Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Post WoW Trauma

Oh yeah! I used to write about games!

So, a funny thing happened right at the apex of my latest bout of World Of WarCraft addiction: The 3.1 patch killed the game on my PC.

There I was, finally "stepping up my game" and "taking it to the next level" and "wasting my life" by hitting level 80 and joining my fellow Can't Quit You guildies in one Heroic instance after another to get properly geared up for...whatever. I picked up the awesome Sundial of the Exiled, which, besides being awesome, is coated with an extra layer of awesomesauce. My DPS was rising. My Frogger and Safety Dance skills were improving. All I needed now was the new patch to get a dual-spec and join the gang for Ulduar fun and, well, I wouldn't say my life would be "complete," but perhaps just a little more sad! In a good way!

Then the patch came out. And I was, to use the strictly technical term, boned.

I have a tempermental PC. A fussy PC. A problem PC. My PC, to put it another way, is a fucking piece of shit. I feel bad ever complaining about it, because it is a legacy of my days in the press, when I got free stuff and didn't have to worry about money like ordinary civilians. No, we didn't get free PCs from PC-makers--that's an ethical no-no!--but there was a lot of trickle-down and extra machines floating around and occasional review units that never got claimed. In short, there was always a way to upgrade your rig or even score a new one without having to lay any Dead Presidents down, yo.

This machine now sitting in my home, making my life miserable, laughing at me every time I try to fix WoW again, came from the Doctor Of Cool himself, Loyd Case, editor over at ExtremeTech.com and once columnist and tech editor at Computer Gaming World during its early glory days. He gave it to me for free. And, ya know, it doesn't get any better than that. It's a Dell XPS 630i, with an nVidia 8800. It's also running Windows Vista, but, hey, you take the bad with the good. Vista was the price I had to pay for getting a free machine.

Actually, though, it turned out there was another price. I don't know if it's Vista, or Dell, or just Plain Rotten Luck, but for whatever reason, this PC has been nothing but a pain in the arse since I first trucked it home. And, no, don't bother giving me random tech advise (well, okay, you can), but I promise you I've probably tried everything you are going to suggest: I've reinstalled the OS, I've replaced the RAM, I've wiped the drive, I've updated drivers. I feel like I've done it all except completely disassemble the entire dam thing down to the last screws and put it back together again. Net result: Constant crashes. I should say, the WoW troubles are only part of it. I won't take up valuable Internet space droning on about the various other issues I've had. Suffice it to say, this PC hates me.

So, really, it wasn't a horrible surprise that Patch 3.1 failed for me. But fail it did, and now I can't play anymore, after spending 2+ weekends trying to sort it out. Oddly, I did manage to successfully install the patch and log in once, for about 2 minutes, but then never again. I had just enough time to say hi to my guildies and ask how they were enjoying 3.1, but then was booted, never to return. I've spent time on the WoW forums and discovered other hapless Dell 630i losers, which was at least partially reassuring, but nothing suggested on those forums (yes, including updating the firmware) has helped.

Rather than continue to bemoan my fate and feel sorry for myself, however, I did remember a few things, once I just decided to give up. My family, for one. Outside, for another. But once I got over those two things, it was back to gaming again, and, much to my great joy, I discovered a gigantic pile of new games, untouched or barely touched by me, because WoW had--once again--completely taken over my gaming life, pushing everything else aside. See, when you're addicted to WoW, a weird thing happens with other games. Every time you're trying to play a different game, you feel like you're cheating on WoW. You feel like you're "wasting time" that should actually be spent getting more Emblems of Heroism, or getting Fishing achievements. You feel a nagging sense of "missing out", because you're not in there with everyone else busily getting Fishing achievements. So those other games pile up, forgotten, unloved, unplayed.

Now, with no other choice--other than to stop gaming and do something else with my life (HAHAHAHAHAHA)---I have returned to that sad pile. And here is what I discovered: It is not sad at all! It is happy! A happy pile! A happy pile of great games! All they were waiting for was for me to find them again! And I did! Yaaaay!

And so now the great tackling of the unplayed games begins. First up is Left 4 Dead, which I'm currently only playing in the single-player campaign version. I know, you don't have to tell me--I'm missing the entire point. But I need to know what I'm doing first before I play co-op, out of Fear Of Suckitude. Also on my plate: Empire Total War, Fallout 3 (good god, how did I forget this one?), Sacred 2, Dawn of War 2, and more. It's all making me feel like I should have quit WoW voluntarily awhile back.

It's a demanding, jealous bitch, that World Of WarCraft. It doesn't let us see other games, even casually, for coffee. It feels pretty great to be free and dating other games again.

But, hey, if you see her, say hello. She might think I've forgotten her, don't tell her it isn't so.


Christopher Miller said...

I've actually quit WoW twice. The most recent time was 3 months ago. Sure I may go back to her someday but, as of now, I'm glad to have time to play all those other games out there.

I'm glad you joined the real world again, Jeff.

Joseppie said...

The pile of the forgotten is indeed a happy place Jeff. And you have got an especially stellar pile there. Though, if your experience is anything like mine, you'll simply get addicted to L4D and then everything else will fall by the wayside because of its zombie killing filled self.

At the same time, reading your posts lately is drumming some up in my mind. I gave it up long ago, but WoW is tugging at me again. It's scaring the shit out of me.

SilentG said...

It seems as though both you and I were forced from WoW unwillingly. But while you got to enjoy the fruits of WotLK, if only temporarily, I was removed just 3 days after the expansion hit (dinged lvl 76 in that time.....God I'm lame). I got my account hacked and haven't looked back since. But let me tell you, these past few months have been great, you know, actually doing work to graduate on time and what not O_o And just wait till you actually finish/beat one of those games that have been overlooked because of WoW. It's going to feel GLOORRIOUUSSSS! Don't try to fix WoW anymore, it's not worth the frustration! Also, glad that you're blogging so often now. Great to hear the voice of a veteran again.

Chris said...

always great to read something here jeff! be sure to be careful with l4d and fallout 3, those can suck you in almost as bad as WoW if you're not careful

Anonymous said...

It's a Dell; that's the problem.

Derek Schrock said...

Try reseating the CPU and/or reseat the video card.

Bob Bergeron said...

Did you try running WoW in one of the Windows Compatibility modes? It's a weak shot in the dark....very weak.

Anonymous said...

I bought a Core i7 920 two months ago (from Alienware), and it came installed with VISTA 64.

All I'd heard about VISTA was how unstable it is.

I've gone game-mad in the past two months, and have installed at least a dozen of the most cutting-edge titles available - I've spent dozens and dozens of hours playing on this machine. The results: one single crash to desktop (it happend in Fallout 3, but only because I had set the texture setting too high for my 9800 gt).

VISTA is remarkably stable.

My guess is that your machine is possessed.

I saw this news report on television one time in which this woman claimed that her toaster was possessed by Lucifer himself. "Look at the toast," she said, holding up a blackened piece of bread for the camera. "You can see that The Devil has burned his own imagery into the bread." Sure enough, there on the toast was the likeness of Lucifer himself, horns and all.

This woman said that her toaster produced bread like this at least once a week. Sometimes Lucifer would burn the bread, and sometimes he wouldn't.

The reporter simply asked her why she didn't just get rid of the toaster, and she responded by saying that when all was said and done that the toaster just made really great toast.

Lloyd Case, did you say?

An agent of Lucifer if ever there was one. My advice: Get a side-job reviewing games for a magazine or a website. My understanding is that those reviewers are supplied with cutting-edge hardware. This is not to mention the terrific royalty that's paid upon publication. You've got to get yourself some of that gravy train, Green.

No, but what I heard was that the latest WOW patch messed up everyone's system - how come you haven't been on the phone complaining to Sean Malloy about this?

That said, sometimes you'll get game-lock on a certain game, which will cause you to not play other games that are maybe more worthy. Like Fallout 3. Fallout 3 is a masterpiece. I'll be starting my second game this weekend, and am looking forward to it very much.

Nice post, Green - we love it when you write about gaming.

Woot! Two Greenspeaks in as many days!

Luís Magalhães said...

You pretty much nailed it, Jeff. I can say the exact same thing. Playing WoW was putting a dent on my family life, my writing, and my gaming, and I only noticed it when I quit.

Scary, scary drug.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting on your Lost thoughts. ~Hamilton

Booger Patrol said...

Honestly, Left 4 Dead has been kind of like WoW for me. It's such a fun game to keep going back to that it's pushed a lot of other games off of my playlist.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried going back to Windows XP? Even if you have to order a copy, it's still cheaper than buying a new PC.

Budo said...

Jeff, you know we love you around here. Because you are (as I've heard the kids say) "the man".

And I understand the whole "I MUST PLAY WORLD OF WARCRAFT" jonesing completely.

But if you think I'm going to feel sorry that you can't play WoW on your FREE DESKTOP, well, you're nuts.

YOu could actually buy a crappy $400 laptop, just for WoW, and the combo of your 2 computers would still be cheaper than what I dropped on my XPS 700 series.

Much love,

P.S. This might be a secret plot by your EA employees to force you into more Warhammer Online time.

Anonymous said...

And thus the abandonment of CQY is complete.

evilkumquat said...

After the patch, I had to downgrade my Nvidia driver after my system developed almost unplayable artifacts and random blinking (but ONLY in WoW - not Portal, or HL2, or BF or any other 3D games.

Nvidia cards seem to hate the new patch.

I would suggest looking for what others with your card have done to solve the issue (which is what worked for me, although I'm running XP with a 7800gs card - I'm too poor to make the switch to a PCI-E motherboard).

Zenin said...

Just spitballin' here, but have you tried getting a more powerful PSU?

The same thing happened to my friend on a Vista computer that he built(not the same, I know), but his computer stopped crashing and has not crashed yet.

Anyway, hope that helps.

Mark said...

What's your Steam account, Jeff?

Anonymous said...

maybe trying a new operating system could help, since vista is picky with whatever pc it runs on, so try XP. If you can still get it, the beta for Windows 7 is stable as a rock and is a great OS. good luck if you try.

Ken in Irvine said...


Actually, the best suggestion I read here was to try another power supply. Although, being a Dell, you probably can't do that.

So, time to buy a new machine.

Mike said...

I have the opposite problem when I'm playing WoW. I keep thinking that here I am playing this known quantity, so to speak, while a world of new gaming experiences awaits me elsewhere. Somehow, I manage both.

Tea Master said...

Maybe you has virus?

I very much recognize what you're saying about the feeling of wasting time with other games when you could have progressed in WoW instead and that you admit you're addicted. I was in that exact situation myself.

I managed to quit, because I knew I was wasting precious time of my life by spending stupid amount of time on WoW.

I recommend that you use this opportunity to cancel you subscription and uninstall the game. The fact that that you admit you're addicted is a sign that it's not really good for you – like it was for me.

I'm so glad I'm done with that shit. WoW is very good at what it tries to be, but it's ulitmately waste of time and an addiction.

mario66 said...

I have an Alienware with XP (no vista! bad bad bad) and it generally runs nice and smooth...even after dropping it off my desk (not joking) while i was moving my desk from underneath (picture the act of benchpressing).

I did encounter some wiered os corruption a while back which kept widows from closing..also go lots of random red circle with an X error boxes pop up every so often. Basically did a clean install of XP and worked fine after but it took me until 4am to do everything correctly (Bios, drivers etc). The one thing with PC Gaming is that you are always on edge for something bad to happen. its a strange feeling to have for a hobby. Good luck. the power supply idea sounds like a good thing to check out

Stephen said...

Seriously, WoW has jumped the shark (nay, couch) ever since WotLK introduced the motorcycle. A FREAKIN' MOTORCYCLE!!!

LoTRO is my new love.

Sean Boocock said...

Sometimes I feel strange listening to the gaming blog literati because I'm a fairly monogamous gamer, WoW or not. I tend to play one game to the exclusion of all others for anywhere from a few months to several years. As such I've missed out on a lot of great games over the last decade but perhaps appreciated the ones I did choose to invest in at a deeper level than most. In the last couple years I think I have achieved the best of both worlds, and it is in large part thanks to you Jeff and the multitude of other excellent podcast hosts and gaming journalists. I can get a vicarious experience of many games while keeping a steady relationship with my current love, WoW; and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Hope the machine straightens itself out but if not a motherboard/power supply upgrade would be an almost guaranteed fix for your problems. Also, you aren't using a recent Seagate Barracuda hard drive are you? I had similar issues due to a faulty firmware on many of Seagate's 7200.11 line of hard drives. One RMA'd hard drive and a firmware flash later I was back up and running.

Unknown said...

I think just about everyone who has played and quit WoW had the exact same experience. It's a really, really fun game, but once you stop playing, you discover so many others you missed.

Anonymous said...


Chris said...

I remember you mentioning in the WoW 1Up podcast that one of your characters was named Egbert.

Thought you should know that "Children's Week" just started in Azeroth and one of the rewards is an Egbert pet (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=32616).


Anonymous said...

IIRC, "Egbert" was a name related to the D&D scare of the 80s. I'd have to be honest and admit that when I heard this the first thought of was Jeff mentioning his WoW character on the LT podcasts.

But I'd be surprised if this isn't two people referencing the same source

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