Nov 172009

Since I got so many comments on my last post about the state of WoW, (and since I keep getting depressed when I work on the gear section of my bear guide), I’ll talk a little more about my thoughts on WoW in general. (And thanks to Bell, Lis, Vallen, and others for great thoughts.) 

First, it’s important to remember that WoW is more than one game. It is actually many different, interconnected games/activities, including:

  • Questing
  • Instances/Raids
  • Crafting
  • PvP
  • Exploration
  • Guild Management
  • Mercantilism (Playing the AH)
  • Gearing (Gemming/Enchanting)
  • Addons
  • Chat
  • RP
  • Theorycrafting
  • Achievements (either in support of the other games, or by itself)
  • Home-made challenges (Can you solo OL Heroics?)
  • Others I’ve missed, I’m sure

I think Leaf nails it in his latest post. In Classic WoW/BC, all the activities above, with the exception of PvP, were meant to funnel the player into raiding. You had to do all the above TO raid (you needed the gear, which required money, which required farming or professions, etc.) Now, this was great if you loved raiding, not so great if you didn’t. Due to a too-steep difficulty curve and some unfortunate decisions about raid sizes (Where the hell did 10 and 25 come from? Wouldn’t 10 and 20 have been so much easier?), most raiders, including me, only saw Kara and a bit of ZA. This led to a drastic curve where only 20% or so were able to complete a good portion of the content, with only 5% or so able to do everything.  

However, those 20%, easily, generated 80%+ percent of the discussion about the game. Blizzard listened to them for a long time, and created harder and harder challenges (Sunwell, anyone?). At some point, however, someone senior on the design team had a flash of inspiration, and said “Why are we creating so much content for such a small portion of our userbase?” Hence, the WOTLK design has flipped things, to where raids are important, but not more important then anything else, and accessibility is the new mantra. This makes a majority of the userbase happy, who just want to beat challenges and progress their characters…but it really flies in the face of the raiders who formed Blizzard’s core in BC.

Is there a solution to this problem? Probably not. Blizzard’s not going to change direction now, so we’ll probably see a difficulty level for ICC between Ulduar and ToC, complete with artificial content gating that’s just as annoying as ToC’s was. The top 20% will roll over normal mode, again,  though not as fast as ToC…and then boredom will set in again, as the top 20% demand more content and do hardmodes as a stopgap while the other 80% catch up.

And this is a GOOD THING. Let’s do a thought experiment, and imagine WOTLK raiding with a BC-era mindset. Heroics require CC. For raids, everything up to TOC is available at launch; however, only 10-man modes exist for Naxx/OS/VoA, and only 25-man modes exist for Maly/Ulduar/Onyxia. TOC is only present as 25-man TOGC.  ICC is “TBD.” What happens?

  • WOTLK misses its launch date to have all the content ready, and loses 20% of its potential new subscribers.
  • On release, the top 5% clear everything in three months, and start hollering for more content. This is 50% of the discussion on forums.
  • The next 15% are working through Ulduar/TOGC, and complaining about the difficulty. This is 30% of the discussion on forums (with half of it being the top 5% telling people to L2P)
  • The next 30% have rolled Naxx/OS/VoA, and can’t find groups/guilds for anything harder, and complain about the difficulty. They eventually quit, or roll alts that quit.
  • The bottom 50% do a few Heroics, or the occasional raid, but just hang out and chat in Trade. Many of these quit (Hey, you can chat anywhere.)
  • Bottom line: WoW is still the dominant MMO, due to the other choices sucking, but with nowhere the dominance it has today, and its fading fast. Cataclysm becomes something else (The Fall of Sargeras, perhaps?), and WoW’s final expansion.

If you really love WoW for what she is…you’ll accept her, even as she changes. Thoughts?

  27 Responses to “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

  1. I still believe that the most dumbest decision Blizzard made was to remove Attunements. I currently raid in an ToGC progressing guild ( were at twins ) and I am just bored of it … bored I tell you. why would I want to do the same encounter … with no extra glitches but just more gear dependent ( more dps, more healing and more tanking ) … Think about it … if they would have set a requirement that you needed argent crusader title to be able to join TOC … what would have happened then ?

    • The price of Runecloth goes way up. :) Seriously, I’m not a fan of, say, rep attunements, but I think the long questline attunements from BC which didn’t work so well then (Heroics were harder, had to get everyone to the same raid, etc) would work much better in 3.3, with the new LFG and LFR systems (and, more importantly, the incentives offered for those systems.)

  2. I think that this all would be a reasonable analysis only if you take under consideration that WoW has more players than they did in BC.

    Which isn’t factually true. Even accounting for things like China going away, WoW has significantly fewer subscribers since BC. 2.4 was actually the peak subscriber moment.

    I don’t think there’s necessarily a correlation. But I do know a lot of people who have quit after WotLK, all burnt out on the content and the play. One big reason is that 10 mans are essentially required for good 25-man play, but that means you’re doing the same content twice in one week. And with ToC, you were doing it a stupid 4 times in one week.

    I like that 10 mans are so accessible and that people can choose to do 10 and 25. I hate the pressure of having to do both, and I think that’s going to end up being a bad decision. They could solve it easily by having shared lockouts, and despite it being annoying for some I think that it would prove to be a better design decision.

  3. “One big reason is that 10 mans are essentially required for good 25-man play”

    I disagree that this is true, Kal. We left 10 mans optional for the longest time. We’ve only added them into our mandatory raid schedule this content patch because 1) there were requests from some of our casters for TotGC10, as some of the items are BiS for their builds; 2) it was a very easy was to get everyone tokens for their teir gear early on; and 3) We need something to fill up the time.

    None of those were “essential” to our progress in 25s. We only ever did one Naxx and Ulduar 10 man group on off nights as an optional raid, and we progressed just fine.

    • None of those were “essential” to our progress in 25s. We only ever did one Naxx and Ulduar 10 man group on off nights as an optional raid, and we progressed just fine.

      Right, but that was the old system.

      The new system has people buying their tier gear via emblems. You will get your tier gear 33% faster if you do 10-mans. This was true for ToC, and it’ll be even more true in Icecrown given that you buy your gear via emblems first and then upgrade it.

      So if you’re actually racing to get gear at all – it’s beneficial to the raid by a large margin to go do 10-mans. There’s very little you could be doing that would be better, progression wise; point of fact, from a gear perspective it’s much better to spend the time to do the 10-mans for everyone than it is to wipe repeatedly on the same boss.

      Furthermore, most raids have a ‘no emblems, no token’ policy, where if you don’t have the requisite emblems you don’t get your tier token. That’s perfectly understandable – but it means even more pressure to get those emblems.

      I do think that ToC exacerbated this considerably given that you can run the content 4 different times. That will be fixed in Icecrown, thankfully. But at the same time, it’s still an annoying pressure that did not in any real way exist in Ulduar; the only reason to do Naxx-10 or Ulduar 10 was for a couple BiS pieces and achievements. That’s a lot less compelling than getting as many badges from it as you do 25.

  4. Kal, as I mentioned in the previous post, I agree that 10’s and 25’s should share lockouts. One dungeon, one ID. I always feel vaguelystupid clearing, say, Ony25 or VOA25, then breaking the group into 10-man teams to do the 10m versions. Unfortuantely, people will keep burning themselves out in a quest for badges, which is a shame. Personally, I stopped doing heroic dailies after about two weeks, and felt much better for it.

  5. Just a though… what if Blizzard make HardCoreRaiding servers for HarcoreRaidingPlayers??

    Exclusive Raid content, immersive attunement, Unique Raid reward, Bosses unlock challenges, Exclusive titles-ranks, potentiated LFR system, etc etc… i mean all what a HCRaider allways wants.

    Guild’s competition to finish things first than others will be ferocius, motivating or just a Guild Drama disastrous thing, but heck… you choice the server… isnt??

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