Does Blizzard Even WANT You To Raid?

Wrath of The Lich King was an astonishing expansion for WoW in many ways, but one of them was the way it opened up raiding. For the first time ever, the ultimate endgame was accessible to all players – and I know a lot of people, including me, got their first real start in raiding then.

But has MoP gone back to the old model of raiding only being for the elite? Saxsy thinks so, and she makes a persuasive case – although I’m sure there will be counter-arguments – in her latest post:

“The upshot? If you wanted to raid, in practice you have to do dailies. Raiding without dailies meant somehow, through purchased items and a lot of heroics, scraping together a 460 ilvl set to get into LFR. And then in LFR, gearing would be slower than other people because you wouldn’t have those extra charms to get good loot. If a 460 ilvl is required for normal LFR, which rewards ilvl 476 items, one could reasonably extrapolate that you should have a 473 item level to enter normal MSV. Good luck hitting that without valor gear.

In short, a person not running dailies is at such a competitive disadvantage to someone running dailies that it’s unlikely they would find a raid spot on a raid team that had the aim of clearing current content in normal mode.

This is what people mean when they technically inaccurately claim that dailies are compulsory. They’re not strictly compulsory. But good luck raiding without them.

Read the article (note – the meat of the post starts about a page down): How Blizzard Convinces People Not To Raid

Read more →

Are The Rep Grinds In Danger Of Killing Parts Of WoW?

It seems to be a bit of a macabre day today. First we’ve got EVE Online’s blogosphere, said by some to be in imminent danger of extinction, and now we’re talking about the reputation grind of Mists of Pandaria, which more than a few bloggers have claimed is or will choke off parts of the game entirely.

But is it that much of a problem? And for whom?

  • The Grumpy Elf is the second to sound the warning horn on the effects of rep grinds on alt characters“I am a grinder, I love to grind and I would gladly go through what could be an amazingly hard and long grind, but I will not do it another time on another character just to get some sort of profession item. It moves from the category of fun, which is doing it on my main, to work, which is doing it on an alt.”
  • Pike doesn’t understand why people are complaining about reputation grinds now, after the rep grinds of previous WoW expansions“Do you remember back in Burning Crusade when you had to be Revered with a faction just to run that faction’s heroic? Yeah. Later they changed it to Honored, but still!”
  • And Shy explains why she’s finding that she’s at a brick wall with her WoW play, as a casual player with nothing to spend Valor on unless she grinds“The only SOLO path of progression is doing dailies. You can run dungeons till you drop, but it doesn’t matter. Without doing the dailies you have nowhere to spend your valor.”

It doesn’t look like the rep grind discussion’s dying out any time soon. But why is it a bigger deal this time around? Will it screw up your alt play? And is it as bad as it looks for casual players?

Let us know what you think!

Read more →

Is Griefing Fixable? Has One Game Done It?

Over the years, many people have argued that griefing, bullying and abusive language are just the nature of MMOs, and you can’t fix them. It looks like they might be wrong.

Today we’ve got three interesting posts on the subject of hostile MMO communities, including details of how League of Legends has apparently succeeded in massively cleaning up its infamously hostile player-base:

  • Stubborn looks at the interactions involved in bullying, between the bully, the victim, the audience, and the (often absent) authority“The bully attacks the victim for something from the audience – it could be popularity, support, attention, or fear – while the victim seeks help from the authority, who (should) comes down on the bully. “
  • Spinks asks whether, based on her experiences in MoP, one way to diminish abusive player behaviour is just to make content easier“But really, random groups need easier content to make up for the fact that they won’t have as much experience at working together, are less likely to communicate, and are likely to contain players of widely differing skill and experience levels. “
  • And Gameronimist looks at the success of the “Honor” system and more in League of Legends, and how well it’s worked“Isn’t this what Scott has been talking about the whole time? The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. People don’t need rewards to stop acting like assholes. They just need some intrinsic motivation to do so. “

What do you think? Can LoL’s success be applied to other games?

Read more →

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!

Read more →

Are You Required To Do LFR – or ANY MMO content?

No-one’s required to do LFR, right? You don’t have to do it.

Or do you?

That’s the question that blew up on the official forums over the weekend – and has prompted several bloggers to write interesting posts looking at the issue of social expectations, hardcore raiding, and just what you are or aren’t required to do…

  • Here’s Zarhym’s original post and his lengthy follow-up” Our goal isn’t to make sure progression raiders never want or need to run LFR. Having experienced raiders queuing up is usually going to be a net gain for everyone (in terms of wait times, success rates, etc.). There is usually some benefit to most level-90 players running Raid Finder, but that’s obviously very different from “forced content.””
  • Anafielle was actually the one who Zarhym quotes in his response, above, and she wrote a fascinating follow-up post looking at whether LFR is indeed required“It really annoys me to see my style of play disrespected by others. Comments like “You have a guild problem” or “That’s a playstyle choice” are really disrespectful to me. They completely miss the point.”
  • And Matticus also weighed in on the issue of LFR being required, pointing out that in loot distribution systems where player effort is considered, LFR attendance or not will affect your chances of raiding loot“Watching people absolutely refuse to queue for it despite the fact there’s a chance for possible upgrades feels like they’re not as willing nor as committed as I am to the success of the raid group.”
  • And finally, Dinaer wrote on a similar subject last week, putting a lot of the complains about “required” content down to nothing more than impatience“People have no self-control. We see dailies and reputations and say OMG I HAVE TO DO THAT BECAUSE ITS THERE. Rein it in. You’ve probably got two years with this expansion. You can get the reputation to exalted later. Or next year.”

The topic of what’s required and expected in an MMO is an endlessly complex and fascinating one – and it’s certainly not as simple as “if you don’t want to do LFR but feel you have to, UR playin it rong”. I’ll be interested to see where the debate goes from here.

What do you think?

Read more →

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!

Read more →

WoW: The Non-Grind Edition

You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d stumbled on a coffee blog if you’re reading about WoW at the moment – everyone’s talking about the grind. But fear not – there’s much more to WoW than just dailies, as these bloggers pointed out this weekend:

  • Evlyxx is looking for co-consipirators for a very cool cross-realm raiding project: getting the “Herald of the Titans” title, only possible at level 80 with appropriate gear“In reality this means that your armour items must be ilvl 226 (or less) and weapons/off hands must be ilvl 232 (or less). They don’t need to be from Ulduar, although to max the stats Ulduar 25 is the best place to farm gear. “
  • The Ancient Gaming Noob reports that Blizzard have just changed their stance on charging payments after Annual Pass expiry“I went to check my WoW account yesterday, just to make sure that the times and dates hadn’t altered for whatever reason. Everything seemed about the same. However, the cancel button was no longer grayed out. So I clicked it. “
  • Green Armadillo considers his Annual Pass too – was it actually good value, and will Blizzard further innovate with it in the future?” I speculated whether Blizzard would be doing anything to make the base price of the WoW subscription more palatable to people like myself who are open to paying a bit more for uninterrupted access, but not $150/year. Despite the success of the program – over 1.2 million customers took Blizzard up on it – the answer is apparently not. “
  • Tobold is looking at the reputation grind from a slightly different direction – a just-dinged 90 who can’t even spend his Justice Points“I don’t mind there being daily quests in the game, there are probably a lot of people who like them as an endgame activity. But why not make the rewards for dailies to be pets and mounts and other stuff you don’t need to run heroics and raids?”
  • And lastly, Mister Adequate writes a fun post looking at the WoW races that should totally, totally be playable“Naga. The quests in Vash’jir where you are a Naga Battlemaiden are great, because you get to see how cool as heck Naga are. Turns out they’re refined, treat their underlings reasonably, and act with respect and decorum! Also they have that crazy spinny-blade blender move that minces everything.”

How’s your WoWing been this weekend?

Read more →

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?

Read more →

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?

Read more →

MoP Report: One Week In, Is The Thrill Lasting?

Mists of Pandaria is one week old – so is the magic holding, or is Pandaria starting to pall?

  • Ben at The Asylum Wall enthuses about the MoP Pet Battle System“The speed of the battles will lend itself to filling in those small gaps of inactivity better. Waiting a few minutes for that third guildie to be ready for a scenario or LFD? Suit up your mini-gladiators. LFR queue? Pet battles. Got fifteen minutes to kill before the raid? Go.”
  • Zinn gives us a “one week in” summary, from initial feelings of overwhelm to thoughts on the daily grind“Eventhough the quests might be quick and easy, I can’t feel but think that it is unjust as some classes and specs have a much easier time with quest farming than others.”
  • Erinys has hit level 90, and gives us her view from the level cap, from dailies to Heroics to pet battles“The choice is overwhelming as is the feeling that you should ignore the “fun” ones (Tillers/Anglers/Cloud Serpents) whilst concentrating on the rest in the run up to raids and the arena season starting. “
  • Rowan Blaze returned to WoW for the Pandaren starting zone, and gives us impression from the PoV of a Guild Wars 2 convert“Another aspect of WoW (and SWTOR) that I do not miss is the competition for resources with other players. After having trained in skinning, I forgot that I was capable of doing so and turned around to a recent kill, only to find another player skinning it.”
  • Fari the Achivement Hunter rounds up her experiences with both cooking and fishing, one week in“Can I be honest? I was totally and completely skeptical about what people call “Farmville” with the Tillers reputation, but it’s a lot more fun than I expected! “
  • Kadomi has hit 90 one week in, and gives us an overview of the experience so far, from leveling zones to the rep grind“I do however not mind the old-fashioned reputation grind. In a way, that makes reputation more meaningful to me. “
  • Derevka gives us a quick overview of his experience from 85 to 90, touching on both leveling and what’s coming to be the early endgame bugbear, the reputation grind of dailies“I have to really stand up and applaud Blizzard for Mists of Pandaria; it really is probably one of their most polished expansions to date. “
  • Jed gives us his impressions too, as someone who played particularly the Jade Forest thoroughly on beta and in Live“I much prefer the new quests as they definitely convey the “we are at war” concept that blizzard has been pushing on us for this expansion. “
  • Darraxus gives a quick overview of his mid-leveling impressions“I am really enjoying the questing so far. There are lots of little interesting quests, and many have given me fun items instead of just a weapon or piece of armor. “
  • And Zellviren closes the day off by waxing extremely lyrical about MoP’s profession design. Spoiler: he’s really, really impressed“This is flat-out great design. It’s imaginative, it’s fun, it adds legitimate gameplay value to professions that many players like, and it manages to do all of that without ostracizing raiders who merely want to get their performance bonuses.”

I’m a fair way behind most people in leveling in MoP, but still – it is indeed still great fun.

So, one week in – what are your thoughts?

Read more →