Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wisdom, Take it or Leave it

The title of today's post is only partially representative of what I would like to say today.  I'm almost done with War and Peace, a 19th century novel by Leo Tolsoy about the lives of many Russian aristocracy members and the war between Russia and Nepoleao led France and their ultimate invasion of and retreat from Russia.

It's one of the world's great pieces of literature, and for good reason.  I was reading today when a couple things stuck out to me and I thought they were particularly applicable to some other modern-day things that have been on my mind.

To summarize in very general terms, "his Supreme Highness", or master general of the Russian army near the end of the French incursion was named Kutuzof.  He continually ordered the retreat of his forces while Nepoleon occupied Moscow.  But in October of 1812 the French abandoned Moscow and began their retreat, ultimately to their destruction, but all along the way many of Kutuzof's aids and officers under his command offered various offensive plans that they felt would serve severe blows to the French.  Upon receiving a message of the French movements, and knowing of the youthful desires of many of his underlings and of the partisan (or guerilla) fighers, a thought crossed his mind that we still view as true today:

"He (Kutuzof), with his sixty years' experience, knew how much dependence was to be put on heresay, knew how prone men who wished anything were to group all the indications in such a way as to conform with their desire, and he knew how in such a case as this they are glad to overlook anything that may seem opposed to it."

Whether it's a fight with your significant other, a disagreement with a professor, a difference of opinion with a complete stranger on a blog or Twitter or chat room (or other), or a political fight on a college campus or on CNN, it all sounds best in our own minds, because we are the ones who not only formulate facts, but arrange them in a way so as to fit or match our opinion, regardless of any other truth that may be staring us in the face.

I don't write about my experiences in World of Warcraft because I am right, I write about them because I believe I'm right and I have those facts that support whatever claim that I desire.  The same is true for most of us out there that, for whatever reason, wish to put our intensely personal and biased opinions out there for comment or criticism.  We all have access to that truth to disseminate, and which all other mortals are at our disposal to learn from or disagree with.  Ah, how I truly love relative absoluteness.

BETA for MoP
I jump into the MoP beta from time to time to glance at things as they change.  It's difficult sometimes to keep up with the changes, so I don't.  It's overwhelming, especially when you may become attached emotionally to some "awesome buff/change" to your favorite class, only to see it nerfed into submission or removed completely.  Maybe it's just a promise of a better tomorrow (Hello there, Path of the Titans), that isn't even given a chance to fail or succeed because the devs have decided, with their all-knowing powers, that it just won't work as intended.

An interesting case study, currently in progress is that of the new Druid talent Symbiosis.  Will it work?  Is it too difficult to balance?  Is it mostly for PvP or PvE, and is there a "best choice" that all druids will be forced to make, just as optimal raiding talent specs exist and have existed?  It's surely not for solo play, it requires a Druid to group to even use this ability, which seems not well thought out, but hey, what do I know?

Then there is the constant whining of the Warriors.  I'm sorry, but I see more blue posts about Warrior mechanics, etc than almost any other class, and I get annoyed by that.  Not because I don't play a Warrior, because I do have one or two floating around, but there always seem to be this feeling I get that some classes are more talked about than others.  This is and/or has been a natural course of action of players and devs for a while now, more now that players appear to have slightly more clout in their feedback, provided it's "constructive" or insightful.

But honestly, this is just my opinion, and I am right becasue I have an unspoken set of evidences that means you are wrong and you should, if you value your repuatation, agree with me.

I find it somewhat sad that 25 man raids are dying.  I really began serious raiding in Wrath, and even then towards the end of it when we assaulted ICC (I've never killed Arthas, btw).  What I enjoyed was every once in a while I would try to find a 25 man group to run  with, and I enjoyed the differences from my normal 10-man team, it just felt more "epic", if you get my drift.

Cataclysm came around and changes to lockout and loot rules effectively killed any reason to raid with 24 other people when you could obtain the same loot with less hastle and similar difficulty in 10-man groups.  Blue comments in the last month worry me more and point towards the apathy the devs seem to have about the surviveability of legit 25-man teams.

Raid Finder has been a WoW changer, much like Dungeon Finder was back in Wrath, and I can certainly get my 25-man fix at even less of a struggle or danger to my physical well being (as a RF run can be done in 45 minutes or even less these days, depending on the group).

I mostly feel sorry for those guilds who, long ago, built themselves as 25-mans, and structure and rules have dictated a new paradigm for everyone.  Whether that's good or bad is up for endless debate, I believe there's no one right answer, but for me I wish there were that lure for a more epic adventure (not heroic version) that gave me greater rewards.

War and Peace
It's taken me more than 5 years to read War and Peace, it took 4 and 3/4 to get through the first 120 pages, and the last couple months to get up to the 92% completed mark.  I'm almost done, and now I wish I weren't.  I wish I had a thousand or two thousand more pages to read, because like any great piece of literature I don't want it to stop.

Interestingly, when a computer game is finished, all the writers do is an another 2000 page appendix and call it The Burning Crusade, or Wrath of the Lich King.   It's brilliant.  The story of World of Warcraft will, nay, it MUST come to an end sometime.  But not today.  Mists of Pandaria gives us yet more to read, more to do, more to love and more to hate.  More to argue about, more to agree with, more to learn and more to forget.

WoW is great literature, not in the way Tolstoy wrote, or Hugo, or Homer or Hemmingway, but it's proven that it has legs as hardy and stout as the Russians displayed as they took back their Mother Land from an invading army.  Yes the French were low or cut off from their supplies, they invaded late in the year without thought for their keep, but one thing that kept Russia going, that sustained their soldiers and their aristocracy, was, according to Tolstoy, their Spirit.

It seems to me WoW has a spirit, and some may offend it while others defend, but I have to give the creators of this game the credit they deserve.  They made something people want, and even when finished with one book, they come back for the sequels, the additions that reshape the world you play in, that I play in, that we all play or have played in.  It's not perfect, no game ever will be, and for all they take away that I'll miss, I have in me my memories that they can never take away.  That is worth something to me, and I'll keep those that will bring a smile to my face when I so need it.