Field Trip Report: WoW!

Trip Report: World of Warcraft!

By amusing coincidence, a small band of VB/CO adventurers was on a field trip to WoW as Philip Linden was speaking @SLCC in Boston. In his speech Philip promised deliverables on lag, and that is really my number one experience in visiting WoW: Frame Rate!!

There’s much more to be said about the rich world of WoW, but in a world like Second Life where people like NicoleX and I hide in skyboxes, afraid even to come down to the “real,” er… “real virtual” world and it’s bone-crushing lag, visiting WoW was like an asthmatic taking her first deep breath of fresh air. Going from Second Life to WoW was like an iron lung victim making a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Two words: Frame Rate.

While “VeeBee” was off in WoW I was in-world in SL waiting and helping peeps to get onto our EU/Argent Dawn WoW server. Although I didn’t look at numbers, I’d say that WoW on my slow machine had a 50x better frame rate than SL on my fast machine! The breath of fresh air analogy couldn’t be more true. Honestly, I’m a lot more interested in SL content, but when lag is so bad that you can’t move, overshoot, walk underground, rubberband, and worst of all, typing lag means that even a sentence on your keyboard is a virtual impossibility, you can’t help but feel a sense of freedom and empowerment at the simple ability to walk.

Although, in fact, not that many people in WoW do walk – they run!

For me, Second Life is like Hawaii, and WoW is like Hong Kong. Hawaii does have way better tradewinds, but otherwise, the climates and geographies of the two places are remarkably similar, yet the feel is so different.

In Hawaii you can stand on a beach and look across blue waters to the amazing leaps of green rolling hills on a sleepy mountainside. In Hong Kong you can get remarkably similar vistas, except that between you and the tropical mountain will always be a half-dozen container ships.

In Hawaii people are laid back.
In Hong Kong people are busy.

In Second Life peeps walk (if the lag lets them, ha ha)
In WoW peeps run.

Actually, our tour guide Ibi walked… but all us noobs ran our butts off. Of course, as these things tend to go, even walking Ibi was always ahead of the running noobs.

Our VB/CO Field Trip to WoW had four amazing “tour guides” that really made the whole thing possible. First was our own Young Miss Lyssa who got us rolling with the “Pick a Race” survey so we could all be together on the field trip.

Then our friend from Odyssey, Ama Ree dove in with tons of helpful info on the EU/USA server business and helped us figure out how to get everyone on EU / Argent Dawn.

And finally Ibi (Ironyca) and her partner Zenevieva, amazing, Level 80 uber-players saw the Field Trip announcement here on the blog and offered to be our tour guides to all things WoW.

I can’t thank Lyssa, Ama, Ibi, and Zenevieva enough, without you, we’d never have assembled our group in WoW, let alone seen so many amazing places.

VB/CO Field Trip to WoW

Saturday, 14 August 2010
Noon – 5pm Second Life Time (PDT)
9pm – 2am Paris Time (CEST) (WoW EU Time)

full-size and more images at:

Ama Ree
Lyssa Varun
Ibi / Ironyca

Agnes Sharple (Towanda)
Caestan (WoW name)
Cypher Taurus (Ransor)
Eos Akina (Crimilde)
Fross Maruti (Frossl)
Heathers Miles (Heathers)
Pennyroyal Calamity (Penyroyal)
SkyGirl Kline (Skygirlkline)
Trilby Minotaur (Trilbee)
Vaneeesa Blaylock (Veebee)
Young Thistle Boar (sadly killed by Penny in the 1st minutes of the Field Trip)

With our Free 10-day Trial Accounts there were many places we weren’t allowed to go, “WoW 2006” as Ibi put it, still, Ibi & Zenevieva took us to SO many places we’d never have found, made it to, or survived otherwise. A couple days before the field trip I wandered off on my own and got killed by nasty spiders and other beasts at least a half-dozen times! The only way I could escape was to jump in the lake and hold my breath!

Here’s an amazing video Ibi / Ironyca made of some of the places we went, and others we didn’t:

Oh, and by the way, here’s Ibi’s blog:

While I am deeply overwhelmed at the richness of WoW and the generosity of peeps like Ibi & Zenevieva, Second Life, no matter how much it sucks, truly is the world for me. If Second Life’s downfall is two words: Frame Rate, then it’s promise is three words: User Generated Content… or… is that two words? User-Generated Content? ha ha. Anyway even though you can’t run SL in a browser, it is the Web2.0fulness of SL that is it’s magic.

Whether it’s Facebook or Flickr, Wikipedia or WordPress, the power of User Generated Content is the power to build our world. We’ve recently emerged from a century during which a half-dozen rich white guys controlled the bulk of global media. I don’t know about you, but they didn’t speak for me.

I’ve written before about the anti-democratic tendencies of Web2.0, my ideas on that subject are all over this category:

and most specifically in this post:

but in spite of those serious concerns, Web2.0, SL, and the realm of UGC, or as Lessig likes to call it, Read-Write Culture (as opposed to Read-Only Culture) is the way we build our world… and as Veeyawn Spoonhammer likes to say, “It’s our world now.”

So while WoW has SO many beautiful and amazing places, they’re all “What Blizzard Entertainment has made for us.” It’s Blizzard’s world, we get to walk thru. No matter how much that internet dweeb mugs his webcam and tells us it’s SL’s fault because he’s too stupid to click the “stand-up” button… er… I mean, no matter how right he is about low frame rates in SL, it is still the world that we, that so many “we’s” have created.

Have you seen Sledge’s new creation?
Oh, I love Bryn’s world!
Hey, let’s see what the latest from AM is!

And it’s not just the superstars, it’s everyone who drags their butt over to Haiku Speedbuild on Thursday and tries to assemble a few prims in search of meaning.

WoW is more beautiful and more fun than I expected. And it was like being let out of my iron lung, yet in the end, it reminded me why I love Second Life and why no other world I know of compares.

Another big difference between SL & WoW is, as we discovered with the whole “EU / Argent Dawn server” business, is the nature of a “sim.”

SL has 80 bazillion regions, and with a little pain, you can cross in and out of almost all of them, except the ones that peeps put up those ugly red ban lines on — gawd knows what they do in there! Apparently, there are “copies” (is that right?) of WoW on different servers, but you can’t cross from one sever to another. Your character lives (and dies, quite often in my case!) on a single server. In SL you can talk to absolutely any resident who’s willing to talk to you, but in WoW you can only access peeps on your server. Of course your one account can create FIFTY avatars!

While a lot of SL peeps do create alts for various reasons, I think a lot of SL peeps also powerfully identify with a “main avatar.” That may also be true in WoW, but it seems like multiple avatars there is much more encouraged. Multiplicity has some advantages, but it certainly leads to fragmentation of persona. Or to less developed persona.

While SL lag is a nightmare, if that lag is partly because you can go anywhere and talk to anyone, that’s a hard choice to make. When we performed VB06 – Golden / Red at St. Leo University, our avatars stood side by side on a university campus in virtual Florida, even as our typists sat on 4 different continents. That’s an extraordinarily beautiful thing, and apparently not really possible in WoW.

Another thing we appear to get for all our lag is amazing avatars. I posted all the Field Trip images to Flickr first and am now writing this text for this blog post… which means that… as I’m writing this, Ze Moo is going thru the flickr stream and posting comments like:

I thought WoW avatars would be higher rez? SL avatars can be much better quality!

Ha ha ha – according to Flickr, he already posted that 2 hours ago and I’m still typing — with no SL typing lag even — gawd!!! Vaneeesa is the world’s slowest documentation producer!! Somebody PLEASE take over for her! Put the poor girl out of her misery! It’s so painful to have to watch! ๐Ÿ˜›

Uh… I may have digressed… anyway… Anyone who can give us more / better info on avatars & avatar customization in WoW please CHIME IN ON THE COMMENTS BELOW, but yes, as Ze says, I thought the avatars would be higher rez, more customizable, better detailed. Perhaps if we got to higher levels we’d have more choices, I’m not certain.

Now that SL is going to allow peeps to have any name, peeps, myself included, are starting to wax poetically about the “freedom” of name “restrictions.” I’m not totally clear on which classes in WoW can teleport when, but as I understand it, most peeps, like all of us noobs, just don’t have that ability.

This means that every time someone new came over from SL, or every time VeeBee got lost, you don’t just “TP me over”… the group has to chill out while somebody runs off to fetch the lost soul. While a bit of a nuisance, this made land and space much more real, much more tangible. You really were in a place, and other places and distances had real meaning. TP-ing in SL is very convenient and very powerful and IDK if I’d give it up, but it really does diminish the experience.

WoW reminded me, unexpectedly, of MGandhi Chakrabarti’s Salt March of 1930 / 2008.

Most of the SL:WoW differences were, for me anyway, on the side of making SL more deeply immersive, but on TP, the “limitations” of WoW were quite immersive.

Lastly, I have a great idea! As you see in all these photos — and BTW, apologies to those who’d rather see what’s going on without the interface all over the image, but I chose to show the interface to give a fuller picture of who was there, the info and controls we had, and what we saw — over your head is your Avatar Name and a Number. For most of us noobs the number was 1 or 2 and for Ibi and Zenevieva, or course, it was 80. That number is your player level based on completing quests.

Second Life, as Dwight Schrute famously pointed out, doesn’t have quests. But as that internet dweeb with the webcam can tell you, “Second Life is overrun by cybersex.” So, maybe SL can have a number next to your name just like WoW, but… ouch… I know you’re already groaning… sowii… but… instead of the number of young thistle boars you’ve killed… it’d be your number of cyber-sex partners.

Thanks to everyone who joined us, thanks so much to all of our amazing tour guides! And do click the comments and chime in on where you’d like our next field trip to be to.

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As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

16 thoughts on “Field Trip Report: WoW!

  1. WOW! I must admit that when Vaneeesa first suggested a field trip to WoW, I had some doubts as to whether this would be a place I would like to explore. My youngest daughter had played it in the past (she is at Level 40 I believe) so I was aware of the game but had never seen it in action.

    First, I can want to express my deep appreciation to Ibi and Zenevia for their expert guidance and protective services on our first excursion into their world. It was truly generous of both of you expert players to take the time to introduce us noobs and to keep us all from being ripped to shreds by Nightsabers as we ran along the road to Darnassus.

    And many thanks to V, Lyssa and Ama for the information that helped us all get connected.

    So I had signed up earlier in the week and completed 1 quest and achieved level 2 by Saturday. I had a great time as our guides showed us various places and introduced us to the inn and innkeeper at a town whose name I can’t remember. Since I was going to a John Mayall concert that night I sadly couldn’t follow the group to the other places you all went but it seems they were cool too.

    Sunday I decided to explore on my own so I logged in and found that my hearthstone was set to the inn we were at last. I went in search of quests and finding none right away I wandered to the edge of a cliff where a sentinel was looking down into a valley full of Level 5 (I think) humanoid beasts. I waded forth into the valley and somehow managed to slay 1 or 2 of them, got killed, resurrected, went back killed another 1 or 2, got killed, resurrected. As I stood at the top of the cliff again waiting to recover and summoning courage to try again, two Level 10 elves came along. One remarked to me “my aren’t you a bit young to be in a place like this?”. Yes, I replied, I am slaying beasts! As they were on a quest together, they kept going, but in parting, the lady told me “Well, just be very careful sister.” This made me feel good that at least within races, people did seem to care about and help newer folks in this world.

    To make a long story shorter, I resolved to gain at least 1 more level before I stopped playing for the day. I got so caught up in the quests and was able to achieve several and much to my surprise, by the end of the day I was a Level 6 Night Elf Druid with appprentice herbalism and alchemy skills! WOW again!

    While at Level 3, I somehow made it to the city of Darnassus and after wandering a bit, I discovered the bank. Now I had a lot of loot in my bags, and as I was trying to figure how to store it with the bank, the city came under attack!

    There I stood in slack-jawed amazement as the chaos of battle erupted all around me. I couldn’t figure out who were the friends and who were the foes. These people were moving so fast and there were explosions and smoke. One of the attackers decided it would be funny to turn me into a sheep.
    Each time I recovered, he did it again so I decided I would fight back. I hurled some Druid magic at him which he deftly evaded, and before I knew it, I was a casualty. I had died bravely (though ineptly) defending the city of Darnassus. Very cool stuff!

    Anyway, I now have a greater appreciation for the game and I can see myself getting hooked ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again to everyone and I hope to see some of you again in WoW.

  2. To compare SL and WoW on lag, isn’t really fair I believe. the WoW ‘grid’ and all its NON-user-generated builds fits on only TWO CD’s as I understand. To fit the SL grid and all its user-created content on CD’s, thousands and thousands of discs would be needed!

    I actually don’t really have much lag issues anymore in SL since I learned the past years a lot about hardware and consequently improved my hardware. (before SL I was a total noob on hardware knowledge…) The speed of the graphics card and the amount of RAM memory matter most is my experience! And I wish I had discovered the SpaceNavigator 3D mouse a year earlier, such great smooth camming through laggy events! Also I heared Apple O.S. users seem to have more lag in SL then Windows users, and especially Linux users are fast! (because that open source O.S. uses less resources) But I agree the lag as experienced by noobs, scare many away…

  3. Furthermore: WoW is a game, SL is not a game! I.m.h.o. SL is more like the web, a more ‘3D’ immersive web. I like to state SL is the most important part of the ‘web3’, so far.

    Of course one can create/participate in (roleplay) games in SL, but you can do that on any such open platform: like you can create/participate in games on the old ‘flat’ worldwide web. Or actually create/play games at an ordinairy physical ‘3D’ playground.

    To compare SL with WoW I believe, is like comparing everything one can do in the physical world with a free (unstable) wooden table (including dance & sex poses), to an expensive readymade Chess Boardgame (including the dogmatic game rules) made out of marble, gold and ivory!

  4. One should also know that in SL are many serious RPG (Role Play Game) regions, some with quite some simularities to WoW. For instance the ‘NoR’ region with many sims. They have game-levels and and battles and ‘guilds’ and death & destruction… Some of my closest RL friends are heavily involved (read: addicted…) in NoR.

    (video with interview of NoR founder at the ELectroSmog Festival conference session I co-produced)

    Actually I have done my first 7-week non-stop ‘hybrid-reality’ art performance-happening at NoR connected with an interactive installation at the Amsterdam media-art museum NIMk: “DO NOT FEED”

    I suggest to do a guided VB fieldtrip to NoR sometime soon!

  5. Hey again!
    I’m back from a small vacation, so I havn’t read your post till now. It’s really good, lots of good observations, that I never thought of myself!

    I looked at your screenshots and realised a thing! When we were all standing in Teldrassil (the starting zone) you were all silent to us, but your screenshot shows all of you chatting away in “say” (/s). Me and Zen were at the beginning (and untill around Ironforge) confused by the silence from all of you, haha! I realise now that it was due to the restrictions of trial accounts, that we couldn’t see what you were saying. (which was why we created the SL channel for us to speak in)I feel like I missed out on the group chatting. Oh well, it ended out fine in the end ๐Ÿ™‚

    And thanks for your links. I’m considering making a post about it myself, referring to this page. Your screenshots are way better than mine though, is it okay if I use them and of course credit you for them?

  6. Hey Pennyroyal
    I loved your little story, and I’m sorry we had to leave you in a zone that was above your level.
    Good job on killing level 5’s as a level 2, that is by no means easy.
    As a thumbrule, people say “don’t go for mobs more than 1 level above yours, and you’ll be fine”, so I’m sure you had a struggle with those beasts!

    It’s cool you found your way to Darnassus, the capital city of the Night Elves, and even got into a fight.

    If any of you decide to upgrade your accounts, let us know!
    We can be helpful with better gear, materials and game currency, to make your ride smoother. Zenevieva has been called a living WoW encyclopedia several times by fellow players, he knows a lot about the game, and can answer any question – try him!

  7. By the way, inspired by the conversation we had about characters/avatars, I was wondering if you know of any statistics of the Second Life player demographics, as they can be quite interesting.
    I can only find very old stats about WoW (2005), which states that 84% of players are male, 16% are female. And the average age of the WoW player is 28.3 ( In WoW about half of the female characters you see, are played by males.
    I wonder how this relates to Second Life? Is it common to gender-swap your avatars?

  8. @ironycai: I have once read something somewhere about SL demographics which comes close to my personal observations:

    Under 30 years of age, the majority of SL users are supposedly female. [Probably many young men do not return after they find first SL experiences to ‘boring’ and find SL a non-challinging ‘game’, or they don’t give SL a try at all because it is an uncool ‘doll-dressup-game’.]

    Between the ages of 30-50 men and women are supoosedly represented about 50/50 in SL.

    Over 50 years of age, the majority of SL users are supposedly men.

    So in general there should be about as many women as men in SL, with the avarage age around 38 or so, with a surplus of young women as well as a surplus of old men… [Now draw your own conclusions from that… ,) ]

    But again, I dont have the actual fact source of demographics here. This is my personal experience of SL and memory of what i have read. Also it would be hard to measure these demographics accurately. How honest would people answer a survey? And, are women willing to participate surveys honestly more then men or the other way around? That would be an intersting meta-survey… ,)

    Apart from this, there are seemingly more female then male avatars in SL. Probably because more men have female avatars, then women having male avatars. And there are more reasons for men having female avatars, then one would probably think at first… (speaking as a SL user with alts of all genders) .)

  9. Vaneeesa wrote: “even though you canโ€™t run SL in a browser, it is the Web2.0fulness of SL that is itโ€™s magic.”

    WRONG way to look it it i.m.h.o.! Please open your eyes:
    The SL viewer _IS_ a browser!! A “Web3.0” browser I call it: Just like web 2.0 browsers can also show web1.0 sites, so can the SL/Open Grid viewers show the ‘flat’ web 2.0 & 1.0 sites! Even possible to have the web 2.0 wrapped around 3D objects or avatars!!!

    Ok, maybe at this stage in 2010 still to primitive and not working as good als we can IMAGINE it should, but hell, remember the Netscape ‘Web 1.0’ Browser? Which became open source after being beaten by Microsoft and from the ashes of Netscape the great Firefox was risen! Now, it seems open source webrowsers like Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome are beating Microsoft Explorer. (I love the ‘Iron’ spin-off of Chrome: the “Imprudence” of the web 2.0! Oh and Firefox might be the “Emerald” of the web 2.0 lol)

    If Google is smart (and they might be working on that right now in secret!) they will have learned from their ‘Lively’ fiasco and release their own Web 3.0 platform, open source from day 1.

    Web 3.0 means for me: User-created 3D social media enviroments connected with mobile & augmented tech.

  10. So my advice to Linden Lab, Emerald, Kirsten, Imprudence and other SL-based grid-viewer builders would be: Please stop naming it a viewer! Improve the web 2.0 surfing experience in these ‘viewers’ and call them “Web3 browsers!”

    Please don’t waste time to embed SL in a ‘flat’ Web 2.0 browser, please improve the embedding of the web 2.0 in the Web 3.0 browsers!!!

    [This corporate strategy advice was free of charge for this time, but generous donations in L$ are accepted! ] .]

  11. In other words: Linden Lab, Emerald, Kirsten, Imprudence and others: don’t make us need to download & install Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari or Iron anymore!

    And while we are at it: Make it an O.S. (Operating System) as well! So we can travel inside our PC to organise all files & software like a 3D region with prims!

    (my two Linden Dollars….)


  12. “And while we are at it: Make it an O.S. (Operating System) as well! So we can travel inside our PC to organise all files & software like a 3D region with prims!”

    Ah ha ha — that’s coming in December… it’s called TRON!!!

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