Controversy Watch: “Welcome To WoW”, grinds, randomness

Community! Lost Shores! SWTOR F2P! There are so many fascinating discussions going on in the blogosphere right now that this issue of Controversy Watch is actually slightly thin – because we’ve already been featuring entire articles on each debate.

But nonetheless, there’s more interesting discussion out there, so here’s the latest on three issues that everyone’s been talking about:

Community

  • The Grumpy Elf reports on a new and unwelcome development in WoW’s griefer community – the “Welcome to WoW” comment“When did this happen and why did I not get the memo? I was not aware that these types of actions were now the expected way to play the game. “

Grinds

  • Contrary to the reports of endless grind, Dinaer reports on how he was able to get a freshly-90 alt raid ready in just 3 days in WoW“Personally, I’m tired of dailies. However, I see that in my gaming style they are not mandatory so I simply stopped doing them. “
  • And Bravetank takes a humorous look at how dailies and rep grinds would look in real life“Funny old day. When I arrived at the job depot (it’s all very official this “becoming friends with the Joneses” lark) they told me that I had to become adored- absolutely adored- by their relatives the Smiths first. “

Randomness

  • Rohan weighs in on the “do we need more randomness?” debate, giving us two very solid arguments against more random encounters“Often, a fight with random elements contains one set of elements which is significantly easier or significantly harder than the others. This encourages guilds to reset the encounter until the “easy” combination shows up, or wipe it early if a hard combination appears.”
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Controversy Watch: WvWvW, SWTOR F2P, Brawler’s Guild, More

A few weeks ago I was saying that the MMORPG blogosphere was quiet.

Ah, I remember those days.

Right now, there are tons of interesting debates to get your teeth into – from the WoW Brawler’s Guild (Cash For Features SCANDAL!) to Guild Wars 2’s wobbling WvWvW populations (PvPers in server desertion SHOCKER!). So, who’s saying what, and do you think they’re right or wrong?

SWTOR Free To Play

  • Joe at Corellian Run Radio posts a thorough analysis of the heavy Free To Play restrictions coming in SWTOR, saying that they’re going to force-choke the game” I make this prediction – the number of players will jump through the roof next week. The activity will be VERY high for three months. The revenue will roll in. And, just like launch, after those three months revenue will tank as the active player count falls.”

Guild Wars 2 WvWvW Numbers

This one’s a new controversy – with easy server moves and top PvP guilds jumping from one Guild Wars server to another, will the game’s uber-PvP mode cope?

  • Jeromai looks into the implications for his own server of some of the most major PvP guilds leaving for distant shores“Is it unhealthy, in the sense that these multi-game-spanning guilds are more focused on their own communities and less about fostering -server- communities?”
  • And Healing The Masses sounds an optimistic note for WvWvW from their own experience“I think the system in place will do well over the coming months especially after the server populations settle down and guesting is enacted so people can’t bunny hop around to the better servers in WvW. “

Guild Wars 2 One-Time Events

The furore over GW2’s one-time events has mostly subsided, but there are still interesting things to discuss about it…

  • Bernard Parsnip responds to the one-time events’ fiercest critic, Azuriel, saying that publicity reasons justify Arena.net’s decision to run one-time gameplay“Guild Wars 2 is a new game that is not based on a well-known IP. It NEEDS this press coverage. Furthermore, the business model relies on front-loading revenues from players, so continually growing the player base is crucial until the RMT shop can pay for the overheads of the game.”

WoW Dailies And Grinding

  • Big Bear Butt complained about dailies and gearing up – but then practical experience has shown him that it’s actually comparatively easy to get raid-geared in MoP“If you’re a new raider, it does not take that long to get to where you need to be to get started. I just proved it. And once you’re getting drops from the raids that are now being released, you WILL get items of such higher iLevel that the LFR stuff will be massive downgrades.”
  • And The Godmother is looking at alts, and how she and other players will level them and prioritise them with all the grinding“The shift has been subtle, but it has been noticeable. Alts are likely to be left by the wayside by many except those with a huge amount of time and patience. Its not just about the achievements either, there are a lot of choices bound up with the way the current system is being weighted.”

WoW: Brawler’s Guild

  • Typhoon Andrew defends the design choices Blizzard are making with the Brawler’s Guild, including their invitation policy“New gameplay is asked for constantly, so anything which adds options without placing a highly prohibitive barrier is good.”
  • And Rohan looks specifically at the Guild’s content gating – high AH prices – arguing that it’s never been tried, and is worth experimenting with“To my mind, selling the Invitations on the BMAH might not be the best possible idea, but it might be the one with the least side-effects, and thus, the least-worst idea.”

Bullying and Unpleasant Players

So, let us know – what do you think?

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How Much Committment Should An MMO Demand?

LFR. Dailies. Lucky Charms. Food. If there’s a single thread running through Mists of Pandaria’s reception, it’s “HOW MUCH STUFF ARE WE MEANT TO DO?”

But is that fair? Are raiders – or players in general – actually required to do any of it? And why’s it provoking such a stink?

That’s the question a number of bloggers are addressing today, looking at the design of MMORPGs as a whole, and whether they do, will, should or can demand massive time commitment…

  • Jeromai considers the question from a psychological perspective, delving into Myers-Briggs personality types to find out why some people love grind and others hate it“The Judging preference might be more telling. I’m guessing that Judgers really like a sense of structure to their gaming. They need to be able to make plans, to see the next goal ahead of them, and are probably the most likely to enjoy making lots of to-do lists and checking them off.”
  • The Game Delver argues that MMORPGs as a whole have changed – that not every MMORPG is going to be a “virtual life” to play, and we should stop expecting them to be“Maybe it is time that instead of bloating their games beyond necessary, developers design MMORPGs to be picked up and played like League of Legends or a typical shooter.”
  • Vixsin, a very hardcore raider, argues that even hardcore players shouldn’t be complaining about the things there are to do, but thanking Blizzard for all their choices“This game isn’t a quicktime event, I don’t have to press “X” to continue, and I don’t have to do anything I don’t damn well feel like doing. And I’m going to thank Blizzard for giving me that option.”
  • Healing The Masses muses on the topics of committment, fun, entitlement, group play and more“So forget those self absorbed urges you have, find a group, get committed and be social.. its what we’ve been working towards with this always online world of ours.”
  • And Green Armadillo says that saying dailies, LFR or coin hunting is optional is rather like saying wearing pants is optional“Lecturing the customer on why they are incorrect, not as good at playing the game as people who are beating the content with the minimum gear, and need to find new friends with lower expectations – however accurate all of these statements may be – is not a good business strategy. “

This one’s going to run and run, I suspect, particularly with Blizzard showing no inclination to reduce the amount of Stuff To Do. I must admit, even as a non-hardcore raider, I’d be feeling the pressure of time if I was raiding this expansion – time before the nerfbat hits and raids suddenly get easier…

What do you think? ARE players required to do all this stuff?

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Controversy Watch: Asshats, Dailies, and Is LFR Required

It’s that time again – time to look at the controversial topics currently spurring discussion in the MMORPG world!

Today we’ve got more about unpleasant players, dailies, and the “Is LFR Required?” question…

The Dailies Of MoP

Dailies, dailies, and more dailies – but are we still hating them?

  • Shy is annoyed, but not because of the effort – she’s annoyed about the lack of choice of activities to get Lucky Charms“Why not allow people to gain lesser charms by pvping? Or get a lesser charm through Scenarios? I love those scenarios, but the rewards are somewhat meager at the moment. And since I only have limited time to spend in the game I don’t get to do scenarios nearly as much as I would prefer. Instead I spend time doing stuff I don’t enjoy much.”
  • And Big Bear Butt has cracked, started doing the dailies – and discovered that to his astonishment, he loves them“But for story and playing and fun, the structure of the Klaxxi have been the one element I have enjoyed the most, right from the beginning and stayed with me as the faction has continued to grow.”

Unpleasant Players

It’s an eternal topic of discussion, in WoW in particular, thanks to the LFD tool – and this week, the “what to do about asshole players” discussion has reared once again –

  • We don’t normally link WoW Insider Breakfast Topics, but Robin Torres’ question about PuGing gathered some fascinating responses“It is definitely much more personal in a 5-man group. That’s certain. It’s not “you all suck,” but “you suck, Laurel.” If I’m really not doing well, there are better ways to tell me, obviously. More often, however, the blamer is the one with the problem.”
  • And Kurn, who has recently quit WoW, points to one commenter as an example of how her values don’t seem to match with many WoW players’ today“Not only do I have very little in common with the vast majority of the playerbase in terms of how they approach their character and their play, but the vitriol displayed in his comment, especially his parting words, just reinforces to me that the vast majority of players out there aren’t people with whom I care to associate.”

Is LFR Required?

And finally, the topic of yesterday was LFR, and whether it’s actually required for raiders – and a raid leader responds:

  • The Grumpy Elf explains why, in his opinion and his guild, LFR play is absolutely required for his raiders“Raiding is a team event, one that everyone should contribute to. Doing the LFR is you learning the plays from the playbook. Any decent team player at least checks the plays out before showing up for the game. “

What do you think of all this? Let us know in the comments below!

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So, Is Everyone Still Grinding In MoP?

We’re into month 2 of Mists of Pandaria, and the biggest of discussion topics is still the same – The Grind.

Dailies, Valor Points, and All Those Things are occupying everyone’s mind – and hours.

Here’s the latest thinking from the blogosphere on That There Grind – from whether it’s worth it to ways to minimise the pain…

  • Big Bear Butt has hit the daily grind proper now, and he believes the Valor Point/Rep system in particular has gone completely off the rails“I like that you can do daily quests and get Valor as an alternative means to raiding or running heroics, but there was no reason to take all the JP and VP gear and scatter it to the four winds. Hur hur. Wrath had vendors all over the place, and I thought it was stupid then too. You shouldn’t need to use Google to figure out who has the damn VP gear.”
  • Shy is actually wondering whether she’d rather skive off of WoW – and wonders what that means for the game” But I was completely not looking forward to all the ‘Chores’ I still had to do in the game, so instead I hung in front of the TV and watched some series about hurricanes. It felt somewhat bad, I felt somewhat guilty.”
  • Theck believes – and makes a characteristically tight and well-reasoned argument that – raiders should be able to cap Valor Points by just raiding“By giving such meager valor rewards for raiding, Blizzard is basically saying, “Yeah, we understand that you guys love this content, and we love to produce it, but we don’t think that the 12-15 hours you spend raiding is really all that important. We’d rather you spend more time not raiding.””
  • And Rades dons tights and a cloak to become the saviour of WoW players everywhere with a huge list of tips and tricks for speedier Daily running“You don’t have to actually fight the Mogu who are torturing the Pandaren NPCs. Just fly nearby and aggro them to free a prisoner, then fly away.”

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

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MMO Design Roundup: Types of Fun, Ultimate Sandbox, Rewards Are Bad

If you’re interested in the way MMORPGs are designed, you’ll be interested in our roundup today, as we look at some of the best posts of the last week looking at the deeper elements behind your favourite MMOs…

  • Spinks writes a great piece looking at types of fun in MMORPGs“I would argue that WoW offers all four keys, although the Serious Fun aspect of the game felt stronger back in TBC, and you have to look for the Hard Fun via Challenge Modes, Arenas, and hard mode raids, or making up your own difficult achievements. “
  • “My Ideal MMO” posts are pretty common, but veteran MMO blogger Keen’s vision of a very Minecraft-sounding idealised sandbox was both interesting and, I thought, quite plausible – “Gear would be important, but dieing would mean losing your gear and using it would degrade it anyway. It needs to be like the medieval times when there could be a special sword you value, but if you lose it you can pick up most any other sword and still be able to fight because YOU are the weapon.”
  • And Rowan Blaze looks at the counterintuitive way that attaching rewards to fun activities (like dailies) can actually diminish the fun for all involved” If I am doing something for fun and relaxation—say, gardening—then it is a hobby. If I am doing it for some other reason—say, to feed my family and keep clothes on my back—then it is farming, and work. “

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please let other players know about them!

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Pandaren Grind Update: Now With Numbers

As everyone probably knows by now, the raiding game of Mists of Pandaria seems to leave serious raiders grinding like they just got two hours’ access to a warehouse full of freshly-roasted Yirgacheffe. Several bloggers have written that the discussion – and irritation – seems to be winding down, but looking at this weekend’s blog posts, I don’t see this topic dying any time soon.

Today, in particular, several writers have started getting into the nitty-gritty details, looking at the numbers and just how much work is required from each raider each day. And, as you’ll see, those numbers are pretty startling:

  • Anafielle is back with another post looking at the situation for hardcore raiders – this time, she’s running the numbers on the Valor Point cap, and coming out with some pretty scary stats“Let’s consider this in terms of hours. I’m already tossing 12 hours at MSV, and 2 or 3 hours at LFR with terrible pugs… and yeah, it can take 3 hours to do all 6 bosses depending on how many people fall through the floor on LFR Elegon. Having done all of this, I need to do 134 dailies or daily-equivalent activites to cap. Huh. That is… a lot.”
  • Big Bear Butt has come out with some numbers too, for consumables and flasks, and they’re looking, frankly, pretty butt-ugly“So, best case, say I spent 7 days a week planting 16 Songbells, harvesting them specifically for Golden Lotus and no other reason. I could get 1.6 Spirit a day, eleven Spirit of Harmony a week plus two motes left over. That comes close to what I’d need, 33 Golden Lotus. Close, but still no 40 Lotus Cigar.”
  • And BBB also writes a supplemental post that I had to feature, looking at the future of the heroes of Azeroth – alts all – as farm workers and manure shovellers“I can see one of those level 90s, in farming hat and coveralls, leaning on their shovel, gazing off towards the Golden Falls, saying to Farmer Yoon, “You know, I killed the Lich King. I was there, the day that Deathwing died. I have fought an elder god, and I have faced the celestial titans themselves to save our world from destruction.””
  • Matticus looks – unfavourably – at several aspects of the daily grind, including the decision to tie VP to reputation gains” 3 weeks later, all my item slots are filled with heroic dungeon or higher. I don’t even queue for it anymore unless a guildie needs a quick healer queue for a specific instance. But give us a tabard, and I’ll gladly brave heroics and carry a group if need be.”
  • Stubborn asks what Blizzard could do to fulfil our content needs without grinds, and challenges us to come up with some solutions“All of this relies on a tolerance for repetition, though. Blizzard does well as long as that’s true. The question of “if not dailies, what?” peels away that simple solution and asks for something more for those of us who want new experiences.”
  • The Grumpy Elf makes the excellent point that the daily grind can also get better or worse depending on a variety of semi-random factors“I have a friend of mine that does his dailies when he gets home from work which is roughly three hours before me. He says there is very little competition and the quests go fast and easy while when I do them there seems to always be at least 10 people camping spawn spots for mobs to kill because nothing is alive. “
  • And Rohan wonders if a lot of the problems with the grind come from a disconnect between how Blizzard and raiders think of Valor Point gear“But instance drops are random, and raiders tend to discount randomness. Or they expect the worst possible outcome of that randomness. But Valor gear is entirely under their control. “

If there’s one thing the WoW community’s good at, it’s optimising and figuring out solutions for the most intimidating of problems. I’ll be interested to see what solutions emerge from the dailies mess.

How would you fix the Dailies Problem?

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GW2 Dying? Best MMOs yet to come? Plus, a PSA

With the rush of MMOs this year – and many more expansions to come still – you could be forgiven for feeling a bit confused about the MMO world right now.

So today’s posts aim to help us all out – whether by looking at great MMOs still to come, answering the question of whether some of the current ones are dying, or just reminding you not to spend money you don’t want to lose…

  • Green Armadillo writes a very useful PSA for anyone who has an Annual WoW Pass and might want to end it some time soon“A reasonable person, such as myself or Wilhelm might reasonably have assumed paying for the second installment back in April insured that our commitments were met. Blizzard has chosen to interpret this commitment to mean that you cannot withdraw consent for recurring billing until the expiration of your pass term. “
  • The Grumpy Elf writes a zone-by-zone review of the much-maligned MoP daily hubs“I love doing the klaxxi area and it is one of the hubs I can see myself doing long after exalted if I have the time and am looking for something to do. “
  • Syp looks over the Next Generation of MMORPGs still to be released“I grew to appreciate EQII quite a lot (sigh… another title I wish I had time to be playing these days), and I know that SOE is going to want to put their best efforts toward their flagship product. Smedley’s promised that this will be a great sandbox to help sooth the wounds left by the closure of SWG, but we’ll see.”
  • And Tobold asks the question – with play time dropping, is Guild Wars 2 dying?” Thus after a few weeks of understanding “oh, this is how this works in Guild Wars 2″ everybody gets to a phase where he realizes that doing hearts in GW2 isn’t actually *that different from the questing we’ve already been doing for a decade, or that the PvP isn’t actually that different from the PvP we’ve been doing for a decade.”*

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

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The Dailies Time-Bomb Explodes

In amidst all the joy about Mists of Pandaria – and there’s a lot of joy – one issue has been quietly festering away. And judging from today’s blog posts, it may have just exploded.

That issue? Dailies, and daily chores for raiders. Mists of Pandaria has the heaviest burden ever in terms of non-raiding chores for serious raiders, and the discontent over that fact has been growing since Day 1 of the expansion.

With 3 posts focusing on the Daily Grind today and another three MoP summaries significantly featuring it, it seems the rage over make-work might have boiled over:

  • Flosch looks at the way too many required tasks can turn an entire game from a series of fun choices to a strict list of either “compulsory” or “forbidden” activities“When it is hard or impossible to complete all the compulsory tasks, everything not compulsory becomes in effect prohibited, because it takes up valuable time that should be used otherwise. Voilà, your internalized totalitarian game mini-regime: the game tells you what to do, and you do exactly that and only that.”
  • Stubborn looks at the necessary evil of dailies, and asks how we’ll be feeling about them in a year’s time” How many of us go back and do BC or Wrath dailies? If they were such a good invention, then a majority of players would continue to do them regardless of reward simply because they were entertaining. I’ve been recently to the Argent Tourney grounds to buy a pet with some old badges I had. The only sound was crickets.”
  • Rohan looks at the raiding folks in a short post from the perspective of a non-raider“And yet, have they succeeded? I don’t think so. Judging by the blogs in my reader, the higher-end raiders can’t pace themselves, and look to be burning out.”
  • Stormy sums up his experience of MoP so far, looking at the zones, sexism, and, yes, the Daily Grind“Most of the problem with dailies comes from a disconnect between the way Blizzard intended the dailies to be run, and the unbreakable mentality among the raiding set that all the faction reps and all the raids MUST BE DONE RIGHT NAO NAO NAO. “
  • Vidyala also sums up her MoP experience, praising many good things, but focusing on dailies as chief amongst the bad problems” Yesterday I was talking to Voss about this and I exclaimed suddenly, “I’ve made food in REAL LIFE that took less work than this!” I’m not even kidding. With the 300 stat food requiring x amount of vegetables, one fish, one meat, and one Ironpaw token, it’s a little ludicrous.”
  • And Beruthiel is getting steadily more frustrated with the daily grind amongst other things, saying she’d actually prefer the grind of Vanilla WoW raiding“The other thing that completely chaps my hide is that if I want to cap my valor points each week, I am required to spend more time outside of raids than I do in raids to do so.”

I’m not raiding this tier, and I must admit I’m rather glad of that fact. The grind does seem to have gotten out of control. I wonder if Blizzard will decide to alter it, or if they’re going to risk raiders burning out to preserve the game’s longevity?

How are you finding the WoW Dailies Experience?

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Controversy Watch: Too Many Dailies, Friendly GW and 25-man vs 10-man

From the good – Guild Wars 2’s success with creating a positive, friendly atmosphere – to the bad – Mists of Pandaria’s dailies, which many people are decrying as Just Too Much – to the perplexing – the eternal question of whether 10-mans or 25-mans are harder – here’s the latest from this week’s MMO debates!

Guild Wars 2 Is Friendly

Not so much a controversy as a ray of light in the MMORPG world, but still, the discussion of just how Guild Wars 2 has ended up So Damn Nice continues:

  • Ravious waxes lyrical over the non-verbal cooperation of Guild Wars 2’s game design“I want this, more than any other thing in Guild Wars 2, to be the yardstick for future MMOs. Can you, developers, have this moment in your game? Or does every hidden rule in the system prevent this? “

10-man or 25-man as the hardest raid in WoW?

After Theck’s thesis on the subject of 10-man vs 25-man difficulty yesterday, I’m expecting a renewed discussion on this subject:

  • The Grumpy Elf is first in line, considering a range of other options for why the results are currently shaking out as they are“Paragon did not finish first because 10 mans are easier, they finished first because they had more tools available to them to do so. That is my assumption and if my assumption is true that throws all the data out of the window because you can not compare a 10 man to another 10 man when one 10 man has basically almost a 25 man raid teams worth of exceptional players at their disposal and the other doesn’t.”

No More Dailies!

A number of bloggers, most recently Anafielle of Sacred Duty, have spoken up on the matter of MoP’s apparently pretty punishing requirements for hardcore raiders – and the debate’s just heating up:

  • The Godmother argues in defence of the new proliferation of dailies” I’d say the refinements that have been made are not only positive but should be rolled out across more of the game, so that not only does it take longer for you to complete them, but the value of what you make and what you grind for is more significant over time.”
  • And Kurn takes the opposite viewpoint, saying she’s glad not to be raiding any more because of the cooking grind in particular” In their effort to give more, diverse things for people to do, Blizzard has only succeeded in making a lot of the things “mandatory” for many of the raiders in their game. When, then, do raiders have the time to do Challenge dungeons? Scenarios? Hunt down those rares? Level alts?”

So what do you think? Too many dailies? 10-mans clearly easier? Guild Wars 2 less friendly than it seems?

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