The Last Good Day

There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is “Your Last Good Day.”  At the time, it is just another good day.

-Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

Yes, I am going to take a quote from a movie based on a book about teens with cancer and try and apply it to video games.  I will take it as read that this makes me a horrible person and probably guilty of cultural appropriation or some other first world thought crime.  I even have a graphic just to seal the deal on my horrible nature.

Serious business...

Serious business…

Anyway, my daughter, who had read the book, insisted that the whole family go see the movie back when it was in the theater despite the fact that she knows that my wife will cry at anything sad or emotional on screen.  And tears were indeed shed as this sad and emotionally manipulative film ran on before us.

But what stuck with me, aside from the abuse of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and how much seeing this movie made watching Divergent difficult/amusing/distracting (Augustus is her brother! It is Luke and Leia all over again!), was the whole concept of there being a “last good day,” a high point in any endeavor, after which things are never quite that good again.

So, yeah, of course this applies to video games.

Well, at least to MMORPGs.  So maybe I can change that graphic.

A more general statement

A more general statement

I suppose I could make it more specific, or a version for each MMO I might play, but I think that is sufficient.  If you are dying to have one of your own, I made a background template, you just have to provide the text.  You’re on your own for the font.  I used one called “eraser dust” I found on the internet.

Anyway, that is all off the subject at hand, which is that of a last good day in an MMORPG.

There are MMOs where I can identify that last good day.  In Warhammer Online it was probably that one great keep battle we had before things went south for our group as the game emptied out.

In Rift it was no doubt some date not too long before the first expansion came out.  Everything was good, I played a character from each of the four base roles up to level cap, and then Storm Legion hit and changed the nature of the game for me.

For EverQuest it was likely to initial stages of the Fippy Darkpaw server, when Skronk and I were playing, the game was active with lots of low level players, and the whole thing felt… if not as good as day one back in 1999, then a reasonable facsimile of that time.  Certainly there was less crashing.

But those are all games I stopped playing.  Even EverQuest, for which I bubble with nostalgia, hasn’t really been a destination for me since Fippy Darkpaw.

And, in having stopped, I can pick out the high point.  I can find that theoretical last good day… or week… or era… or event.  But that might change if I would… or, in some cases, could… go back and pick up the game again.  Probably not, but there is a non-zero chance of good days ahead.

This all came to mind because of a more current game.  Not EVE Online.  I made that graphic at the top for Rixx Javix a while back.  No, this all came about due to the the Legion expansion for World of Warcraft getting a ship date.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

Just in case your forgot that since yesterday

August 30, 2016 and the whole thing goes live, while at some date a couple weeks in advance of that there will be the pre-expansion patch that will have the warm-ups for the whole thing.

I am coming up on a year of not having been subscribed to WoW.  I have a two copies of the expansion pre-ordered for my daughter and I via Amazon.  But now that there is a date set and a timeline out before me.  I won’t be resubscribing today or tomorrow or next week, but at some point over the course of that timeline, between now and August 30th, there is a date at which I probably should subscribe and get back in the game and start getting warmed up to fight the Legion.

But the announcement of the date also made me question whether or not I really want to go back.  I do not feel a lot of enthusiasm for the expansion.  In large part that lack of enthusiasm is due to how Warlords of Draenor played out for me.  It wasn’t horrible, but it was dissatisfying, and garrisons carry the lions share of the burden on that front.  Dungeons were mediocre, mostly in how sparse they were, and the story line was mostly just okay, but garrisons were the anchor.

Garrisons failed to be the right thing for me on all fronts.  They were not optional, you had to do some garrison stuff if you wanted to play through the expansion.  And they were not housing, or at least did not have any aspect of housing that I wanted.  There was no way you could make the garrison really your own.  Meanwhile, they did exactly what Tom Chilton told us housing would do, back when he was saying they would never do housing, it took people out of the world and hid them away.

In my view, garrisons were basically the worst possible set of features, doing what Blizz said housing would do without any of the beneficial “sticky” features of housing that make people feel like they have a spot in the game that is uniquely their own.  I guess if I were to make a prediction now that Tom Chilton is saying that Blizz will never do a vanilla server, I might guess that they will end up doing some sort of special rules server that will satisfy neither fans of vanilla nor more recent lapsed players, at which point Tom can say, “I told you so.”

That is all my view of the expansion.  So when I think back in search of a “last good day,” which at this point I am likely conflating with a peak of enjoyment as opposed to saying every day thereafter was “bad,” I have to go back to Mists of Pandaria to find a real happy time… which is odd because I was pretty dismissive of MoP when it was announced and didn’t buy the expansion until nearly a year after it went live.  Meanwhile, Warlords of Draenor, with orcs as the bad guys yet again, that I was up for.

So perhaps missed or misplaced expectations were the real problem?

Nah, garrisons just sucked.

Anyway, as the quote at the top says, you can never know if that last good day is happening as it happens.  You can only identifying it in comparison to the days that come later.  The question is whether or not there is a peak of enjoyment waiting for me in WoW Legion or if I have simply had that last good day already.  I guess I have a few months to consider that, but I am feeling doubtful right now.

22 thoughts on “The Last Good Day

  1. Dave Andrews (@proceduraldave)

    I think the Last Good Day for me in WoW was blitzing Karazhan way back in Burning Crusade with friends in under an hour. Looking back on it, it really does sort of set the bar in terms of social interaction and PVE challenge, in my mind. Lots of camaraderie, lots of banter, lots of looting and pillaging – everything after that was just downhill for me in that game.

    Great post btw!

    Like

  2. Jenks

    Blizzard is 10 years into making sure everyone’s WoW experience is exactly the same. We’re all traveling on the same rails. The most supercasual player fights the same encounters in LFR as the most hardcore in mythic difficulty. Class homogenization went from a process to fully complete.

    This might seem wildly off topic but it relates to their ultra shitty version of player housing. The idea that garrisons are even considered player housing is absurd, but it fits with Blizzard’s shitty vision of turning WoW into a linear co-op RPG. Everyones house is exactly the same, with a couple different utility buildings you can choose from.

    But yeah, I don’t even consider garrisons player housing. If you took Orgrimmar exactly as it is, and converted it into a single player instance, is that player housing? That’s what garrisons are to me.

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  3. bhagpuss

    I read a lot of teen fiction, some for professional reasons and some because the quality in YA writing is through the roof these days, but I have been avoiding John Green as too obvious. That’s a really good quote, though. I might have to read some after all.

    In terms of MMOs I’m not sure I could ever peg a genuine “Last Good Day” even with hindsight. Most MMOs I have ever played have very definitely not strayed anywhere even lose to “last good day” territory – I could boot up two or three dozen MMOs right now with real anticipation that I’d be about to have a good time.

    Rift would definitely be one that did have a last good day. I think it would have been somewhere around the point where they added Instant Adventures. That pretty much signified the end for me. It might be the only one though. I’m struggling to think of even one more that I ever liked in the first place that I feel ran out of road that way.

    I do quite often have a Last Good Day For Now, when I just don’t feel motivated to go on doing whatever it is I have been doing in an MMO but almost without exception that dissipates with time and if/when I give the game another try I find there are more good days still to be had.

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  4. SynCaine

    Somewhat related but not: This is the problem with blanket “this feature is good/bad” thinking. If all you know is WoW, then you fully believe housing = bad. If all you know is 1997 UO, then you (correctly) fully believe housing = awesome.

    Some features can be mostly bad (phasing), but used well (FFXIV), they can still be ok. Some are mostly good, like housing (outside of WoW, how many MMOs are worst-off for having it?).

    It comic tragedy really that New Blizzard took one of the best-working MMO features and made it a game-killer, but then again they also did something similar with Cata and the old world ‘revamp’. Wonder what critical flaw Legion is going to bring?

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  5. ElBne

    For me, the moment I realized that I’d had my last good day in WoW came when I was “taking a break” at the end of MoP.

    I’d started playing FFXIV and I realized that I genuinely enjoyed playing my character in that game. As opposed to WoW, where I’d been farming legendary cloaks on 4 toons, and challenge mode armor before it went away and hitting Rank 1 in Brawler’s Guild. And while I was enjoying completing those tasks, the actual gameplay/process was terrible.

    So I decided to take a break until I’d “saved enough through sub money” to cover the pre-ordered expansion. For fun I sat down and picked out “last logout locations” for all my characters. I’d been playing constantly since launch (more or less, I think I took a couple months off when I was moving jobs/cities once) and so I have quite a few long term characters. So I was setting them up and I realized that none of them were logging out in any location that was newer than Wrath. Except my monk, who I left at the Peak of Serenity, cause that’s where he lived most of the time anyway.

    But yeah. The realization that I didn’t really have any particularly strong memories associated with Cata/MoP also forced me to realize I was playing out of habit rather than enjoyment. Not that I didn’t have good times in Cata/MoP (more MoP than Cata mind you) but just that they were pretty meh overall compared to how I used to feel about the game.

    TLDR: I think the “last good day” comes when you stop enjoying the minute to minute/day to day gameplay and only really like finishing tasks. Yes, it’s satisfying, but it’s not even remotely on the same level. YMMV of course.

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  6. Rob Kaichin

    “This all came to mind because of a more current game. Not EVE Online.”

    Let me tell you, it was hard to hold my breath for that long!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Isey

    I finally bought Warlords of Draenor just a couple of weeks ago at 75% off and can’t be bothered to install it. Talk about buyer’s remorse.

    Garrisons was just the first step of Destiny-fying WoW for consoles. Single weapon types for specs is step two.

    Like

  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks/SynCaine – Now, aren’t you being unfair? It isn’t like Tom Chilton has helped ruin any other MMOs… erm… oh, yeah. Pardo and Kaplan came from playing EQ looking to make something better and Chilton came from kicking UO while it was down. I guess we should be glad he was out numbered at the time. I am sure somebody could build up a “bane of Tom Chilton” post, though I’ll leave that to somebody like Wolfshead.

    @Rob Kaichin – I foresee many more good days in New Eden. It is too random and changeable to be discounted.

    Like

  9. Matt

    “We’re all traveling on the same rails. The most supercasual player fights the same encounters in LFR as the most hardcore in mythic difficulty.”

    Was it better back when hardcore and casual all fought literally the same encounters, because there were no difficulties? Or rather was it better when casuals sat around town because there was nothing for them to do? I figure if anyone could actually discover the reason why casuals put up with sitting around twiddling their thumbs for months on end, they would have the secret to MMO success.

    Like

  10. spinks

    Mists was actually a really good expansion, up there with Wrath IMO. But even then, I was losing my enthusiasm for raiding (because really, who cares if my rotation is perfect or not …)

    I’ll be back for Legion because I like my guild and a lot of them will also come back for the first month or two. I don’t think I’ve had my last good day with WoW yet.

    Like

  11. Werd

    My last good day in wow as a guild member was the last time we raided katazhan or what ever it was called back in tbc. My last good day as a single player was the day before Blizzard decided to ruin the forever war in alterc valley.

    Like

  12. Shintar

    It’s interesting that you, too, soured on garrisons in the end, as I seem to remember you “defending” them longer than most (saying they were decent fun, kept you logging in etc.). Do you remember when you hit that turning point?

    Like

  13. Pingback: WoW: Legion launches 30 August 2016 | GamingSF

  14. SynCaine

    “Was it better back when hardcore and casual all fought literally the same encounters, because there were no difficulties? Or rather was it better when casuals sat around town because there was nothing for them to do? I figure if anyone could actually discover the reason why casuals put up with sitting around twiddling their thumbs for months on end, they would have the secret to MMO success.”

    Considering subs were growing and the capitals weren’t overflowing with thumb-twiddlers, one might reason it did work, amazingly well in fact. Maybe something something about long-term goals and motivation to actually see more content via long-term retention gameplay rather than giving everyone everything in a months-worth of facerolling? Because, you know, that approach kinda killed half the population (likely far more now, but whoops, no more numbers to track the decline)

    Like

  15. Leoric Firesword

    Last good day in WoW for me was raiding Gruul’s Lair in Burning Crusade, I had trained the mage tank on how to handle that fight and he did a darn good job. After that I just logged in to help my wife with her characters. I’m more excited for the movie than the new expansion to be honest.

    Like

  16. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Shintar – I certainly threw myself into the garrison thing when they came out. But, as I have noted over and over here, my short term enthusiasm, which often includes me saying I like something because I want to like it, is always outed in the long term because I simply won’t log in and do something I don’t enjoy after a while.

    I ended up with five garrison characters at one point and had a 6th alt ready for Draenor, but never bothered to get him out of Pandaria. If you look at my timeline of posts, I ended up talking about pet battles, which sustained me for an extra month or so, but I pretty much stopped posting about what I was doing in Azeroth by May of last year. Was that longer than most?

    Like

  17. Matt

    Garrisons were actually fine, up until you finished advancing them. Once you maxed them out, your motivation to mess around with your garrison dropped to zero. It’s like daily hubs and reputation. Once you hit exalted you stopped doing those dailies. But while a daily hub can just be ignored with no consequence, the Garrison really couldn’t. When they added in Tanaan as a place to go and do things, they locked it behind a max level garrison for some unfathomable reason.

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  18. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Matt – Missions were strange, both enticement and killer to my mind. They were too lucrative to ignore, and you needed some of those resources to advance in some cases. But on the flip side, they were not very satisfying, more of an Azerothian middle-management job, and they were hidden behind a UI so awkward to use that I cannot imagine trying to do them on a regular basis without the MasterPlan addon.

    And then there was the whole destruction of trade skills thing. That happened IN the garrison, so I am going to blame that on garrisons even though Blizz might have managed that without them.

    But as you note, the biggest crime was probably just garrisons being dull once you had gotten whatever it was you wanted out of a building. It wasn’t a home, but it wanted to be the center of your game play. In the end it was just a solo quest hub you could easily spend a few hours a day servicing if you tried to do it all.

    Also, Apexis Crystals.

    Like

  19. Random poster

    I don’t feel I have had my last moment with WoW ye even though its been at least 6 months since I logged in. Too many friends who reup each expansion but we will see. I guess I was one of the few who actually enjoyed what Cata did to the old zones. I never had a strong attachment to any of them in particular and the questing experience was absolute poo in all of them. I skipped MoP for the most part as I had the whole hey get married and oh by the way you will be pregnant 2 months after you get married deal and a Dad by the end of the year :D That all happened about the time I got interested in MoP.

    WoD I liked the story progression and I loved the little cinematic’s sprinkled throughout (the scene with Thrall and Garrosh gave me chills) I even enjoyed Garrisons up until as has been pointe dout they got maxed out then there really was no point.

    On a side note I miss Ghostcrawler and the level of communication that was around then. Even when he put his foot in his mouth I appreciated what he was trying to do.

    I do have a last moment where an MMO switched off for me though with Anarchy Online, I played that game for a very long time up until level 200(205 with shadow levels) and I was sitting there farming ingots in Elysium and was like wtf am I doing. It didn’t help that the level difference from 205 where I was to cap of 220 was the same as it was from 1 to 205. I just said nope I’m done logged off and never went back.

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  20. NetherLands

    In general my WoW experiences go like this:
    a) I find something I like doing
    b) they change that so it becomes less fun to me
    c) I adapt by finding something new
    d) go to b
    To be honest, the main reason I play the game is investment in my characters, and pretty much all post-WoW (I like the UI) games having (far) less character race options, with those options generally amounting to X types of Elves (includes ‘Photoshop’ humans) and a token Dwarf. Many games I would play much more (or even at all) if I wasn’t restricted to playing humans or (flavors of) Elves.

    Btw, there might be a nice post in Mark (of) Kern and his commitment to the ‘Project 1999 for WoW’ petition
    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1soj9dk

    Like

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