Category Archives: World of Warcraft

The True WoW (World of Warcraft) Killer – Nostalgia

Most when they talk about Nostalgia and WoW refer to the player base’s nostalgia for Vanilla, tBC, or even Wrath. It is usually what ever expansion they started to play the game in. While this can be harmful to the player base community all in all it does not affect the game much overall.

When the nostalgia is of the developer persuasion that is when all hell breaks loose.  That is also where Warlords of Dreanor is looking to be heading.

From the outside looking in, by reading many of the interviews of various Blizzard developers, it seems they are all under the effects of 1 of the following problems potentially both.  First as mentioned Nostalgia for WoW’s heyday somewhere between the middle of Vanilla and Wrath, technically tBC but it is more of a spectrum than specific point.  Alternatively the other description I would call a mid-life crisis.  This is exemplified by all the marketing for WoD being reminiscent of an adolescent male’s gaming group.  All boys and no girls allowed to have any of the story or main character positions.

Anyway for WoW’s sake I hope that I am wrong and that WoD will be great.  I am not holding my breath, I am however gathering kindling, marshmallows and popcorn for the epic flame fest that will ensue when the first group of players reach 100 and can’t fly and are not of the type that constantly reads forums and news about the game they play.

FFXIV:ARR vrs WoW:(MoP & WoD) The Title of Abbreviations

So what does that title mean?  For those that may not recognize all the abbreviations, in long form the tile is as follows.  Final Fantasy 14 : A Realm Reborn versus World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria and World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor.

Before getting into this quagmire of a topic sitting on top of a mine field, I first want to say this is not a post about which is the better game and which sucks or is awesome.  Also the information on WoD is still quite limited as there are no versions of WoD not sitting behind NDAs.  So all we have to go on is Blizzcon and the Water cooler posts by various developers. I am going to get into 2 main topics that are split into a total of 3 areas: Alts as Different Characters, Alts as different Roles, and Travel.

I was originally going to talk about the in-game markets/economy but changed my mind after really looking at them.  While the time for the market implosion is different in each game they both end up in the same place and are therefore remarkably similar.  The leads to the only game to contrast them with is EVE Online and that a topic worthy of a separate post so that will come later.

 

Alts as Different Characters

Both games support this in that it is possible to have multiple characters on a given server and play with the same group of people on either character.  In WoW it is trivial how quickly this can actually be done anymore.  With the various xp/level changes that have occurred each expansion, sometimes in the middle of the current one the time to reach max level has been greatly reduced over the years.

For example in earlier posts I mentioned that I had 10 max level characters in Wrath of the Lich King and 13 or so in Cataclysm.  Hell I could even make a 3 way versus: Wrath & Cata versus MoP & WoD versus FFXIV.

So in FFXIV:ARR each alt character has a bit of story line quests and dungeons that must be completed to unlock various aspects of the game and dungeons along the way.  This is fine if everyone is at about the same level but I have noticed as I fell farther and farther behind the “main” leveling curve those restrictions became more and more frustrating.

I am sure if it had not been for the great multi-game community I am a part of I would have quit by now.  I have since volunteered and recently became an Officer in the FFXIV guild.  I was in the same situation in WoW for different reasons, it was the social connections that kept me playing long past when I had become quite embittered with the game.

So in summary WoW is still the better game for Alt Characters, especially since some things have moved to the WoW Account level rather than Character level.  The leveling experience while more quest grind-y is much faster and the fact that you can access all systems through pure solo play is a nice feature set.

 

Alts as Different Roles

Now this may seem to not make much sense why I am making distinction between Alts as different Characters and Alts as different Roles.  I did it because what 1 character can do in WoW versus FF(XI & XIV) is drastically different.  There is however similarity when you compare how some class types in WoW have the ability to perform different roles in the Holy Trinity of MMO encounter design.  The FF games are more like EVE Online than many of the other current MMOs on the market.

Specifically in WoW if you want to play a Tank and pick Druid you can do so.  Also because you are a Druid you can also with a re-specialization or alternative specialization: DPS (Ranged), DPS (Melee) or Heal.  However if you wanted to be a Warrior for Tanking, Rogue for Melee DPS, Mage for Ranged DPS and Priest for Heals, that requires you to have 4 characters all of equal gear level so tons of dungeon running, reputation grinding or what ever other mechanics for gear acquisition Blizzard puts into the game.

Final Fantasy games on the other hand allow one character to be any class with mechanics in place to switch between them while out of combat.  So if there are 11 classes like there are in WoW today you need 11 wow Characters to play any class or 1 character in Final Fantasy.  You still need to level up each class individually but you are not on a separate character with separate mail, bank, AH and other storage accesses.  It also means that when you get gear not suited for your current class which is BoP it does not get wasted like it does in WoW or almost any other MMO.  WoW could implement it by changing all or most BoP to BoA but I have been asking for that for years, so I am not holding my breath on that one.

Additionally another reason one can sometimes have many alts in wow is for crafting, back when crafting was actually worthwhile as a source for gear and making in game currency.  Since in WoW you can have 2 primary professions per character with about 10 different professions including gathering activities.  There are 3 gathering classes in FF and 7 or so crafting which again can all be learned and leveled on the same character.

So in the area of role/class flexibility Final Fantasy games are light years ahead of other MMOs when it comes to being able to focus all of your time on one character but not be gimped by class restrictions.

 

Travel

I have posted about travel a few times in the past and was planning on bringing it up again, however as I will sometimes take a few days writing these posts and I write bits and pieces here and there, one of the WoW developers gave an interview and due to their phrasing set off a firestorm.

The response from Blizzard to the firestorm boils down to “trust us”.  Well at least for me not anymore and by temperature in the echo chamber of the forums not many other do either.  The key from all of this is the consistency in which Blizzard is inconsistent.  Rather than stating a goal and vision and let the player-base be involved from the beginning they end up working on fixing issues 1-3 patches behind.

While I wish many of the players lost in MoP were due to flying restrictions and no implementation of a book of Pandarian flying like cold weather flying.  I know that is not the reason.  Additionally while many like to say it was the leveling speed accessibility in Cataclysm that drove players away due to boredom anyone with half a brain should know that is false as well.  The reason so many left in Cataclysm is due to 3 things.

  1. The implosion of the social network on servers and guild.  The raid changes at the end of ICC to implement the Cata model were disastrous.  It just took 6-9 months to see the full effect propagate throughout the player-base.  I have harped on it before and will leave it there.
  2. Competition from other games.  WoW is 10 years old, there have been many similar games that have come out during that time.  Some more successful than others.  Some catering to specific niches in the play model where WoW attempts to do them all.  It is refreshing playing in FFXIV:ARR and knowing that PvP is a side game, and that nerfs to abilities are applied as PvP only and do not really change the PvE game.
  3. The economy stupid.  MoP came out in 2012 and Cata came out in 2010, employment for the key game playing demographic 18-35 year olds has been underwhelming for 4+ years now…. Any excess savings anyone had prior to the economic issues in 2008 have well since been depleted for many around the world in that age bracket.  Games and culture that requires expendable income have all taking a header for several years now MMOs are not a special case.  I am being very careful hear because I don’t want to start an economics or political discussion, which are both buttons that can cause rambling rants.

Anyway I know Blizzard is doing the wrong thing with flying and travel in WoD for one very important reason.  My wife, Lissanna @restokin, and I agree on something in WoW.  I want flying all the time and think in many ways Cata crossed with ICC would be the best expansion paradigm possible.  She is willing to have flying at max level only, and I agree to that compromise with the caveat that there should be a BoA book for alts.  I can say one thing with certain, had there been a BoA book for my alts I most likely would not have canceled both of my accounts in WoW 6 months and 1 year ago for each account.  I may not have been happy today in MoP but I most likely would at least have 1 active subscription.

** Edit ** I dug up some of my old travel related aids for actually analyzing flight path design and placed the pages back under my Misc Items Section.

A History of my WoW Experience Summary into WoD

Hopefully this will be the last post on this thread for a while.  I will continue to post about WoW as an outsider as I know many people that continue to play that game.  Even when I talk about other games like EVE Online and Final Fantasy 14 : A Realm Reborn because World of Warcraft is an MMO that I played for 7+ years and where I really started to dig into MMO terminology so it is like English is to me when learning a foreign language.

Initial Thoughts on WoW:WoD

Now a few months after announcement.

New Character Models: Cool I am ok with new models they are needed for the original races and we have been asking for them for several expansions now.

Level 90 Character Upgrade: Highly needed with the level cap now 90 and soon 100 with the expansion.  When the announcement first came out I was already planning which character I would use it on from the 8-10 characters that were not already 90 that I had left at 87 or lower.

Garrisons: Cool another feature that is something similar to what players have been asking for since Vanilla, Player Housing.  It will end up being more of a mini game like the farm was in MoP but a step in the right direction and needed for expansions now.\

Journey to a Mythic Time: While I like Time travel and I don’t have a problem with it in this case as I understand how the time lines fit into the multiverse, I do think the Orcish Bro-fest that was given as our introduction to the game left a bit to be desired.  As an alliance player I was like great more horde plot.

Dungeon and Raiding Improvements and UI Improvements:  I was excited about these changes and thought they brought a lot to the game in large.

With all of these features, I thought I would be spinning up my WoW accounts again even months before the expansion to build up resources for the expansion.

The the news came in one of the further panels that not only was the leveling experience going to be similar to Mists of Pandaria, which as I mentioned previous post ended up making me hate the game, it was going to be even more restrictive and not allow flying in content while it is current, so flight would be locked until the first content patch.

FUCK THAT.

So not only were we not going to get the books of flying like in Wrath which should have been implemented in MoP but it was locked behind and “Epic” i.e. “Pain in the Ass” quest line which would only become available at level cap after the first content patch.  In very few cases in my life have I had a complete and total change of heart on a subject than I did concerning WoW and starting up my accounts again to play in Warlords of Draenor.

Warcraft Missed Opportunities

FFXIV:ARR Guild Housing, Raids and System Changes

I mention FFXIV:ARR here because I realized recently that Warcraft missed a great opportunity with Cataclysm and the remaking of Azeroth.  In Cataclysm they easily could have made the world larger and had a few instanced zones that were not accessible otherwise to accommodate player housing.

If you watch how much time is spent on Facebook games where you have your own space or other tablet simple games where you can collect items to improve your trophy room or house, I think this one feature could have prevented much of the player loss since Wrath if it had been promised and implemented during Cataclysm.

I remember Lissanna playing Lord of the Rings Online and running quests and playing for hours during holidays just to collect a furniture or cosmetic item for her house in the game. In MoP players would spend similar amounts of time doing various reputation grinds just to unlock the Dog on their farm.   So much so that it is asked that the Dog be allowed/added to Garrisons so it can travel with you.

I hate to say it but whichever executives in charge of steering WoW need to have their heads examined as to why they let this type of feature set be passed on for all these years.  There is casual and hardcore gamer gold here and it was completely written off as not worth our time.

This is not even mentioning an even more important feature that is similiar and that is Guild Housing and spaces for groups to claim as their own.  The ability to have a place of your own and build a community around it is extremely important for MMOs and social games.

FFXIV implemented their Guild Housing and eventual player housing after having a Cataclysm of their own.  The similarities between the end of FFXIV version 1.0 and FFXIV:ARR or 2.0 and WoW pre/post Cataclysm is startling in the story connections.  In simple terms both have a big dragon coming back and wrecking the world.

It was that similarity in how the world was completely reshaped that made me see some of the possibilities that WoW completely missed, which is a shame.

Brawlers Guild
Another time and feature that I was really excited about until I heard how it was implemented, let alone how to get an invite.  It should have been an instanced area so it could have been load balanced better and so that more than 1 person per CRZ could actually do the damned thing.

The Farm
In many ways this was a success, but it could have been so much more.  This of course ties into the player housing subject.  I have beat that to death so I will leave this alone as well since they are so similar.

Mists of Pandaria & Warlord of Draenor Feature Confusion

One of the things that has annoyed me most since Wrath is the inconsistent way Blizzard has dealt with 2 main functions, Flying and Catch-up.

Flying and Flying mounts were a FEATURE in Burning Crusade because that is when it was added to the game.  That is when Jewel Crafting was a FEATURE as a new Crafting Profession.

In Wrath the first expansion after the flying feature was added, they decided that they did not want to design questing with flying in mind and so just locked it out.  This is after players had already spent between 1K and 6K for it in Burning crusade and not only restrict it but put another price tag on it of 1k gold at time and 500 currently.

So now the second expansion after flying was implemented we don’t have to buy anything new and it is available in all zones right off the bat.  This was the best time to level characters as with flying implemented and xp now gained by gathering nodes it opened up mining and herbing as an alternative way to gain xp.

I actually enjoyed leveling in Cataclysm because of this, it is also why by the time MoP launched I had 13 level 85s.

MoP and WoD see my previous rant in this and earlier posts about leveling and no flying in these.

One statement I have made multiple times to Lissanna and others when complaining and talking about WoW is this, “If I don’t have a reason to play the launch of an expansion why the hell would I play it later at a future patch?”.

With how insane Item Levels have gotten and the resultant power spread an expansion is the global reset and allows most/all players to be on almost an equal footing once again.  Unfortunately it does not sound like they are going to fix this problem long term and only doing an item squish in such a way as to be a band-aid for another 2 expansions before we get back to lunacy again.  The problem is that the developers feel that they need a full 13 item levels between tiers of content.  With how War Forged and VP upgrades have worked I think a 4-8 iLevel between tiers of content at most would be acceptable.  Heroic/Mythic geared characters have no reason to be doing 4 times the dps of an entry level geared raider by the middle/end of an expansion.  If each raid tier can be completely contained in 20ish iLevels rather than the 50+ we have now the current item squish may be able to last until Titan Launches which would be a miracle.

So how did that grump about item levels related to my statement about reasons to play at launch of an expansion?  Well it really gets to the catch-up method aspect that I mentioned earlier.  The catch-up mechanism refers to how do you get fresh level cap characters into current content in a reasonable time after the launch of an expansion?  Blizzards current method is to generate a metric fuck ton of content for the launch and then be playing catch up the rest of the expansion given the speed of which some and the most vocal of players consume said content.  A much better approach I am learning while playing FFXIV:ARR is to List everything you want to do in an expansion/major content segment and then be open and honest about how each of the features are coming along.  Then when you hit a cut off point say what you are going to include in the next patch and what is not ready for release and why.   I know Blizzard got burned with this method with the Dance Studio that never released which I why they most likely don’t do it anymore but it really is a much better method.  It also allows for more timely patch and expansion releases as you can early on realize that something is going to take much more time than initially thought and can be moved to a later development cycle.  The key is to be open about the change in the cycle if it was a previously mentioned feature so that it is not a surprise when it hits the PTR, and especially if it was on the PTR and removed for said reasons.

The other big gripe I have about WoW and have for a very long time is how they screw with crafting materials and the as a result the Auction House.  I swear Blizzard is afraid of having an actual functioning AH and Player Driven market in the game most likely due to gold trading concerns which would be mostly wiped out if they would just use the solution CCP proved would mostly work years ago in EVE Online.  That would be to release an in game item that provides Account Game time and is trade-able/sell-able on the AH which is purchased by a player from Blizzard through the Blizzard Store.  Then legal “Gold Selling” could be done where Blizzard is the seller of it via a proxy item which is traded in-game.

Now what would allow for a real market to grow in the game?  It requires 2 ingredients.  The first is craft-able gear that is useful as an alternative gearing/progression path for both the crafter and others who can buy it directly or through the AH.  The second is the lack of BoP crafting materials.  The raw material must always be able to be traded and any BoP crafting material should be a product that is created by the crafter so it is not a BoP item from a world or boss drop.  Additionally the BoP item must not be restricted by a cooldown.  If there is to be a gated cooldown for server balance then it must be on an earlier intermediate crafting material that is not bound and allows for economic transactions to occur.

A final modification to really get the WoW economy and crafting going again is that no pattern can be BoP and any pattern that can be learned via discovery randomly must also be available by normal patterns somewhere else so as not to be completely at the mercy of the RNG gods.

Well I think that wraps up my WoW retrospective from my POV.  WoW was a really good game for a longtime but is no longer a good game for me.  It is a shame and I feel a little bitter about all of the time and effort and thought that I have put into it over the years.  I know it is still a good game for many out there that say they continue to enjoy the game, part of me wonders is it the game or the social group they enjoy but that is another matter.  I hope to see news about future WoW changes and features that will get me interested again but now I know it will not be WoD and what ever new would have to be meteoric in magnitude to get me to start an expansion after launch, so I will have to wait for the expansion after WoD at a minimum.  Also while if it is the expansion after WoD that I get interested in I may re-subscribe while technically WoD is the current expansion but it would only be to prepare for the expansion after it and not the current content.