Indulging my inner child

For the last few days, I’ve been playing Wizard 101. I’ve been playing quite a lot of it in fact, in between the usual work/eat/sleep RL stuff we all do. I have briefly considered logging on to WAR, but the last time I tried it — on Tuesday evening? — things didn’t go so well. It wasn’t the game, it was me, but clearly I was being UltraCrabby as Mort felt he had to turn to me and say “You know, I think you should log out and just play that wizard game for a bit. It’d calm you down.”

Sounds like a Dear John letter but really, it’s not WAR’s fault, it’s mine. My capacity for tolerating the things about it that bother me is, currently, nil, so time away from it to let that tolerance-meter recover is essential if I don’t want to sour myself entirely on WAR.iridia1

That’s probably why Wizard 101 is so appealing right now. Most of the things that frustrate and grouchify me about WAR, W101 doesn’t have.

  • It’s cute, rather than grim.
  • It has pets. That’s about the only fluff it has I can think of, but for a pet-fanatic like me, that’s enough. I haven’t collected many yet but oh, I will! Even if I am apparently going to miss out on the neat Halloween event pets. There’s always next year.
  • Combat and the UI are about as simple as such systems can get. As an added bonus, I enjoy the card-game combat mechanic.
  • You can log in for 20 minutes and still get stuff done. Seriously.
  • You run fast. Not ultra-fast like you could in Asheron’s Call, but fast enough. I was SO tired of feeling like a lumbering cow (despite my guild affiliation) in WAR. I don’t think I will ever stop being tired of that, especially since I think it’s a fake mechanism for cheating people into thinking the world is big when it isn’t, but eventually I will be less annoyed by it and will be able to tolerate it again.
  • When you zone, which you do frequently in W101, it takes 4 seconds. I’ve timed it. Logging in takes 4 seconds. Logging out takes 4 seconds. Going from one area to the other takes… you get the idea. It might even be less than 4 seconds. WAR could really learn a lesson from that (hell, all these grown-up MMOs could!), and I hadn’t realised till recently how dog-tired I’ve become of spending what feels like 20% of my playtime staring at loading screens. The last time I logged Amariel on in WAR, it took over 60 seconds from hitting the button to finally having the world show up on my screen; and then, of course, I had to spend a minute or so fixing my UI (chat windows, etc), as I have to do every single time I log anyone in.
  • W101 isn’t demanding. That is eventually going to be less of a good thing, and around the time that happens I’ll be ready to go back to WAR more regularly. But right now, it’s exactly what I need.

Teeny tiny frustrations aren’t much by themselves, but acting all together over a span of weeks, they eventually add up to a millstone round my gaming neck, dragging me down. As Yosemite Sam would say:

Maybe I needed to find some equilibrium. If you believe in astrology (which I don’t, except when it suits me), it’s in my nature to seek balance anyway. If you believe in simple psychology, I just had enough of frustrations and am playing something that contains none of those frustrations. When W101 starts to become frustrating, or when the WAR-frustometer drops, I’ll go back to WAR.

For one thing, all the things that make W101perfect now will make WAR look good when I have recharged my batteries. Complex skills and combat, RvR, good friends to chat with and do stuff with, maybe even crafting. (Okay, not crafting. WAR’s crafting is a sad travesty that makes real crafters and pandas everywhere cry.)

In the meantime, if you thought this was a 100% WAR blog, you’ll be disappointed. If it were, its subtitle would be WAR musings and commentary, which it isn’t. I will, however, strive to remain entertaining.

Tempted by the fruit of another

I didn’t mean to. Honest, WAR dear, it was unintentional. I sort of slipped and fell right onto Wizard101; one minute I’d only vaguely heard of it, and the next (blame Hudson, and from there blame Tipa) I was making a character. There are no screenshots to document my dalliance, but only because I have no idea how to take them yet.

It’s quite clearly a game aimed at kids, but it’s pretty enjoyable for a jaded adult too, even though the first person I allowed to friend me immediately sent me a tell (or text, as they call it) saying, rather creepily, “Hello pretty.” Immediate image of mustachio-twirling villain leering at heroine tied to train tracks; and other less savoury images. If I’d known what the hell I was doing, I’d have sent him some text back and it wouldn’t have involved anything as mild as “Hello.” Yech.

Fortunately for parents and kids, that kind of stuff can be (and automatically is, if you’re a certain age, I think) pretty stringently controlled.

I lost most of yesterday running around in the bright, cartoonish, only mildly (and deliciously) scary Wizard City. Once I’d decided to try it, the base download was done in a matter of minutes and the game kept downloading in the background while I played. I’m thinking my other MMOs could usefully learn from that, since everything else I might want to try almost always involves an hours-long (if lucky) download of patches and whatnot.

Better yet, it’s free, at least up to a point, which made it even easier to stray. I doubt it’ll hold me for very long but then what does these days, with our busy lives and our craving for change. The trading-card style combat game is rather well done though, and took me back to my MtG (and NWO, VtM, Netrunner, etc etc) days without the attendant expense of actually buying cards.

All in all, a fun bit of weekend game-dalliance. Oddly enough, it makes me look forward to WAR and its greater complexity and meaning. Change is as good as a rest, as they say.