Thursday, May 23, 2013

What's Wrong With WoW?

     Now I have been playing World of Warcraft for going on 5 years now. I started in Burning Crusade and it took me a year and a half to get to max level on that first hunter. The game has come quite a long ways since then. I've seen talent trees go from 60 point trees with massive choice and easily found pitfalls to a small choice between 3 abilities every 15 levels. I've had numerous max level characters and downed most raid bosses when they were relevant. With all this change comes consequence though. WoW's subscriber have dropped significantly since february and even more since an era like Wrath. This begs the question what is wrong with WoW?
       The way I see it with how many complaints there were in Cataclysm about having nothing to do Blizzard over corrected and gave us way to much to do, so much so that it seems completely overwhelming. Think about this for a second. I no longer have the time to raid with a guild and stick to a strict schedule so I spend most of my time using things like LFR to gear up my character. My main is a warlock and right now there are 4 count them 4 sections of Throne of Thunder to do if I want to maximize my valor and gear chance. On top of that there are long queues and what seems like a small chance of actually getting gear considering how long the runs take. Now you can supplement this small gear drop chance with Mogu Runes Of Fate which give you a second chance at getting gear off a particular boss. But the problem with that is now I am forced to do a set amount of dailies to get my charms for the week just to get these runes for that extra chance. All of this is on top of PvP, Heroic Scenarios, and trying to valor cap.
      This all leads to my main issue with the expansion and what I think is wrong with WoW at the moment. Since all of that work needs to go into just my main character every week just to gear and play what about alts? I'm used to having several decently geared alts plus a well geared main every expansion I very much enjoy dabbling in healing, tanking, dps, and PvP but the problem is to gear up your alts you have to go through this same grind. To gear up my warrior alt he also has to run LFR, do dailies for his runes of fate, get his elder charms (now by other means since you cant get them from lesser charms), and buy gear with valor (which is all gated behind rep rewards). Not only that but in expansions without things like LFR I still feel that it was easier to gear an alt just because you could get last tiers epics for points. But now you end up in the conundrum of having too much to spend valor on and not enough valor coming in. Right now my warrior while trying to gear up has the option of spending valor on last tiers epics (at a discount), this tiers epics, and upgrading current valor gear. That is just way to many outlets for valor and the fact you can only accumulate 1000 valor a week (slowly I might add) which leads to burnout and the feeling there is too much to do.
     Now enough about the rant here are some solutions. Blizzard why did you change the paradigm that had been working so well since Wrath? Allowing people to get last tiers epics for justice points is such a great way to help people gear up alts and fill holes. Not to mention it keeps dungeons relevant and people in the system since currently there is almost no use for justice points besides the honor conversion. I understand that LFR is a fantastic thing, but it feels like such a chore when there is little reward. Why not let LFR give 125 valor for each run why on earth is it giving only 10 more valor than your first heroic with 2x the headache and time commitment? And to help gearing further why can't LFR bosses drop justice points as well or have each cache award justice points? And why not let there be an alternative quest to get Elder Charms/ Mogu Runes of Fate? I don't feel that I should be punished because my alt still needs Elder Charms to gear up or I don't want to do dailies every week to get my runes. What I think Blizzard really needs to fine tune is giving players enough to do and not going overboard. Having things like rep gating and valor grinds is fine at the start so people don't get bored but the 2nd and 3rd time going through it just makes it a pain. Thanks for listening and to WoWInsider for the idea.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is raiding easier or just more accessible?

Now I remember the first time I got to a boss that everyone had been talking about and how awesome it was to see it for the first time and feel like I had accomplished something by getting there. This is almost gone from the game which is sad but that yielded the advent of great tools like the raid finder. The vocal "majority" of the community laments the loss of "hard" and inaccessible content because of the loss of this feeling of accomplishment. While most of this comes from purely nostalgia some of their worries and complaints are valid. Dragon Soul was the first raid wherein you could see the entire raid in an easier version easily accessible to everyone with an hour to play. Combine this with the dungeon finder and basically a huge majority of the player base can finally see all of the content. But sadly this does lead to a loss of wonderment when you do actually do the raid because you have already seen all there is to see without any real feeling of accomplishment. Before the raid finder it felt really cool to see a new boss and even if you knew what he did already, you still had that feeling that you can only see him because you killed everyone else.
Ragnaros in Molten Core
 This leads to one of Blizzard's largest problems at the moment... How to balance accessibility with difficulty? Right now Blizzard uses heroic modes to up the difficulty of encounters for the hardcore players and the raid finder to cater to players with less time. While some people say that all raids should be difficult on their own that is just not true. Back in Vanilla less than 1% of players killed a boss in Naxxramas and below 5% killed anything in Molten Core, this is because of restrictive raid sizing and gearing. Even in BC most players never killed Illidan before he was relevant or even Magetheridon. When people pay for the game they should be able to see most of it's content so Blizzard's steps towards accessibility is extremely nice. You can show me graphs of player growth and say that in Vanilla and BC player growth was higher because the content is better but that is just not true. Common sense would say that the growth was higher because that was the time period where the game was starting to become more publicized. The most noticeable growth would actually be during WoTLK when player activity increased because more players could finally see content. Now this leads me to the actual point of this post causes and solutions.
The Raid Finder is a large reason for the lack of wonder when doing new content. Does that mean we should scrap it? of course not it is an amazing tool and lets people see content on multiple characters and I know from my experience it is extremely nice to have when you need to take a break from the game or your unable to raid because of RL issues. Other causes are raid accessibility (such as the lack of attunements) and encounter mechanics in general. My solution will seem kind of crazy but I do believe there is merit to it. I read a post a long while ago on WoWinsider about how the actual size of a raid can effect it's "epicness" and feel. Some raids feel right in larger sizes and some feel better in smaller sizes. Raids like Ulduar in my opinion feel good in both sizes but Naxxramas and Firelands felt better in a 25 man setting, whereas raids like The Bastion of Twilight and The Ruby Sanctum felt better in a 10 man setting. But since all content is balanced around both difficulties now it's impossible to make a raid that truly feels good in both 10 and 25 man settings. This can lead to a feeling that a raid doesn't quite "fit".  Another issue is that 25 man  raids are hard for some guilds to field and the two raid sizes don't exactly scale at a 1:1 ratio. Bear with me there is a point to all of this. I believe that the solution to all of this at least to some degree is to in every tier release more raids with less bosses. That way tiers can be set up thusly.... have one raid with say 5 bosses that has a slightly lower ilvl gear drops than the other raids. This provides your stepping stone raid which is a good thing because it gives players direction. Also have this raid accessible through the raid finder so that players can still see content in that more relaxed setting without a large time commitment. Then have two other raids with say 4 bosses that have a higher ilvl than the other raid and require the first raid as a prerequisite. These raids should not be accessible through the Raid Finder that way players in these raids are seeing them for the first time in the setting they should been seen as where getting past bosses means you have never seen the next boss before. Now you have content more easily accessible to casual players and raiders also get their gated content. Then hard modes would only be in the latter 2 raids and should be modeled after Ulduar which I strongly believed was an excellent model for hard modes that was too short-lived. It always feels better when you feel like you made a boss harder by doing something other than toggling a switch in your UI. Blizzard's challenge should be to get people to the level where they can raid then let them go their own way. Have heroics still be challenging but reward a purple at the end for everyone's efforts like the Wrath and BC dungeons did (but just make sure the epic is a lower ilvl than raiding epics because that was just frustrating).
 This leads to my final point about raid sizes. Instead of balancing around 10 and 25 man sizes make each raid 1 size. But change the raid sizes to 10 and 20 man sizes and make them scale at a 1:1 ratio or close to it. If a raid has 10 people today it has 2 tanks, 3 healers, and 5 dps. Then why do we have to settle with the awkward 25 man when we can change the raid to 20 people and have 4 tanks (one with a dps OS), 6 healers, and 10 dps. It would be much easier to scale raids that way and can keep the feel of larger and smaller raids unique. In fact it would also make the downsizing easier, because of your in a 20 man guild you can easily split to run the 10 man instance one night then form back up to do the 20 man the other. It even leads to the possibility of smaller guilds working together because they can just put their groups together and bam you have a 20 man ready to go. Overall this is how I would like to see raiding....... -1 instance 6 bosses (Raid Finder Accessible) (No hardmodes) -leads to...... -2 instances either 10 or 20 man or some combination of the two (higher ilvl than the previous)(use the previous as a prerequisite)(hard modes) I believe this would solve a lot of the problems on both sides because raiders could have their gated content and feeling of wonderment and the more casual players will still have their raiding content that is easily accessible.
 I would also like to refer to the post on WoWinsider which is also about this topic.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Tale of RandySavage and the Consequences of Cross-Realm Play

      Yes this is another post about some of the consequences of cross-realm integration. While there are a lot of good things with cross-realm play, like dungeons are easier than ever, BG queues are shorter, and of course the raid finder there are still consequences that only people who were around before it would know. Back then realms had a well fostered community because you had to find other players in trade chat to organize dungeon runs. This meant that if you were a good player and did your job people would hear and you would get invited to other groups. But if you were bad or a downer this would harm your reputation and you would have a much harder time finding groups. This leads me to the story of Randy Savage that your probably wondering about by now. The story with this one player is a very good example of the consequences of cross-realm play.
      Anyone who played Alliance on Alterac Mountains-US during the beginning of WotLK will know the player I am talking about. RandySavage was a warrior tank who developed some what of a infamous reputation on my server. This player was about every bad player stereotype rolled into one. He was a "troll" in trade chat, he didn't know his class or how to tank, and if offered criticism would get extremely angry and defensive and drop group. It didn't take very long for his reputation to spread around the server and soon people would only invite him to groups at their own peril as he would negative, cocky, and criticize every player in the dungeon/raid when they didn't deserve it. Once is reputation spread he was never invited to groups this kind of thing only happens when a server has a good community. Before the dungeon finder you had to find people for groups so you knew who you were inviting most of the time and knew who to avoid. But now if you get a bad player in a dungeon group you can just kick him or he'll leave and you just sit in your queue for another hoping that they aren't the same. The anonymous nature of these cross-realm tools do nothing to foster a feeling of good sportsmanship because even if they are a pain they will still be able to get another group by just hitting the "join queue" button. Now the dungeon finder and raid finder are great tools that make content more accessible for everyone but I can't help but be a little nostalgic for when servers felt a little smaller and you knew people had farther reaching consequences for their actions.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What do you want in game but can't have?

      There are three things in game that I want but most likely there is no way I will ever have.
1. A Gladiator Title + Mount 
    One of the pinnacles of arena PvP is the gladiator title and mount which is given to the top .5% of arena teams in each battle group. Getting one of these rewards is a huge badge of prestige and means that you are the best PvP'er on your realm. Sadly because one I am not a huge PvP'er and two the fact I just do not play at that echelon I will never achieve one of these rewards.

2. A Server First
    This is in the same vein as the gladiator rewards. To have a title like Death's Demise or Conqueror of Naxxramas is a huge achievement. It means that you beat the best guilds on your server to the hardest bosses available in the game. You can wear the title proudly around your sever and say "yes out of all of you I am the best". And much like the gladiator rewards I do not have the time t commit to a hardcore guild like the ones that race for these. Now don't even get me started on world firsts....

3. The Ashes of A'lar
     The final thing I would like in game is the Ashes of Al'ar mount. This is a gorgeous mount with a graphic only recently shared by the Dark Phoenix of Cataclysm. This mount drops from Kael'Thas in The Eye instance of Tempest Keep. It has a minuscule drop rate of a mere 2% much like Rivendare's Deathcharger (which is actually slightly lower at 1%). With a drop rate like that I'm gonna have to be extremely lucky to ever see its pretty purple text.

Thanks to Blog Azeroth for the topic!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Scourge Chat Logs

Hey everyone I would just like to show you all a link to one of my favorite WoW-related creations ever  The Scourge Chat Logs! These are a great bit of WoW humor centered around what it would be like if WoW notables entered into an AIM chat with each other. Check it out and enjoy! Special thanks to Coffee With Sargeras for creating them.

Do you miss the innocence of the game?

     Way back when I first started playing 5 years ago near the end of the Burning Crusade the first character I ever played was a hunter. Now this was no ordinary hunter this was before the advent of all the new talent changes simplified the system. This was a BM/Surv/MM hunter by level 30, most people will know this is not the way to make a good leveling spec. Back then new players had the option to put talents in any tree when they got them so being a new player I just put them in whatever talents seemed good. This is one of my first innocent experiences with the game. The others came later, namely 10 levels later. Back then whenever I leveled to a new zone I always had to go to the community site to see where to go next there was no Heroes Call Board to tell me where to go so I needed to know where to go. I also remember going to the dungeon and raids page and drooling over all the instances I hadn't seen yet and eagerly waiting until I could get to that suggested level range where I could play them. I even remember not knowing about the boats from Auberdine and trying to run to Stormwind through the Badlands, Searing Gorge, and Burning Steppes at a mere level 16 and getting absolutely massacred by every mob with that oh so ominous "skull" icon instead of a level. These are just my leveling experiences.
      I remember when getting to Outland meant leveling got way way easier because the XP needed to level had just been nerved and the quests rewarded more XP than any of the old world quests did. And finally moving onto Northrend presented this whole new area of magic and stories that I soaked up just so I would know what was going on when I hit 80. Then the pinnacle of all of this is when I finally hit 80 (a mere year later after rolling that hunter) and I got to attempt raiding. I remember joining my first guild and listening to their vent conversations while they did Naxxramas, and my first pug when my dps was terrible and I realized that I hadn't trained in Black Arrow since rank 1.... Also this was back when spells had ranks that needed to be trained. And finally after all my blunders with my hunter my second 80 arose and this was my current main Myramensgone the protection warrior. By the time this toon was 80 I knew more about the game and was able to really raid and I will never forget what it was like to approached Kel'Thuzad for the first time with that portuguese raiding guild I was with at the time (but thats a whole other story) and after a few attempts finally downing my first end boss ever.
     Now a days with all of the streamlined quests, revamped talent tree's, and raid finder I ask you do you miss the innocence of the game?

Friday, June 15, 2012

If My Main Was an NPC

     In response to Blog Azeroth's Shared Topic here is what I would like if my main was an NPC.
My main is my 85 orc warrior Myramensgone. In spirit with his name I would like him to hang out in the inn in Orgrimmar and dispense a bi-weekly quest that forces you to go back to an old dungeon or raid to kill a boss. The reason my main will be sending you on this quest is because he thinks that the boss your ordered to kill is the person that has stolen his "ramen". Some sample quest text:
Greetings hero,
Some devilish creature has gone and stolen my ramen! 
Now I know this is very shocking and appalling I hope 
these actions do not offend you but I think that I have
found the culprit this time!
<Insert Boss Name Here> of <Insert Instance Name Here>
has stolen it I just know it! Please go and slay him and bring me his head 
and "hopefully" my ramen as proof of the deed!
Now go!
       My Main would give you this quest every two weeks and as a special reward the boss would have a random chance to drop his ramen and turning this in would give you a bag that had gold and gems in it much like the call to arms bag. So every other week you had to go kill an old boss and try to find his ramen and if you did you got a bag of goodies if not better luck next week! But don't worry even if you find the ramen he's pretty forgetful and will most likely get it stolen by the next time the quest is given :).