The Price of Rewriting History

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This is a post that sat in my drafts folder for about four years. Yep, four years. The entire time it’s been simmering since the Cataclysm at the back of my mind. Two things have propelled me to dust this one off and finish writing about it. The first was the announcement of Vanilla servers at Blizzcon in 2017; the second, taking a second look at the journey through Azeroth as I level my lightforged draenei paladin.

Blizzard took a huge risk back in Cataclysm when they decided to wipe the slate clean and redo Azeroth. It’s something almost everyone wishes they could do but can’t – and for good reason. We don’t get do-overs sometimes. They in effect, rewrote history by erasing some of it – and the question I have long sought to answer out loud: Was it worth it?

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Expansion Wishlist

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I have been fairly vocal and blunt in my criticism of Warlords of Draenor, and Blizzard’s general decisions in this expansion. Decisions that caused me to leave the game for a while.

With a new expansion on the horizon, time for a change from all that doom and gloom. So without further ado, here’s my expansion wishlist – what would bring me back to Azeroth:

– Lore as the driving reason for game decisions. Story is important and rather than fight it, work with it. It really does make for a better world. I don’t particularly care if we fly or don’t fly at the end of the day – but I want a good lore reason whichever way it goes.

– A solid story. No more dodgy time-traveling, no more gaping plot holes that need to be hastily filled. All I want for Christmas is a well-told, engaging story.

No more orcs. I’m really tired of orcs – there’s a plethora of stuff going on but the spotlight seems to be on orcish politics and Thrall’s life. And I just don’t care about it anymore. How about a Gnomish coup to oust Mekkatorque – we clearly need a better leader to retake Gnomeregan. What about the night elves? The goblins? The Tauren?

– A retaken and cleaned up Gnomeregan city for gnomes. I thought we’d be getting this in Cataclysm honestly so this one’s overdue for me. No, that cess infested irradiated patch of land we got does not count.

A female leader…lead. I’d like to see any of them in action – especially Tyrande. She holds a special spot for my druid since I first started playing and I’d love to see play a major role in the upcoming story.

– More class options for Gnomes. Gnomes have the lowest number of playable classes for our race. We could really use hunters or shamans or even paladins (since we’re already priests). Any of those would do – more options are good.

Lots of dungeons. One of my favourite parts in Wrath was seeing dungeons tied to storylines in each zone and having so many of them to do.

Interesting Professions. Not trivialising gathering professions would be a start. But in general the stale formula of “craft this cd for x number of days and you have a shiny” didn’t make the professions feel terribly unique. They just didn’t grab me this time around.

Class quests. I really miss them. First time I rolled a shaman I loved having to talk to the elementals and learn about each of the four elements before getting my totems. It was all about the journey, all about exploring a new class.

The RNG nature of Stats on gear. Playing with luck is fun but too much of something is bad. It wasn’t fun to roll for stats – it was annoying and frustrating.

Featuring a gnome in a cinematic. One of the reasons I love FFXIV is that they take my favourite race and treat it equally with all the other races. It appears in trailers, there are important lore figures representing it, and said lore figures are actually doing important things in the game. It’s time to take a page.

I’m looking forward to the 6th to see if anything on this list makes it to the announcement. I’m not quite sure what to expect but for the love of the Light, I hope it doesn’t involve any more orcs.

To Fly or Not to Fly

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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.

Flight-quoteRather 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.