Patches

Something that occurred to me recently is how I view the phenomenon known as “patch day” among various MMOs.My first MMO was Star Wars Galaxies, and early on, the patches didn’t exactly generate much emotion one way or the other.  Loot revamps, vet rewards, and Galactic Civil War updates didn’t really have me gasping in anticipation; but I was new enough that I didn’t have any great issue with them either.  All this changed with the Combat Upgrade, which was the first major upending of the game in that year.  And it changed more than just the game.  It changed expectations.

Because after that, it seemed that every patch, no matter how major or minor, would break something that was previously working.  Some bugs never got fixed; the Ranger’s adhesive mesh traps were broken early, and remained broken right up to the moment the NGE came rolling around and exterminated the profession entirely.  People didn’t look forward to the patch day anymore; they just wondered “Ok, what’s going to break this time?”  Things didn’t improve much after the NGE caused the largest mass exodus I know of from a game; but by then, I’d moved on myself.

World of Warcraft was where I spent most of the next year.  Again, early on the changes meant nothing; I was able to participate at the back end of the opening of the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj (work got in the way), but the new raid dungeons meant nothing to a guy who was mostly solo.  I had the same opinion of Naxxramas-another place I’d never see.  I always regretted that kind of thing; all that content being added, but because of my play style and time availability-not to mention a poor choice of server-I would never see some of the places that gave WoW its reputation.  In spite of all that, I purchased the Burning Crusade like everyone else shortly after its release.  But with the patches that rolled around, the only things that really seemed to impact me was when they reset all the talents and forced a respec for classes I played.  But unlike SWG, I never felt that the patches broke more than they fixed.  So there was an improvement in my attitude towards patch day.  When I burned out on WoW, it had nothing to do with the way Blizzard treated customers-not like SOE.  It was just how I felt about the game-a good one, but I’d done enough.

I didn’t spend enough time in Lord of the Rings Online to form an opinion on their patches.  Just worked out that way.  Mainly because I quickly gravitated towards City of Heroes.  And what a difference.  I’d missed the days of the major nerfs, like the enhancement diversification and global defense nerf; so I didn’t have that history weighing me down.  What I saw tended to be anticipation for every Issue; while not every patch was as big a deal as others in my eyes, I found that for the first time, I looked forward to every major patch.  It was a complete reversal from what I felt in SWG.  Even the other game I began playing, EVE Online, didn’t generate that kind of excitement (in its defense, EVE also never generated the dread I felt in SWG, either).

As I write this, Issue 16 in CoH has been out for a few weeks introducing deeper customization of characters, further proliferation of powers to archetypes; WoW has redone Onyxia’s Lair for 10 and 25-man raids for level 80s.  EVE has recently finished its Apocrypha 1.5 expansion, which changed the rigging system to make it more cost effective for small ships to use them, added epic mission arcs, and buffed up factional warfare rewards.  SWG has just released a version of the Mission Architect for their game, although from what I read, it’s a horrific grindfest; and there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the next announced patch, which brings zombies to SWG.  (Yeah, I know it’s based on the book coming out shortly; I’m not impressed with that either, and will be one of the few Star Wars novels I won’t touch)

With all these new patches, I wonder how the players of these assorted games view patch day now.  Is it anticipation or fear?

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