Well. I didn’t think I’d be here for this but I am – and I am excited. I managed to dip my fingers into the cursory healing mechanics of priest and druid over the weekend and it felt very much like a walk down memory lane.
It’s worth noting on the outset that there’s a marked difference in Blizzard’s approach to classes in general. The Legion Class Preview Series return to the fantasy of the class and then proceed to mark out their changes and design philosophies with lore as their guide map.
It is a wonderful change from the last few years and I for one, am glad that they are returning to the core of what makes us want to play our classes. It isn’t just numbers, rotations and flavour of the month – it’s the story, character and fantasy that draws us to it.
With that in mind, I dove in to look at what they had in store for us healing priests….and so far, I like what I see!
So this is new. I wasn’t expecting anything – so seeing news of Patch 6.2.3 had my heart leap a little. I didn’t expect any more content so what could this possibly offer?
Patch 6.2.3 tells me one thing clearly: They know players have left in droves. They know they screwed up. They know this is the shortest, and possibly worst expansion yet.
The developer’s insights section of the review says a mountain of things to me. So here’s my translated version of it all:
Cross-realm Mythic Raiding:
My biggest criticism of how Mythic raiding ultimately panned out is that it has screwed over anything less than a high population server. Difficulty? Fine. Skill? Absolutely. Time commitment? Totally fair. But the breaking point of Mythic is usually recruiting and maintaining a 20-man roster which is nigh impossible on a low population server. So guilds are either faced with the choice of real money transfers or simply staying on their server and not doing Mythic at all. Thus we are left with servers who actually see zero Mythic kills. ZERO.
In patch 6.2.3 we get:
Translation: Crap, this isn’t working out. Fixed sizes are great but in view of the dwindling population, maintaining 20-man highly skilled roster is logistically ridiculous. Quick! We need to address the population issue!
My 2 cents: Well, it may be too little too late. And it is what it is – a band-aid. It also is largely irrelevant the majority of the population who don’t do Mythic.
Return of Valor:
Translation: Hey, we put in Mythic dungeons but no one is doing them. Actually….no one is doing anything at all, outside of raiding. Atleast raiders would use the rest of the week to valor cap – yes that’s it! Bring back valor and lengthen dat tradmill! Let’s expand valor to be a gearing resource to entice players to run dungeons and LFR.
My 2 cents: I am mildly interested in this for the sole reason that I can no longer seriously raid as a healer. Yeah – I meant to write a post about that, oops. Anyways, I wondered if I would like to try out being a different class and trying raiding again without breaking my hands thanks to the role change. This would be useful if I wanted to gear up an alt and start afresh. But half of me is going meh, and the other half goes maaaaaaybe. So really, a 1% chance.
But honestly, if I’m not seriously raiding, why do I need better gear?
Item Upgrades in Dungeons:
Translation: We need to give people more incentives to do the precious little content we have poured in. Give them better gear for doing dungeons – it makes it more exciting. I say, lengthen dat treadmill!
My 2 cents: Maybe they didn’t hear me the first time. IF I’M NOT RAIDING, WHY DO I NEED BETTER GEAR??
Translation: Add mounts guys – people love mounts. And then they’ll run it more!
My 2 cents: See this is interesting because my game time coincidentally expires soon. Mounts are cool….but are they cool enough to resub for? Nope not really – especially considering that there is no new content added. Just pathways to gear and raiding, and a mount. Huh. Meh.
They’re listening, and they know something is wrong. I’m not sure they’re on the right path to fixing it though – but these small steps may lead to bigger ones. They really need to focus on the world and story and let go of details that pertain mostly to raiding and little else. As a former raider, I get that raiding is exciting but I also now view content entirely differently. If I don’t raid anymore, what’s in it for me?
It is said that the simplest stories are often the best ones. All it takes is a character, a world that draws you in and a journey. And the journey, the ups and downs, and the events and people in it keep us coming back to it. The journey is usually the highlight of story in a game world like Warcraft’s, and the journey is inextricably tied to what happened before and what happens next.
Somewhere along the line, Warcraft seems to have forgotten this mantra along the way. In the tug of war between game-play and story, I imagine story has usually come in second place. The results are glaring cracks in the game world, and a distinct lack of a compelling journey. The importance of story is not in question here – it affects the entire game world and gives players a reason to want to be in it. Today’s post is more about how Warcraft arrived at this point.
There are two points in Warcraft where I feel like the game world took a huge hit from decisions, and both these decisions took a single thing for granted: the importance of a timeline.
The importance of having a beginning to a journey, and knowing exactly how things follow after is huge. And we lose that continuity if time is this flexible thing we can manipulate at the drop of a whim. The story isn’t a journey anymore then – it becomes more about figuring out what the hell’s going on.
Matthew Rossi over at BlizzardWatch wrote an eloquent and timely piece on the importance of story, specifically to Warcraft in the WoD context. The importance of story as an issue has quietly been simmering in my head for the last month or so, as some of my philosophical tweets show:
In his piece, Rossi literally reads my mind and makes a compelling case for why story matters even to the most anti-lore hardcore raiding quest-text skipping type of gamers. Well worth a read – head on over and see for yourself!
PS: The issue is still simmering for me – lots of stuff I want to say – blog post on it incoming soon ™!
As someone who has been neutral on the highly divisive issue of flying, reading Blizzard’s latest announcement made me take a second look at how it affected my gameplay and enjoyment of WoW. And the key thing that stands out to me as I look at Draenor and its problems is that it’s not just about flying.
There are two things that really make games interesting for me: 1) Having a stuff to do and 2) Having a compelling reason to want to do them.
So it’s not just enough to fill the game with something and say “look there’s stuff to do, you’re just not doing it” – things have to be interesting enough to entice players to them. And make no mistake, that is the game’s job not mine. Flying comes into this because it affects both of these key aspects.
Limiting my “stuff-to-list”:
I recently had to quit raiding (even though it was very casual) because tendinitis reared its ugly head (my right hand can’t hold a mouse). Even while raiding, I had noticed a trend in my own guild and server where people mostly hung around garrisons for short amounts of time, and logged on for raids….and that was it. Once I had no raiding to do, I found myself trying to fill the gap. In the past when I wouldn’t raid, I did things like Archaeology, herbing on my druid, and flying around taking screenshots series for the blog (like the one I did for Mists of Pandaria). And a big plus was that I could do all of these with just one hand and still enjoy the game.
It didn’t quite hit me until the announcement, but sure enough not being able to fly severely limited my enjoyment of these things. I did try doing all of those without the ability to just up and fly off to my next destination and sure enough, the experience sucked. The reward just wasn’t worth constantly figuring out how to get to which spot all for a couple of fragments. And then there were mobs which dealing with one hand doesn’t always work out that great for me. And I hardly took any screenies this time around. These are things that used to be fun through past expansions that are no longer fun for me in the current one, and from the looks of it – possibly not in the future.
I could go back to Pandaria or Azeroth and do them… but I want to be in Draenor! That’s why I bought the expansion afterall.
Lack of a compelling reason:
The decision on flying rests on their vision of Draenor which thus far has been a murky mystery chock full of contradictions.
Rather than expanding on what their vision is, we’re left to wonder what kind of vision that puts Garrisons and Raids at the forefront could possibly be at odds with making exploration and other activities more enjoyable. I am honestly just simply confused. They want us to be in Garrisons the entire time? Or is about constantly fighting mobs on the ground and feeling “savage”? (It doesn’t make me feel very savage but there you go) Or is it about wanting everyone to raid all the time? And how did they reach their flying decision from there? I don’t understand it one bit.
This doesn’t just reflect on flying, but it makes one wonder about the guiding philosophy behind decisions in general. The WHY behind the decisions are just as important as the decisions themselves. Added to that, the manner in which this decision came out reflects poorly on Blizzard but I’ll leave it to that since there’s not much else to be said for it.
About a week ago, it had dawned on me that Warcraft simply didn’t fit my needs anymore. It didn’t inspire me to keep playing and with my limitation of pure keyboard playing at the moment, it couldn’t offer me very much. So I naturally took my game time elsewhere to a game that DID accommodate my needs. The recent no flying announcement, while by itself didn’t make or break anything for me, gave me a signal that what I thought a week ago is still true for the foreseeable future.
The issue of flying is a small one if it’s just a lone issue. But its cumulative weight coupled with other issues combined seems to be a greater than the sum of its parts. If I were designing the game, I’d want to perk up, pay attention and maybe work on a good definition of the vision for World of Warcraft.
I was excited to hear yesterday that soon the WoW Token would become a reality – much sooner than I had expected. And sure enough, this little feature has brought out the goblin inside of me. The idea that I can theoretically fund my subscription through ingame gold has renewed my interest in the auction house. For PROFIT!
I think it’s a great addition to the game and it has some interesting consequences for us. Oh the possibilities!