Thursday, October 1, 2009

The death of WoW?

Is Warcraft dying? Is it soon to be another Diablo II, fun but no longer played?


I think I have been seeing the signs of it for awhile now. In my opinion Blizzard has been moving away from what made it great in the first place. It's no longer really an achievement to get to 80 (or 60 and 70 back in the day, somehow 60 was soo much harder). The sad part is, that it IS an achievement, along with getting a pet and sitting near people getting honorable kills. It's no longer a game that requires team effort and play.

Let me explain what I mean by team play. PUG thy name is Terrell Owens. I remember when teamwork was encouraged in WoW. When you had to apply to guilds and work hard for a raid spot. Today you can spam the Trade Channel or simply wait for someone else to spam the channel and hop into a Pick Up Group and successfully clear an instance (generally you "can"). If you have a good gear score on WoW-Heroes or WoWArmory you can have your choice of runs. Now it will be said that in order to get that gear you must first do something to get it so it's not as if people don't earn it. Well, that's true to a point. They invest time. With time you can get pretty much anything you want in WoW and never do anything but PUG. There are a few things that I think have caused this and they started in BC and have since morphed into something altogether different. Emblems.

Originally emblems took a bit of time and effort to gain. You earned them in raid content or from doing the daily heroic. Doing the daily heroic wasn't as simple as it is now. Now people do heroic chains. Back then, heroics were hard for new 70's, now you earn emblems from heroics, daily regs, daily heroics, raid content, picking your nose, etc... So a new 80 can begin to run heroic chains and within a week or two have quite the set of emblem gear including tier gear. You no longer have to run raids and win rolls. Now there is good and bad to this and a lot of people will argue that it makes content more accessible to the masses. It does. I just think it diluted the game.

Emblems aren't the only thing that have diluted the game. Trial of the Champion has diluted the game in ways I have never seen before. Regular ToC drops epics. That alone should tell the entire story. You can farm regular ToC and gear up a new 78 with epics in a single day. People who have never seen a raid are now raid ready and are completely clueless.

Instead of people having to learn how to play their class for end content they are being fed gear and content. I think Blizzard is trying to appeal to a more casual player. They are trying to get away from the haves and have nots. To address the feelings of achievement they have introduced Hard Mode achievements. In my mind these are simply little things that flash on the screen and then are gone. Yes, it's nice to do something that is difficult and that you had to work for. Why not let the game be that way instead of making the sense of accomplishment come from doing it with 8 players instead of 10?

The reason I began this little post was because 3.3 hit the test realm and the notes on it hit as well. The new 5 man takes ToC and puts it on steroids.

I began playing MUD's when they were simplistic text based games and a group of 2 or three guys worked really hard to write zone descriptions and room descriptions, to build MOb's (Mobiles, or Mobile Objects... your choice) and set Pop rates. They would set respawn times, MOb difficulties, gear rating, class balance, etc.. EVERYTHING. 3 guys. To learn your class was an achievement, there weren't calculators and spec analysis. To learn each new zone was an achievement. When WoW came out, it was the first MMORPG to capture the same feeling I had when I played MUD's. Honestly I missed the text based games, the creativity and unique ideas that were required to help make a MUD evolve is missing. Blizzard has steadily moved towards a product that is simplified for the masses when I would love to see the innovation and creativity as a focus instead. I want to have a sense of accomplishment. I want to be challenged by the game instead of rewarded for my time just because I spent the time.

I love WoW still... I'm just a bit disillusioned and want to be challenged again. I hope 3.3 can do this, the patch notes are not good indicators at the moment. There's always hope.

I found another post with the same title as mine when searching google, "Death of WoW" it provides a good argument for the other side of my little rant some of the readers of this blog might appreciate his opinions as well, it's good reading.


O-Digga said...

I hope you won't dismiss my comment as another casual player who likes that the game has been dumbed down for him. I'm not. I'm casual, but there have been some changes in WoW to make it more accessible to casuals that even I don't like. But that's neither here nor there.

It seems to me that the general tone of your post is that Blizzard is wrong for making everything in the game less of an achievement. You used getting to the level cap as an example. Did you really enjoy the slow grind to the level cap? Did you really enjoy the old continents that were intentionally designed to not be good for fast leveling? I personally think that leveling is enjoyable, but the fact that it was slow is intertwined with the reason that it wasn't as fun as it could be; it was badly designed. That's why getting to the level cap was an achievement: you had bested a flawed system.

However, the main reason that leveling is faster now is that Blizzard thinks that end-game is where it's at and wants people to get there as soon as possible, and why shouldn't they? Blizzard spends a lot of time on end-game content, so why should they make content for the minority of their player base? They want people to raid because they want people to see the raids. Raids also act as a way to continue the story of each expansion pack, so the only way to give players any sort of emotional investment in the game is to get them raiding.

I personally think that one of the things that makes WoW great is that it appeals to casuals more than other MMOs, since that means more people can get something out of it. A game cannot appeal to casual players if they need to spend a long time learning their class. It's just not worth it then. Besides, why does everything need to be an achievement? Can't people just enjoy the game?

Also, nothing personal against you, but I've had it with this "epics are too easy to get" crap. The idea that epics should be distributed only to the few is absurd to me. If you measure your success by the color of the name of the armor your avatar wears (to the author, this is not directed at you; this is just a general statement to people who think epics shouldn't be easy to get), then why are you even playing WoW? The armor is a symbol of something greater: the fact that you were able to defeat the boss that dropped it. We have achievements now to tell you that, and if you think achievements are somehow less legitimate of an indication of your accomplishments than gear, I challenge you to give me one good reason that they are.

That said, I do agree with you that making high-end emblems available from 5-man heroics was a bad idea, but it is just a temporary solution until Blizzard can figure out a way to get raiders to keep running heroics. I trust they will by the time Cataclysm comes out.

Finally, yes, reg ToC drops epics, but have you been in reg ToC? That instance is difficult. It takes a high level of skill to beat that instance, and often times groups that don't have that skill can only run reg ToC if they out-gear it, defeating the purpose of farming it for epics.

Triv said...

You have a lot of valid points and I appreciate that you shared them with me. I think it's a matter of perspective more than a right or wrong thing. I don't feel a sense of accomplishment when I don't have to "try" to do something. Buying "epic" gear with emblems is just one part of the simplification that blizzard is doing.

I also honestly loved leveling and for that matter I still do. I like the story lines, I like the challenge, and most of all I like the fact that it took something from you to get it done. From my perspective I think that it has been lost in Blizzards effort to simplify the process. I also don't feel it was flawed to begin with. Being from a MUD background I have a unique appreciation for game development and character development on it's merit alone.

You say that people measure their success based on the color of the name of the armor they wear and then say that it's not the armor but defeating the boss that drops the armor that is the achievement. I think thats saying the same thing in two different ways. Being able to defeat the MOb that drops the armor used to be the achievement. I just don't think the achievement is very gratifying anymore. I liked that it was hard to do, that you had to work as a team, that you had to learn how to play your character. Then, beating that boss is an achievement, you earned it. Being able to casually do the same thing now doesn't provide the same satisfaction IMO.

The point of my rant, and that's what it was, is that the sense of accomplishment has been diluted. To play a game requires there to be a point to it. For me that was to learn and progress and get better and to challenge myself with that new power to move even farther along. It's not that i don't love the game, I do. I just want that feeling of a job well done back. Instead of going through the motions I want to work for it... that's where I enjoy the game.

Thanks for posting your thoughts again. It made me think and more clearly state why feelings about my dissatisfaction with the direction Blizzard seems to be going. Promoting ideas and provoking thought is what this is all about. We have differing opinions on the state of play now and I don't expect my opinion to sway yours, however thanks for making me think about mine. I do love Warcraft.

O-Digga said...

"We have differing opinions on the state of play now and I don't expect my opinion to sway yours..."

And neither did I expect to sway yours, but I'm glad you were able to use my opinions to more clearly think about your own. And actually, now that you have stated them more clearly, I can better see where you are coming from.

Good blogging,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.