Dailies, Dungeons and Choices

Hey, everyone! I’m back from my week off, refreshed and renewed – thanks to Johnnie for holding down the fort in my absence.

As I’ve been reading back over the last couple of days in the blogosphere, the common thread that’s struck me is a lot of very interesting, intelligent discussion of some fairly high-level game concepts. It seems that change is still in the air, and people are looking at old concepts with “the future’s coming” eyes…

  • Nils has a really interesting piece on daily quests, focusing on the idea that dailies are driven by a fear of lossBy introducing an artificial limit of how often an activity can be conducted per day (/week), Blizzard also introduces a potential permanent loss. If you don’t do a daily today, it will be lost forever. Thus, you feel like you really should do the daily.
  • Straw Fellow has been considering randomised dungeons, and asking whether they’d help preserve a game’s longevityRandom dungeons would require a bit more attention than normal ones, as you couldn’t reliably predict the next encounter or puzzle. Randomized loot means there is potential to find an upgrade for everyone, unless you outgear the content of course. The track record of success with randomized dungeons is fairly high already, and the random nature ensures a good level of re-playability at least.
  • And Tobold’s been considering the issue of choice, and just what a game needs to offer to make a choice meaningfulIf the option to make the “wrong” choice disappears, then that is not really a choice any more. It is like the “choice” in a MMORPG whether you want to accept the quest to kill 10 foozles, or whether you want to those foozles without a quest and miss out on the quest reward.

What are your thoughts? Hate random dungeons? Feel that SWTOR will offer genuine choices? Love dailies? Put ‘em below!

All quotes taken directly from the respective blog post.

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Tales of loss

It’s Hugh ‘s birthday this week, so he’s taking a few days off and leaving the Pot to lowly ol’ me. Don’t worry – I’ll keep it bubbling away nicely. Speaking of birthdays, today’s first link goes to Rank 4 Healing Touch with congratulations on a Blogiversary. I’m not entirely sure that’s a word, but I’m willing to let it slide just this once.

I have two stories for you today, and both are tales of loss. This post on Are We New At This expresses one player’s pain and frustration at the news of Patch 4.3’s sexy Transmogrification facilities. Why pain? Well …

For five years the Tier 2 set collected dust in my bank. I would take it out infrequently when we had a retro-vanilla-WoW party in Ironforge, but other than that it just remained in my bank, unwanted, useless, sad. Two months prior to quitting WoW in May, I deleted the set to make space for a lot of other items I was stock-piling. Two months after I quit, Transmorgification was announced.

Ouch. I sympathize. I’m sure I’m not the only player who went through a mental inventory when Transmogrification was announced, cursing every piece of great-looking gear that I’d thrown away to make more room in my bank.

Of course, from Blizzard’s point of view (as many commentators have speculated) this is probably great news. Forcing a player to actually possess the gear she wants to ‘fake’ with transmogrification will result in a influx of players revisiting old, low-level content. It’s a bit of a cheap trick, perhaps, but that won’t stop many players farming for items that they had in their bank a year ago. I know – I’ll be one of them.

Today’s second tale of loss is a slightly more optimistic one, and comes from Analogue at Looking For More. The reason I love this post so much is simply because of the enthusiasm and affection for the raid team that glows through every word. Those of us who are lucky enough to have found a great group of regular raiders will know just how valuable that can be, and just how much fun we can have on every the most wipe-filled raids.

It was getting late, and we had a good attempt, got through a whole cycle and mostly a second. We were tempted to call it but…. we’re progression raiders, and at some point we have to act like it, so we called for one last good attempt. … that wipe felt like a kill, to me. We can get this kill, it’s just a matter of time. We’ve learned to dance.

The Melting Pot staff went a-raiding last night, after a month-long hiatus. Our 10-man raid had taken a bruising, and 5 of us were playing roles we’d never taken before. It was chaotic, it was messy, and it was – at times – a bit rubbish … but it was great fun. Next week, we’ll do even better. As Analogue so eloquently puts it : we’ve learned to dance.

Quotes taken directly from the quoted posts: ‘Transmorgificate my Fist in Your Face’ or ‘Too Little Too Late’ and When A Wipe Feels Like A Win .

How about you? Is a wipe always just a wipe? Are you cursing the day you vendored your Tier 2 set? Let us know in the comments.

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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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When Guildies Leave Forever

With all the muttering at the moment about whether or not Cataclysm is any good, we’re facing a situation where many of us – perhaps all of us – are going to see in-game friends and companions leaving World of Warcraft, likely forever. I know that Rebecca’s and my own guild has seen one person leave in the last few months, and many of our readers will be facing the same situation.

Tamarind of Righteous Orbs is one of them. He’s recently seen a close friend quit the game, and it inspired him to write a thoughtful post not about the in-game reasons why, but the feelings and thoughts that the disappearance of a fellow player leave, particularly if it’s likely you’ll never interact with them again once they’re no longer in WoW.

It also made me realise just how fragile the connections we make in Azeroth can be. I suppose there’s an extent to which all connections are fragile – I mean how many times have we promised to stay in touch with colleagues and then never bothered, not because we didn’t give a damn but because it actually takes quite a lot of effort to maintain a friendship with someone when your lives aren’t naturally in harmony. So really there’s no difference between somebody stopping playing WoW and, I don’t know, moving to another city or giving up the football game or the poker night, or whatever. It’s just the intangibility of it all makes it seem worse somehow.

I suppose it’s because there’s more self-delusion involved in the real world examples – you can tell yourself that if you’ll just overcome the habits of a lifetime and do it right this time you can compensate for natural social inertia, but when WoW is the thing that brings, and binds, you together there’s no sense of control at all. And that person will be gone. If you’re very lucky you might have, gasp, a real name or, gasp, an email address but you’re so defined by the fact that he thinks you’re a belf in a sissy robe and you think he’s an angry bear I don’t know how far it is possible to transcend the limitations of Azeroth.

I’ve never really seen anyone address the sense of loss that almost invariably accompanies long-time involvement in an online game. I still miss the guildmates I played with back in Classic, from the guild that dissolved when we all vanished onto alts in TBC. And given that I first met the girl I love in World of Warcraft, it’s a scary thing to think that, had the situation been different, we might just have drifted apart or been separated by events in the game.

It’s sad but it’s true – all the developer changes and gradually aging content will have a cost in terms of friendships that fall apart and confidants we never see again.

What do you think? Do you make an effort to keep in touch with people who leave in game? Or are there still humans out there somewhere who you never knew outside their big shoulderpads and glowy epics who you wish you could have stayed in touch with?

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