More Blizzard Heart to Heart

Remember last time when WoW lost a bunch of folks? It appears that we have another data point on the graph indicating that subscription totals and surprisingly frank design discussion are inversely related, at least as far as Ghostcrawler is concerned.

Spinks already pointed out this gem, but I will do so again for mine own posterity:

No developer wants to hear “I want to play your game, but there’s nothing to do.” For Mists, we are going out of our way to give players lots to do. We don’t want it to be overwhelming, but we do want it to be engaging. We want you to have the option of sitting down to an evening of World of Warcraft rather than running your daily dungeon in 30 minutes and then logging out. We understand we have many players (certainly the majority in fact) who can’t or aren’t interested in making huge commitments to the game every week and we hope we have structured things so that you don’t fall very far behind. The trick is to let players who want to play make some progress without leaving everyone else in the dust. (source)

Now, actually, I found an earlier line item from the list preceding the above paragraph to be more interesting:

– In Mists, we want to provide players alternative content to running dungeons. The dungeons are still there, but even with 6 new and 3 redone dungeons, you’re ready for something else after a while.

That is… kind of a big deal. I could maybe see an argument that things were different in TBC, but dungeons being default endgame for the majority of the playerbase (i.e. the 80% non-raiders) has been Blizzard’s modus operandi for the last two expansions. For, by all appearances, good reasons! How else do you get someone to log on every day? Dailies alone were not that compelling, precisely due to the factors Ghostcrawler points out: reputation grinds were undermined by tabard’d dungeon runs, as were Exalted faction rewards by dungeon loot.

De-emphasizing dungeons is a paradigm shift and Grand Social Experiment all rolled into one. Think about it. Who are the individuals most likely to exhibit anti-social, anti-noob behavior in a dungeon setting? The people who don’t want to be there, but feel they have to be there. Well, now they don’t. Go run Scenarios with your two dickish DPS cohorts and never haunt the halls of LFD again. Alternatively, just as Children’s Week floods BGs with players who never cared for PvP, perhaps allowing normal daily quests to adequately satisfy one’s need for gear progression means there will be less noobs looking to be carried by raider alts through LFD.

Most people would agree that the friendliest LFD “community” is generally in endgame normal dungeons. Why? Because it is filled with players who actually want to be there. They could be getting better gear in heroics, but choose not to. Maybe not at first, but over time do you think we could gradually see LFD populated only with people who enjoy that experience?

Of course, I can see this whole thing going down in the flames too. Although LFD and LFR has minimized the necessity of forming social relationships in the endgame, this sort of re-emphasis on flying solo could not come at a worse time, e.g. as 2+ million players snap social ties. Or maybe this is a catering to the audience as it exists now, instead of the hypothetical historical. Or perhaps I should believe what I said before vis-a-vis seeing all the new opportunities to be social via running dailies/Scenarios in small groups with people I actually care about.

I mean… this is Guild Wars 2′s entire model, right?

Posted on August 10, 2012, in WoW and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. > I could maybe see an argument that things were different in TBC

    – TBC had a lot more then 9 dungeons.
    – All TBC dungeons were new ones.
    – You didn’t complete one in 15 minutes, which means you didn’t run 5 of the existing dungeons in one day. If you finished one per day, it took you weeks to see the same dungeon again.

    Those are all small factors which made TBC a vastly different game in regards to running heroics.

    • I dunno about you, but past 2.3 I ran heroic Mechanar damn near daily.

      • Sure, you can optimize the fun out of everything. That’s not the point.

        TBC had enough content for people who didn’t raid (for whatever reason) but were able to form a heroic group. No WoW add-on ever served this group of player again.

  2. TBC wasn’t any different. If you didn’t raid then there was absolutely nothing to do at max level other than hang around Shatt with your friends.

    I guess my question here is what is WoW going to offer over free games like GW2 that is worth 15 dollars a month?

    • Actual endgame progression.

      I fully anticipate a lot of confused, bored GW2 players by the end of September once they hit level cap and realize their future is 24/7 Isle of Conquest.

      • Some confused, bored players, certainly. A lot? I doubt it. Depends how focused on end-game you think the average MMO player is.

        Forums and hobby blogs are stuffed to bursting with people who don’t just get to the end-game but stick with it long enough to get bored. None of us outside the industry actually get to see the figures but I’d be surprised if a straight majority of all MMO players have ever had even one max-level character in any MMO, far less played one for long enough to get bored with it.

        Of course, the loudest voices will belong to those who are having the worst time, as usual. The folks pottering along having a good time, and I think there will be many, will go unnoticed. “I logged in three evenings this week, chatted to the guild, discovered some new recipes and dinged level 27 on my new Necro” isn’t going to make any news come October or November but I bet that’ll be the mode average, probably for years to come.

        The cool kids will be off to the next uber MMO, to big it up, blast through it, burn out and claim they never liked it in the first place. Like they always do.

        The intriguing thing is that for once it looks as though an MMO has been made with the former group in mind rather than the latter. Whether that’s going to result in financial success we won’t know for quite a while but my feeling is that it will.

  3. “Who are the individuals most likely to exhibit anti-social, anti-noob behavior in a dungeon setting?”

    Not sure I agree with this. Personal experience has shown me the most irritating behavior comes from people who want to run dungeons but don’t want to run them with anyone they consider an inferior player, and they’re more than happy to let everyone know all about it.

    Perhaps my experience is different than most.

    • No, I would agree with that. However, I kind of lump those guys – of which I became towards the end, although not vocally – into the “don’t want to be there, but have to” category. They don’t really want LFD, but want LFD queue times.

    • Of course as soon as you hit the LFD/LFR button you don’t know what you’re gonna get. But when one person is doing doing something stupid which is considered straightforward by another person, which affects the first person negatively (costing gold/money, time) one reaction could indeed be the one you expressed.

      Especially if the content has been out for a long time I find it frustrating because to me the content is very easy. For one, I’ve been playing it for a while. Second, I and probably many other are overgeared for it. If then the RL even says before pull what to do, and when we get at that stage too, and the DPS are unable to understand what “single target blistering” means well why would we not be allowed to say they are retarded? They’re behaving that way for sure.

      If you PuG manually though it is entirely up to the RL. Example. If you’re going for http://www.wowhead.com/achievement=5313/i-cant-hear-you-over-the-sound-of-how-awesome-i-am in a group who knows what to do and someone screws it up that is very frustrating. If the fellow never done the fight at all, but at least read up on tactics and watched videos he shouldn’t fail still but I’m of the type who is able to give a person a second chance IF I am convinced they don’t screw it up again. Problem is here, that second chance comes next week, requires to kill 4 bosses, and requires a rerun on calendar invite.

      @matt hereunder, there are guilds without fixed attendance or with lenient attendance requirements. If you’re good you can even PuG raids, even HC content. There are guilds which raid 2-3 times a week yet they’re in the top 500 together with guilds who raid 6 times a week during progression. I’ve even seen a guild who raid on sunday afternoon, and on my previous server was a guild who raided during the afternoon. My current guild has a very flexible raid dates. We use calendar invite and see who can show up and act on that. Finding the right guild for you can be a daunting process though.

      • @Fn0: You run a dungeon like other people might run a company. So, you’ve doneitall before a hundred times? Good for you but don’t spoil the fun for everyone..

      • Justice, I -just like you- can read dungeon journal, watch a movie with tactics, and/or apply game and class mechanics on them. After that, I know what to do, and I generally do not rerun dungeons a lot. It is people who are unable or unwilling to spend a small amount of time to become an OK player who are ruining the game for a non-slacker like me.

  4. BC content was both very different and yet entirely the same. We are talking content so likely to cause a wipe you can find the respawn timer for trash listed on the WoWwiki page for some heroics. Yet pretty much the same in that if you weren’t raiding the only real group content was 5-mans, exploring old content, some limited questing (Ogri’la, King of the Ogres, etc), or pvp. Old content could still hurt. Until ZA and the badge vendors hit. Naxx40 was probably impossible to pug. Some of the most common things I remember non-raiding friends doing was farming old rep like Timbermaw, 2-manning Scholo and Strat, one hunter ran the length of Eastern Kingdoms “just to see how long it takes”.

    I might sub back in for 2 months, the month before and the month after MoP hits, just to see if I like any of the changes. I certainly won’t be buying it on the day it comes out. I feel Cata was a huge waste of my time now that I can’t guarantee specific days for raids, and the highly linear leveling content bores me to death. Id’ say a lot of this content is directed at those like me, but it’s going to take a lot to get me to stay. Fireland dalies won’t cut it.