Fulfillment vs Excitement
There is an Asmongold video out that has received at least 27 Reddit gold after it was posted:
(All the good stuff is within the first six minutes)
Among the criticisms he makes regarding Battle for Azeroth, one that resonated a bit with me was the distinction between Fulfillment and Excitement. Essentially, Blizzard used to give you a 8% chance to get a specific piece of gear that was your Best-in-Slot piece. It might take a long time to get it, but once you finally got it, it was an event. You were complete. Done.
When Titanforging was introduced though, suddenly BiS gear was rendered largely impossible. You might receive your “BiS” piece, but if it didn’t proc with an extra gem socket and/or numerous bonus stats, it wasn’t actually BiS. Moreover, it was entirely possible that someone just dicking around in Warfronts could luck into a piece of gear that surpassed something that dropped from Mythic Uldir.
Asmongold’s point is that while you can feel excitement over a drop that suddenly Titanforges up to insane levels… that excitement is short lived. It’s the pull of a slot machine. That’s fundamentally different than working towards an end goal, even if said end also requires some RNG along the way.
When Titanforging was first introduced, I was impressed. It seemed like a clever solution to the problem of completing content that was no longer rewarding in any way. I distinctly remember my tanking days back in Wrath, and how I was asked to clear dungeons with guildies despite the fact that I could get nothing from it (once I capped out with Justice Points). With this new wrinkle, there was always a chance I could get an upgrade from any content I completed.
What I did not realize at the time was how destructive that notion really is. You are never “done.” And not just in a “there will always be another content patch with better loot” kind of way, but in a more literal “never experience satisfaction in current content” way.
As Asmongold points out though, Titanforging by itself is not what is killing the BfA experience. Indeed, the concept of Titanforging has been around for several expansions now, and nobody seemed to have been complaining about it until now (or at least to this degree). The real problem is that BfA is so mechanically weak on so many fronts, that the fundamental issue with Titanforging is poisoning the experience more than usual.
I’m sure Blizzard has the stats on the number of people who just stop playing the game after they achieve BiS, and found the numbers problematic. Certainly in my case, once I finally got the two piece of transmog gear I had been farming, I found myself at a loss of what else to do. This could explain why they are trying to get everyone back to collecting a bunch of full suits of extra gear. With the deprecation of the concept of BiS though, I don’t think these extra suits are going to satisfy players for as long as it may have before.
What is the solution? We already had it for years: vendors. Bring back Justice/Valor Points. Everyone rightly complained in Legion about the Legendary system and how RNG could lead you to a situation in which your spec was basically broken the whole expansion… up until they introduced the Legendary vendor in 7.3.5. The initial rollout was still a bit lame RNG until they allowed you to straight-up pick the ones you want, but it was there eventually. Collect “Wakening Essence” from a variety of sources (WQ, missions, ect) at your own pace, and know the end result.
Titanforging is dumb. If it’s some kind of design imperative to have raiders running WQs or dungeons all the time, fine, make it Justice Points. Except this time, put in consumables, gear you can buy for alts, and other nonsense to give everyone potential reasons to collect it all day.
Give us back some goddamn agency for once.
Posted on October 17, 2018, in WoW and tagged Battle for Azeroth, Best-in-Slot, Fulfillment vs Excitement, Game Design, Titanforged, Transmog. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.
I don’t really get the whole “everyone must be able to get BiS or the system is broken” argument. In all my years of WoW I don’t think I recall ever actually wearing BiS. (Maybe at the end of Wrath? I dunno.) Those gear lists just served as a guideline for what to work towards, which bosses to farm etc. and I was mostly happy to get some of it.
The fact that there were gear lists at all is sorta the point. You could say “I’m going to farm dungeon X for Y piece of gear.” That largely no longer exists. You can do the dungeon and possibly get the drop, but a WQ you complete while waiting for the queue could randomly give you something +15 ilevels higher. Or maybe you get the drop in the dungeon… but now there’s an impetus to continue trying to get the drop again in case it randomly procs a higher ilevel.
Think back to Wrath. You could purchase tier shoulders and I think Helm from a vendor for (Frost?) Badges. Technically the 25m raiding ones were better, but if you weren’t in 25m raiding guild, those two pieces were BiS for you. It was a concrete objective you could complete. There’s nothing like that today. Upgrades can come from everywhere, but they’re random nonsense, and you’ll likely be grinding down 50-100 pieces of gear every week to see any.
Valor and Justice points would give me reason to do dungeons. Right now? No reason to do them. I still have not done them all on Normal or Heroic, let alone Mythic anything, and my gear is 353.
Only reason I did any at all was A) to complete Profession quests, and B) to reach for 320 ilevel so I could queue for Warfronts. Since I despise Mythic+, dungeons may well not exist for me this expansion.
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I’ve only done the ones that had a quest for the end of the story for the zones.
On the issue of players getting full BiS and no longer player; I doubt this happened to more than .01% of the population back in vanilla, as not only was getting all BiS super long (so much raiding), but outside of world-first guilds, a new raid or content piece was out by the time even server-first guilds had the latest raid on serious farm mode.
Then WotLK and welfare epics happened, and suddenly every terrible player is ‘owed’ epics just because they logged in. Fast forward and you have the issues you face today.
Mixed feelings about that video. Some good observations made, a lot of the typical streamer-as-tribune-of-the-people hyperbole. It’s not like a ‘Can we all just take a moment to appreciate this excellent design’ post about any game ever won comparable Reddit acclaim…
The epiphany about Skinner-box psychology being applied is particularly amusing. Yes, welcome to MMOs, and modern gaming in general.
I kind of agree with him (and you) on titanforging/warforging. I dislike lootboxes vehemently and it is basically the lootbox problem, except you pay with time and money as opposed to money alone. There is definitely a psychological pull to try to ‘buy a ticket’ with a world quest/warfront/BoE farm/whatever. But it is not as bad as all that. Weapons in BfA can only warforge (so a +10 cap, iirc) and azerite gear (so head, shoulders and chest) cannot roll above the base level at all. Those together account for a big chunk of your ilvl and performance and you have to get them the old-fashioned way, by doing the tier of content that rewards them.
Personally, I’m already not bothering with raid finder and world quests (though I’ll kill the weekly world boss because the effort is so low) roughly for the same reason why I don’t buy lottery tickets. Yes, it’s possible that a 355 might titanforge to a 390. But the odds don’t justify the time. Better to run yet another mythic key where the base item level at the end is known to me and considerably higher, or try to get into a heroic raid pug based on my gear and raider.io score.
Speaking of which, I disagree with him about the old ‘neckbeard vs nub’ power/respect fantasy. The kind of stratification of the player base we had in vanilla/TBC can rest in the dustbin of history as far as I’m concerned. And for people who really insist on keeping some of it, there’s always Raider.io, arena ratings, AotC, and good old mythic raid progression. If you’re competitive in a particular area of the game (like Asmongold himself) you and your peers have plenty of ways to know where you stand. If you just want to impress the ‘nubs’ (who aren’t in the running) with your shiny shoulders, sorry, your ego can drive on through.
While the titanforge system can just do die in a fire, I don’t see why everyone suddenly likes the vendor system again. The vendor system got shittons of hate before, was irritating and forced you to run lowlevel content (wq/daily heroic anyone?) I don’t get why anyone thinks it is a good idea to bring it back.
WoW is really not in a great place right now. And I am such a fangirl of it normally. I struggle to understand it. Surely they have gone way over the top with the mindset of “How to make things endless so players continue to play just a little longer”.
I wholeheartedly agree. And there are many posts on this subject these days, and there should be. It’s time to be “done” and not on a never ending quest. I guess Blizzard fears, that once we are “done” we will unsub. The thing is, for me, at least, I love being done. I love that stage of an expansion, where the final patch is out and I am slowly catching up crossing things off my mental checklist. But those days will never, ever happen again, if this continues.
Surely the psychologists at Blizzard should have seen this coming? It’s not a new thing, what the human mind wants in terms of progression and rewards.
What happened to progress, instead of RNG constantly. What is the harm in adding currency to Island Expeditions and in so many other areas, for that matter. Things need to turn around.
And I am sorry, could you explain what it means, when someone gets Reddit Gold? 27 is a lot? I am really not as old as I sound right now, I am just very little on any social Media than my blogging community.
Reddit gold is something you can give people on Reddit. It costs $5 and gives them, for one month, no ads and access to a special subreddit. Relatively few posts receive any gold, and 27 is definitely a lot.
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Ah, I see, thanks for clarifying :)
Funnily enough neither side of these arguments captures my approach to the game. I play for story, exploration (new content more than unknown lands) and small group fun. I abhor the gear treadmill, I gear the minimum to unlock content and am ‘done’ in that sense. So neither the token grind nor the rng grind would motivate me to keep playing longer…
Vendors were always the solution and this is exactly why Blizzard removed them. Blizzard doesn’t want a solution, they want an illusion.
The more deterministic is performance-result, the less likely ArthasDKlol will play. If he has to defeat mythic raid or farm dungeons 100x for a “great drop”, he quits. But if he has 1% chance to get the “great drop” for running a dungeon (which is the same thing), the plays, because he is a M&S.
WoW NECESSARILY gets worse every expansion for non-M&S. The bloggers and youtubers might cry, but the money is coming in. Expect MORE titanforging.
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