The Start of a Death Knight: A Player’s Experience of a new Death Knight

In my research, I was looking at the first time player experience of a new Death Knight character.  Death Knight is class that was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King expansion. To start off, the player is given level 50 and have some basic quests. I notice the player had to do a very common procedure in the 15 minutes he played. He read the quest description, went to the quest, completed the quest then turned in the quest. This cycle of events is very common in new MMO players but in this situation. He had a level 50 character, which means that he had more skills to deal with. This created confusion in the player as the game was more complex than a standard early level character. The player completed four quest during the 15 minutes showing a difference in the early game of a Death Knight. The quests were put in a smaller area. We can see here that Blizzard may have done this in order to speed up the early quests. The experience of a Death Knight is different and interesting compared to the main game.

Methodology of a n00b

Starting a new video game always presents a learning curve, especially in the MMORPG (massively multiplayer role playing game) World of Warcraft. The question is, how do new players adapt to this learning curve? In other words, how do new players create an in-game method for playing efficiently? Observing the actions of a level 24 Worgen Affliction Warlock, played by Abby, suggests that it’s not an easy game to create a strategy for when you only have two weeks of experience.
Abby started in the Night Elf zone Ashenvale, heading to a quest zone that was nearby. As she ran into hostile territory in human form (Worgens cannot attack in this form) and without a minion (Warlocks as a group seem to depend on their summon-able minions for damage and protection), I observed her tactics as a player. As she was attacked, she would summon her ‘tank’ minion, run a small distance from the attacker, and begin casting drain abilities. Sacrificing her voidwalker, she would then finish the attacker off before continuing on without fully healing or re-summoning her minion. This continued for some time, until she was killed using this tactic. It could be that this tactic is ineffective due to her inexperience with the game. After several minutes- and several subsequent deaths- I asked her about the strategy. Abby replied that she was still finding a strategy that worked well for her, but that she felt she didn’t need a minion out unless she was being attacked.
I also observed her armor was ‘broken’ (zero or one durability which leads to harder hits from enemies), and that she only had three bags, a grand total of less than thirty item slots. This could be another reason why her strategy failed- not for the strategy itself but from the lack of knowledge of these particular necessities. When asked about them individually, Abby relayed to me that she didn’t know durability’s importance and believed that bag space- and therefore looting and making money- weren’t priorities (Later in the game both these assumptions are proven false when more items and money are required to advance).

From my observations of Abby’s playing, it seems that learning how to effectively play the game might be more than doing the quests necessary to advance- it takes knowledge and a lot of practice.

Methodology of an Experienced Player

While observing Brittany, who has played WoW on and off for the past 11 years, I wanted to observe some of her methods on playing the game. She started off by questing a level one worgen mage. She did quests concurrently instead of one by one, which made it more efficient to complete. After completing some quests, she summoned a pet and continued to do more of her quests. Though a new player would not begin with any pets, Brittany decided to summon one because she was used to having a pet, or minion if she played a warlock , which gave here a sense of familiarity.  Going through the quests, she did not waste time trying to find where each quest was or what the quest wanted her to do because being experienced in playing worgens, she was already familiar with the quests and therefore, got them done faster. The experience of leveling up multiple characters allows experienced layers like Brittany to come up with efficient methods and strategies on what is best for her to play the game.

How does a newish player interact with the HUD?

In my observation I wanted to look at how a new player, like my subject would interact with WoW’s HUD and the tools that they give you to interact with the game. The player, while trying to complete some basic missions would constantly be looking at the map for where to go, often expanding the map fully to select the mission that he wanted to do and to readjust himself. The next thing that he frequently did is read the quest text for the particular quest he was doing in order to get a better sense of what he was actually supposed to be doing. This occurred specifically when a quest that he selected did not have specific blue area to go to, so he relied on the quest text. Eventually using the two he was able to complete a number of quests within the 15 minutes that I watched him play. The other thing that was interesting to see was how much time he spent looking at the abilities and character pages even at such a low level. This I feel is because he is an experienced gamer and instead of just clicking around to see what happened, he wanted to gain as much info as possible in order to effectively fight the mobs in his way and to make sure his equipment was as good as it could be. All of these interactions are unique and telling in their own right. Because of his experience with other games the player was able to effectivly navigate the HUD and understand what was going on in the game even though he is inexperienced with WoW itself. This leads to some interesting questions about HUD use like: Would a person brand new to gaming be able to navigate the WoW HUD effectively? or How would an experienced WoW player fair using the HUD of another game of similar complexity?. The interaction between the WoW HUD and the player varies greatly based off of who is using it and when a wide range of players useds the HUD it tells a lot about how WoW is equipped to help its players complete tasks in the game.

How New Characters act in the Game

Research Question: How do experienced players vs new players act with a new character in the game?

I have little experience with the game and my only character is a low level Pandaren. Due in part to my limited options, I decided to follow around and observe some newly created characters in the Aggramar server, which is meant for new players. The first player that I followed was a hunter. He seemed to know what he was doing. He quickly finished quests, running from one to the next without getting distracted. In the 15 minutes that I observed him, he got almost as far as I have in my 45ish minutes. When I asked him, I was unsurprised to learn that it was not his first character. The second player which I observed was a monk. He seemed much more like a new player, randomly jumping and running in circles, probably trying to learn the controls. He did not get nearly as far as the hunter did in 10 minutes. When I asked him, he admitted to being a new player.

Originally, my research question was how just how new players acted in the game, but because the hunter that I followed was somewhat experienced, I ended up getting results on how experienced players play a new character vs how new players play their new character. The experienced player wanted to finish the opening stages as fast as possible. He wanted to finish the easy tutorial missions in order to get to the more difficult, more fun parts of the game. In contrast, the new player’s main goal was to figure out what he was doing and explore. He ran in circles and jumped randomly. While part of these results is that the hunter knew exactly what to do while the monk didn’t, that was not the only difference. The experienced hunter was in a hurry, avoiding distractions and staying on the path. The monk was more interested in exploring. He went of the path and ran in different direction. He wanted to explore and have fun. In contrast, the experienced player had no interest in exploring a starting area that he had possibly already been to before. The world was not nearly as new or interesting to him. Overall, the hunter wanted to get far into the game as quickly as possible while the new player was more focused on enjoying their immediate surroundings.

Qualitative Observation Research – The Quest for Completion

Research Question: Why do some World of Warcraft players do long and repetitive tasks for only a chance at getting a virtual item?

The popular MMORPG World of Warcraft contains several different collections of items that players can work obtain through gameplay. As they play the game, there’s a small chance that they might ‘loot’ a special item that they can add to their collection. For example, World of Warcraft has several different ‘mounts’, which are modes of transportation that player ride atop. They range from exotic beasts to player-created machines, and even though they all perform the same (for the most part), they vary in appearance. Collecting as many mounts as possible is a goal for several players, as the more mounts they get, the more their collection is filled. However, some of these mounts are extremely hard to obtain and require several hours of work for only a chance of getting them. This is the case for several other collections that players will try to complete, like getting all the pets or completing all the achievements. Why is it that players will work so hard to get an item that’s sole purpose is to fill a collection – an item they may not even use after finding a new, rarer one?

In order to find the answer to this, I observed and took notes of a classmate playing the game with one of his high level characters. After observing my partner play the game for approximately 10 minutes, I was able to see him go through a single dungeon run in the hopes of getting a special Moa mount. As he was a much higher level than the recommended dungeon level, it was quite easy for him to kill the enemies and get to the end. In the end, he sadly did not get the mount (which has about ~2% chance of dropping from the final enemy in the dungeon), but still plans to run the dungeon again later. He also stated that he has an addon (a third-party tool) that helps him find out the most efficient way of getting collectible items. After reviewing the notes and asking some follow-up questions, I believe that the reason players will work so hard for a collection-filling item is because it gives the players an ‘edge’ against the other players, so to speak. Since World of Warcraft is such a popular game, it is relatively not a huge feat to obtain a maximum level character. So, in order to separate your high level character from the other player’s, you would be more willing to do repetitive tasks if you know you will eventually reach the award that only a select few have. That is why players will go after the rarer objects, even if it means spending hours on the same task. This is why heavily populated areas will have several different players flaunting their mounts, even though they don’t gain any extra speed or abilities. Even though my classmate may not use the mount he was trying to hard to obtain, he will still have completed something that so few others have completed, thus separating his character from everyone else’s.

Getting Your Frequent Questing Miles

The World of Warcraft is one of the worlds largest MMORPG games, both in terms of gamer consumption and the actual playable in-game areas themselves.  Due to the concept of the game, questing players will during several separate events see them selves walking, riding, flying etc. extended periods of time for the sake of spreading the word, delivering an item, assassination etc. and an affect of this is many players developing or adopting certain means that they display during these journeys that some time end up taking longer than the actual quests themselves.  Some players take the flight paths, others (myself included) have primarily been accustomed of simply hitting the AutoRun button, and then there are those who sit in the exact same position and keep the W button pressed in, or even worse, the up key.

Many players infuse their constant traveling with a multitude of jumps, spins or any other action really that doesn’t necessarily contribute anything to the effort, but doesn’t incorporate too many delays either.  These actions are displayed amongst several WoW-enthusiasts, where the boring/montane actions of simply re-completing the same daily’s every day in areas where flying mounts aren’t allowed (or simply too annoying to get the achievements).  Adopting these manners do not have any major affect on the game itself or how you experience it, rather perhaps it primarily displays to a certain extent the patience of the players themselves.  If someone has been questing/traveling/playing for an extended period of time (consecutively or their total WoW gaming experience) they’re more likely to engage in somewhat senseless behavior for their own amusement.

The most efficient way of questing is simply to arrive at the location, do what you’re supposed to do, leave location and complete the quest.  That’s how many players play the game, arrive a point A do their thing and leave.  This is not going to be the case if any of my characters are the ones doing the playing.  A large armored Orc or a dapper looking Blood Eld will more than likely be displayed, featuring an abundance of 360 jumps, spontaneous heroic leaps and a multitude of blade storms.  Why do you ask?  Because I’m slightly more used to PVP and the increased movement that that usually entails, but primarily due to it making the game slightly more amusing that way.  Stunning a creature, running far away and heroically leaping off an edge because it looks awesome is certainly not the most discrete or productive way of doing what needs to get done.  It is however awesome, which makes killing endless supplies of AI mobs lightly more tolerable.

There are no definitive players which will always fit into either category, I believe.  As questing lines come and go, so do the geographic regions their located in (and with them the ecosystem, sets of mobs, the inhabitants etc.) so the dullness comes and goes.  But what does remain true is that you are going to experience them from time to time, and the noted actions above are amongst the most common actions used during these times.

What re the attributes of running as a dps fire mage through a random dungeon?

James Roger Figge


World of Warcraft Writing

Mage DPS in Nexxus

Being a fire mage in nexxus appears to be the least stressful and most enjoyable position. This experiment consisted of observing Matt while playing a random dungeon. To start off the dungeon Matt not only didn’t wait and buff up with the group, but proceeded to start the pull off by himself. This is the start of a long dungeon with Matt constantly pulling off shenanigans like this. Mages appear not to be worried about getting themselves killed due to the immense cc, and all the getaways a mage has. He stands back by the healer away from any trouble and joins in on the fun. As a level 73, Matt was continuously hitting around 2-3 k with his pyroblasts, and was working to generate crits for instant proc pyroblasts. He would use an immolate here and there when there was a large group of mobs. He uses his gaming mouse’s thumb buttons to click on his attacks with minimum hand movement. This seems to make it so Matt is always ready to use his next attack. When Matt was not in combat in the dungeon, he would constantly be trying to get as far ahead of the group as he can. This is not a difficult task for him considering blink has a cooldown of under 10 seconds and blazing speed comes up real soon after that. He greed rolls on greens and will pass when somebody needs an item. As a mage he is constantly looking for intellect, spellpower, and spirit on a cloth item. This makes him very squishy when he does get caught in a bad situation. Overall these different aspects of running a mage through a dungeon makes it seem incredibly enjoyable.

Alliance v.s. Horde in Eye of the Storm

Research Question:

How does the Alliance tactic differ from Horde tactics in the battleground ‘Eye of the storm’?

In the World of Warcraft, there are exists factions such the Alliance and the Horde. These factions are constantly pitted against each other in the open world and in the pvp world of battlegrounds. In this passage, I explore how Alliance tactic differ from Horde tactic in the battleground ‘Eye of the Storm’. In ‘Eye of the Storm’, there are 4 towers: 2 near the Alliance base and 2 near Horde base. In the middle of the battleground is flag on narrow passage, surrounded by a dark void. To be victorious in ‘Eye of the Storm’, one side has to obtain a certain amount of points, which are collected by capturing the flag and taking over towers. It was observed that the Alliance often took hold of towers and then quickly left the tower to capture more towers, leaving their property open. The majority of Alliance players also go to the middle to try to capture the flag, in an attempt to obtain additional points. On the other hand, the Horde prefer to capture and hold the towers to gain their points. They also send a sizeable group to the middle to capture the flag instead of sending their entire troupe. From these observations, it appears that the Horde has a more stable tactic for winning because hold their captured towers instead relying on the chance of capturing flag for points. Consequently, it appears that the Alliance has a riskier tactic because they tend to leave their captured towers unattended, leaving the towers susceptible to attack from the horde.

How does the immersion of World of Warcraft affect player’s perception and awareness inside the game?

Qualitative Research Idea: Follow a player using different appearances for my character until I become noticed. Example: Normal equipment character, no equipment character, character on mount, etc.

Interview Questions:

What factors play into the time it takes a player to notice the details in their environment?

Why does the player think they took so long/short to notice a detail in their environment?

Did the player notice at an earlier time but did nothing?


The first player I chose to follow was located in the city, Origimmar, and was a Tauren Monk Level 29 that accepted to use his character name, Deerlik. I chose to wear normal gear and began following the player around 12:57pm and between that and 1:00pm the player did many actions. They went to multiple different stores and quickly left. From then, at 1:03pm they entered a bank building. I stood in the entrance and the player used a motion and returned to the bank again. After at 1:04pm they casted a spell on me and I knew they were aware of me. I told them about my research and they accepted my interview that lasted up to 9 minutes.

My first question was when did they notice me? And they responded with as soon as they left the bank they saw me. I told them I followed them for about 7 minutes before and they said they did not notice. When asked what factors played into this, Deerlik responded that it’s normal for players to follow you in cities so he didn’t easily notice, as well as my Blood Elf character being small compared to his zoomed in Tauren. When I asked why he used a spell on me, he said he just likes to help out lower level players since it’s no problem for him. He also mentioned he had his map open which blocks his view, and he was crafting and switching to his bank. He considers himself as somewhat of an experienced player and I thanked him and we went our separate ways.

Following up with the importance on location, I chose to leave the city, but remain the same character. I followed a Pandarean Mage level 15 around a forest area outside the city. I began at 1:15pm and observed the specific mobs they were attacking which was deer. They continued this until 1:22pm to talk to an npc, I would assume to complete a quest. At 1:25pm the character suddenly disappears and I leave interpretation that they quickly wanted to finish a quest. There were a couple moments that seemed like the player noticed me, but they seemed focused on their quest. I didn’t have a chance for an interview due to them mysteriously disappearing in front of me, but location does seem to play a factor in how aware a player can be. Due to a lack of interview, speculation was left to decide this players motives.


Why did you enroll in this World of Warcraft WRIT class?

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