Is WoW on its way out? HELL NO.

That’s the rousing conclusion that The Godmother comes to this week. As we hit the end of the first week in June, and after May’s subscription drop and even discussion of WoW’s end, she’s extremely bullish on World of Warcraft’s future.

Indeed, she thinks that it might be about to get a massive positive push?

Why? Well, it all comes down to timing, and tiny bits of information – info about the movie, info about Project Titan, and more:

“Despite my protestations that last week was a slow news one, two rather important nuggets did appear: the first is the acknowledgement by Blizzard that ‘Project Titan’ won’t be available at the end of this year, but we’ll have to wait until 2016 to play it. The second is the Duncan Jones-helmed Warcraft movie is likely to begin filming ‘in the first quarter of 2014. At first it may not seem that these two announcements have that much linking them, until you go check in a search engine when Warcraft was first released. As if you weren’t already aware, the game will be ten years old on November 23rd 2014.

Suddenly, those two announcements become a great deal more interesting in a wider context.

I’m going to throw a large weapon at the Naysayers who think the end of Warcraft edges closer with every quarterly Activision profit announcement and reinforce the point I’ve made a few times here: Warcraft’s aiming to hang around at least a decade. At current production rates we can expect the movie to debut in that 10th Anniversary year, which is undoubtedly going to generate massive buzz for the game worldwide (and because Duncan Jones is making it we are assuming it WILL be awesome, if his previous CV is any indicator. Yes, we know he’s only made two films, but WHAT A PAIR!) If we look further ahead, I’d reckon that if Blizzard slip in one more expansion before that film (should be doable on current content release rates) that will also mean we’ll have that to co-incide with the film’s release.

I’d like to place an early bet that Mr Jones is making the movie ABOUT the Expansion we’ll see in 2015. ”

Read the rest of Let’s Go Round Again >>

Read more →

Why Rogues Don’t Get To Endgame, And Other Fascinating WoW Mysteries

Cynwise’s stats on the WoW playerbase are rapidly becoming one of the highlights of the patch cycle.

For those of you who don’t know: every couple of months, Cynwise has had an ongoing project to investigate what classes in WoW are being played, getting to endgame, and participating in various types of content – and then to attempt to figure out why.

It’s absolutely fascinating stuff.

In this installment – the terrible state of Rogues, the over-dominant Priest, the rollercoaster ride of the Warlock and more…

“At all levels, there are more Rogues than Monks, Warlocks or Shaman. There are almost as many Rogues as there are Priests! But Rogues are not making it to level 90. The 5.14% in 5.1 could be assumed to be the Rogue mains with a job to do, but even with a healthy influx of level 90s after that, they are not playing in the endgame. That 12.42% outlier result is amazing. It’s terrible, but it’s amazing.

Some of this might be due to Rogue populations swelling in late Cataclysm for the legendary daggers. A large number of leveling PvP rogues might also account for it? I’m sure that the Rogue community will have much greater insight than I over it.

But right now, Warriors are behind the other hybrids by a little, and Rogues are behind the other pure DPS classes by a lot.”

Read the rest of class distribution data for Patch 5.3

Read more →

Quests You’ll Never Want To Complete

I think we’ve all had these, in almost any MMO – the quest that’s just so fun, has such a nice side-perk, or is so key to the story that you’ll never want to complete it.

Today Rades looks at his “I will never” quests from WoW, from the story to the just plain fun. It’s an entertaining read, whether to pick up on quests you missed or just for the nostalgia factor…

“There’s obvious sentimental reasons for keeping the Cairne ones…they’re kind of, in in-game terms, his last words. But I also love the Garrosh quest, because it marked the first time we saw him in-game in a position of authority and responsibility. We saw him plenty in Wrath, being a brash jackass, but this quest text showed that he was turning over a new leaf and starting to think about the other mundane duties of being a leader – city repairs, bureaucracy, bills and paperwork clerical tasks…

Well, I guess we know that didn’t really work out. But it’s still fun to see what could have been.”

Read the rest of Quests I’ll Never Finish >>

Read more →

WoW Patch 5.3 Reactions Roundup

5.3! Advancing plot! New Dailies!

Yep, WoW has moved on again. But what does the community think of the new patch?

  • Big Bear Butt shares his initial impressions of the patch as a whole, including the new “pets drop from raids” mechanic“Blizzard has sure succeeded in getting my butt out there to do stuff I normally wouldn’t solo.”
  • Apple Cider Mage investigates the mystery of the random new NPC dragon that appeared in the patch” So why was a level 5 red dragon, who for all intents and purposes seems to be asleep (with the occasional silent yawn) stuck into a locale in the ass-end of Silithus that no one goes to, let alone knows about? “
  • The Grumpy Elf gives some detailed thought to the successes and failures of the new Heroic Scenarios“Using scenarios as methods of attunement to open up things could very well be the future, and one I like.”
Read more →

Patch 5.3 (WoW) Quick-Start Guides For All Classes And Specs

Yep, it’s that time again!

There have been spectacularly few changes to most classes in WoW’s Patch 5.3, but here are all our Quick-Start Guides – including summaries of what’s changed – updated to Patch 5.3:

Tanks

Healers

Ranged DPS

Melee DPS

If you know someone who might find these useful, please do let ’em know about these guides!

Read more →

Catch Up Post: Many Cool Things

I’m a bit crunched at the moment working very hard on my latest film (starring People You’ve Probably Heard Of – more details soon), so here’s a catch-up of some of the very cool posts I haven’t managed to feature in full over the last week or so:

  • The Grumpy Elf offers an amusing look at all the fat-finger moments common in MMORPGs” I was mowing down mobs and tabbing from one to the next when I tabbed to one that was not in melee. Reaction was, shadowstep, problem was, it was not one of the mobs I was attacking, it was a bird flying by. Worse yet, it was a bird flying by that happened to be flying over the edge of a cliff. I went behind it, hit it, plummeted to my death.”
  • Stubborn writes a very interesting post indeed looking at the crutches games us to pursuade us to keep doing things that just aren’t fun“Warframe is a prime example. Each day you log in, you get a reward. The more days you log in in a row, the better the reward. The game is trying to form the habit of logging in with those extrinsic rewards.”
  • Doone considers how MMO communities form and develop their social contracts“I guess I’m wondering how games achieve just the right amount of dynamism while not allowing abusive players free reign. I agree that spontaneity is fun and exciting, but being abused certainly isn’t”
  • And Rades, erm, broke Wrathion – and documents the entire thing in pictures“I laughed even harder when it got EVEN WORSE, and a THIRD Wrathion showed up and joined in.”
Read more →

WoW drops 14% of subscribers – Blogger Reactions

It’s the big – nay, huge – news of the month in the MMO blogosphere: according to publishers Activision, World of Warcraft has dropped 14% of its subscribers, 1,300,000 people, since the fourth quarter of 2012.

That’s massive.

Does it mean WoW is dying?

Is there likely to be another WoW expansion in light of this news?

As always, the blogosphere rallies round with some really fascinating insights:

  • Saxsy posts some really brilliant analysis of not just the announcement but the accounting figures behind it, saying amongst other things that she doesn’t believe there will be another WoW expansion – and part 2 here“Whatever one thinks of Mists of Pandaria artistically, the financials show the grim truth that it failed to spark significant revenue increases.”
  • Azuriel believes that the fascinating point in all this is just how cautious and conservative Activison are“Activision-Blizzard might join the ranks of EA as a big-budget publisher who only produces one title that I am remotely interested in, with all the “risky” indie ventures soaking up the money I leave on the table.”
  • Mhogrim contrasts WoW’s remarkable longevity with the lifecycle of other games” 90 days to 6 months; Players have gotten pretty comfortable but the new shinies aren’t as shiny anymore. Progression raids have been fullfilled, pvp brackets have been maxed and…what is there to do again?”
  • The Grumpy Elf writes an epic post outlining his vision of how Blizzard could stem the tide“Lets face it, the game is not casual friendly for the 80%. The people that do not seek out information on their own. Would they know that the AC quartermaster is under the main city? Or even where to do the AC dailies if they never stumbled across the person offering the lead in quest? “
  • Goetia muses on what keeps her playing WoW these days and whether it will continue to be enough” I just hope that someone smarter than me (and smarter than the current dev team) figures out how to put a new shine on the endgame.”
  • Typhoon Andrew injects a note of “is this really big news?”“What can we as current WoW players do? Not much. Keep having fun and playing. Just because something is less exciting for most people has never been a reason I’ll like it.”
  • And Zellviren offers a well-thought-out and balanced theory as to what might have gone wrong: lack of progression options for casual players, hardcore-only Normal raids and the death of alt-focused playstyles“Here’s a tip: casual players want to develop their characters, too. At this point in 5.2, you have a single way of doing that. LFR.”
Read more →

Is There An “Average” Player?

How do you design for a massive game like WoW?

The most obvious approach would be to tailor your content toward the average player.

But who exactly is that?

Today we’ve got two posts looking at just that question. Firstly, Tobold takes on the perennial “hardcore vs casual” debate with some Real World Statistics:

“The Central Limit Theorem says that if you make for example this plot of video game skill of a large enough population, what you will get is a bell curve with a single hump in the middle. That is why this curve is called a “normal distribution”. The nature of this curve is that 68% of people are withing one standard deviation of the average. For example 68% of people have an IQ between 85 and 115, and are thus of average intelligence. Of course people are notoriously bad at estimating their own IQ or other qualities, so that if you rely on self-assessment you end up with the observation that most people are above average, which is a mathematical impossibility.”

Read the rest of Most People Are Average

And in other news – and this one’s particularly fascinating – Balkoth has taken things a stage further, and actually conducted his own statistical experiment to determine if there is an “average” value for willingness to grind, in particular. He set up polls, collected data, visualised it, then analysed the results:

“And then, of course, 13% think you’d be justified in grinding out 5000+ Mogu (at four Mogu a minute, that’s 20+ hours of grinding total).

No wonder we have so many complaints and arguments on the forums (in terms of actual complaints and not trolling) – if Blizzard puts in ring that requires you to kill 500 Mogu, half the population of those that responded to this poll thinks you’d be crazy to get the ring and half the population thinks you’d be equally crazy NOT to get the ring! The first group can’t understand why the latter group feels compelled and forced to grind out the Mogu and the latter group can’t understand why the first group thinks it’s even a valid choice whether to get the ring.”

Read the rest of I Have Discovered the Source of Forum Complaining in Mists!

Read more →

Two Views On The “Ghetto” Of LFR

Love it or hate it (and I think regular readers know my opinion by now), WoW’s LFR continues to be one of the most debate-worthy and interesting experiments in the MMO world at the moment.

Today we’ve got two really interesting, rather opposed views on the entire thing. First, we have Dinear at Forever A Noob, who has been looking at the progression of raiding groups on his server, and has come to a somewhat startling conclusion – that LFR is slowly and patiently strangling World of Warcraft:

“Guilds (at least on my realm) aren’t really doing progression raids anymore. Since raiding is such a large part of the game, I can’t imagine that people aren’t raiding. The obvious conclusion is that people are getting their raiding fix through LFR, and not so much in guild raids.

I have a problem with this.

In my personal vision of WoW, guilds and interpersonal interaction are the heart and soul of the game. The need for cooperation to overcome obstacles is what the original raid encounters were built on. Communication, people doing their job, everyone having a role… these were the skills that set the foundation for the more fun and challenging raid bosses. LFR doesn’t have much or any of that.”

Read the rest of My Opinion: LFR Is Ruining The Game

Meanwhile, The Godmother presents a completely different opinion, from the perspective of someone who isn’t able to compete in normal raids, and so has to rely on LFR to see all the content. She describes the experience as being “in the ghetto of WoW”:

“LFR is, for some of us, the ONLY way to see Blizzard’s End Game content. As a result, the patience to remain in the system is likely to last at least until Garrosh meets his (wholly justified) unpleasant end. It doesn’t matter how many helpful buffs you chuck at people, if the people playing aren’t there to do their best, there is absolutely nothing you can do. All you can hope is that everyone turns up and at least makes an effort, and if they do you’ll wonder why you ever bemoaned LFR’s system in the first place.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s really enough. ”

Read the rest of In The Ghetto

Read more →

LFR Woes

Seems like things aren’t going too well in World of Warcraft’s Raid Finder at the moment. Whilst that’s not exactly a surprise – the Raid Finder is one of the major reasons I’m not playing WoW much right now – it’s interesting to see just why things are going so wrong.

We’ve seen two great posts this week. First up is Alison Robert at WoW Insider, pondering the ethics of “tricking” the Raid Finder into giving you quicker queue times

“The solution, as so many players pointed out, was to tell the system you weren’t tanking. Sign up as a healer or DPS, get a raid much faster than you would otherwise, and do the fights while still specced as a tank. No matter how poorly you healed or DPSed, the system would give you loot based on your tank spec when the boss died.

Not a bad deal … unless you cared about doing a really crappy job in LFR.”

And The Grumpy Elf has finally given up on LFR altogether. The reason? Because with 5.2’s changes and new “determination” buff, he’s now finding that LFR is far too hard for what it is

“I have to say I am done. I quit. I just can not do it any more. I have no desire to do progression raiding with 24 people I have never met and will most likely never meet again. I have no desire to do progression raiding in a group with 5 people that all think they are the leader and have different ways to go about the fight. I have no desire to do progression raiding with random people that all think they are better than everyone else even if they are the first one to have died to an easily avoidable mechanic. I have no desire to do progression raiding with people calling each other names and insulting each other instead of doing what they were there for, you know, killing things.

I have no desire to do progression raiding with no communication. I have no desire to do progression raiding with damage dealers who think DPS is more important than doing the right thing. I have no desire to do progression raiding with healers that think doing an AoE heal to increase their HPS is more important than keeping the tank alive. I have no desire to do progression raiding and have to explain everything all over again every attempt because people leave and come in and none of them even consider taking 3 minutes to watch a video or read a post. I have no desire to do progression raiding in a random setting that is intended to be so easy and it was for seeing content, getting loot and collecting valor in a quick and easy way when there is nothing quick and easy about it. I have no desire to do progression raiding with random people. I quit.”

Read more →