Monday, January 31, 2011

Now what?

As some of you may recall, I managed to pull my dad into Azeroth a little over a year ago. I set him up with a trial account, helped him with some of the basics, and then sent him on his merry way.

He ended up enjoying the game enough to stick with it. Though his playtime is limited to a few hours on the weekends, he still managed to get enough out of playing to continue his subscription.

He solo'd the whole way, with Norf or I occasionally running out to help him through some group quests, especially in Outland. Often that just meant running around behind him and keeping him healed up as he fought some of the bigger bads. Or tanking the ones that would have just killed him too quickly.

He enjoys taking the game at his own pace, and is very tunnel-visioned when he plays. A lot of times I have to call him on the phone when trying to help him out because he's just not watching his chat window. For this reason I didn't even bother inviting him into my guild. I just didn't feel it would add anything to the game for him. (I did discuss it with him at one point, and while he didn't say no, I got the impression he just didn't see why he would want to be part of one.)

Yesterday he logged on and I noticed he'd hit 85. (He was 79 when Cata dropped, so this was the first time he'd hit the cap.) I was halfway through sending him a congratulatory message, when I got a message from him instead. After exchanging greetings he said this:

"I hit level 85. Now what do I do?"

I started to type a response, stopped, started again, stopped again...and then sat there for a couple minutes just thinking about what I could say.

I've never approached the end-game from the perspective of someone who wasn't interested in raiding, or any other forms of multiplayer play. You know...that second M in MMORPG. From the very first time I hit level-cap in BC, group play was my goal.

We have a few uber-casual soloers in my guild, so I posed the question in gchat. Specifically asking for ideas on what someone could do with a max-level character that was perfectly happy playing unguilded and solo.

The first response was "start gearing for dungeons." *headdesk*

A few more minutes of conversation led to the conclusion that none of our uber-casuals were online. Everyone was in the same boat as me...they just didn't approach the game from the right perspective, so they had no clue.

I mean, there is stuff to do solo. Reputation grinds, AH PvP, Achievement hunting. But I had a hard time imagining any of that appealing to my dad. They don't have rewards that are easily quantifiable.

My dad can spend hours and hours and hours playing games that have loose definitions of winning. Civilization, for example, is one of his favorite series of all time. He's been playing since the very first one. But from the start of the game, there's still a quantifiable end-state.

Ultimately I told him to finish questing out Twilight Highlands if he hadn't. Then he could roll a new character and start over to see things from a different perspective. I also told him how to browse his Achievements and that he could pick some of those to go after. And, finally, that it may be an easier conversation to have in person.

I also apologized and said, "There's just not a ton of stuff to do on your own once you hit the level cap."

Oddly appropriate that this morning, Ardol announced his cold-turkey resignation from all things WoW for almost those same reasons. As someone who enjoyed just being on his own while playing the game, he found that the game really stopped offering things for him to do.

It's possible this is the end of my dad's adventures in Azeroth. Which doesn't entirely surprise me. I even told Norf a long time ago that I kind of envisioned my dad playing until he hit the level cap and then calling it good. He's the type of guy that doesn't watch movies twice because he's "already seen it." So I have a hard time envisioning him rerolling (even though he did ask about other classes before). And I just can't think of anything at level cap that will really hold his interest.

Even if this is the end of his WoW days, I can't say it's a bad thing. He certainly enjoyed his time. He enjoyed playing a game "with" me and a lot of the time I was at home we spent talking about the game. And it was nice for me to finally be able to share one of my games with him. I'm the gamer I am today because of all the games he shared with me while I was growing up. So, in a way, the cycle is complete.

Now I just need to wait for my niece to get a little older and I can start corrupting her. Not that I'm going to be alone in that endeavor. She's a total grandpa's girl. I'm sure he's already planted the seed...


  1. I'd love to involve my family in WoW a bit more. Especially since I've moved out the physical distance might not be much (25-35 minutes) but the communication/relevance is gaping, especially with busy schedules.

    Not that any of them seem terribly interesting in playing a game (especially on the computer), but it would definitely be nice to see how they approach the game and how they think about it. Like you said having a conversation about the game with a family member would definitely be an experience.

    I do remember trying to get my younger sister to play at one point (she was 16-17 at the time I believe), but never got past her level 5 Blood Elf Warlock. Her biggest struggle was character control and it was quite the struggle..

  2. This reminds me of the husband of one of my guildmates. She had been trying to get him to play WoW for quite a while and he finally gave it a try during Wrath. He seemed to be enjoying the game. However, as soon as he reached level 80, he declared that he had 'won' and didn't play again until the level cap was raised with Cata.

  3. I'm guessing the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Show him achievements.

  4. There's still a fair bit to be done :) has he maxed professions, including archaeology? Explored the world? Does he like collecting pets? Even if the idea of rolling a new character doesn't appeal, there are sooo many achievements to be done, as youve already mentioned. Granted, gearing up for raiding seems to be where most of the max-level activities are these days, but I reckon I could keep myself amused for a while before thinking about raid prep.

  5. My mother picked up WoW since it was all we talked about at family dinners for a while. She is almost entirely a solo player. She has occasionally pugged a dungeon group to finish a quest, but has mostly played by herself.

    She does enjoy the different play experience that each class gives. When she got her mage to 80 in Wrath, she started a hunter. Then she started a horde toon to try that. Then she made a warrior to experience face-to-face fighting rather than ranged combat.

    There is plenty still to do as a solo player if your father enjoyed the leveling process. At the very least, playing horde gives a completely new set of quests and cities.