Friday, November 27, 2009

Power Level Cooking, Blizzards Ever Growing Band-aid

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.

The Plan:

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.


Cozmo D said...


Blizzards main issue is the game is 5 years old. The player base is established and the number of truly "new" players is far lower than before. The game is now about two things "mains" and "alts". The game is a true grind fest and nothing turns off a player more than repeating content over and over again. I do agree that this direction sucks, I am not sure what they do to keep the current player base playing.

Triv said...

I'm not sure either, though I think I'll have a few ideas to share on Monday.

Anonymous said...

I, personally, am unsure why tradeskills in general feel like a major grind while you level -- you kill things, you get mats you need, you make products. It all dovetails together fairly nicely barring a few bad patches in each profession (and enchanters being broke from breaking all their quest rewards and found greens).

That being said, providing more depth to the crafting experience would make the tradeskill arena more fun and less of a grind -- have rewards -- quests and dailies, and crafting would seem like it had a point beyond "I really SHOULD have tradeskills, right?" I actually never leveled fishing on a character until dailies for the skill were offered -- I wonder how many people would craft if they thought there would be money involved at end-game?

Triv said...

That's kind of my point really. If there were things people knew about that they wanted or needed they would level trade skills. Yes, for cooking there are party buffs and self buffs, fishing provides a mats for those buffs..... First aid is well, not as useful as it could be. I just have issues with Blizzard changing the game dynamics for skills like this, and you've touched a bit upon the article I am working on for tomorrow. btw, glad to see you here.

Mudge said...

As a confirmed altaholic who also has a bad habit of switching tradeskills on a whim I really dread the grind to max.That being said I don't think Blizz should make it easier.If I want to level a skill I don't expect to be handed it just as I don't expect free epics the second I turn 80.(I did take advantage of it though and level cooking on some alts that never would have)Instead of simply giving away free skills they need to find a way to make professions more interactive and exciting to level.The daily cooking, fishing and JC quests are a step in the right direction.

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