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Generations Apart

In World of Warcraft, there’s just as much a generation gap as there is in life.

On one end, you have the “Burning Crusade Babies” like myself and Pike. This generation started playing after the first expansion pack was released and were not able to experience old world raid content or see much of level 60 endgame. Hunters from this generation know very little about the history of how the class was developed and why it has become what it is today.

Next are the players who started playing in the middle of the golden age of classic World of Warcraft. Class roles have been clearly defined, and oftentimes, a certain spec has been defined as the most useful for certain situations. The role of the hunter was up to the players to refine and improve. People like BRK will fall into this category. But of course, not everyone learns at the same pace, so Breana finds herself still learning even at this stage of the game.

Finally, you have the old timers who were there for beta and know the development of hunters and have seen the entirety of how the class changed from (near) day 1. Kestrel will fall into this category.

So what happens when Wrath of the Lich King is released? You will get an influx of players who are new to the game and will experience neither Azeroth nor Outland endgame. They miss out on the learning involved in min/max and combat ratings and will have to wait until they are level 80. How many people will actually go into the upper level Outland instances like Shattered Halls, Steamvaults, Shadow Labyrinth, and the three pods of Tempest Keep? Who’s going to take the time to complete the quest chains for the Shattered Halls Key and Key to the Arcatraz?

Consider the Recruit-A-Friend program. Despite the increased leveling speed, it is still unlikely that new people who take advantage of this offer will be able to see endgame. It’s an endless cycle for a MMORPG. In a few months, you’re going to have people who have never played and will be asking how to play certain classes, and the ones who were inexperienced before will become the elder players. How many people will ask how you can get a Champion of the Naaru, Hand of A’dal, or of the Shattered Sun titles? Unfortunately, due to the extent of these quest chains, it is unlikely that people will be able to achieve them without going beyond level 70.

These people also won’t know the resources available to them. All the things we take for granted from Wowhead to WowJutsu, from Be Imba! to Cheeky’s Spreadsheet. Somehow, I think Blizzard needs to improve its ability to integrate new players into the current community. New people feel frustrated that they can’t find anyone in Azeroth because everyone will either be in Outland or Northrend.

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6 responses

  1. I started huntering somewhere between Kestrel and BRK – I hit 40 juuust as Molten Core was released into the game, and remember when first “hunter class review” came about in 1.7 (and how it massively changed my game).

    With all of the recent changes, I’ve been feeling more inclined to play my hunter again, but it’s frustrating to see these generation gaps (an INCREDIBLY apt description of the problem) and to have to keep “relearning” the game.

    In some ways, I think it makes the “old timers” better players – we’ve had to rely on out of game content to keep us on our toes and to avoid sinking into the “back in my day” ruts. But at the same time, it can be hard to relearn how to play!

    15 August 2008 at 16:56

  2. Excellent point and post, Lor!

    15 August 2008 at 17:08

  3. I’m stuck in the picture of myself as a pretty unknowning newbie since I started to play after TBC. But you’re probably right, there will be new people coming with the expansion. And suddenly I’ll move up and be one of those people who’ve been around for a while. A strange feeling, really.

    Thinking about all the guidance I’ve had from veteran players I really hope I can pay a bit of this forward, helping the newcomers out.

    16 August 2008 at 08:13

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  5. That’s an interesting set of definitions. I played in the EU beta – but as that was some months after US launch, that puts me at around the patch 1.2 point. After Kes, but a long way before BRK.

    3 September 2008 at 10:51

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