The Future Of WoW: From 25-mans to Combat Res

With Mists of Pandaria on the horizon, you might have expected the discussion in the blogosphere to be all about the here and now. But you’d be wrong.

As MoP looms, everyone’s suddenly talking about the far future of WoW – even the next expansion. From the end of 25-man raiding to the argument that we should get rid of combat resurrection, here are some fascinating thoughts on What’s Coming After:

  • Matthew Rossi at WoW Insider says – as a 25-man raider by preference – that he believes it’s time for 25-man raiding to die“Players won’t put in effort purely for its own sake, especially not while playing a game. There’s a reason relatively few of us have the Insane title. “
  • Matticus makes the controversial pronouncement that WoW no longer needs ANY combat resurrection abilities“This isn’t vanilla WoW anymore. We don’t need 40 people to run raids. I remember when combat res spells had no limits. Back then, those second chances were a necessity. There was only one difficulty level: Punishing.”
  • And Ceraphus goes point-by-point through the recent Blizzard Q&A to make predictions on gameplay and lore for the next couple of expansions“So Wrathion is looking ahead to the Burning Legion (possibly), sounds like we will see them in maybe a next expansion, so Sargeras coming to Azeroth would be right in line there.”

What do you think WoW’s future holds?

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iLevel Squish Roundup – the great “item squish” squish

Appropriately enough, there have been enough interesting, detailed posts on the Great Item Squish, as discussed by Ghostcrawler recently, that I have to squish them themselves – into their own roundup post.

If you don’t know the background – the Blizzard devs are facing inflation – of their item levels. With every expansion, the numbers get larger, and after a while, that starts to become a problem. And so, Ghostcrawler, the point man at Blizzard for this sort of thing, has been publically discussing solutions to the problem – either converting the numbers into a format called “megadamage” (where 1 million points equal one point, say), or altering every item in the game to flatten the ilevel curve.

And so, with no further ado, the blogosphere’s had some really interesting responses:

  • Nils believes that the reason behind iLevel inflation is control of player actions“In my opinion, the game would be great fun if you could run a lvl90 raid with lvl85 items. Players would still run the lvl90 raids, because the items are better. But players would also enjoy running lvl85 raids for lvl85 items every now and then. In fact, this is exactly one of the things WoW needs right now!”
  • Cynwise considers the proposed solutions from a PvP perspective“This mess is how twinking works – find the imbalance in the system and ride it for all it’s worth. It’s why you see Tazik’s Shockers and Synapse Springs in level 65 battlegrounds, why Green Tinted Goggles were so good in 10-19s, why Crusader and +25 Agility and +22 Intellect enchants are so overpowered at level 10-14.”
  • Matthew Rossi at WoW Insider is coming down on the side of item squishing“The squishing effect will lead to rebalancing that brings all raids closer together in terms of numbers dealt and taken across the board. Illidan in Black Temple suddenly looks a lot closer to the Lich King.”
  • Rank 4 Healing Touch launches a detailed investigation of how the problem became a problem“If Blizzard made the conceit that raiders who had achieved the highest level of gear would continue to wear that gear until they reached max level of the next expansion be it entry raids or heroics as well as compressed the item level progression of wrath and cataclysm things would have turned out a lot differently. “
  • And Gazimoff of Mana Obscura analyses the game design behind the numbers“The more fundamental question is why has gear itemisation become so important in Warcraft? What’s the fundamental reason behind having regular gear upgrades and why are they needed?”

So, what do you think Blizzard need to do about iLevels?

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Fun vs Fun

Ghostcrawler, the public face of the WoW development team, has been referring to “fun” rather a lot in recent postings. It would appear that “fun” is the new watchword for the WoW design team, and anything that they don’t consider fun quickly goes by the wayside.

On the face of it, that seems like a very sensible decision – after all, this is a game, right? It’s meant to be relaxing, entertaining – in a word, “fun”. But is it that simple? Oestrus Stories of O has been thinking a bit about GC’s recent speechmaking, and she’s not at all convinced:

“At the same time, not everything in life is meant to be fun. You don’t decide that you want to have a baby with your partner because it’s going to be fun. You don’t volunteer to give a speech in front of a room full of people because it will be fun. You don’t clean the cat’s litter box because it’s fun.

Sometimes you do things because they are necessary or because they are expected of you. It’s a means to an end, a way to get past an obstacle that you wouldn’t be able to overcome, otherwise. It could be something that you need to do, in order to get it out of the way, so you can have some real fun later on down the line. You do it because nobody else can or nobody else will. Fun has nothing to do with it.”

Her argument is essentially that the focus on “fun” removes many other aspects of the game – notably the willingness to work for a reward and interest in challenges. I can see what she’s saying, although I think that anyone who’s currently raiding hard-modes would disagree that there’s a lack of challenge in WoW at present – but on the other hand, as we heard yesterday, the lack of effort in the levelling and non-raiding game is starting to annoy some people.

Meanwhile, Eccentrica Jones is taking an entirely different tack – she’s seeing a lot of people referring to WoW as “work”, or “taking a break” from the game, and she’s asking whether we’re remembering that this is, after all, meant to be a game where overall, we have fun:

“I see so many posts and comments that use such terms as ‘quitting’ and ‘break’ and ‘have to’ and I find it rather odd that those are used in conversation about a game. Do you ‘quit’ playing Monopoly? Do you take a ‘break’ from Nintendo? When was the last time you said ‘I have to play..’ in relation to a non-electronic pastime?

The fact is that too many of us have backed ourselves into a corner. We ‘have’ to do our dailies. We ‘have’ to cap points for the week. We ‘have’ to do our heroics. The list of ‘have to’s’ could fill a blog post in and of itself, and you know them all so I won’t bore you by continuing. What I will do, though, is suggest to you this, and it’s a radical concept for some: You don’t have to do a goddamn thing; ever. This applies to your entire life.”

It’s interesting to see two posts take such very different tacks at the same topic. It’s very Greek Philosophy: Oestrus is extolling the virtues of stoicism, wheras Eccentrica’s taking a very Hedonist approach to the entire thing. It’s a refreshing debate where both sides have a good point.

What do you think? Is a game meant to be “fun”? Are the two articles talking about different definitions of “fun”?

Quotes taken directly from their respective articles.

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Do You Need To Be In A Big Guild For Group Content?

Kaozz over at ECTMMOblog.com is in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand she’s enjoying some aspects of WoW more than ever. On the other hand she’s playing more casually than ever – and feels like WoW’s priorities are steamrollering her in Cataclysm.

Kaozz is a member of a very small, casual guild. She doesn’t want to leave it but Cataclysm’s instances are just too long and raiding’s beyond the question. She looks at the problem while taking apart Ghostcrawler’s latest blog post on dungeons, the LFD tool and group content. Kaozz says small guilds are being pushed out: their members either have to join big guilds or recruit strangers (as the LFD system reduces the opportunity to get to know people on your server) in order to see group content.

So why penalize small guilds because they lack the numbers or casual guilds? We must be in an active, large guild to really enjoy the game, even casually, at this point in time?

Is there a place for the casual player? The casual guild? What about people who can’t find a solid guild at odd play-times? …But what about the little guilds, do they suffer and fall apart, friends get left behind?

After thorough musings on Ghostcrawler’s post Kaozz reckons that the LFD tool isn’t working as intended and they may as well throw it out. Ooh err. Just to round it off, she says that WoW’s far from working as intended, as the developers like to call it. Instead it feels to her that she’s repeatedly relearning how to play her class, the game, on the whim of the developers – because they don’t know what they want. Thing is, Kaozz isn’t crying wolf – wherever possible in her post she’s fair to the game and the developers. What she has are reasonable problems with the game, and as she says… isn’t it a bit early in the expansion for burnout to set in?

What do you think – is Kaozz making too big a deal of the way Cataclysm’s group content is set up, or does it unfairly exclude casual/small guilds?

_Quote taken directly from Kaozz’s post

You can find ECTMMOBlog’s homepage here_

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