Hot Topic Watch: Attunements, Gear and Dailies

It’s been a week or two of fast-paced discussion and debate in the WoW blogosphere, and as we move into the weekend, that discussion’s still raging. Whether it’s attunements, dailies or gear, here’s the latest pieces of thought on the topics everyone’s talking about:

  • Scott Andrews at WoW Insider takes us down memory lane in the attunements discussion, taking us back to the pure joy – no, wait, I meant anguish – of the Horde Onyxia attunement chain in Vanilla WoW“Thrall sends you on the most dreaded part of the attunement chain: talking to Rexxar. Rexxar was not a static NPC who stood there waiting for players to interact with him. No, Rexxar had stuff to do. He patrolled all the way through Desolace and into parts of the two adjacent zones, Feralas and Stonetalon Peaks.”
  • Ratshag has decided to take pity on those of us who want attunements back – with his Do-It-Yourself guide to attunement simulations“The Karazhan Attunement Experience: Read page 1 of yer novel. Go ta that cave in Southwest Twilight Highlands. Kill everything. Wait fer thems ta re-spawn. Kill them all again. Read the next page…”
  • Bob at Altclysmic weighs in on the “motivation and gear” discussion started by The Grumpy Elf, looking at how Mists of Pandaria will change the way loot motivates us“The new system will allow me to daily my way to the top, the asumption will be that this is an easier way but the reward gathering will be so much slower.”
  • And Spinks at Spinksville writes a lengthy post discussing various elements of Mists of Pandaria to come, including a section to the daily quests of MoP, and how she (unlike other commenters earlier this week) believes they’ll be a good thing“At that point in the game, people just want to log in and do something fun that will progress their character in some way. Assuming dailies are at least as fun as normal quests and that people who like PvE are happy with normal quests, the only issue is whether players get bored and how many dailies you have to do to get whichever reward you are aiming for.”

Any opinions on the dailies, gear or attunements discussion?

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Attunements – The Final Word In The Debate (Probably)

The attunements discussion draws to a close – with some really interesting points from two bloggers who have up to now stayed silent, and a move into new territory for the debate…

I’m not sure I can remember a longer-running, more intense discussion this year than the WoW attunements debate. Stirred up by a comment from a Blizzard CM, defenders and haters of attunements have both presented passionate arguments for and against this particular method of content gating. I know I’ve come out of this discussion with new and clearer ideas about attunements, and I suspect I’m not alone.

The discussion seems to be dying down now, so here are what may be the last words on this round, at least, of the attunement debate:

  • Kurn writes a lengthy, really interesting essay on attunements, starting with a really complete history of the concept, before delving into a number of angles I’ve not seen presented elsewhere in the discussion“The first facet is that attunements act as a barrier to entry and I’ll talk a bit about why I think this is desirable. The second facet is what I will call the “Fire-Forged Friends” or “Band of Brothers” element.”
  • The Grumpy Elf looks at attunements from a higher-altitude perspective, and asks what may be the question behind all the debate – should game content be inclusive or exclusive?“With all the talk being about gating content with attunement or some other sort of gate and reading comments on my own blog and others as well as forums all over the place lately it has me thinking that what it all boils down to is exclusive content.”
  • Jinxed Thoughts discusses attunements amongst other things, bringing in personal experiences and reminding us of, amongst other things, the smaller but often annoying attunements – _“Far more annoying was the attunement for Caverns of Time. It wasn’t even just for the raid, right? It was to be able to do any of the CoT instances as well, and it was, pardon my french, extremely f_cking boring.”*

It’s been a very interesting debate, and I look forward to more in future! Proof, I think, that even when the MMO world’s quiet, the MMO blogosphere can still come up with plenty of interesting things to talk about!

Has your opinion on attunements changed?

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Three Bloggers Defend Attunements

Could it be that attunements aren’t awful ideas best left in the past?

Despite the many arguments made against attunements of late (here’s the latest installment), most forcefully by Matthew Rossi of WoW Insider, it seems there’s two sides to this particular argument – and today, the other side’s speaking out.

Yes, we’ve got three bloggers in favour of the return of attunements today, with posts ranging from passionate defence of the concept, to theories as to the less-idealistic reasons they might never return…

  • The Grumpy Elf argues that gated content is just plain good design“As simple as gating could be, it is the prefect way to prove someone is willing to try. To some extent at least. If they are willing to go through the quest line to open the raid, then maybe they are worth me putting in the effort of teaching them how to raid.”
  • Zellviren of Unwavering Sentinel writes an extremely combative but nonetheless interesting post arguing that there are no good reasons, at all, why attunements can’t return“If you’re wholly incapable of queuing up and completing the Hour of Twilight dungeons, you really need to work on the basic principles of playing the game before inflicting yourself on others. The busted learning curve is a problem in the game as it is, and attunements are one part of a solution”
  • And Spinks suggests that maybe the real reason Blizzard don’t want attunements to return is that it interferes with the flow of players to the LFD and LFR tools“WoW doesn’t even want to make people locate the dungeon instance before they are able to queue for it because some players found that sufficient of a barrier to harm the queueing times. So remember this when you hear anyone suggest tweaks to the group finder that would result in fewer people queueing (like more stringent gear/ spec checks, or attunement checks); they won’t happen.”

A quick note to conclude – let’s not let this debate turn into a flamewar! As the saying goes, no matter how heated we are feeling about this issue, there’s far more that unites us than divides us…

What do you think of today’s points in the attunement debate?

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Attunements, Part 3 – The Revenge

Want to hear all the latest – really interesting – arguments for, against and dividing old-school WoW-style attunements? You’re in the right place!

Yes, the attunement debate is still raging (see part 1, in which Matthew Rossi stirred a hornet’s nest of debate, and part 2, where many, many people responded, and there’s some really interesting thinking coming from it. We’re moving away from a blanket “all attunements are good/bad” discussion now into a much more nuanced taxonomy of what attunements are, what they do, and how they are not all the same.

So, for some potentially influential design discussion (remember, devs read blogs too!), read on…

  • Stormy at Scribblings on the Asylum Wall clarifies his argument about attunements – that they should serve not as a roadblock but as a means of making raids narratively and emotionally meaningful“The purpose of an attunement should be to provide players with a background as to why they’re entering a particular raid instance to take down a particular boss, not to serve as a roadblock that frustrates and alienates players and raid leaders. “
  • Clockwork at Out Of Beta examines a couple of potential ways to milk the positive effects from attunements without the negative – account-bound and guild-bound attunements“In this situation once a guild completes an attunement any member (or with a certain reputation level) becomes capable of entering said instance. This way the guild benefits from the activity of its members. On the other hand, it means people who have never done an attunement might avoid guilds who don’t have it, essentially letting others do the attunement work for them.”
  • Typhoon Andrew joins the ranks of those who want to find a way to let the storytelling power of attunements outweigh the inconvenience aspects“Make it so that the players would be foolish not to take the opportunity (Wrath Gate questline, or the Battered Hilt quests) and you’ll see more game lovers than haters.”
  • Dinaer at Forever A Noob relates the problems of attunements from a practical perspective, and separates out the least troublesome attunement types from the real killers“At this point, some would ask, “But why didn’t your guild just keep progressing past that tier so you could get to the higher tiers?” Its hard to do that when you keep losing players. “

I really rather like the idea of guild-bound achievements. Obviously, the attunement system as it stood had some major, major problems, notably the “new player? Better go run all that content again” issue. But I still think there’s something to be said for the occasional mountain to climb, and anything that rewards a guild for working together sounds like a damn good idea.

Of course, there are problems with that idea, too (pity the unguilded person, or the person in a small or very casual guild who wants to raid as a PUG), but it’s an interesting direction in which to take the debate.

We’ve been talking about this for a few days now, so – any new takes on the Attunements debate? What do you think of binding attunements to accounts, guilds, or solo questlines?

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WoW Attunements Arguments Abound – What’s Your Take?

Matthew Rossi’s recent editorial fiercely opposing the return of attunements on WoW Insider appears to have sparked a storm of debate!

From fiercely-pro to fiercely-anti – and all flavours in between – the blogosphere has been alight with one question over this weekend – should attunements ever return? And if so, in what form?

  • Azuriel at In An Age feels that attunements were unnecessary, but that the real problem with them was their group content“And then, over the proceeding 37 weeks of raiding Karazhan, I had to make 15 additional Karazhan attunement runs for various people in the guild. People that had no problem being terrible raiders, or otherwise expecting the guild to provide them with endless dungeon runs so that they could guild-hop/get poached three days later”
  • Matticus is thoughtful about attunements, which he feels were a grind, but not without their positive points“Actually, I will grant that there is one thing I liked about the way everything was laid out. Progression was clearly laid out. There wasn’t a recommended path or anything, but you clearly knew based on the quests received what you had to do in order to get to the end. “
  • Rohan at Blessing of Kings separates attunements into various kinds, before analysing the advantages and disadvantages of each“By and large, I thought Class B attunements worked. They made the game between leveling and raiding more interesting, gave it more purpose rather than simply gearing up. “
  • Stormy at Scribblings on The Asylum Wall feels that attunements provided something that Cataclysm is sorely lacking – an in-character, in-plot reason to actually care about raids“In Cataclysm, on the other hand, I had the opposite experience: when I zoned into Bastion of Twilight there was a giant dragon…in a hallway. Who was the dragon? Why was he just hanging out in a hallway, waiting to be killed?”
  • And Doone at T.R.Redskies writes a massive, thoughtful piece on attunements, looking at the way that player perceptions of content change over time“The tedium that followed is related to the way we, as players evolve toward symbolic thinking which colors our impressions of gameplay mechanics. Once the questline was revealed, then it came only to symbolize the Onyxia encounter itself. Adventure ceases to exist, the quest becomes strictly a means to an end.”

It doesn’t look like the discussion’s finished yet – I’ll be interested to hear the next stages in the debate!

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Should Attunements Return To WoW?

Is it time for the glorious return of the attunement run to WoW?

Very little divides old-school WoW players like the question of attunements. For everyone reminiscing, misty-eyed, about helping their guildmates through the Onyxia chain, there’s another person frothing about the epic attunement grind that was later BC raiding.

Now, fueled by comments from a Blizzard CM, the entire debate’s raging again, as the blogosphere asks – should attunements make a return in MoP?

  • Matthew Rossi at WoW Insider argues passionately that attunements should never, ever blight the game again“What I don’t like or want is a barrier to entry that has nothing to do with skill, just time and the ability to get other people to help me get through a series of stages that serve no other purpose but to delay me, especially when we’re already delayed by other aspects of the game anyway.”
  • Klepsacovic at Troll Racials Are Overpowered takes Rossi’s arguments point-by-point , arguing that none of his points are valid“There could of course be no barriers at all to any content, so roll up your character and teleport to Deathwing. With your 24 friends who you magically found despite having played none of the rest of the game. There is no time, skill, genetic, or money barrier to fighting Deathwing, but I suspect having heroic Deathwing kill you over and over again isn’t the best way to start a game.”
  • And The Godmother at ALT:Ernative argues that people who wish attunements would return are viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses“People like to remember the past as a better place because it gives them license to complain about how slack standards have become and how the present is never as good as what you remember. Trust me, these people are not remembering the bigger picture.”

Personally, I’m mildly in favour of attunements, for no other reason than they provide a sense of structure and anticipation to endgame. But I’m fair from the hardcore of either camp, and I’m interested to hear arguments in both directions.

Do you think attunements should make a return?

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Getting Old-School – More On How To Fix MMOs

OK, this one is just running and running – today we have even more great posts on ways to tweak, fix, and alter both WoW, and MMOs in general. It really seems like something’s started a rush of these ideas in the community – frankly, I love these kinds of ideas posts, so keep it up!

Today, we seem to have a theme of going back to older ideas:

  • Blessing of Kings has come up with a complete and well-thought-out blueprint for fixing the WoW endgame“I think the pendulum of the raiding endgame has swung a little too far. It needs to be brought back towards Vanilla/TBC. Not all the way, because that would be just crazy. But I think some of the desires and ideals of this current endgame have just not worked out the way they were intended, and should be jettisoned.”
  • Troll Racials Are Overpowered is arguing for more hoops to jump through “Imagine that you’re in a random group. You have never met these people. What can you expect from them? … How can we sort out these people a bit? Simple: Make them run through some hoops.”
  • And Procrastination Amplification is going back even further – by arguing that, in some cases, quests are a bad idea“The traditional (by now) questing model in MMOs doesn’t leave a lot of room for exploration and surprises. Things get even worse when players (like me) decide not to read quest text and blindly follow the pointers of some built-in quest helper system.”

Do you feel there are older ideas out there that MMOs should be returning to? Or is the only way to go The New Stuff?

All quotes taken directly from their respective posts.

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Shortcuts make long delays

No, after that quote, it’s not specifically a LoTRO post. Instead, it’s time to round up a couple of interesting pieces on the subject of shortcuts, simplicity, and flatness in MMOs that have come across my desk in the last day or so.

First up, Raging Monkeys has posted a follow-up to their lament on keys, talking about the drive toward simplicity that popular MMO creators seem to be feeling these days, and how it doesn’t necessarily produce good results:

Short-cuts are faster, more efficient. Maybe they get us straight to where we want or at least, to where we think we want to be. But they also rob us of opportunities; of the opportunity for life to step in and trigger a chain of events or add something unexpected. Many good things in life, surprises and chance encounters happen while we’re not on plan, not on time.

As Blizzard, in particular, remove more and more of the “inconveniences” in WoW, from the Dungeon Finder to the removal of keys and attunements, this post echos what a lot of people are feeling – sure, pointless timesinks are bad, but when does removing inconvenience also remove character from the game as a whole?

And on a related note, a designer steps in. Eric at Elder Game has written a great, lengthy post talking about his feelings on simplicity, game-vs-world, and whether or not to use the sort of “fun loop” design that companies like Blizzard are increasingly obsessed with:

A common successful approach to making a fun game is to divide and conquer: first you make the game fun in tiny 30-to-60 second chunks. When you’re confident that the lowest-level thing you do in your game is fun to do over and over and over, then you step back and make a fifteen-minute “fun loop” (or some similar time window). Thus in WoW, killing a monster might take 30 seconds, but completing a quest takes 15 minutes. These are loops: you are rewarded for completing them and are then pushed toward doing the loop again.

This is a very effective way to make a highly directed game. I’ve used it before with success, and I will no doubt use it again in the future. I’m not knocking this method. But it’s not a good approach if you want the game to have more “world” in it.

I’m very aware of the design technique, and have used it in pen-and-paper games myself – it’s practically Holy Scripture amongst game designers these days. Hence, it’s very interesting to see someone take it down a peg, and argue for a less designed experience, and even for mild boredom in games.

So, when’s enough enough? Do you wish for the days of ground travel and attunements – or even forced grouping and permadeath? Or do you feel it’s a game, dammit, and if you wanted to take a hike you’d go outdoors?

_Quotes taken from the original posts.

Find Raging Monkeys’ homepage at http://raging-monkeys.blogspot.com/ and Elder Game’s homepage at http://www.eldergame.com/

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Why Keys Were Awesome

Who would have thought that the removal of one minor inconvenience from the game – keys – would have prompted this much writing? Well, me, actually. The removal of keys from World of Warcraft signals a fundemental shift in the game that’s been there for a while – but the removal of the humble key is the final bell of that change.

And as Syl of Raging Monkeys says very eloquently today, there were great things that came from attunements and keys:

Attunements, you gave our guild a direction. You made us teamwork and plan. You gave us time. And long stories with epic moments. The excitement to get there – and everyone could get there in due time if they really cared to.

Then, things kinda changed. I felt sorry for those that came after us. Later, things never were quite the same. No more locks, just open doors. Open doors guard no secrets.

It’s interesting – I hadn’t realised how much flatter the game feels without attunements and keys until everyone started writing about them. But many of my best WoW memories are connected to trying to open one or another door.

Then again, I’m well known as being a bit reactionary. I still bemoan the removal of the artisan Cooking quest, for Pete’s sake. So here’s the question – what do you think?

Are you glad to see the back of the key? Or will you miss the sense of Vorfreude, as Syl puts it, toward those far-away instances as you quest toward them?

Quote taken directly from Syl’s post at http://raging-monkeys.blogspot.com/2011/06/why-you-really-want-attunements-or.html

Find Syl’s homepage for Raging Monkeys at http://raging-monkeys.blogspot.com/

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