Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 23, 2009
 
Is popular the enemy of good?

A frequent commenter on this blog, Toxic, is currently filling whole comment sections here with rants about how Ulduar is too easy, and how Blizzard is debasing WoW to make it more popular, get more subscribers, and hold them longer. So before that discussion fills more barely related threads, I'm dedicating a thread to it.

I fully agree that Blizzard made World of Warcraft a lot easier than it was during the Burning Crusade era. I also agree that they are doing it to make WoW more popular, and that the changes are designed to please a larger percentage of WoW players, who during the BC era didn't get anywhere and then quit the game. Making raiding more accessible makes WoW more popular, because a larger part of the player base is involved in the endgame, and thus Blizzard's profit go up.

The point I can't understand is some people saying that this is a bad thing. Isn't this a win-win situation? More money for Blizzard, more fun for a larger percentage of players. The only ones hurt by this change is a small percentage of elitist hardcore players, for who the game on normal mode is "too easy", and who hate to see all that riffraff at the meeting stone when they go raiding. But sorry, not having content exclusive for a small group is an improvement of WoW, not debasing it.

Furthermore with this patch Blizzard created a lot more content for the hardcore. The bosses in Ulduar have hard modes. The final hard mode boss, who is not available for normal mode, Algalon can only be attempted 1 hour per week. How is that for a real test of skill? Yes, it would be nice if there were even harder raid dungeon available, but that is a problem of this expansion having much fewer raid dungeons than the previous expansion, not that they are too easy. For the majority of players Ulduar has exactly the right difficulty level, challenging, doable, but no pushover. It would have been easy for Blizzard to create bosses nobody can beat, but that would have been plain dumb. Why spend development money on content few people are ever going to see?
Comments:
The encounters in Ulduar are awesome, only the loot stinks :P. But we only downed the first 5 bosses so far on heroic, no hard modes.
 
They removed CC completely from WOTLK heroic instances, gameplay gets simpler and more boring in an AoE nukefest. Raids are not that different anymore either, it has been simplified a lot.

What is fun for a pensioner is not necessarily good for a younger gamer that wants a bit more.

This is not about elitists versus a huge majority of casuals... this is feeding content and loot to a primitive playerbase that gets more degenerate the easier they make the game.

They should go on and try to cater to the lowest common denominator to make everyone happy in World of Casualcraft. In the end they will alienate and bore a lot of players this way. No wonder that "casual" became a cuss word.
 
imho, I haven't played wow for months now, but I don't think content is more easy, except the player gets smarter.
The variations of encounters are limited, while players are playing encounters for years now, so the "trick" is known, or at least understand sooner.
It's a matter of the player beating the game in a way. you know what to expect, there are no surprises anymore, and even if it's a surprise, the reaction is fast anyways.
 
What I don't understand is why you think "popular" is related to "good" in any way at all. The two concepts aren't opposite, they are just different.

A country that gives free money every week to its citizens would be insanely popular. People from all over the world would flock to this country and apply to be citizens, they would slack all day and just spend their time enjoying themselves. However, this isn't a "good" policy because it's not sustainable and eventually the economy and society would collapse.

Longasc is also correct in that the playerbase gets more degenerate the easier they make the game. If you only need 1000 dps to down a boss, then instead of being a "training raid" to slowly teach people how to play, you get legions of people who are only capable of doing 1000 dps and are not interested in learning any more.

I would love to see "a larger part of the playerbase involved in the end-game". But I want to see it by the players improving, not by making the end-game encounters so trivial that hunters wearing spellpower mail and armor/dodge rating trinkets can do 300 dps in VoA and expect to still down the boss.
 
If you only need 1000 dps to down a boss, then instead of being a "training raid" to slowly teach people how to play, you get legions of people who are only capable of doing 1000 dps and are not interested in learning any more.

The trick is to make the first dungeon doable with 1,000 dps, require 2,000 dps for the second dungeon, and 3,000 dps for the third. NOT make the first dungeon already require 3,000 dps and exclude the 90% of players who aren't able to get there from zero.

Ulduar *is* harder than Naxxramas, and not everyone succeeding in Naxxramas will directly succeed in Ulduar. That will motivate people to play better, or give up.

In the end they will alienate and bore a lot of players this way. No wonder that "casual" became a cuss word.

But it is only a tiny fraction of elitists who are alienated and who use "casual" as a cuss word. I'm certainly not an ultra-casual player, but at this point of the BC expansion cycle I had already given up on Karazhan, after having had to go 13 times to Black Morass pre-nerf before getting attuned, and my guild not able to get past Moroes. I took a 7-month break, which cost Blizzard $100, and only came back when the content had been nerfed to be more accessible. And player activity numbers suggested that there were a lot of players like that, who reached level 70 and quit because there was no accessible content left for them. The same Warcraftrealms census numbers suggest a much smaller dip for this expansion.

Why would Blizzard care in 10,000 players quit WoW because it is too easy, if in return they hold on to 1 million players who would have quit if they had done otherwise?
 
@Pockie & Longasc

Ah but you see: the Ulduar trash and bosses, and the new VoA trash + boss, are not like naxx and VoA were. Many, many guilds are now struggling to get their players OUT of "AoE-Zerg" mode and into the ways necessary to down these bosses. Naxx and VoA were easily finished with bad gear, bad players and stupid zerg strategies, but that won't get you far in Ulduar. Trying that kind of strategy just gets your raid wiped on trash.
 
Spot on, Tobold.

Basically the game design previously was soft raid for casuals (UBRS, post 2.1 Kara) and hard raid for hard core. The new end game is that the instance is for everyone but the hard modes and achievement is special content for bleeding edgers and other hardcore raiders.

There really is no point complaining as a hardcore raider that you don't have special private raid instances designed for you and the 1% like you. Just adjust to the content that is designed for you: hard modes and achievements, and get on with your lives.
 
Or just vote with your wallet. If you don't like what Blizzard is doing, stop rewarding them for doing it. If making raids easier is really a big mistake, it should show up in subscription numbers in a few months.

Disclaimer: I did unsubscribe when it became apparent what the new raiding was like.
 
"and who hate to see all that riffraff at the meeting stone when they go raiding."

It's comments like this that are the reason we're still having this debate. Folks are still not getting the point, so let me put it in capital letters.

HARDCORE RAIDERS DON'T CARE IF -YOU- RAID OR NOT, AS LONG AS THEY HAVE A CHALLENGE!

Are we understanding here? Do we get that hardcore raiders really could not give a continental shit how many and which people are currently raiding. Hell, if every single person in WoW raided, it would probably be better for them because Blizzard would focus on making MORE raiding stuff. Who raids DOES NOT MATTER!

What does matter to the hardcore raider? The fact that raiding is not challenging to the hardcore raider. That is all raiders care about. Do they have a challenge? Yes = good. No = not good. Is everyone else raiding too? Don't care.

So for the hundredth goddamned time can we drop the utterly moronic argument that hardcore raiders want more difficult content because they're elitist pricks "who hate to see all that riffraff at the meeting stone when they go raiding." Seriously? Can we fucking drop it now?
 
In my experience, it is generally the emptiest vessels making the most noise.
Ulduar is definitely a step up from 3.0x, as anyone already in the inner cloister of ulduar can tell you by now. Anyone making any remarks about ulduar being easy on 25 man would do well to link their 25-man achievements.

The QQ about ulduar looks more to be trolling than anything else. My guild, that has done twilight vanquisher long before, has had difficulty even doing flame leviathan on two towers up. And it gets irritating when the paladin tank attempts to aoe tank the next 8 mob trash pull, before going "ooh shit this isn't naxx".

In fact, none of the hardcore guilds are complaining about ulduar being too easy. They are pretty pleased with the hard modes which they can be focusing on. Unless the commenter has downed Algalon, I don't think they are in any way qualified to say ulduar is too easy.
 
There isn't a point going into the casual vs hardcore thing anymore, because that has been done to death. I'm just saying that it's extremely myopic to say popular = good, which is what this post was about. Catering to the lowest common denominator is almost always a bad idea, in real life or in WoW.

As for the point about a larger percentage of players having fun, I don't think there would have been so much complaining about raids being too easy if this was true, right? Furthermore, is a good game simply one that makes the most number of people happy? Because I am pretty sure those 300 dps hunters would be happy if they could walk into Ulduar and clear the whole place in 2 hours...
 
So for the hundredth goddamned time can we drop the utterly moronic argument that hardcore raiders want more difficult content because they're elitist pricks "who hate to see all that riffraff at the meeting stone when they go raiding." Seriously?

We can drop it as soon as there are no more complaints that regular guilds "already" killed 3 or 4 bosses in Ulduar. Sorry, I haven't heard a single hardcore raider saying "We already killed Algalon, and it was way too easy". No, all the complaints have been about how easy Ulduar was for OTHER people. It isn't the argument that hardcore players are elitists that is moronic, it is a vocal part of the hardcore raiders that is uttering moronic elitist arguments, which give all hardcore players a bad name.
 
One of the major points of strife is that not all people equate challenge with fun: "This is no fun, I only had one close call!" and "This is no fun, I almost died!" are reactions that two equally skilled players can have on the same content.
 
Tobold, your blog is popular (based on the number of comments). Does that mean it's not good ?
 
@Telke: Thank you for the information!
It is good to hear that they have not completely given up and given in to the loot-hungry masses.

I must agree with Hirvox, vote with your wallet. I also unsubscribed after I experienced Naxx and WOTLK instances. While Northrend is BEAUTIFUL and really adorable, what a wonderful continent...! -- the gameplay of the heroic instances and Naxxramas, the only challenge being to do Sartharion in an optional and IMO especially retarded way, this really turned me off.

WoW has become the McDonalds of online gaming: Everyone loves it, I like it, too.

-> But which player can stand burgers over and over?
And no, you do not need to be a "hardcore elite raiders" to get that feeling.
 
As for the original topic. Is popular the enemy of good? Yes. Yes it is. Everything I've been into was a lot more deep and interesting before the drooling masses decided it was 'cool'.

1) D&D was great, then suddenly D&D got cool and we got D&D 4th ed, which is basically WoW without the graphics. It gets dumbed down for the masses so they can understand it and sped up so it'll keep their fragile, easilly distracted, ADHD plagued minds interested in it. Similar to WoW actually...

2) Star Wars. Was cool.. then it got popular and we got midichlorians, jar-jar binx, more action figures and more idiotic spinoffs than you can shake an angry backstreet boy at. Unfortunately none of those brought anything good and new to the whole thing.

3) Lord of the Rings. A classic book. Movies weren't bad, but suddenly it was 'popular' and hordes of giggling teenage girls all lusted after Orlando Bloom and bought loads of moronic Lord of the Rings crap that probably makes Tolkien turn in his grave. We got action figures and 509236249 Chinese knockoffs of everything Lord of the Rings. None of it good. The masses still spent a metric shit ton on it however.

4) Warhammer 40k. Great, then it was pronounced a 'popular wargame' we got 3rd edition 40k which again was dumbed down and sped up. The original players who enjoyed depth left and were replaced by hordes of mewling, squealing, complaining brats who got their parents to buy every new piece of crap that GW coughed up. Bad game design got gobbled up along with the rest. Any hope of turning the game into anything remotely playable was lost when GW realized the playerbase could be amused by just giving them more dice to roll at once.

5) World of Warcraft. Fun, fairly deep and challenging. Then it became popular. The white-picket fencers who normally spent their evenings comatose in front of the telly now flocked to WoW where they expected to also simply sit comatose in front of the PC while the game showed them pretty images. They were shocked and horrified that it required interaction and a small amount of thought. We couldn't have this! So it was dumbed down to accommodate their bumbling idleness and now they can collect vanity pets and AFK while on follow behind their buddy in raids to their hearts content. Also.. well they got bored easily, so we had to make things faster so their 5 second attention spans don't move onto something else. Thus instead of fighting 1 or 2 mobs at a time, now we can fight a whole bunch and we don't have to think about it. You can mash buttons in just about any order, doesn't really matter which.. and at the end of the day you get lots of shiny loot, just like everyone else. Whether you mashed buttons really hard or did absolutely nothing, there's always a reward just for showing up.

So yeah, in my experience, the moment anything becomes popular, 'good' is the first thing to go out of the window.
 
I would also point out that guilds breaking apart and people taking a break/unsubscribing because they cannot get past a certain boss/instance just shows a much bigger problem:

Raid or die - nothing else to do in the WoW "endgame".

This is something they can for sure improve in their ominous "NextGen" MMO. Not everyone wants to raid. And raiding for gear being the ultimate reason people log in to play this game after they hit level 80 is also a sign of flawed MMO design.

Give players a reason to log in the virtual world, and they will stay even longer than an ever shorter an easier tiered raid content would ever be able to. I think they would also have more fun.
 
@PlasticRat: You meant "Games Workshop" with "GW" - and I read it as "Guild Wars" initially, and now what is funny... the same arguments apply exactly to ArenaNet's "Guild Wars" Franchise as well... ;)
 
So yeah, in my experience, the moment anything becomes popular, 'good' is the first thing to go out of the window.

But with that you mean "good for me". That is "the moment anything becomes popular, it isn't good for me any more". And it is that what I reject as being "elitist", because you don't consider all the other people. "Popular" means lots of people buy it, and they wouldn't buy it if it wasn't good FOR THEM. All your examples treat a transformation of a product from something good for only a small minority, to something good for a larger population, and less good for the minority. Overall that is an improvement, the maximum goodness for the maximum number of people. It is only in your narrow perception of "this has stopped being good for me", that you perceive things getting worse.
 
"We already killed Algalon, and it was way too easy" ~ Tobold

Who says though that Algalon wouldn't be dead if he didn't have a 1 hour reset timer?

The timer doesn't make him more difficult, it just requires a faster pace of headbashing for the first few weeks whilst guilds learn how to deal with each ability that's presented. The one hour timer is what makes him hard because you're on a restricted time when it comes to learning the boss. Execution isn't a problem if the guilds in question are already at Algalon. It's another gimmick set up by Blizzard (similar to how many of the hard modes currently are gear set ups, not skill set ups, meaning the challenge doesn't rely on the player being good but instead what he's wearing).

#Shamutanti
#Letsnothaveabreakdown.tumblr.com
 
On a side note, 40k was dumbed down? More like streamlined so you didn't need to consistently cross reference, recheck and make sure you were doing everything right. There was never 'much' depth or tactica to 40k in the first place, it was there to simply be enjoyed for what it was. 40k had to become a faster, more efficient game to retain players and keep more coming in otherwise it would of been dead on its feet. We're already seeing a 'dip' in fantasy players because it's more complex than it's sister game, although unfortunately this does somewhat rest at the feet of the staffers rather than the game mechanics itself.
 
"Or just vote with your wallet. If you don't like what Blizzard is doing, stop rewarding them for doing it. If making raids easier is really a big mistake, it should show up in subscription numbers in a few months."Seems like a good plan to me. If the number of "hardcores" who unsubscribe exceeds the number of "casuals" who are retained, the point will be proved. I'm betting it won't (and it seems Blizzard are too).
 
Titanic vs Happiness
Britney Spears vs Loreena McKennit
The Da Vinci Code vs Foucault's Pendulum
NFL vs Ico

Yes, definitely popular equals quality. But what quality are we talking about?
 
Popular and quality aren't always linked, but they aren't necessarily delinked either. Shakespeare was one of the most popular entertainers in his day, and his plays were of the highest quality.

The whole elitist thing really came to the fore with the "welfare epics" that Blizzard introduced with arena epics being made available through the battlegrounds. Raiders were upset that players could get equivalent or better gear from playing battlegrounds. It was definitely an elitist attitude. I think it's great. I think players should have lots of different ways to get good gear. My time is just as good as any raider's time. If I want to spend it playing battlegrounds, why shouldn't I be rewarded with good gear? The attitude is that I didn't "earn" it somehow because battlegrounds take no "skill." Elitist claptrap! :)
 
But with that you mean "good for me". That is "the moment anything becomes popular, it isn't good for me any more".Yes, this does seem the problems with a lot of "popular=bad" complaints. When reading these types of complaints about any sort of entertainment, it seems that a lot of the complaints are coming from a lot of different people who have their own view of what is "good", so complaints of "dumbing down" by one group will often involve some feature that another person wanted.

Titanic vs Happiness
Britney Spears vs Loreena McKennit
The Da Vinci Code vs Foucault's Pendulum
NFL vs Ico

Yes, definitely popular equals quality. But what quality are we talking about?
People always bring up examples like this, but never bring up examples where something considered good by a lot of people is popular. (Dark Knight, WoW itself seems to be among MMO's, starcraft, for some examples.) To me a lot of the issue with popular vs. unpopular seems to be marketing and knowledge about products, in that a lot of "dumbed down" products seem more widely marketed than less "dumbed down" ones, and that people outside a particular area of interest will have difficulty knowing about other options, so will stick with the apparently popular one.

Fans of particular types of entertainment also seem to often have unusual preferences, or have emotional attachments, notstalgia, etc., that get them viewing certain types of entertainment differently than other people would.


I do often wonder if entertainment would work better if there were larger numbers of more specialized types, so that more people could be more satisfied, and how such a system would go about being added. Different types of marketing would certainly be required.

You meant "Games Workshop" with "GW" - and I read it as "Guild Wars" initially, and now what is funny... the same arguments apply exactly to ArenaNet's "Guild Wars" Franchise as well... ;)(Time for my "dumbing down" rant.) It is kind of annoying how guild wars 2 is seemingly being turned into a more standard MMORPG, with the usual levelling and gear systems used in other ones. And of course how original guild wars got infested with people who just had to have progression. I don't really mind the fluff titles in the game (It seems odd how people chase them, but it doesn't effect my playing experience much), but the Eye of the North PvE skills were quite annoying, not to mention the various other questions a lot of people bring up (like "raise the level cap", or in response to a suggestion to have pets auto level to match the character "People worked for those pets, you're just lazy."), which seem to suggest that they didn't understand the p[urpose of the game, or the reasoning behind a lot of its design decisions.
 
"Overall that is an improvement, the maximum goodness for the maximum number of people. It is only in your narrow perception of "this has stopped being good for me", that you perceive things getting worse."

So you consider the Lowest Common Denominator a good thing. And you speak of other's "narrow" perception? So, in your opinion, Big Brother, Idols, reality shows in general are very good for lots of people like them.

You say Shakespeare is brilliant, yes it is but because he made very popular stories with a world of depth between the lines.
The analphabet peasant would enjoy a play but the proto-renaissance philosopher would to. Centuries later Mozart was quite the popular "casual" composer. He composed apparently simple pieces that appealed to everyone and he wsas one of the first to include dance and theatrics in his Operas. The Queen Of Night, for example, was a very popular Opera/Play at the time and was frowned upon by the elite. Shakes and Moze genious lay in the clarity in which they exposed their art, giving something to everybody to take home. It was (for those fluent in "Ye Olde Englishe" or music) very simple to enjoy. But simple is not the same as simplistic (at least in my mother tongue hope it translates into english).

At most, your example only shows that either they were truly brilliant or that the masses today are dumber than in those days, for Shakes and Moz are quite the "elitist" entertainment nowadays.

Anyway WoW has stopped being simple and become simplistic. It's good for profits, it's good for growth. Is it good for anything else?
 
In TBC my guild got stuck in SSC/TK and we just could not move on until 2.4 hit. Did we cry and complain and beg for nerfs? No.

We ran heroics on off nights to farm badges for newer players and alts. Speed Kara runs became a challenge for weekends. Endlessly farmed battlegrounds for honor gear and formed up arena point farming teams that never broke 1600, while still running with the maximum number of players allowed with the minimum number of games played possible. Used the guild bank to help people with reputations for the epic rewards from there that were better than lower tier raid gear. Raid leaders would spend hours on non-raid nights watching videos and discussing strategies with guilds that were further progressed. DPS classes would research the latest theorycrafting nightly. All done in hopes of squeezing out that extra 1% needed to get past the next encounter.

Now we logon 3 nights a week 10 minutes before the raid starts and ask for an invite. Yeah, Wrath has been fantastic! (sarcasm in case you missed it)

Not my problem anymore as I canceled my subscription. ~Centuri
 
I think that it is cool that they are letting some of us see content we would have never had the opportunity to see. It really doesn't take away from the hard core in my opinion. Really, I have tried several times to get in groups to do this dungeon or that and still fail miserably with my 7G repairs each time I die. Doing all that stuff the raiders do is not "normal". A lot of those guys and some of you guys know way more about the game then someone like me would even care to know. The scale of people that can actually finish the content is still pretty low.

I only started WoW May of last year and I know my level of knowlege is no where near even what I read here. Let alone in game where I hear the guys in Vent or whatever determining percentage of a victory against X mob, rolling out the orders to move in or move out etc.

I have played a lot of MMO's but, I have never quite gotten as far into the game as the people that chase the phat lewts. I guess for me, that means, the changes to allow me to even look at the high end dungeon content was a good idea. I would have been fine with just doing the PvP, but now I have other options, and I like that.

If you think raiding is easy, good for you! The Arena's require skill and a huge time investment. I don't think they should be penalized for that. We all just want to be the best we can be.
 
@Dillon: ArenaNet changed their "vision" of the game several times, I am confused myself what it is right now. You are right, GW2 seems to adhere to quite a lot of classic/standard MMORPG features and many people fear that it will be some kind of "World of Guildcraft".

And what GW is/should be is also quite controversial on the forums among the players. Some really see it as some kind of fee free World of Warcraft. Many players that started with Guild Wars: Factions indeed expected that, nothing else. I know tons of people that got level 20 and then asked everywhere "what to do now, the game is over!"

I personally got attracted to it by the idea of a low and fixed level cap, the skill system and no item/gear grind. Basically, not following the loot-based progression scheme of WoW.

People also asked for mounts to ride the instances in Guild Wars, which is a bit absurd - but hey, they want to have a fee free WoW. What they will probably get will be a micro-transaction based "fee free" WoW ripoff named Guild Wars 2.

I would like to trust them to do it better, but their latest idea for GW1 is the planned introduction of something similar to daily heroics and daily quests in the 4th anniversary patch on April 28th. Plus paying in the store for extra storage slots. There is quite a fuss on the forums about it, you probably read Guru or GWO, too.

Do you know a Guild Wars blog? Most blogs are about WoW, and the "official unofficial" GW Forums are not so much better/friendler than the WoW Forums.
 
If guilds like Ensidia get to Alganon this week, I'll be disappointed.

They have added content for raiders like myself, normal mode. It will take our guild months to clear - hooray we'll have something to do! And hard mode should take "hardcore" guilds months to do, like old Naxxramas.

What I disagreed with in the past was not having an option at all, because it *was* too hard for us back then. But now that we have an option to do content more our level, let the hardcore raiders have their hardcore content.
 
Now we logon 3 nights a week 10 minutes before the raid starts and ask for an invite. Yeah, Wrath has been fantastic! (sarcasm in case you missed it)

Yes, you need to manually add the sarcasm there, because a lot of people would actually consider it fantastic. A game you can actually log on and play, instead of having to farm and study to "squeezing out that extra 1% needed to get past the next encounter". World of Warcraft is a game, for gods sake! Yet during the Burning Crusade a lot of people put more effort into studying for their raid than they put into studying for their education. Most descriptions of what people are "missing" from the "good old days" of TBC sound a lot like a total nightmare to me. Being a complete no-lifer for the questionable honor of being among the 1% of players on the server that could beat a certain boss? Who in his right mind would want to do that?
 
I wanted to make a clever comment here, but a) I'm not clever, and b) I simply agree with everything Tobold said in his post.

Now that a harder instance is out, it no longer hurts hardcore raiders to have everyone else raiding as well. Scrubs aren't going to get far in Ulduar, and only the hardcore will clear hard modes and even see Algalon. It's win/win. The challenge is there now (in the Uld hard modes), so we hardcore raiders can no longer complain about casuals getting to raid.
 
I have to take offense to this, Plastic Rat:

>As for the original topic. Is popular the enemy of good? Yes. Yes it is.
>Everything I've been into was a lot more deep and interesting before the
>drooling masses decided it was 'cool'.

>1) D&D was great, then suddenly D&D got cool and we got D&D 4th ed, which
>is basically WoW without the graphics. It gets dumbed down for the masses
>so they can understand it and sped up so it'll keep their fragile, easilly
>distracted, ADHD plagued minds interested in it. Similar to WoW actually...

Ok, first, D&D did *not* suddenly get cool at the tail end of 3.5. There was no huge surge in popularity that happened that caused Wizards to create 4th edition. And, 4th edition isn't dumbed down or an MMO Boardgame *unless you want it to be one*. 4th edition balanced the rules, removed the most heinous power balance issues, changed focus from character builds to party builds, and streamlined the system. Trying to tie the popularity of D&D to your personal issues with the edition change is ridiculous. D&D has never been a popular game, merely the most popular game of a niche market... in fact, it's arguable that AD&D's 1st edition was the most popular (and certainly got the most attention) of the versions.

>2) Star Wars. Was cool.. then it got popular and we got midichlorians,
>jar-jar binx, more action figures and more idiotic spinoffs than you
>can shake an angry backstreet boy at. Unfortunately none of those
>brought anything good and new to the whole thing.

Ha! HAHAHAHA! 'Got popular'? Dude, The first Star Wars move didn't ever *get* popular, it came out of the gate meteorically and never faltered. It is the poster child of instant popularity, and was *never* unpopular. Arguing that Star Wars suddenly 'got popular' and gave us Phantom Menace? No chance. Star Wars has been the most popular space opera/sci-fi setting since 1977, and even if you don't care for the newer movies, arguing that the ridiclous tie-ins just started? Obviosuly, you weren't a kid growing up in the late 70s if you believe that at all.

>3) Lord of the Rings. A classic book. Movies weren't bad, but suddenly it
>was 'popular' and hordes of giggling teenage girls all lusted after Orlando
>Bloom and bought loads of moronic Lord of the Rings crap that probably makes
>Tolkien turn in his grave. We got action figures and 509236249 Chinese
>knockoffs of everything Lord of the Rings. None of it good. The masses
>still spent a metric shit ton on it however.

Again, LotR was popular *long* before the movies. Frodo Lives, and all that? Sure, it was popular in a different era, and in a different way, but I'm terribly amused by your position here, since in the 50s, people were upset that a fairy story was suddenly getting 'real' attention. Yes, the movies created tons of tie-ins, toys, and screaming Orlando Bloom fangirls. But all big budget action moves involve tie-ins, toys, and screaming cute-boy-in-the-movie fangirls.

>4) Warhammer 40k. Great, then it was pronounced a 'popular wargame' we got
>3rd edition 40k which again was dumbed down and sped up. The original players
>who enjoyed depth left and were replaced by hordes of mewling, squealing,
>complaining brats who got their parents to buy every new piece of crap that
>GW coughed up. Bad game design got gobbled up along with the rest. Any hope
>of turning the game into anything remotely playable was lost when GW
>realized the playerbase could be amused by just giving them more dice to
>roll at once.

Again, 40k has never been truly popular outside of it's niche... where it was ALWAYS popular.3rd edition increased the cost-to-play by a lot, as armies had lots more troops, it actually drove people away. Also, 2nd edition wasn't truly a deep game, it was a broad one... everything had a ton of special rules, making everything unique, so that to understand the game you had to pore over and read every codex. It was a great game, a fun game, but had too many degenerate tactics and loopholes. 3rd edition wasn't perfect, but did make a streamlined, coherent ruleset that actually supported tournament play that didn't have to deal with gimmicks and imbalances that made a mockery of the game.

In each of these cases, you're claiming 'it got popular, and so they changed it, and now it sucks', or 'it got popular so I had to deal with asshats'. In reality, you have to deal with asshats everywhere, and each of these things was popular initially. You're blaming people starting to like things with those things changing, but I think your actual issue is that you want to enjoy your 'niche' entertainment because when it's niche, it's special. If everyone knows about something, it stops being special to you, so you like it less.

If 4th edition D&D sucks, play 3.5.
If the LotR movies and toys offend you, read the books.
If 40k is too streamlined and generic, go back to Rogue Trader.

Nothing forces you to follow the popular kids around and do what they do.

In WoW, you actually do have to follow the popular kids... You can't go back to BC or Classic. In these cases, if the changes make the game heinous to you, play something else? If enough people agree with you, WoW will change again.
 
Hehe. I should probably start my own blog I guess.

I haven't even played WoW for a year now, I just read about it and talk to old friends about it. I'm more fascinated by the idea of it than anything else.

Here's my short list of things that I think WoW players should not be sitting down for:
1)this heroic mode/hard mode crap. Heroic mode instances and hard mode are just pure laziness by Blizzard. They are making hundreds of millions of dollars here, don't act like they can't actually develop enough content. Being willing to accept that the end game is doing a raid instance on easy, and then going back and doing it on hard (which is mostly the exact same) is just kind of sad. Blizzard is clearing 500 million a year off of this game, they can do better than releasing a new dungeon that is cleared within a week on easy mode.
2) the destruction of leveling. I hated leveling. I despised it. Blizzard suckering you into buying a new account to use recruit a friend to bypass this is the height of cynical manipulation to move boxes. And if I were a genuinely new player who didn't have any friends in game, I'd be kind of pissed that people with connections can zip past me at ludicrous speeds and beat me to death with heritable gear. I take it as an admission that WoW is no longer attracting many new people (w/o friends). WTF guys, seriously? I feel like I ought to be trying to organize a union or something; there proletariat is taking it sitting down.

I think the game has peaked, I think WoW knows it, and I think everyone knows it. Somebody here posted an activity chart of WoW; back in the day it was like steps. Every month up up up. Now, its spikey. It goes up when content is released and immediately stops dropping until the next patch. If you're still having fun, that's great, keep playing, but I just want people to realize that WoW is on the downhill slope, and that Blizzard is guiding the game towards the most profitable death. When I was still playing and under the influence of the Blizzard propaganda, I would never have believed that, and it constrained my options. I didn't try other MMOs because I was sure they would suck (hey, only has 300,000 people, it has to suck right) instead of trying new games in a serious way. That's my message--- an ecumenical message that maybe you should park that priest and try out some other games. Unless you really like the way WoW is going, give something else a real shot. That's the point of my rants, to try to shake people a little bit so they might see how ridiculous WoW is, and really always has been, but especially now that they've thrown every scruple out in pursuit of getting every dime they can out of the game before the new MMO comes out. YOU, the player, should not sit by an applaud while a company recycles content, engages in hidden RMT (by all the xpacs, get fast leveling!!!), and generally treats its most dedicated players with contempt. Sure, profits are up and that is what Blizzard is interested in. But it's not what YOU are interested in.
 
I parallel this whole issue and the transition of WoW to Arcade vs Simulation. Arcade you smash things...shoot things..etc. Simulation you have to sit back and plan it all out, constantly on the watch. Hardcore EJ'er types love simulation, most gamers love arcade. (some are in the middle..:)

I think Wotlk raiding appears to be where it needs to be. Naxx 10 is accessible to most casual raiding guilds - in tBC, these guilds never got past T4 until patch 2.4 when they all moved into ZA. Remember - many guilds still actually struggle to full clear Naxx 10! Certainly I have little interest in joining those raids - and found Naxx ridiculously easy; but I'm happy that players without the skill, raid awareness, or general game knowledge get to experience raiding. However I don't think they will succeed in the current Ulduar.

Ulduar appears to be right on for next level of difficulty - I believe it will break the morale of many casual guilds for awhile (until the eventual nerfs). Hardcore modes for the hardcore raiders, and 10 man soft mode for the casuals. Both groups haven't "killed it" yet - where is the news that TOP GUILD CLEARS ALL HARD MODES BARELY 3 DAYS AFTER LAUNCH? There isn't. Naxx was full cleared in what felt like minutes after launch of Wotlk..

I'm having a conversation in our (casual) guild right now about some of these issues. The absolute truth is that casual guilds will succeed in raiding Naxx and even Ulduar if they are carried by a few other players. In 10 man, put a great tank and healer in - and the others get carried. It's what we do - but of course the other players don't realize it until those two players miss a raid, and they start wiping on Maexxna! LOL What happens is this - I'm at a point where I'd rather play with friends/family members than get into a more focused progression guild...but those people simply aren't great raiders. They stand in fire. They don't burn adds when told. They don't flask ("i'm broke").

No hardcore raider can have a sensible response to this: Why would blizzard make raiding so hard that only 1% of the games population can see it? Doesn't it make more sense to have different difficulty levels for the same content? (ie halo 2 on legendary is fun for hardcore gamers, halo 2 on easy is for your novice gamers).

And finally: Most hardcore raiders from tBC and before have this sense of self-importance derived from their performance in game compared to the other players. Getting satisfaction and enjoyment from a game is one thing - but to be so bitter about it? CHILL
 
@Toxic - all great advice, but if Blizz is pocketing $500M a year with the current content and development plans...why on earth would they develop more?? Learn2Business

LOL @ WoW union. Uhhh....you're paying blizzard..they're not paying you. Voting with dollars is what a WoW player has. Double LOL at the WOW proletariat - a WoW working class/wage-worker?! Learn2Dictionary

And what's the difference between Heroic Mode/Hard Mode in WoW...and special difficulty levels that open up in other games upon completion? It's not lazy - it's a smart way to get more use out of developed content. Actually - in Wotlk there is much less heroic farming than in tBC because of the different badge types.
 
There is a lot of passion involved in discussions of WoW. I think people egos are bruised and/or they derive a lot of self worth from WoW (gear). If you're breaking up with WoW you will preach its demise so you can rationalize your disappointment in your inability to achieve what you were looking for.

I genuinely believe Blizzard people try to make WoW the most fun game they can. I also believe the better ideas to improve WoW are being held for WoW 2.
 
Longasc/Dillon: GW2 seems to adhere to quite a lot of classic/standard MMORPG features and many people fear that it will be some kind of "World of Guildcraft".Whoa, hey, a Guild Wars discussion on Tobold's! Now I have to chime in. As many of you recall GW and WoW were released within a few months of each other 4 years ago, well at first I made the decision to focus on Guild Wars which kept me very happy for almost two years... However, my guild kept losing players to WoW - due in large part to the "my boss/cousin/neighbor plays WoW" phenomenon everyone is aware of here. So I, eventually, followed suit and went to WoW too and had a pretty enjoyable 2+ years there too. It's what brought me here to Tobold's too since I wanted to read a good WoW blog written by a fellow Undead Priest ;)

But the funny thing is, while going through the level/gear/heroic/raid/drama treadmill over and over again in (by my count) 4 different guilds in WoW during that time, guess what was going on back in GW? My old guild has STAYED TOGETHER and just about everyone has signed on to keep the guild going into GW2, for good or for bad. ArenaNet is free to make all the other changes they want, but as long as they keep the feature of being able to group with ANY other GW2 player, anywhere in the world, with all the artificial boundaries of "server/realm/shard" of other MMOs never put in place, then they'll keep me as a customer.

Anyway, from the looks of it, is GW2 really going to be competing with WoW? I was kind of seeing its natural Blizzard rival as being Diablo III instead. But really, how much else can be said since GW2 is so far away even from beta...
 
@Tobold
Just because more people enjoy something doesn't make it 'good'. An earlier poster pointed to American Idol, Big Brother and other kinds of mind numbingly trite reality TV. Those things are the equivalent of the 'bread and circuses' of Roman times. Yet they're all immensely popular.

So when something becomes popular and the corporate minds behind it try to tweak it even more to appeal to the dead eyed grasping masses, it no longer becomes 'good for me' and I get annoyed. Is it good for the masses? It probably doesn't matter. Sooner or later they'll all move onto 'the next big thing' and drop whatever is big now. And then whatever it was will flounder around trying to regain its niche. Sure the suits behind it will likely make a bunch of money off of it, but in the end another cool thing gets ruined to appeal to the mass market.

Pretty much where WoW is.

@Hexx
All of those things I listed hit a point where they went from popular to 'mainstream'. Perhaps 'mainstream' is the word I'm looking for. I know people who never watched the original star wars, who thought that the new movies were it. Many even preferred the new ones because they were more colorful and actiony and they all went home thinking that as a bunch of special effects and fart jokes, they were pretty good and that was it. Tomorow they'll go buy the plastic light sabers and action figures.

D&D tried everything to go mainstream with 4th ed. Instead of making a roleplaying game, they tried to re-construct what they felt they were losing customers to, on the tabletop. MMORPGs. 4th ed is basically an MMO on paper. I don't want to play an MMO on the tabletop. I have an MMO for that. Yet it's popular because the masses think MMORPGs are cool right now.

As far as 40k goes, it's some of the most horrifically bad game design in the industry, yet it sells. GWs approach to playtesting is laughable. They utterly ignore every single tenant of good game design and proceed to shovel out a mess of a system. And it sells. It sells because the masses don't have to think about the system. They can roll huge handfuls of dice, pat themselves on the back and tell themselves they're good at the game. And buy more stuff.

Majority of people are dumb, lazy and shallow. Want to make a product that sells well? Tap into that. Make it simple as dog shit, let it do everything for them so they can just sit on their asses and watch, and let it flatter their egos. Recipe for success.
 
@Toxic - all great advice, but if Blizz is pocketing $500M a year with the current content and development plans...why on earth would they develop more?? Learn2Business

LOL @ WoW union. Uhhh....you're paying blizzard..they're not paying you. Voting with dollars is what a WoW player has. Double LOL at the WOW proletariat - a WoW working class/wage-worker?! Learn2Dictionary

And what's the difference between Heroic Mode/Hard Mode in WoW...and special difficulty levels that open up in other games upon completion? It's not lazy - it's a smart way to get more use out of developed content. Actually - in Wotlk there is much less heroic farming than in tBC because of the different badge types.

You really really don't get anything I'm saying. I'm not making a business case, I'm making a what are you paying for? Sure, its uber smart to save money on development costs. THAT'S NOT THE PLAYERS CONCERN. And seriously, I reference Marxism and you L2Dictionary me? L2Understand analogies.

"There is a lot of passion involved in discussions of WoW. I think people egos are bruised and/or they derive a lot of self worth from WoW (gear). If you're breaking up with WoW you will preach its demise so you can rationalize your disappointment in your inability to achieve what you were looking for."

There's may be truth in that. I think it's more that I trying to figure out what held me in the game (I did play too much) for so long. I really haven't played WoW in a long time and I don't WANT to play WoW anymore in the slightest. But having spent so much of my life in the game, I still follow whats going on, and I think its very disappointing in practice, even if the rhetoric (everyone gets to raid) is quite nice.

And will someone dispute that they are using a disguised RMT system to get more sales? Anyone?
 
If everything popular is so bad, then why don't you go and quit WoW and play something unpopular instead? And why didn't you complain about WoW being popular when it had 10 million players during TBC, but claim that when it has 11 million players during WotLK it suddenly turned into Big Brother / Britney Spears?
 
I still find it amusing that you think of D&D 4e/40K as 'mainstream'. D&D is the most popular fantasy roleplaying game in a tiny niche market. 40K is the most popular sci-fi miniature wargame that is a niche of a niche market. But both of them have *always* been the most popular FRPG and Sci-Fi miniwargame.

I think your argument is that the companies are changing your beloved niche systems in an attempt to grow out of that niche into a more mainstream product... but that is an entirely different argument than 'got popular, changed'. It is instead 'changed, in an attempt to get popular'.

We could argue all day long the merits (or lack thereof) of these and other systems through their lifecycles. But I think I get you now... You don't like it when somethign niche that appeals to you moves away from the niche specifics in an attempt to broadn the userbase.

This at least makes sense, because personal preferences are just that.

But when it comes to WoW, I think that developing for 50% of your userbase is simply good business. I'd much rather see 50% of the population in Naxx and Ulduar, with 5% in hardmodes, than 5% in Naxx and Ulduar, with 1% clearing them.

It's a good business decision, and by increasing the rewards (special mounts, titles, and achievements only possible for doing the hard stuff) you even reward that 5% in a very visible way. Sure, anyone can step foot in Ulduar, but how many are going to be carrying gear from Algalon? Or the titles from the Heroic Hard Mode achievements?

I don't see anything wrong with 'easy raids, self-imposed hard goals'. It maximizes development costs to the most players while still allowing for challenge. It's also a new concept, which means that for the first couple of raids, it's going to be spotty. But, give them time. Few companies polish better than Blizzard.
 
WoW is a game about time. The serious vs. casual argument is at its core, an argument about time (I'm ignoring the "lack of skill" subtext of some anti-casual arguments since ultimately time != skill). Both kinds of players want the same thing -- a game that matches their availability. Casual players don't have the time for long rep-grinds, extensive research, and hours of wiping. So they want a game where they can still accomplish something while only playing <10 hours a week. Serious players do have this time, and they want a game that expects you to wipe for a while to beat the boss, force everyone to max their consumables, has less room for error, etc.

Now, there are a lot more "casual" players than "serious" players, so the argument is already resolved as far as Blizzard is concerned -- WoW content has increasingly and is perhaps now decisively geared towards players who don't have huge reserves of time to play. And it's in their interest too -- a player paying $15/mo for only 10 hours of playtime a week costs Blizz less money than someone paying the same but logs 30 hours of playtime a week. We should be careful though not to conflate profitability with quality though, _we_ aren't Blizzard. Everybody Loves Raymond is not a "better" show just because it makes more money than Arrested Development; unless you're a network executive.

The reason why the CvS argument persists is because of encroachment. Casual players have come to expect comparable rewards as serious players but only requiring a casual play schedule. Someone referenced the Arenas/BGs "welfare epics" debacle, that's a perfect example. Serious players want rewards that match the extra amount of time they're able to invest, and their "value" gets reduced by making comparable items available for a fraction of the time played. Now, while I was happy to run my PVP and get awesome items, I can understand why this reward-for-less-work situation angers players who have "invested" a lot more of their time into the game. This is why serious players dislike the hard mode options -- there isn't enough of a difference between the time required and the improved rewards versus the "easier" modes. It's important this isn't an e-peen contest either, it has major gameplay ramifications for serious players too. I'm sure there are serious guilds that have suffered membership losses because certain players decided to stop making the time commitment once comparable rewards require a fraction of the time.

Ultimately, there is room for both sides. I think the solution lies in the two raid tiers. Right now, there is barely any increased difficulty between 10 and 25-man tiers besides meta out-of-game management issues; "hard modes" notwithstanding. There isn't a huge difference in ilvl or stats either between the loot tiers. I think Blizzard needs to more strongly separate the two raid tiers. Instead of 10-mans and 25-mans, why not have 15-mans and 30-mans? It would be the same 15-player difference in going from one tier to the next. But as someone in a casual guild, it's pretty easy to get 10 or even 15 useful casual players, but getting 25 useful casual players can be extremely difficult logistically (we're always "almost" ready for 25s); so that's a win for us since we won't even care about the 30-tier anymore. Hardcore guilds easily have 5-10 players sitting on the bench for their raids, and this gives them an opportunity to raid with more equally competent serious players, win for them. But since going from 15-->30 _feels_ more epic than going from 10-->25, the dramatic difference in raid size would allow Blizzard to create two _truly_ different encounters, demand more from the 30-man tier in terms of difficulty and time investment, and reward them commensurately. Hell, I'd be ok with bringing back the 40-man raids, as long as there was the 15-man lower tier.

Then, we'd have situations where casual players and serious raiders have _enough_ of a difference in their content and challenge to please the vocal and important minority of serious players (they write your strategies and figure out your gem types after all), while still making raiding accessible and enjoyable to match the majority casual audience's availability.
 
My ultimate complaint isn't that the game is more accessible, it always had easy raiding; from ZG on there was a place for smaller, less serious raiders to have fun. My problem is that Blizzard has somehow convinced people that its perfectly acceptable to rerun the same content x number of times, but giving the boss different stats makes it new and different. That is cheap and lazy. Sure it makes them more money than god, so what if it does? Its cheap and lazy. GM probably made a ton of money selling crappy cars in the 80s, it doesn't make it OK from the buyers perspective and ultimately it wasn't good for GM either.

Maybe I'm just a guy who is hating on the New Coke because I'm just so old school I can't see the brilliance of the new system. That could be it.
 
I notice most of the criticism of Ulduar's difficulty seems to be coming from players who are currently unsubscribed. (Disclaimer: I also have not seen Ulduar.) One look over the forums makes it pretty clear that Ulduar is harder than Naxx. Guilds with more than a couple of bad players are struggling even on the first few bosses, unless they're using Naxx25 gear on Ulduar10. Only about 250 guilds have beaten the instance. Trash actually kills people. Tradechat PuGs aren't going to go deep into the instance. For instance 2 out of 4 in the expansion, and given the new model where Blizzard is trying get away from progressive nerfing every few months, I think that's a pretty good difficulty setting.

If anything I'm a little unhappy with how 25m hardmode has been handled, as someone who enjoys watching the race from the sidelines. A number of encounters have been buffed to the point of mathematical impossibility, if the hardcores are to be believed. Somehow that really exposes the software's inner workings to me.

A couple more small points: I actually don't mind D&D 4E much. Vancian magic was only implemented because it seemed less "occult" when the game was being designed, and it was a nightmare as far as balancing and complexity.

And I don't want to see them change raid sizes yet again in the same game. Hardcore guilds have a bench because that is the best way to make progress. Change the raid size and the bench sizes will stay the same.
 
And I get the point about rerunning old content at endgame being boring. The problem is that you apparently run into diminishing returns beyond a software team size of 150 or so - I've seen devs of a couple games mention that. So you can either push out less polished content, make your endgame easier to code (but generally much less popular) stuff like crafting, or disguise it somehow. I think the hardmodes are the best disguise job I've seen to date, and I'm interested to see how the whole thing plays out.
 
"If everything popular is so bad, then why don't you go and quit WoW and play something unpopular instead? And why didn't you complain about WoW being popular when it had 10 million players during TBC, but claim that when it has 11 million players during WotLK it suddenly turned into Big Brother / Britney Spears?"

Because back then it had something for everyone. Now it doesn't. It become a bland game.

And did you really said "no-lifer" there? That's the Goodwin's Law of MMO's. You lose!
 
To quote some Blizz blue post (from mind; may not be the 100% exact wording):
"I am sorry that those people who weren't you cleared the instance and ended the game for you."
 
Somebody here posted an activity chart of WoW; back in the day it was like steps. Every month up up up. Now, its spikey.It was probably the one on WarcraftRealms. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the last two months.

While it is interesting that the post-Wrath launch part is very spikey, it did also confirm Tobold's previous assertion that TBC era also had problems. Curiously enough, one of the larger resurgences coincided with the release of Zul'Aman, suggesting that there was wide demand for something other than Karazhan.
 
I just have to comment on the guy that said the LotR movies 'weren't bad' those movies were easily in the top 10 movies created in the past decade, and effortlessly in the top 100 of all time.
 
I agree Hirvox. ZA was pretty awesome, fun way for the more casual guilds to have a challenge. ZA, ZG, AQ20, all have the patented Toxic's Seal of Approval for Casual Raiding Fun.

I just find it weird that all of sudden they hit this wall of diminishing returns where they launch the expansion with a recycled instance and then it takes them 6 months to release the next dungeon. I'm a little bit hazy, but didn't BC launch with at least the first two tiers of original dungeons IN PLACE? SSC was in place at 5 months in. And as they said, the revenue has gone up since then, so whats the problem with this massively successful expansion?
 
It always seems like people forget that WoW is a product, designed to be consumed by consumers, made by a huge corporation. Yes, its a virtual world with rabbits and squirrels and references to pop culture. But it isn't some idealized world designed for you to seek escape from the real world with. It is a video game. You can choose to live your life in WoW, or you can see it for what it is. Blizzard wants you to see it as a virtual world where you can live, and to ignore the business aspect of it. Unfortunately, some people will analyze it, and as Tobold, other bloggers and commentors here do, make it clear that WoW is a product, not a life choice. That said, what Blizzard is doing isn't good or bad, but amoral. It's a business folks, and they are being careful stewards of their product...

The game is becoming easier, not only for raiding, but for everything else. While this will bother some people, even me (while playing WoW at least), it isn't hard to understand why its changing and becoming easier. Someone else lamented that Blizzard was preparing WoW for the most profitable death possible. I can agree.

Blizzard knows the game isn't going to expand to 25m subscribers. At this point, dare I say, you either play WoW, or you won't. Now, don't take that literally, I'm not saying no one new is going to pick up WoW. But I look at it the same way as cell phones...either you have one, or you probably never will. WoW is at its peak, more or less, and won't be jumping up another 3m, 5m, 7m subscriptions.

If you are a smart company, which I would say Blizzard most definitely is, you don't try to turn your product into some specialized thing that people don't want to buy. Even if your product started out as a niche product that only a few people really used, if it becomes mainstream, you don't then attempt to change it so that you shed half your customers. Well, I guess you can in order to become "good" again, but then you lose money. And usually someone loses their job when that happens. Go figure Blizzard isn't walking through fire to upset their customers.

WoW is mainstream, and Blizzard's interest is to keep it mainstream and to pick up as much new blood as possible, or retain as much old blood as possible. The hardcore elite we all love to mention, are the people who want a niche game. They can exclaim that they don't care who raids, as long as they have a challenge, but what they really mean is that they want "epics to be epic again". Epic isn't epic if everyone has it. If everyone on earth had exactly $5 million dollars, we'd all be poor.

Blizzard isn't going to bring back that niche game, because for them, $500m profits for a "popular, but not good" game is a hell of a lot better than less profits, but making 5% of the customers happy because epics are epic again!

So that aspect should be pretty clear, Blizzard isn't going to go and piss off half their customers by going back to the "raid or die" endgame 5% of players loved pre-BC and BC. You can complain about easy mode epics, fluffy titles that have no meaning, achievements that require tying one hand behind your back, and recycled normal/hard/heroic instances. But it keeps players playing and paying. Numbers may spike up and down around the 10-11m mark, but they aren't dropping down to 5m for months at a time...and for Blizzard, they aren't jumping to 12m, 13m, 14m, even with expansions, patches, new content, etc.

The game is dying? Yes, I believe so. Going on 5 years old, there isn't much of anything to do that hasn't been done. I just have to hope that Blizzard is using all of its WoW profits, after shareholders, employees, and various governments get their share, to make "WoW 2" bigger and better than WoW. Assuming they are doing that, since they are a smart business, I agree with how Blizzard is treating WoW. The more money they can get from the game now, the better the next MMO will be.

Do you seriously want to be playing WoW 3 years from now? Or would you rather break into a new game that builds upon WoW's success and Blizzard's know-how that might be better than anyone imagine for WoW 2? I know which I prefer, and even if Blizzard has to "dumb down" the game, even in my eyes, its worth it. This game isn't the same as it was when raid instances had to be nerfed for the bosses to die. And its not going back. And ultimately, its for the better. Blizzard is a company, not a demi-god responsible for your eternal gaming soul. They are running a business. If you don't like their product, go pick up the other plethora of MMOs that are as good or better than WoW!
 
Toxic, you havent played for a year? That about shreds the rest of your credibility to pieces. Guess you're still a hopeless addict, even though you dont play. Guess your own weak mind is still in the grip, but it's morped into a crusade to wake the rest of us up to how bad the game is? You're a funny guy, my friend :)

Anyway, Tobold once again, nice post! I dont disagree with most of it. Win-win situation! There you go, that's very positive and I tend to agree. The only thing I do disagree with is your sense that hardcore players dont like it. Its simply not true. The majority of really good hardcore guilds picked up that the winds of change were blowing once again, and they made their wrath focus all about getting heroic glory of the raider. It lasted most of them until 3.1 quite nicely. Look at the number of people up in arms that they didnt have time to complete these achievements, and would miss a 310% mount. For the majority of naxx raiders, HGOTR was just too hard.

Hard modes in Ulduar are REALLY hard, believe me. They are really really hard. 10man doesnt count because technically the best guilds already outgear the 10mans. I've done 10man with non-hard modes and its REALLY easy with our 25 man gear.

A lot of people got sick of kara early on - it was just too hard. Oh, and they didnt see much of it for a long long time. Just like a lot of people got sick of sunwell, or couldnt get anywhere near the place until last october.

Having people enjoying Ulduar is a good thing. Its good. Its beautiful. People should get in there, and kill bosses. Blizzard have been retuning the encounters, hard and normal, practically day by day. That's how concerned they are to get it right.

Look at the imagined scenario some people are wishing for: wow was really good, really challenging that it attracted elitists, and discouraged the masses. Well, I'm super hardcore but I wouldnt be playing it for a start. Neither would most of the players in top guilds today. Who'd want to waste their time with a game that was massively unpopular? There would have to be fundamental things wrong with it. Having a game be super difficult does not equal good.

btw, toxic, just want to remind you if you've forgotten, that you havent played wow for over a year. That has to be the biggest irony of all.
 
[QUOTE]I agree Hirvox. ZA was pretty awesome, fun way for the more casual guilds to have a challenge. ZA, ZG, AQ20, all have the patented Toxic's Seal of Approval for Casual Raiding Fun.

I just find it weird that all of sudden they hit this wall of diminishing returns where they launch the expansion with a recycled instance and then it takes them 6 months to release the next dungeon. I'm a little bit hazy, but didn't BC launch with at least the first two tiers of original dungeons IN PLACE? SSC was in place at 5 months in. And as they said, the revenue has gone up since then, so whats the problem with this massively successful expansion?
# posted by Blogger Toxic : 23/4/09 21:13[/Quote]

You have not been paying attention. Blizzard acknowledged this very issue in a blue post somewhere somewhat recently. Quite simply, WoW was in development for so long that all of those instances couldn't help but be completed. The instances that came soon after had already been in development before launch. Ulduar is one of the first (possibly first, I can't remember what was actually said about it) instances developed completely from scratch, from pencil drawings to animation and scripts. Simply put, the content available that Blizzard could just "finish" has grown smaller over the years. Now they are designing content from scratch.

If there really is a legitimate complaint where the words "cheated" and "lazy" can honestly be used, then it is that instead of creating fresh and new content immediately after launch, Blizzard chose the "easy street" by completing old projects all this time, thereby giving the impression that they could create "new" content in a timely manner. Ulduar proves that even after several months of concept design, it still took over five months after launch of the expansion before they could complete this new content. Even now, they are still working out some bugs.
 
I think the irony is that some people are using Uldar, which has been out for two weeks, to pretend that everything is ok with WoW, when a month ago everyone was bored to tears. Two weeks into Age of Conan everyone thought it was great. The new car smell hasn't worn off Uldar yet. Big deal.

Argue with what I say, not my credentials. And I'd really like it people didn't try to reduce what I'm saying into the dumbest straw man they can imagine.

I am not saying that popular=bad. Or that super difficult=good. I will argue super easy=bad though. I am arguing that slapping 3 different modes on an instance does not equal good content.

I am arguing that Blizzards is debasing the game to keep the player base happy the same wa that the Friends producers decided to get Ross & Rachel to have such a drawn out (and hilarious!) engagement.

I am arguing that WoW's best days are behind it. Hell, Blizzard agrees--- why else would they be making a new mmo?
I am arguing that players who argue the business case for handing the players thin gruel are a bit brainwashed.

I really haven't seen too much argument against my arguments (anyone care to dispute my RMT accusation, anyone? Does Blizz have the moral authority to ban gold traders now?). I have seen a lot of neener neener, you're an angry asshole whose weak mind is still obsessed with WoW. I'm not the guy spending 10-40 hours a week playing the game, so that's a fairly amusing accusation. Really I'm just a guy who likes to yak on internet discussion boards about MMOs and who enjoys expressing himself in strong terms. Tobold got in my blog rotation a while ago and that's pretty much my sole exposure to WoW news, except for when my old WoW buddies carp about the game (those that are left anyway, seems most of em have quit).
 
Thank you hound, for actually providing a good, logical argument.
 
@Toxic: Could you please elaborate further on your RMT accusation? I'm not sure I understand what it is you're trying to say.
 
Are WoW's best days behind it? I think they are certainly bumping up against the limits of their original engine and class design, which alone is a good enough reason to start building a new MMO. The art, world design, and quest design teams I think are getting better. QA and class balance seems to be a bit worse off since a lot of the directors left to work on Blizzard's other games. I think a bigger problem is that a lot of the less obsessive players have long since moved on or dropped to casual status, virtually everyone is at max level, and it's pretty hard to reinvent the questing/dungeon PVE wheel mid-game, which leaves things feeling stale.

The new car smell wears off of every game, and you'll never get the first time magic back. What upcoming game is going to outdo WoW? Aion? Star Wars? Star Trek? Copernicus? I remember having the feeling that MMOs were striving for something great, now I am resigned to them being a bit more entertaining than playing random FPS #5000 or watching random sitcom/reality show #5000 when there's nothing else going on that evening (and they're also good for occasional forum drama at work on a slow day, like today). Is that cynical or pragmatic? You decide.
 
http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?articleId=25716

Is what I mean. That is a disguised RMT scheme.

You buy a box, you hook it with another friend, you get triple xp, free levels to grant yourself, etc. You buy a WoW classic box, you link yourself to a friend, they level an alt, you level an alt, you get free levels for whoever you want. When you are done, you transfer the character to your account or pay the monthly sub fee. Basically, Blizzard is saying "pay us $45 to skip 6 days of leveling". $20 for the box, 25 for the character xfer between accounts.

Whats great about this scheme is that it can legitimately be used to bring new players up to speed. That is the disguise. The most common use is charge veteran players to easily level alts. If they charged you $45 bucks for a potion that granted triple xp and free levels to 60, there would be no doubt whatsoever that it was an real money transaction. But they disguised it because its a bit unseemly to put the proposition so baldly.

It's like ticket scalpers that sell you the ticket for list price and a $100 pencil. It's a sham, everyone knows it.
 
"The new car smell wears off of every game, and you'll never get the first time magic back. What upcoming game is going to outdo WoW? Aion? Star Wars? Star Trek? Copernicus? I remember having the feeling that MMOs were striving for something great, now I am resigned to them being a bit more entertaining than playing random FPS #5000 or watching random sitcom/reality show #5000 when there's nothing else going on that evening (and they're also good for occasional forum drama at work on a slow day, like today). Is that cynical or pragmatic? You decide."

I know exactly how you feel. Exactly.

I don't know what the WoW killer is. I think it's mostly killing itself really, or starting to rot under its own internal inconsistencies. Everything decays. WoW right now is like a healthy looking apple, still quite edible, but you can feel the softness setting in.
 
Toxic, I cant help but appear to reduce you to some idiotic version of yourself. Believe me or not, that IS how you express yourself. Your comments reveal themselves to be all the sillier; they show how disconnected you are with the game, with whats going on, and how elite & casual players alike feel about it. I'm not sure what you're doing here. Except that, as you say, trolling around random internet blogs, holding forth in strong terms regarding subjects about which you are very ignorant, is a form of entertainment for you. Its kind of boring arguing with you too, since you are clearly seeking controversy rather than discussion. Have a nice day!
 
I actually feel Toxic is making a fairly good account of himself considering the opposition against his voice. I'm not in huge agreement with him on many of his points but they're not badly put - there's a hint of bitterness, at least in my mind, for some of his posts tones, but silliness? Idiocy? You're bordering on trolling there my friend. Heck, you're baiting with your cheery swings at the end.

On a side poke: We 6 man'd Flame Leviathan on 10man tonight with our alts :(
 
Bitterness? Yeah there is a bit. It's more aimed at me for letting myself get sucked into such a bullshit obsession, and a bit at the guys who think I'm an idiot or some kind of fool for pointing out that the Emperor is not as well clothed as he says he is.
 
Well I figure since this discussion has devolved pretty much into personal attacks and "IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT DON'T PLAY THE GAME!!!!" arguments, it may just be time to call it. Somebody pull a Godwin and turn out the lights please.
 
Plastic Rat, your a nazi!

I don't like it so I don't play the game!
 
If you're not playing, and you've not experienced Ulduar, I don't really see how you're fit to make any reasoned judgement about how things are like in 3.1
If you try it, you'll see its a totally different landscape.

Otherwise, its like the politicians who don't play computer games, and lobby against it, saying it induces violence and whatnot. I'm pretty sure they don't play the games they don't like too.

Rory, 10 man is much easier than 25, you try 15 manning Flame Leviathan on hard modes
The easy modes are meant to be accessible to everyone, with the hard modes for more skilled and geared and dedicated people.

As for RMT, wouldn't a better example be the wow tcg? spectral tigers, rockets?
And its not like other games like SOE don't do the same thing...

Toxic, you seem quite bitter about the old WoW, what happened?
 
No, I don't think the useless crap from the card game is a RMT. I mean, I guess it is in theory, but its mostly silly stuff. The recruit a friend program is the kind of service you would pay a Chinese guy for.

Yeah yeah 3.1 is totally different. Game fixed, no problems here.


Honestly as far as WoW goes I feel a bit like an ex-cult member. A couple of years ago I was all into it, busting my ass to get enchants, learning strats, leading raids and doing the whole bit. Now I look back and I'm genuinely confused about what I even liked about it. It seemed like it mattered at the time. And then I start criticizing the game and I get a bunch of the faithful telling me how I don't know anything about the game cause they patched it a few times, so I should STFU. I could just be dancing around telling ya'll to get a fucking life, and that would probably be the best advice I could give you, but I don't. Cause its none of my business and I've been where you are.

Really, and I truly mean this, in some ways I have a clearer perception of the game precisely because I have distance from it. I'm not worried about whether you can 15 man or 6 man flame leviathan. I'm worried that you poor bastards still stuck in the trap aren't even seeing how Blizzard is just milking the game for cash (more than it used to) because your worried about flame leviathan, and not on how you're expected to entertain yourselves by running the exact same dungeons, arenas (possibly the most cost effective time sink in the game), and bgs, and wait 6 months for a dollop of new content (that will totally change the landscape forever even though most guilds are halfway through easy mode already.) Conquering on easy and then slightly relearning the fights in hard mode=endless, I mean endless, entertainment! The only part of the game that sounds remotely interesting or truly novel is Wintergrasp.

WoW is, at heart, just a giant rat maze. That's just a fact. I just think Blizzard shouldn't be cutting back on the cheese when they have a billion dollar a year revenue stream.
 
"Right now, there is barely any increased difficulty between 10 and 25-man tiers besides meta out-of-game management issues"

Ben, I have to disagree with you pretty emphatically on that one.

My guild has cleared most of Ulduar on 10-man, about half of it on 25-man, and the 25-man version is _considerably_ more difficult.

And this is not us attempting them in parallel: basically we did 10-man in the first week, and have fielded 25-man raids this week. Even going into 25-man knowing the fights from having already beaten them on 10-man, there is a big step up in the difficulty they are tuned to.

This is clearly intentional, given their admission that the difficulty differences between 10 and 25 in tier 7 was not where they wanted it.
 
Popularity and quality are two different, unrelated axes of evaluation. There may be intersections between the two, but there isn't any real or consistent causation/correlation to describe those intersections.
 
@ Sherry Unfortunately I joined a 10man-only guild for the moment because I've only got a raiding pattern to support that but we might find ourselves expanding to 25man soon enough if we end up clearing 10man quickly. In terms of the loot etc. there's really not much available within Ulduar 10 that's better than my kit so I'll end up wanting to hit the 25man then and actually experiencing a difference in difficultly levels.

"I'm worried that you poor bastards still stuck in the trap aren't even seeing how Blizzard is just milking the game for cash " Toxic

I don't worry about the cash. I play WoW 2 days a week now on my 'main' and the odd day as my alt. Both of those are raid days as well, so it means I won't gobble up content within that setting like I used to (4-5 raiding day weeks etc.) but for some it's not just being able to play but also to socialize, chat, etc. At one point in TBC I had BT/Hyjal on farm super early and the guild would just log in on the weekend, etc. pop onto vent and just talk to each other. It's a tiny amount of money to pay over a month so even if I only spend 10 odd hours within that month in the game then it's money well spent. Although saying that I'm sub'd to most the codemasters and soe stuff also xD
 
Doubt anyone is reading this deep in, but you don't sound trapped Rory. I'd say most people who play WoW just play WoW cause they like it and they have friends there and they have a bit of fun. Super! In all seriousness, great. I found that personally, if I am not obsessed with WOW I can't care about it at all. Warhammer, oddly enough, is a game I can enjoy on a casual basis.

It's the guys who get all super cereal any time someone points out that WoW has some serious problems that are more likely to be trapped rather than just playing a game. If the idea that WoW is slipping from its throne invokes anger or discomfort in you, you are trapped. If your response is "eh, maybe, but I'm having fun", you aren't trapped. You're just having some fun.
 
I 100% agree with this. Why make a game with content only available to a small percentage of players? This makes NO SENSE. You cater to the majority of your player base.

If you want extremely challenging, end game raid content, I am sorry; but you are in the wrong game.
 
What's ironic about this is that many people would say that WoW itself is the prime example of popular being the enemy of good, even pre-BC. WoW simplified and streamlined the MMO experience by removing a lot of negative aspects of it, like a harsh grind to cap and substantial death penalties. This is probably why it sees so much success, by being accessible and soloable at start.

It just seems ironic to me that WoW players make that argument at all in any aspect.
 
Ah, toxic, I think I can now understand where you're coming from.
For me, WoW is something cheaper than a movie ticket/coffee shop, where I can hang out with my old IRL friends who are across the oceans and seas from me.

Ah Rory, you will probably see 25 as a large leg up. If you work with a close knit group of people, I'm sure you'll find it to be an interesting challenge
 
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