Saturday, February 27, 2010
What does all of this mean for the blog and the reader? Well, I think it means that from here on out the blog will be dedicated to explaining and detailing what I am doing at the time and why I chose to do it. For example currently my cousin and I are leveling yet more alts in an effort to recruit new players to our guild that have little or no experience with the game. We are trying to see if we can groom players to our style for end game. It's not working out well but we are still trying.
So, in closing I will be blogging yet once again and look forward to seeing where this all goes.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Trade Skill Evolution
It's amazing how fast life can interfere with plans, this article is being published a bit late due to random normal everyday things getting in the way. At any rate, I said I would write something about the ideas I have for balancing new players (or alts) with established players.
In the workplace one of the most common complaints is wages. Most employees say that if they were to get more pay for the job they do they would be happier in their position. Studies show however, that increased wages do not positively affect employee retention. Instead, things such as health benefits, retirement plans, profit sharing, and “fun” employee activities at and outside of work have a strong impact on employee retention and happiness. So why do these things work while increased wages don't? Well, it's simple really, if you don't like your job it doesn't really matter how much you get paid. However, if you get benefits and are involved in activities the job is no longer as much of a droning thing as it was before. Think of this in WoW terms and we can draw a parallel between giving things to players for free versus involving them in content to improve player satisfaction and retention.
Let's look at some ideas then.
Mini-Games for trade skills
Trade skill specialization
Skill specific related quest chains and dailies
Larger reagent involvement in crafting skills to improve profitability
Raid and Dungeon specific events
I personally love this idea. Imagine being able to play a mini-game while fishing, now instead of looking at a bobber and waiting for it to plunge downward you can actively participate in jigging or moving a lure to entice a fish. Swirl a skillet while frying some eggs. Sprinkle spices on the roast on the spit. Each one of these things adds a bit of flavor to the event (pun intended). Players could add spices to recipes for altered effects, mild spices for a soothing healing drought, cajun spices for high powered fire damage boost.... who knows, the possibilities are endless. The point is, they add variety and involve doing something more than queuing up a specific number of items and walking away for a cup of coffee.
Trade Skill Specialization
(storyline for dramatization)
The tank is taking a lot of damage over time due to bleed effects and the healers are having one heck of a time keeping up with him and the rest of the raid members what with all the raid damage that is flying around as well. You just happen to be a tourniquet specialist, your whole goal in life is to staunch the bleeding. You've spent the time to learn this skill and now is your chance to shine and save the raid. You jump into action bandaging the tank while he tries to maintain his position against the groups mighty foes, suddenly the healers spells start winning the battle, the bleeding has slowed. The group is victorious thanks to you and your knowledge of wound dressings. There are lots of specialized skills that could be implemented that would provide a reason for people to level trade skills. It would add a whole new depth and dimension to the game that it lacks. First-Aid Tourniquet Specialist, just kinda has a flair to it.. don't you agree!?
Quests and Dailies
We already have these, I'm just thinking that we could do so much more with them in concert with any of the other ideas provided here.
Trade skills items could be used as reagents for more and more things. If blizzard wants to have trade skills available to the masses and they also want reagents to be gathered by the masses why not involve them even more so in the crafting professions? I'll grant that alchemy and herbalism kind of take away a lot of the possibilities but you can add to something like First Aid with herbalism, now there are medicinal wraps instead of simple cloth wraps. You could cook broths to be used in concert with healing positions or strength potions or whatever.. The point is, involve the trade skills.
Involvement in Raids and Dungeons
What if they added special mini bosses to a few dungeons that required the use of some sort of cooking/fishing/first-aid skill to access? The idea has been thought of and somewhat implemented before. I say “run with it”. Take the idea and make it a larger part of the game.
All of these ideas have one thing in common. They involve the player in something that causes the player to want to succeed and thus increases the enjoyment of the game. Giving the players things for free doesn't serve any purpose. I will forever subscribe to the idea that something you did not earn will never mean as much as the same thing if you had to earn it. Take a car for example, the kid that is given the car doesn't appreciate the value of the car, the kid that had to earn his/her first car on their own appreciates exactly what it took to get that car and is more likely to take very good care of it and take pride in it. It's the same thing with games, give players things and they don't appreciate it, they may never even use it.... but give them a reason to earn it and then suddenly it is a true achievement unlike the achievement for logging in on an anniversary.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Sometimes I think Blizzard/Activision gets a little too helpful. This latest incarnation of the overly helpful drug dealer is the Pilgrims Bounty seasonal event. It seems they thought there weren't enough people leveling the cooking skill or that were so far behind on cooking that they would never bother to level it. To address this apparently glaring issue they made a super cheap in game power leveling service. Now for a few measly silver pieces you to can be a Grand Master Cook. Forget the people who actually leveled the skill, better yet, forget the people who had developed strategy to make in game gold from this problem.
You see, I have long had the idea to create a cooking kit. It's a really simple thing, fish up or farm the mass quantities of items required to power level cooking from 1 - 415ish or higher. When Grettir came to me and told me that the Pilgrims Bounty would require a cooking skill of 280 to complete, I immediately assumed (sadly) that the time had finally come to offer the kit. I explained to Grettir what I had been thinking of over the past few years and he readily agreed to help me test the venture out. Oh, I might add that this was Friday, two days before the event was to start.
Fish, for hours really, fish. Here's the deal, you can literally level fishing and cooking at the same time, which is seriously beneficial seeing as the best food in the game is fish based. I had worked out how many fish and what types of fish were needed to level cooking from 1-450 including recipes, where they could be bought, and spices if need be for leveling beyond around 415ish. Grettir and I agreed to run a test trial, we would only fish up enough for 5 kits. We began fishing and completed each kit to skill level 250 or so when we called it a day on Saturday. We were thoroughly bored by then and though we could have kept on going we decided that people were going to need to level cooking all week, the delay might improve our sales and profit. I should note here that this was our sanity's saving grace.
Sunday rolls around and I log on to find that the new event was our drug dealers little enticement baggie to keep us hooked. People were dancing in the streets. “All Hail Blizzard, provider of super cheap in-game power leveling services!” I was sick to my stomach, how could Blizzard keep making these crazy changes in their philosophy? Soon, they will make disenchanting into an automated process to be used by anybody wanting to use it in a dungeon or raid regardless of the skilled persons desire to comply or not. Now they are making a useful in game skill a freebie gift to anybody wishing to spend 30 minutes mindlessly traveling and cooking. They took away the players ability to play the game in lieu of accommodating laziness.
Think about it, what would you pay for a kit that would level your cooking skill from 1 to max before you knew it was a freebie from the drug dealer? If there were incentives like... oh say seasonal event achievements that required cooking, or in game vanity items, or any slew of random things, people would level cooking. Smart people would make money off of the lazy people that the drug dealer just catered to. I was betting that people would pay quite a bit for a new title and vanity pet. It seems I was wrong. Now the entire population of Warcraft is 350+ cooking. Why? Because, Blizzard saw that a significant amount of players had not leveled cooking and were not likely to invest the time to level the skill, likewise new players weren't leveling the skill because it took away from leveling time and getting to their ultimate goal of end-game content. So, apparently they deemed that in order to balance new players with old players or lazy people with industrious people they would give them this freebie... why not, it encourages more game-play, and subscriptions are number one.
Why is it that they think players need to be hand held? It's not like we live in New York City and have to wear diapers and batting helmets for our own safety while walking down the street. (New York City is famous for making laws for public safety that are a bit of a stretch of their governing power) I am honestly tired of hearing that these changes are for the better of everyone so that new players can immediately jump in and begin to play end game content. If that were the case then remove the entire leveling system I say. I don't subscribe to the idea that giving players achievements for picking their nose can replace game balance. Game balance in an MMO is greatly based on the players and their chosen paths of ascension in the game. Some players will move far beyond others simply due to skill, time, and effort. Is it fair then to re-balance the game by changing the rules to give the lazy or the new players significant advantages to close the gap? I say no. If it's worth having, then it's worth working for.
If you are too lazy to spend the time and effort to level a skill or upgrade a piece of equipment then giving it to you for little to no effort is wasted on you. You won't appreciate it and you will always ask for more thinking that it's owed to you, that you are entitled. You pay a subscription fee every month, why shouldn't Blizzard owe you the same gear that someone once had to work very hard for? Why shouldn't you get your skills leveled for free to be on par with the people who have paid their dues in time and effort? I am by no means even close to the best WoW player out there, I FAIL miserably at PVP and am only mildly successful when it comes to raiding and other PVE endeavors. I am however someone who appreciates the effort in becoming skilled, in attaining some high plateau, of obtaining rare and hard to get items, it speaks to your dedication, effort, and even luck. Now, if everything is there for the taking in a welfare line, I don't really see the achievement in it. It's not hard to stand there with your hand out, nor is it something to be proud of when you are given something that you did not earn.
Todays gold making tip, guess as to which Skill, Item, etc Blizzard will offer for free to even the playing field for lazy or new people and beat them to the punch.
Solutions offered? I am open to suggestions and may post a few of the ideas I have in an upcoming article.