Folding Ideas: Why It’s Rude To Suck At World of Warcraft

Another another video again once more! And this is a big one. Dan Olson of Folding Ideas tends to post long-form, movie-length videos on its subjects. They were the toast of the internet for a while after their brutal takedown of NFTs and cryptocurrencies (2h 18m), which was recently followed up by an equally detonative look at NFT-based libertarian techbro virtual world Decentraland (1h 49m-I told you they were long).

Between those two worthy video conflagrations they produced a video that is rather in our backyard, a one hour, 24 minute vid-essay on who World of Warcraft became a place where playing sub-optimally isn’t just frowned upon, but came to be seen as anti-social. If you’re interested in the social aspects of MMORPGs, It’s worth devoting an eleventh of a day’s waking hours to!

What’s really interesting here is something I’ve been worried about with older video and computer games for a while. Games that manage to still be popular over a lot period get focused on, dissected, sometimes disassembled, and laid out so that they have no secrets. Their audience both focuses on them, and both seeks out ways to play them better, and reasons to play them better.

That’s where speedrunning comes from, and that’s the thing-what’s happening in WoW is just what’s happening to classic gaming in general. It’s become a degraded form of play, almost, to come to a game completely new. I’ve bought into this too, occasionally leaving a message on a Youtube video of someone playing sub-optimally giving a couple of helpful tips. Really though there’s no need. If they wanted to do that, the avenues are available to them. There’s already plenty of people trying to play, say, Castlevania III in the best possible way.

World of Warcraft is 19 years old now, and even has an entire official alternate version that duplicates the game experience from launch. During that time the expert-level strategies that were discovered by players after long observation and practice have become ubiquitous lore. Even if you’ve never read a FAQ or watched a tutorial video, just from hearing other players talk about the game and watching them, a lot of it will seep in.

As a result, not only can’t a long-time player go back to how they experienced the game at launch, because they know too much, but even new players can’t, because the community around them is filled by those players who know that much.

There’s lots to think about here. Especially if you’ve played World of Warcraft before, but also if you haven’t. (I haven’t!) Also note that the video is consciously patterned after Jon Bois’s videos for SBNation and Secret Base. Here in 2023, that’s a comforting reference.

Why It’s Rude To Suck At Warcraft (Youtube, 1h24m)

PC Gamer’s Article on a WoW Ultra Rare Mount

It’s December 31st and our offices are empty for the end of the year. We’re kind of slacking off, so let me link to something out intrepid and gelatinous news reporter linked before. It’s a really great longform article from PC Gamer and is worth a look if you didn’t see it then.

Someone’s looking grumpy!

In summary:

For a long long while, there have been ultrarare mounts in World of Warcraft. Most items, a 1% drop rate is as rare as they go, but a few mounts are generated much more rarely than that. People have spent years grinding for a specific mount and never gotten it. It was dropped by a world boss called “The Sha of Anger.” (Hey, I didn’t name it.)

One such ultrarare item is The Reins of the Heavenly Onyx Cloud Serpent, which allows the very lucky acquirer to summon a nifty glowing black-and-white flying dragon to ride. So popular, and rare, are these items that when they go up on auction they regularly go for the maximum supported price: 9,999,999 Gold.

Players had long rued the immensely high odds of acquiring this item, and others, but had put up with it because Blizzard was the kind of company to just rule things like that to happen, and what you gonna do? Go to City of Heroes?

Early in the item’s existence, however, players noticed that the item wasn’t just generating hardly ever, but in fact, entirely never. A bug in the game meant no one had gotten it. It was just so rare that everyone assumed they just hadn’t seen it yet. Oops!

Much more recently, however, due to another bug, the item became much more common to players of a certain race. The players who had discovered this faced conundrum: be responsible and report the bug to Blizzard, or hoard the knowledge to prevent Blizzard from knowing about it, keeping it off of forums as long as they could, which resulted in the greater player base not realizing it was possible, in order to allow the precious loophole to persist for as long as possible.

If this kind of thing is fascinating to you, and if it isn’t then I wonder why you’re reading this blog, it’s one of the best pieces of game reporting I’ve seen lately.

PC Gamer: How World of Warcraft’s new dragon race brought a 10-year-old loot system to its knees

News 12/15/22

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

Scott Stein at CNet (they’re still around) says his favorite gadget of the year was the Playdate.

Wes Fenlon at PC Gamer says that Tarn and Zach Adams, have become millionaires from the Steam release of Dwarf Fortress. Earth blogger John Harris, a.k.a. rodneylives, says they’ve communicated with Tarn several times, including a couple of interviews at Game Developer (formerly Gamasutra), and that this could not have happened to nicer people. The article notes that, despite the windfall, they’re being cautious with the money. Steam DF was made specifically because the brothers need healthcare, and whatever long tail DF has is pretty much it, since they aren’t making a sequel or expansion pack.

Image from Mobygames

At Inverse, Mo Mozuch describes the accomplishments of Carol Shaw, creator of Activision’s Atari VCS hit River Raid, one of the first vertically-scrolling shooters, and early woman pioneer in gamedev.

Rock Paper Shotgun’s C.J. Wheeler tells of a situation where the developer and publisher of The Outbound Ghost are feuding, which resulted in the game being temporarily pulled from Steam. Lead dev Conrad Grindheim has accused publisher Digerati of unethical practices, and Digerati claims to have been “blindsided” by the accusations.

Anthony Wood at IGN has a piece noting that, while Sonic Frontiers certainly has vocal detractors, that hasn’t stopped it from selling 2.5 million copies!

Image from PC Gamer

There is a great article on PC Gamer from Corwin Hayward about controversy with a certain extremely rare mount in World of Warcraft that, due to a couple of bugs, became extremely unrare among a small base of players for a short while. It’s a primer about the way the game’s loot system has been perceived and exploited for over a decade, and how it finally resulted in the relaxing of a whole category of ultrarare mounts. The article is long but very rewarding!

NPG’s Megan Lim speaks with Atari founder Nolan Bushnell on 50 years of Pong. Bushnell’s always been a bit of a huckster figure, but I’m glad he’s still kicking and talking with folk.

Scott McCree at Nintendo Life has a review of River City Girls 2 from favorite developer Wayforward! His premise is that it’s great, but ultimately not really differentiated from the original that much?

Sundry Sunday: Lore Sjöberg’s Five Most Guilt-Inducing Games

We previously offered Lore’s first video Alt Text piece for Wired Magazine, where he rated Legend of Zelda weapons, so as your reward for making it through another week of the unbridled horror of 2022, here’s another game-related bit he did, about his picks for the five most guilt-inducing games.

It’s interesting that, with video games being such an imfamously fast-moving field and all, three of the picks are just as relevant today: Animal Crossing, The Sims and World of Warcraft, and, holy cats, this was made 14 years ago. The other two are Nintendogs and Lemmings, both series that could stand to be revived.

So thanks Lore for your video, and thanks Wired Magazine for not taking these down, and thanks to you for caring enough to watch a video about video games that’s nearly old enough to qualify for a learner’s permit!