce their abilities, then try to kill them while taking blows bigger than your class is meant to take.

This is all to illustrate a point, of course- that's not how the game is supposed to be played. The game is very definitely designed for a five man party, and certainly we made horribly slow progress. But there is a certain joy to doing things in a way the game developers never expected you to... in doing something they didn't plan for, and didn't balance your class to succeed at. You feel the elation of being good at what you're doing, about playing smart and skillfully... you have to think fast, because all your previous experience is invalidated. You cannot assume they will react the same way... because you are not doing what they want you to do.

And this does not just mean MMOs, far from it. Many's the time where a game told me to run like hell, and I instead gunned down my assailants, and then took my time getting to the exit, and it felt great. I remember in Enter the Matrix (crap game, but some fun moments), your first encounter with an Agent, they tell you that you cannot win, and that you must run. Being who I am, I took that as a personal challenge. I unleashed a flurry of martial arts, all of which he perfectly evaded... and then at the end of the assault, I hit the throw button. As the agent is still bent over backwards dodging, my character leans forward, grabs him by the shoulder and leg, and tosses him off the rooftop. It was a WONDERFUL feeling.

Some games, like GTA, are designed to create these moments, and of course they are pretty awesome in that manner. But really, it's just so much more awesome to actually best the game, to have it tell you exactly what you need to do to win... and win by doing something else entirely. Really, if you haven't... try it. It is a singular feeling.

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