Thursday, August 16, 2007

Feeding Pavlov's Dog

They say WoW is a game of grinding but what drives us to grind? Gear. Gear is the true endgame progression in WoW. Once you've reached your accomplishment of getting to the max level, the only other way to feel like you're accomplishing anything is to get better gear. This sends you on quest chains, into instances, and makes you farm till you're blue in the face just to get that next better gear.
And when we get that nice little upgrade we hunted after so diligently, what's left to do? Hunt after the next, even better, upgrade. This keeps us playing the game. That's why there's content releases and expansion packs and new Arena seasons. Really, they're just a way for Blizzard to release more "better" items that we'll chase after.
In a way, we're like Pavlov's dog. Pavlov rang a bell everytime he fed his dog and eventually, all he'd have to do is ring a bell and his dog would start salivating. I felt a little like Pavlov's dog last night as a group of Heroes ventured into Heroic Botanica.

My evening started out with me logging in and a guildee (Sylvara) sending me a tell right away that someone was advertising they were selling a Badge of Tenacity in the Trade channel. A few of my guildees know I've been after this a while. It's the 2nd best rated tanking trinket for bear tanks in the game. I even farmed Ogri'la for a week when the patch first came out that opened up the area. I stopped farming after it after that but kept checking the Auction House and hoping for it to drop in doing my daily quests up there.
Anyway, I got the name of the seller from Sylvara and messaged him right away. The asking price was 1250 gold. Pretty steep for any item but really, why have I amassed all this gold anyway, especially since I already have my epic flying skill? So I told the guy I'd buy it but as he was in Gruul's Lair and I was about to run Heroic Bot, I asked him to send me the Badge in the mail C.O.D., which he did and I was able to pick it up later in the night, after our run.
So, I started out the night already obtaining one of the item objectives I've been hunting for. I could almost feel myself salivating. Item, woof woof, good. Pant. Pant.

We do our Heroic Bot run and while no longer an overly difficult instance, it does take some time to run through. I pretty much ignored most of the drops from the first 3 bosses, although a nice resist cloak dropped that no one else wanted. This cloak will help if I get an Arcane Resist set built up for Curator. When we get to Warp Splinter, I feel my anticipation building again (again with the imaginary salivating). I tried to remind myself that it's been taking 12+ runs to get any of the gear upgrades I want but that didn't seem to help. Feral Staff of Lashing was all I could think about! When we finally downed Warp Splinter and Jagdelf was about to loot, everyone chanted out the drop they want, me included. As the loot all appeared on my screen, I couldn't help but let out a shout of joy! The staff dropped! Yipee! Wait!! What's this?! Am I drooling IRL? No, phew! But close!!

That's when I had to take a step back. A virtual item in a virtual game made me react this way! That would seem ridiculous to any non-gamer, I would think. And I felt guilty too. Guilty because I wanted the epic that dropped to be the one I wanted, not the ones my guildmates wanted. For shame!

So, at the end of the night, I had gotten 2 really good upgrades that I had been wanting. It was nice but I still felt the sting of guilt. Pavlov's bell had rung but I had bitten and clawed back my pack mates so that I could be the one to get the treat. Bad dog!


Krawl said...

That was an awesome drop! Even better you got to run ST with us! grats on your drop and thanks for the ST run!

Origami said...

NP Krawl. And yeah, that staff is very nice.. the 5th best dps staff I can get. This means I don't have to sweat trying to get 3850 Arena Points for the gladiator's maul (it's the best dps weapon I can get). I can look at spending my points on arena armor and worry about upgrading my weapon later.

Honors Code said...

Your feelings don't affect the drop in any way.

I can honestly say I was just about as happy as you were that you got the drop.

I know what it's like to farm a drop (see my Shoulders). Anyway, great run, hope to see you in Kara.

Bacon said...

Awesome Origami. There are some drops out there that I can use, but we have yet to run a Heroic Old Hillsbrand.

Jon said...

I've heard of MMORPG's compared to Skinner boxes... you conduct certain predictive behaviors, and you get a reward. But he found that random rewards work even better than predictive results.

I consider WoW's instance runs like gambling. You are investing "credit" to potentially receive an award. The "credit" in this case is time and effort. You may or may not be rewarded for your investment... hence the gambling analogy.

Damn you Blizzard and your addictive Skinner Boxes!

It's interesting... the PvP aspect of the game runs on a different kind of brain mechanic. The reward is know, and the points required to reach that goal is already laid out for you. I wonder if Blizzard instilled a instance-like Skinner Box mentality to PvP, if they'd make it even more maddeningly addictive?