The Eternal Lightness of Being An Item In WoW

I don't always wear blue jeans. But I mostly do.

That is my knee. Guess what it did when I read the news that sold, destroyed and disenchanted items in World of Warcraft can now be automatically recovered further down the line? It jerked. Jerked hard.

This isn’t for bugs, it isn’t for thefts and it isn’t for immediately fixing accidental sales (that’s been in-game at vendors for ages). It’s just for changing your indecisive little mind later on. Yeah, it can only be done once every thirty days, but it’s still a bespoke, streamlined system for mass revisionism.

I guess I’m known for being a sneering little turd in the majority of cases that I mention WoW, but the reason for that is that I once loved it. Its broad transformation into a numbers game for a particular section of its playerbase felt – and still feels, even years on – like a betrayal. I’d come for the adventuring and the exploring, but that aspect of the game seemed to be disassembled and discarded in favour of routines and ever-more precise maths, which in turn meant that so much of the game existed outside of the game. The forum’n’wiki hunt for fixed boss strategies and item drop ratios, the slow grind for reputation points and PvP points and points and points and points: it’s part and parcel of a modern MMO for sure, but it wasn’t the game I wanted to play.

So, news that there’s now an official wepage with which to request the automated restoration of sold, destroyed and discenchanted items just seems in keeping with the policy of WoW’s internal logic becoming external logic. No consequences to your poor decisions and indecisiveness. No dealing with your screw-ups, but instead appealing to an outside, real-world force to intervene, thus openly demonstrating once more that what’s in Warcraft’s world and what you do in it is entirely meaningless, as it can be changed from the outside so very easily. Yes, this could be done in the past by appealing directly and pathetically to a passing GM, but now it’s a nice clear, robo-page to used and abused at will.

I don’t deny for one second that it’s useful, and certainly there were times I’d have killed for something like it back when I was still playing, but there is strength, honour, excitement and discovery in living with your decisions then finding an in-game way to survive or correct them. Please, can’t something seem to have substance, rather than openly being a checkbox for someone to tick on the server settings?

Jesus, I actually didn’t realise I cared so much about such a little thing. I should try harder to care about things that actually matter, like why Mars bars don’t seem as big as they used to be or whether Jeremy Hunt’s lost his mind and is running naked through the halls of Westminster yet. I guess, as always, the one thing that might bring me back to WoW is more world, not more systems.

Those for whom the item restoration system is mana from customer support heaven can find out more and apply here.


  1. Spinks says:

    So it’s as if you got an arrow in the knee?

    • faelnor says:

      There is nothing more pleasing than seeing ground cut out in a most elegant manner from under all those imbeciles who were going to make an arrow in the knee joke :)

    • smeaa mario says:

      facepalm yourself please. do it!

    • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

      Yo dowg i herd you like arrows to the knee

  2. KikiJiki says:

    This has existed for about 6 years and was previously done exclusively by GMs in cases of account theft and/or in game bugs (We had loot drop from a boss in vanilla and the instance crashed straight away before we could assign, took them about a week to track them down).

    Having a web page just frees up GM time for more important issues as over time they’ve relaxed the rules about item restorations.

    Struggling to find news today Alec? :P

    • Alec Meer says:

      ‘Slow news day?’ and its similarly unreflective variants is the single most poo-headed type of comment there is.

      • Nallen says:

        Ah come on, surely nothing compared to ‘RPS is on the payroll’ idiocy?

      • Tony M says:

        I can think of a few worse:
        “Reads like a 9”
        “How much did the publisher pay you?”

        • caddyB says:


          Why isn’t my favorite game being featured more often while you keep writing articles about this crap game ( in my opinion ) all the time?

          I think I paraphrased it too politely.

        • Mungrul says:

          The worst is “First”.

      • sneetch says:

        Come now, “slow new day” is nothing compared to “haters gonna hate”, “beta is beta”, “something is fail”, “first world problems”, any mention of “entitlement” or many of the other internet flavour-of-the-month witticism, “shrewd” observation or sage sayings that moronic people read somewhere then parrot either thinking it’s somehow their idea now or that they’re being witty or wise.

        Remember how anyone who said anything had aspergers a few months back?

        • iucounu says:

          So pretentious.

          • sneetch says:

            And there’s another one! A casual dismissal in one or two word replies, thanks for the example.

          • Asyne says:

            An excellent deconstruction of a post.

          • noodlecake says:

            Oops! Responded to the wrong comment… Just cut and… uh… there!

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          sneetch you missed out referring to article writers and/or commenters as any of the following:

          trolls or trolling

          probably more I can’t think of right now.

          • Tony M says:

            God I hate “White-Knighting”. The internet can come up with a derogatory term for just about anything. Its like when old school Penguin shook his fist at Batman and called him a “do-gooder”.

          • Phantoon says:

            Naw. See, white knights are no better than their opposition, since they demonize others. It’s just that they rally to whoever claims to be a victim of the internet, which half the time is just someone manipulating them.

          • hypercrisis says:

            i thought a white knight was someone kissing a girls arse, defending and praising her every action in the hope that shell fall in love and cyber with them

        • noodlecake says:

          Well I enjoyed your post anyway! :) Didn’t necessarily agree with it but it made me smile. Did someone genuinely use aspergers syndrome as a point against gamers moaning about (what they think are) lacklustre titles?

          I’ve never thought about it like that but personally I think it would definitely explain a lot if they did.

      • Harvey says:

        Ooh ooh! how about TL;DR… as a man fond of rants, I hate that one with a fierce fiery ferocity

      • Berzee says:

        For good measure, would you like me to say that you have Conflated some different things?

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Nice job focusing on the irrelevant part of the comment and missing the fact that this has indeed been possible for as long as the game has been around and is nothing new. Pointless post, really. I’d almost say something about a slow news day, but you know…

        • Reefpirate says:

          The thing is, he mentions the exact functionality you’re talking about existing in the article… Did you miss it?

      • InternetBatman says:

        My least favorite is “in before.”

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Difference is that you weren’t necessarily responsible for the account theft/hack or the bug, while this is pretty plainly recovering items that you meant to sell/whatever.

      • KikiJiki says:

        Nah, they’ve done that for years as well.

        All you needed was a ticket with item name/ approximate time you got rid of it and if it was within 6 months they’d get it back to you and take the gold value from your character.

        • Vorphalack says:

          I think you have missed the point of the article. This isn’t a report on how awesome the new item recovery system is (see PC Gamer for that). This isn’t a report about how awful the new item recovery system is (see any angry nerd on Youtube for that). This is about how so many small incremental changes to WoW have taken the ”World” part away, and continue to do so in the name of streamlining and convenience.

          • orcane says:

            It’s still besides the point. They’ve had this feature pretty much forever except you had to open a ticket to do so – just like moving soulbound items to other people in the group, which was eventually replaced by a system that allowed players to trade within a timeframe without having to bother GMs to do so.

            There are about a bajillion other things you can use to try and make the point that WoW lost a lot of its “world” part, but item restoration isn’t one of them. At least I fail to see how it can be, not in the “GM does it” variation nor in the new automatic system variety – this has always been a meta-game activity for accidents and account theft/hacking.

          • Vorphalack says:

            But that is the point isn’t it. No single small thing seems that sinister, but 6 years down the line when logging into Interactive Browser Experience of Warcraft, you are left wondering what the fuck happened to your game.

    • Carra says:

      This. A big percentage of their time must go to recovering lost items which is really, a waste of human time.

      I still remember being scammed in WoW. I traded an item for, let’s say 1000 gold, I clicked on “Go, go, go”. The other player removed three 0’s and pressed on his go. I was sad :( Luckily, WoW has a good customer support and they returned my item.

      Oh, this reminds me that my account has been hacked too, they stripped it naked and sold everything. Again, WoWs excellent support recovered all items.

  3. f1x says:

    I dont know, once I asked if it was possible to restore the tiers I destroyed 2 years ago, because now you can use them for transmodification thingy, and they said it was not possible
    probably thats what caused this new “feature”

    but yes, I agree some decisions should be permanent, but I dont know if you think about it, if I had more bankspace before and transmodification existed before I probably would have not destroyed my old tiers then

    short version : I’m a potato

    • RvLeshrac says:

      And if my closets were built in folded space-time, I’d never have to throw anything away.

      If they were offering infinite storage, that would be different (and something most of us could get on board with). This is just idiotic.

    • MidoriChaos says:

      I don’t think something two years old is going to be restorable using this feature.

    • f1x says:

      I was trying to examine if actually this restoration webform thing is an “useful service” or a “stupid thing that makes decisions silly”

      My point is sometimes you deleted items because of bad design in storage or not being useful, what happens when a feature improves storage and makes old items useful? (transmogrification whatever)

      But now after reading the FAQ I saw that is only for recent items, so its basically a stupid thing

    • MD says:

      Your mum’s a potato!

  4. caddyB says:

    I was going to say that this kind of “You can make mistakes and still get loot, then delete the loot and get it back because we don’t care how dumb you are, we want your money!” scheme disgusts me, but I don’t want to come off even more ridiculously elitist than I actually am.

    I think we see how many subs “make everything easier” mentality in Blizzard’s part cost them. I think part of it is like cheating in games, when you don’t have to work a lot to achieve things, they just don’t mean anything and you get bored faster than you would if you’d have to work for it.

    Then again, what do I know about computer games?

    edit: Although this seems nice for getting first few tiers back, from the times there wasn’t enough bankspace to keep all the nice looking things.

    • Joof says:

      Blizzard’s subs only went down when Cataclysm made the game drastically harder when compared to Wrath.

  5. Monchberter says:

    You’ve obviously not ventured onto one of the more serious Team Fortress 2 trading servers. The horror.

  6. tlarn says:

    Next you’ll be telling us that Blizzard has started selling NPC party members which have programmed into them the strategies to fight and beat bosses in dungeons and raids.

    • f1x says:

      That will happen, and I will blame you for the idea!

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      That sounds suspiciously like Guild Wars’s heros.

      • Struckd says:

        ha please! guild wars heroes are more of a burden at times…it would be a godsend if they were programmed to play properly…they are good fro canon fodder tho

  7. MidoriChaos says:

    This has always been doable, except you had to pester the GMs to recover for you. Even back in vanilla you could try and beg them to restore an item you had accidentally sold and they would do it, although warning you that it shouldn’t become a habit.
    It’ll still have a limit on the time you can recover things until, so it’s not like I can go and use it to recover something I destroyed back in Burning Crusade. And it wouldn’t surprise me if you can’t recover anything at least for a time if you start bugging GMs for extra restores once this system is up and running in the European servers.
    Edit: it’ll however make me cringe if this gives way to firing GMs since less tickets will need to be made. Although there’re still plenty of things for people to petition about.

  8. Senthir says:

    This has always been the case, except previously you had to email a GM to have it done. There were only minor restrictions in place, such as selling the item to another player.

    Fun Fact: This has a 30-day “cooldown”, whereas talking to a GM and getting your item restored had no cooldown and could be done as many times as a GM felt like, and this effectively makes getting your items returned more restricted than before.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Don’t worry, give it time and I’m sure you’ll be able to buy extra restorations from the Blizzard store.

  9. Tony M says:

    I don’t play WOW, but my guess is that this is just a cost cutting measure. They would be looking at common (and therefore expensive) customer support requests and trying to create self service versions of them.

    I guess when Bizzard stopped measuring WOWs growth rate in the millions-of-users they had to start acting like a regular corporation.

    • f1x says:

      As much as I don’t like corporation firing staff, I dont think efficiency is a bad thing

      I mean, if they find better ways to handle player requests, it will mean aswell better customer service
      there is an AWFUL LOT of player requests that are mostly a waste of time, like for example, myself asking to restore a char I deleted in a moment of boredom

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Efficiency is bad when efficiency trumps service, at the cost of the economy.

        • Brun says:

          So you’re saying you’d rather have to wait through days of customer service tickets to get an issue resolved, rather than have a self-service option?

        • Zippy says:

          Instant item restoration is much better than 2-3 day customer service queues. Having issues that actually require GM intervention take less than 2-3 days is also good. Overall, this will improve service.

          How letting people restore one item that they already had but foolishly deleted or sold once every 30 days is going to destroy the economy, I cannot figure out.

          edit: I see now that you mean the real world economy – apparently you think corporations should hire huge numbers of customer support as a sort of jobs program? Inefficiency will not help the economy.

          • Vorphalack says:

            ”Inefficiency will not help the economy.”

            Economics 101. Wages are taxable and easy to track, and employed people spend disposable income which is required for a healthy economy. Large corporations do everything in their power to avoid as much tax as possible, and keep wages as low as possible, both of which harm the economy.

  10. Syra says:

    It annoys me less that this is a sort of reversal for indecision as it is the PROMOTION of such.

    When I played WoW it was for the min/max and the spirit of the hardcore raid. I made decisions, I lead guilds and raids and cleared content amongst the top players in the world. I liked the decisions I made and I loved not being able to go back on them, it allows you to live without regrets. Now this? If this was around I would be panicked, second guessing myself on every piece of loot, every enchant. It’s maddening, thank feth I’m done with that crappy game.

  11. JB says:

    To everyone saying “this could be done in the past by appealing directly … to a passing GM”, try reading the article! All of the words!

    • MidoriChaos says:

      Knee-jerk for a knee-jerk! I missed that. Guilty. Gutted. *Crawls into a hole* :(

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      If you hang your point on such a big inaccuracy, you shouldn’t be surprised if it’s missed. ;)

  12. Jagannath says:

    I pull my blue jeans on, I pull my old blue jeans on (ch-ch).

  13. MrMud says:

    Its very easy to disenchant the wrong item by mistake. This is a means to have some way to undo such a mistake.

    • Tony M says:


    • Lemming says:

      It’s not ‘easy’ at all unless you play WoW by thumping a cricket bat on the keyboard..

      …actually forget I said anything, I’m sure it’s entirely possibly to play that way.

  14. sneetch says:

    So, once a month people are allowed to recover from one mistake? I don’t see this as a bad thing. Then again, I remember the shrieks of horror and dismay on the raid vent channel when our priest accidentally disenchanted the new staff she just got instead of the old staff. She swore that she had swapped out the old staff for the new staff (with the exact same icon) . So why not let her undo that momentary lapse of concentration? Why piss her off (and incidentally the other casters who also wanted the staff) because she made a mistake?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Why piss off all the people who actually pay attention to what they’re doing by changing the mechanics so that there’s absolutely no consequence for not giving a shit?

      • sneetch says:

        Why would it piss anyone off at all? Accidents happen, this simply allows you to undo one mistake a month that’s all! One item you accidentally sold, destroyed, or disenchanted. It’s not like it’s going to be a new type of bank is it? Oh I’ll just destroy these items, I can restore them later.

      • Brun says:

        Unless they’re splendid people who I respect massively due to their ability to express their own opinions without resorting to furious insults.

      • PopeJamal says:

        What I don’t understand is why someone should be pissed off because an entirely different internet person in fantasy world, separate from them in every way, is allowed to make a mistake, and then undo that mistake once a month. Said another way, what I heard is:

        “Blah Blah this optional, non compulsory feature that has nothing to do with you if you don’t regularly make inventory mistakes blah blah”

        What some people apparently hear:

        “Blah blah we take something away from you blah blah sex with your mom blah blah kick your dog blah”

        I just don’t understand…

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Because they aren’t “separate from you in every way,” you’re directly linked through the game’s ecosystem of questing for items.

  15. PoulWrist says:

    Biggest complaint in every MMO forum is the requirement to be able to reset character stats, of all kinds. And if it’s a possibility, then to have the timer for doing it reduced, the requirement for doing it reduced, and so on and so forth. Noone wants to live with the choice they made because the MMO games have become so volatile in their content that flavour of the month dominates and if you can’t have it, you feel that you’re so gimp that you should just quit, or start a new char, or similar, so that you can have what you do not.

    I feel sad sometimes, that all the “RPG” has gone out of MMORPG, and now they’re reduced, with WoW in the lead, to a three-in-one game, with your leveling solo questing being one game, your instanced arcade style boss battles being another, and your instanced pvp arenas being a third game. All inherently losing out in some way because of their, ever fewer, though, ties to eachother.

    I really can’t be surprised when some day they announce that they’re splitting WoW into three seperate games… and I can’t help but think that it would be better for the MMO genre which, if anything, has stagnated heavily over the past 6 years.

    • wuwul says:

      Well designed games with competitive multiplayer and long-lived characters don’t have non-cosmetic choices with permanent effects.

      That’s because having such a choice means forcing the player to stop playing the game as soon as the choice comes up, and requiring him to do hours of Internet research and mathematical optimization before he resumes playing, since if he makes a mistake he’s totally fucked.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Well-balanced games don’t actually require that everyone reset each week because $New_PvP_Build destroys everything that isn’t $New_PvP_Build_Counter.

        If you’re playing a “competitive” game where the odds are constantly being stacked, you should probably stop “competing.” Like a football league where a random team’s goals are counted double each season.

  16. moarage says:

    Am I the only one who got the Kundera novel reference?

    • jaheira says:

      Nope. Just the only one who felt the need to tell everyone.

      • realmenhuntinpacks says:

        Oooooh handbags! Personally been sidetracked away from what the article’s about into wondering what the significance of ‘eternal’ as opposed to ‘unbearable’ is. Also, got to love that ‘don’t say things because people are thinking them’ line of… whatever that is. Everybody, stop having thoughts!

  17. Jimbo says:

    World of Cottonwoolcraft? *stretches*

  18. Carwash says:

    Nice knee

  19. wuwul says:


    You’ll change your mind the first/next time you accidentally click on an item with a vendor window open, thus selling it, and by the time you notice it’s gone you can’t buy it back anymore.

    Or the next time you disenchant the wrong item accidentally, which cannot be undone even if you notice immediately.

    I guess if Blizzard announced they were giving away real money to every subscriber, you’d complain that it’s an horrible thing because you like to earn it.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Dude, really. Alec has pointed out that he would have loved to have such a thing at his disposal back when he was playing WoW. Plus, he actually said he thinks that it is useful.

      It’s as if you haven’t even bothered reading the article.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Alternately, you could pay attention to what you’re doing.

      • PopeJamal says:

        Alternately, you could stop paying so much attention to what other people are doing.

        • theleif says:

          Alternately, you could stop paying so much attention to other people paying attention to what other people are doing.

  20. pipman3000 says:

    this is stupid you shou.ld have to work yourself to the bone to get another one of those items you lost because if WoW doesn’t punish you for your mistakes what sort of precedent does that set for our society soon drug-addicted children will “accidentally” sell their crack-pipe to their pimphard-working job creator then they’ll just go crying to big government to get another one for free.

    more like world of welfare

  21. mendel says:

    This needs a cooldown, as in “we’ll take your gold now, and you’ll get your item in 24 hours”. This should serve to discourage a “sell now, restore if needed” mentality.

  22. malkav11 says:

    “Once a month” is hardly “at will”.

  23. jrodman says:

    I hear what you are saying about buying into the game world and this kind of decision totally eroding that.

    I’m doubtul, though, that any MMO can maintain investment in the game world. After you’ve been noodling around a game for 2-3 years, how can you take any of it that seriously anymore? I mean okay you might still buy into the challenge, the mechanics, the camaraderie, etc. You might even like the setting. But the idea of the items and characters as having any sort of.. reality? I think this one just evaporates with familiarity.

  24. Malibu Stacey says:

    MMO without any consequences of actions adds more convenience & removes more consequences of actions. Hands up those who are surprised.

    Yes EVE-Online has ruined me but then I’ve preferred games with some challenge in them since the 8-bit era.

  25. TheWhippetLord says:

    I think this is a great thing. Anyone who plays wow a lot sees dozens, hundreds of items a day pass through their inventory. Human error in disenchanting the wrong item is inevitable at some point. Allowing one such mistake a month to be undone is hardly the biggest nerf to persistance in history.

    It sometimes seems that making any game more accessible, especially *gasp* to anyone who hasn’t played games for their entire life, provokes an instinctive horror in some of the more ‘hardcore’ gamers (I include myself here.) I don’t think it’s usually conscious elitism, but I do think it’s something we all do and need to be aware of. Having a few games about that can be picked up and excelled in by a complete novice is good for the hobby. WoW is a gateway game – I’ve got many of my WoW friends onto PC gaming generally bacause they’re not scared of games any more. Surely it’s good that elderly people, women and others who’ve never felt welcome in gaming end up playing Skyrim?
    And it’s often becasue of WoW.

    That doesn’t happen, though, if you make games like WoW hard and unwelcoming to play. Not hard as in difficulty, but hard as in UI. An occasional ‘undo’ isn’t breaking anything.

  26. Nevard says:

    I am honestly baffled by this response, until now I had no idea someone could get this annoyed at a quality of life feature that doesn’t actually make the game easier in any way.

    Is this just satire that I am missing?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      It removes one of the consequences for not paying attention to what you’re doing. It isn’t this feature specifically, but the fact that features like this are a barometer for the game industry as a whole.

      What’s next, are they going to start prompting you before you walk into AoE damage areas?

      “Are you sure you want to step into the pool of lava?”

      • Brun says:

        There were never any consequences for not paying attention to what you did with your gear. You could always get it restored if you squawked loudly enough to customer service.

        This system is purely a cost-reduction measure for Blizzard, it will significantly reduce the workload of their GMs and Customer Service system. Put another way, I don’t think this is about pandering to idiotic players – it’s about improving the company’s bottom line.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          That’s the problem, really. Blizzard is becoming the least-common-denominator in customer service. It used to be that you’d not get your items back and get a short ban for even asking. Then, you got your items back if you asked, at the GM’s discretion. Now, you don’t even have to ask.

          What’s next? Do we just start giving players whatever gear they ask for? A website with a “Click for Loot” button?

          • Brun says:

            I don’t think they EVER banned you for asking.

          • Nevard says:

            Why the comparison to a “click for loot” button?
            That isn’t comparing like for like at all!

            This isn’t some magical new tool that gives you anything you want for free, it’s a tool to restore items that were deleted by mistake.
            Why should getting something restored when it was destroyed by a mistake be difficult? Navigating your inventory is not and has never been part of the challenge or difficulty of the game! Please do not try and claim that it was!
            If this was a feature that restored items destroyed by another player as part of the game (as a theoretical feature that is not present within the game) then I would understand, this would be reversing something that happened to you as part of the game, but it is not.

            I am really struggling to figure out how even the most elitist of players can be offended by the fact that you can get gear you sold by mistake back, it’s something everyone does at least once and has nothing to do with skill or time invested into the game.

            I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m just the one guy in the room that doesn’t understand that this is all a joke. It honestly looks to me like people are just trying to find reasons to be offended at every change Blizzard makes…

      • PopeJamal says:

        Why are you so keen on punishing people?

        You seem to have alot of energy invested in other people’s consequences. You seem compelled to ensure that everyone is punished the appropriate amount. Why the focus on punishment?

  27. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I know it’s just one game, but let’s entertain for a moment the thought that features like this become usual on MMOs.

    What kind of player will they breed? How will these people react when they learn that once upon a time, there were actual deathtraps on MUDs, the MMO precursors. When typing N(orth) instead of S(south) could mean the immediate and irrecoverable loss of ALL your equipment gathered through the years?

    I feel for future generations. Really, I do. But I know one thing for certain, because I’ve seen it happen in the gaming industry before: It’s when we hit rock bottom that things can only get better. And they do.

    WoW and others risk being the last of a generation of MMOs, when someone tired of all the nonsense comes up with something new and brilliant that makes everyone to be a part of.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      I remember those days, when you actually had to look before you just went charging around all over the place, and exploration was rewarded.

      Unfortunately, many of the still-running MU*s are being dumbed down. Even MajorMUD – it used to be that if you stashed things outside a Guild Mansion, they were fair game for anyone who located your stashed crap- now there are pages of rules for what you can take, when you can take it, and whether or not you have to give things back when asked, because someone once got upset that his poorly-hidden loot was discovered.

      Rather than asking players to think on their feet or manage the server as a collective group, we have robotic patterns and artificial time-locks for individuals.

      • Berzee says:

        Oh that is the WORST. As silly as some hard-coded rules can be, the WORST THING is when the rules are not coded into the game but are stored on a page somewhere describing under what circumstances you are actually allowed to take actions that are available to you in the game. (Like in your example — if you want safe player storage, program in some safe player storage. >_<)

    • Strangerator says:

      Used to play a MUD called Dragonrealms, in which is was possible to have your thousands-of-hours-old character permanently die. It was possible to gain favors from the gods, so strictly speaking it was only a threat if you were irresponsible. But you’d always get that nervous feeling when you dropped down to about 3 favors remaining. Also, combat could occur even in “safe” zones, as towns would occasionally be invaded by GM-led armies (which was always awesome, even if you were a newb helping drag dead bodies to the cleric’s guild).

      If you were deemed undesirable by enough people, they could eventually take you out by running down your favor-count. This enforced a sort of friendliness in the game culture in the same way it does in real life. Consider: would you live your life the exact same way if you were immortal? Most likely you’d not be sitting at a desk pretending to work right now.

      A few years ago, permanent death was removed. I tried getting back into the game, but for some reason, losing that particular aspect of the game world was too much. The community didn’t feel the same. It didn’t have that “players vs the world” feeling it used to. Almost all players were focused on the spreadsheets and maximization.

      Side Note – Dragonrealms has a service called DR Platinum, which costs 49.95$ PER MONTH. This is how much it costs to play an actual online role-playing game. It’s basically the same game with stricter rules and enforced RP. Seriously, this exists.

      It all boils down to, do you play to lose yourself in another world? Or do you simply want to play a game online with other people? It seems that we once were able to have both in the same games, but as consequences have been stripped away for the sake of accessibility, so too has the illusion that the game world is a real place.

  28. Berzee says:

    This article kind of summarized how I’ve felt about WoW since I tried it a couple months after it came out. After playing Asheron’s Call (which is not even that spartan, but felt so to me), the World of Warcraft felt sort of like there was always an army of invisible servant robots at my beck and call to make my dangerous life of adventure as comfortable and unbewildering as possible.

    Not any one big thing, just lots of little things like this. Games are always Controlled Environments to a degree, but I prefer the ones that minimize it or at least have the decency to disguise it. =P

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Too many people can’t seem to tell the difference between “removing a feature purely designed to waste the player’s time” (corpse recovery) and “adding a feature because our players are whining children who can’t take any responsibility for their actions” (this).

      People don’t want to feel like they’re being punished for playing, but if there aren’t any consequences for your actions, you might as well be playing Farmville.

  29. mbp says:

    I don’t think this is worth worrying about. It is not like you can take back items you sold to other players and the once a month restriction limits abuse of the system.

    Now if CCP were to suggest a similar service in EVE then I would sit up and take notice (and bring popcorn).

  30. Butler says:

    Your grievance seems a bit… tenuous. It’s a customer service-alleviating measure. Not a lot else to it.

  31. Berzee says:

    Would it be creepy to make a desktop wallpaper out of the screenshot from this article?
    Would it be creepy to make real home wallpaper out of Alec’s actual knee?

  32. UncleLou says:

    “I’d come for the adventuring and the exploring, but that aspect of the game seemed to be disassembled and discarded in favour of routines and ever-more precise maths, […] it’s part and parcel of a modern MMO for sure, but it wasn’t the game I wanted to play.”


    And as you say, it’s not just WoW, it’s all MMOs. This is *exactly* what puts me off. The calculated, cookie-cutter min-maxing based on Excel sheets.

    I remember being in the WoW beta, and it was a place full of mystery and wonder. The by far best moment I had in WoW is when a few online mates and me just wandered off, found a dungeon noone of us had ever heard of, and went in head-first.

    And the opposite: dungeon rund everyone knew by heart, with third-party tools watching what everybody does, and where you have to “function”.

    One day, I hope, an MMO will appear where as little as possible is mathematically calculable and predictable. I have no idea how this could be done, mind, I am just hoping.

    • Strangerator says:

      “One day, I hope, an MMO will appear where as little as possible is mathematically calculable and predictable. I have no idea how this could be done, mind, I am just hoping”

      Some of the old MUDs used to do this sort of thing. You might land a solid hit against an enemy, but you would have no idea what that would translate to in terms of numerical damage. Eventually you’d have the values relatively sorted (hard hit is better than good hit, etc.)

      Unfortunately, people are now spoiled with exact numbers for everything. People would riot if exact weapon stats didn’t pop up instantaneously.

  33. Dances to Podcasts says:

    One of the things that amazes me about WoW is not just how much it manages to dominate the genre, but also the madness it inspires in its critics, from forum posters to journalists. This particular post is a good example.

    Here we have a professional journalist, writing an opinion piece that is not just hung up on a false assumption, that restorations like this were not possible in the past, but whose general point does nothing but simply rephrase the most asinine of forum trolling. It’s the same elitist whine about ‘consolisation’, the hatred of ‘casuals’ that you see on any forum, just rephrased.

    Not every game has to be Dark Souls or Super Meat Boy. In fact, most games won’t be. That kind of masochism is rare among the general population. It’s the very reason WoW is so big. It’s why they had to change PVP realms to PVE. Because, as it turns out, getting spawncamped really isn’t that much fun. And going uphill in the snow both ways isn’t either.

    There will always be plenty of games that will allow you to bang your head against a wall until there’s nothing left but a bloody stump. But, please, enough of this crusade to turn every game into one those.

  34. KilgoreTrout_XL says:

    I think this has been mentioned before, but I assume Alec was aware that this feature has always existed, it’s now just being automated (rather than via GM)?

    I remember finishing a fairly difficult raid session at 2am or so once, only to accidentally destroy a tier piece i’d just looted in the AH before I logged off. I pulled a ticket and (thankfully) a friendly GM got it back for me a few days later.

    So that’s what this is about. If you think that I should have had to live with my mistake then I guess we’re interested in playing two different games. I bet the majority is on my side though.

  35. Alec Meer says:

    Hmm. I guess I hadn’t realised that appealing manually, as it were, to GMs to restore destroyed/sold items before this was introduced was quite so commonplace. If people en masse believe it’s a necessary tool then presumably it’s a more logical addition than I’m giving it a credit for.

    Still, I can’t help but feel that a one-button undo utility seems contrary to even the most vestigial degree of roleplying, but again, I don’t play WoW any more and the fact that everything seems so intangible and consequence-free is a big part of that. So I’ll freely admit this just isn’t really at all relevant to me; it just hit an old nerve.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      I think the issue is that “As goes WoW, so goes the industry.” When something like this pops up in WoW, it starts showing up in every other MMO a few months later.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Even though I agree with your broader sentiment in this piece, Alec, there will always have to be a certain amount of ‘streamlining’ in MMOs (and has been, even in the older ones). Given that, we then have to talk about where the appropriate place to draw the line in the sand is, which is subjective for every player and therefore a bastard-difficult thing for a developer to do.

      I can well appreciate this change as outwardly egregious as this being, for you personally, the Bane of the Behumpèd Beast of Conveyance (also known as the common or barnyard ‘straw’), thus prompting you to write this article. But then, what’s your take on talent respecifications (an MMO concept older than World of Warcraft itself)? They’re similarly fiction-shattering abstractions, always knitted into (or rather, grafter onto) the world by terrible, flimsy narrative and awkward dedicated NPCs, but still widely agreed to be justified by the need to prevent players realising they’re locked into a terrible build 60+ hours in.

      Similar arguments could be arrayed against respecs as we see in this article; being coddling to the player, stealing away the capacity for what you describe as a noble (I prefer ‘stoic’) acceptance/endurance of the permanence of past errors. And If anything, not having the option to restore items/talent points/etc arguably leads to more wiki-chasing and decision-making external to client, role-playing and world, due to the fear of making disastrous and irreversible mistakes. So either way, you’re having to break the immersion of the ‘World of’ aspect, because the gamer is irreparably invested in the inherent game systems and economies that run alongside it.

      Well, I really enjoyed thinking about all this, even if I did end up coiling myself into an argu-loop. Thanks for the article!

  36. Zarunil says:

    There are many reasons why I dislike and don’t play WoW, but this won’t be one of them. One item once a month? Hardly anything to get ones panties in a twist about.

  37. Chiller says:

    I dub this kind of reasoning “reverse entitlement”.
    It’s when you complain about a feature that makes (your and/or) other players’ lives easier.

    Sadly, I see this all the time, and not only in MMOs.

  38. Trinnet says:

    This sounds like a feature which is not merely harmless, but actually good.

    Listen, you spent the first portion of the article railing against the fact that for you WoW ultimately because a game about numbers, efficiency, research and guide following. From this we can assume you feel that things would be better if people just explored the world, experienced it, helped farmer Nagrath with his murlock problem, and made friends along the way.

    But it’s the people who just enjoy the world that you want to punish, under the banner of ‘meaningful consequences’ you want to punish the people who got wrapped up in the world and didn’t read the part of the wiki which told them the frost resistance on Steve’s hat of mediocrity would be incredibly useful later on. You want to make that world more about maths, more about wikis and guides, more about following the beaten path. You want to punish the people who just explore.

  39. FunkyBadger3 says:

    “but there is strength, honour, excitement and discovery in living with your decisions”

    So true. And in the game as wel.

  40. lord_heman says:

    Oh Alec, how i do agree!

    I too, used to love WoW for the adventure, the exploration, the teamwork (when there actually existed group quests, that 1 player could not take down alone), and i LOVED the unkown danger of taking WRONG decisions, and – as you wrote – learning ingame, how to play on and survive with those wrong choices. THAT was a real challenge, and THAT was fun!

    Not so automatic as the game is today, and where it now is absolutely impossiple to make a wrong decision, that actually has a real impact.