I Can’t Make Invisibility Potions Yet

I will be hard-pressed to continue playing World of Warcraft if people on the server keep ignoring me when I try to make conversation. I am playing an online game. Isn’t the socialising a major factor in World of Warcraft‘s appeal? I feel like I am playing an offline game (that I pay monthly for) most of the time, and the other players are random NPCs. I am trying to be understanding of the fact that I am playing on an established server, where the social groups are fairly solidified, and most people are playing at the higher levels. I know that other players probably have better things to do than to talk to some low-level newbie that they don’t know, but what about to each other in general? Most of the time, I don’t witness any actual conversations in the public channels, unless you count people asking for directions or LFG. I am told that the socialisation aspect gets better at the higher levels and when you join PUGs for instances. I guess people are also cocooned in their own groups, having conversations on Guild Chat, TeamSpeak, or Ventrilo.

At the same time, it is frustrating that no one will even say “Hello” to me or answer questions. I’m not acting like a n00b, either (as far as I know), nor am I being rude. Much of the time, interaction with other players besides the couple of people I know, comes from people challenging me to duels, running past me, fighting monsters in the area, or showing off and jumping about in towns — if you can call that interaction.

People who play World of Warcraft criticise Guild Wars for being instance-based. Guild Wars does not allow for random and casual interaction with other players. People say that one feels more alone in Guild Wars when questing.* That is a fair point, however when comparing my questing experience in World of Warcraft with my questing experience in Guild Wars, I feel that there is hardly a difference right now. Azeroth is a lonely place. Like Guild Wars (unless you are in an outpost), most of the talk in World of Warcraft is in Guild Chat, and not with anyone else. As I said earlier, the other players I encounter whilst questing may as well be NPCs for all the interaction they provide.

You can’t talk in General Chat in the instances in Guild Wars, but you can in the outposts. In Guild Wars, General Chat usually has one or two threads of conversation going on, mixed in with the WTS/WTB spammers. It does depend on the outpost and what time of day it is, however. There are certain outposts where people go to hang out or to role-play, and the conversations there are usually free of immaturity. In major outposts, especially if they are not adjacent to farming routes, one can see people having fun and engaging conversations. Perhaps I haven’t been hanging around the right cities in World of Warcraft.

Last night, a stranger actually had a conversation with me. He said that he understood my feelings of irritation about the lack of talking in General Chat, as the same thing had happened to him when he joined his friends on our server. He also reassured me that people talk more in the higher level areas. I was happy to finally have a conversation with a random person after trying so many times to get people to say something more to me than one or two sentences. Earlier in the evening, someone told me that he had no idea what I was talking about regarding the lack of talking in-game, and he didn’t bother to elaborate or qualify that statement before going off on his business. Uncompleted conversations are better than no response at all.

I am making more of an effort to be outgoing to random people in World of Warcraft than I ever have done in Guild Wars. Being outgoing isn’t something I am used to, but I can make the effort. When I was at the same newbie stage in Guild Wars, it felt like a more social game than World of Warcraft does right now.

I’m going to keep trying to talk to people I don’t know, and I am sure it will get better when I am at a higher level. However, I can’t say that being constantly ignored doesn’t bother me, especially as I was led to believe from the media and others that World of Warcraft is a very social game.

*Though on the other hand, it gives you a greater feeling that it’s “you against the world” and that you have a lot of power, unlike in World of Warcraft, where you feel very small and ineffectual; although feeling small and ineffectual could be a symptom of me being only at level 17.

  5 comments for “I Can’t Make Invisibility Potions Yet

  1. Craino
    28 September 2006 at 09:55

    I can appreciate your comments. In general I have noticed the same from time to time. However, I guess I would point out one of the observations you yourself made – Azeroth is a big place.

    Just because a place is packed with people doesn’t mean it is necessarily packed with conversation. I would imagine you would find the same result walking the sidewalks of New York and trying to strike up conversations with total strangers.

    I have taken the time to have conversations with strangers in WoW from time to time. Usually though, I am busy on a quest or headed somewhere, and with limited playing time each night, don’t always feel like having a casual 15 minute conversation. Plus, I have to say after having some of those conversations, many times it’s just people asking for free money or help.

    Also, it’s been my experience that most players that have been on for a while, have their conversations in private so as not to clog the channel. So when you stroll through Ironforge and don’t see any chat bubbles, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a hundred different conversations going on.

    Does the social aspect get better with higher levels? It can – joining a guild can certainly add a strong social aspect. If your guild is decent size and active, the guild chat channel can be very fun. Also, while there tend to be fewer players in the higher level areas, I have found them to be more receptive to questing together and lending a hand. However, that doesn’t always mean they are talkative.

    I guess my point is that I’ve found WoW to be just like the “real world” in the sense that usually folks are on for a purpose, they got something to do and might not have a lot of time to get it done. Not knowing who you are or what you want, may make them unlikely to stop what they are doing to respond to a “Hello Friend!”

    Things I’ve done to interact with strangers:

    1) Look around wherre you are. If you see someone doing the same thing you are, they’re probably on the same quest you are. Ask them to join together.
    2) Join a guild.
    3) Offer to help someone. You’ll be really appreciated and probably added to a friends list. I still see this one character I quested with one time in town every once in a while and we have a nice chat.

    Hey, just my two cents worth…

  2. 28 September 2006 at 11:06

    My expience with WoW isn’t much better. One PC I quested with for hours would give me delayed, trite responses to my questions, like “kk” and so on. When it was all over I got a bit sentimental and said “well, I guess this is it then.” Long pause, “sure”. “I had a good time questing with you. No response. I was starting to suspect the player was really an NPC.

    This was at a time where I was really into the idea of better NPC AI. People say that nothing can compensate for true P2P interaction, but fuck that, most people act like finite state machines.

  3. 28 September 2006 at 12:31

    I definitely empathasize. I feel the same level of frustration when faced with muted non-interactivity, or worse, the two-letter “kk” responses to my queries.

    I’ve found that, at least on my server, there is a high level of commitment to helping people. I was questing in Goldshire once and a level 60 swooped into the zone, plunked himself down into the middle of town and abruptly asked on General, “OK who needs help?” He got a slew of responses, and he helped every last person. I decided to start doing the same, to similar result.

    As long as one doesn’t get pushy with people, getting into a conversation by making a funny observation or a simple /wave can sometimes be a preamble to the most interesting of conversations. Oh, and addressing people by their character names seems to work well also. “Hey Muppster! Are you free to give me a hand over here?”

    In any event, I hope the situation improves for you.

  4. 28 September 2006 at 13:18

    Not everyone playing WoW is literate in English. On top of that, games like this a far more social in their infancy. I hate to say it but you basicaly missed the social boat by being so late to the game. That’s why your experiences with Guild Wars were so much better – you got in on that train from the get-go. If you were a fresh n00b in GW you’d be getting a similar cold shoulder syndrome. Lastly, the best servers for social situations are the RP servers, by far.

  5. bigwig
    28 September 2006 at 20:32

    Most of the comments defending wows social aspect, with respects to guild wars, seem to imply that guild wars has no guild chat, private msgs, jerks who ignore newbies, etc. I haven’t played wow but gw does sound generally more friendly by brins description.

    My online gaming buddy has played WoW off and on a couple of times, and their main complaint was that it was just like playing alone, except there were other people around.

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