Tobold's Blog
Thursday, December 16, 2010
 
Time heals everything

I am a big fan of crafting and tradeskills in general. So my various characters in World of Warcraft cover nearly every possible profession. Nevertheless I not only did barely any crafting in Cataclysm up to now, I even sold the materials I gathered instead of using them for crafting. The reason I did that was that I realized that some players are very much in a hurry to skill up their professions, so much that they are paying rather silly amounts of gold for simple materials. The most basic ore of Cataclysm which I collected to skill up my mining skill I was able to sell for up to 15 gold per ore, 300 gold per stack. Now the prices are slowly coming down, and I'm pretty confident that at some point I can take those 300 gold I got for one stack of ore and buy several stacks of the same ore with it in a few weeks time. The same thing holds true for cloth, herbs, and the "volatile" elements. Sell now, buy back at a fraction of the price later.

While I was pondering this, I was also reading various comments on WoW blogs about the level of difficulty of 5-man heroic dungeons and raiding. And I made the connection, and realized that for those dungeons basically the same thing is true as for crafting materials: If you try to do them right now, a week after release, it will be hard. But with time they will get a lot easier.

This is not because I believe Blizzard will nerf dungeons or anything, but just a natural consequence of the system as it is now. If, for example, you group with 4 random characters for a pickup group today, chances are that some of them will enter the dungeon you are going to for the very first time, and that their gear is barely over the new "minimum average iLevel" requirement of the dungeon. Group with 4 random characters via the Dungeon Finder in a month, and chances are that people know the encounters better, and are better equipped. Group with 4 random characters in 20 month and that same heroic will be a facerolling AoE fest, because everybody is in iLevel 500 epics and did all those heroics a hundred times.

At least as far as dungeons are concerned, this is good news. Do you love wiping and extra-hard dungeons? Do them now! Would you prefer to have an easier time? Just wait! Do you have several level 80 characters and are worried that those you don't play will fall behind? Don't worry, the ones you don't play now will be able to equip themselves much cheaper than today from the auction house, and through easier dungeons quickly catch up.

The only possible pitfall in this plan is raid dungeons. Yes, raid dungeons will become easier as well with time. But if Blizzard manages them like they did in WotLK, the raid dungeons of today will also become obsolete tomorrow. So if you wait too long before visiting a raid dungeon, you might find that place completely deserted, and nobody willing to go there any more. This is exactly why I'm hoping for a looking-for-raid functionality in a future patch.

The funny thing about the effect of time on Cataclysm dungeons is that many people don't realize it. Thus right now you'll here a lot of comments that Cataclysm dungeons are "hard", some even calling them "too hard". But I bet that if you read blogs in a year or two, you will see people complaining how the Cataclysm dungeons are "easy", or "too easy", with various comments on how Blizzard is catering to an audience of low intelligence. But if you look at it without prejudice, Blizzard probably made the Cataclysm dungeons as hard as they could get away with, and the thing they are catering to is not "low intelligence" but the natural desire of all players to see their characters get stronger over time. By having dungeons always at the same difficulty level for the two years between expansions, and by allowing players to become stronger with time, the result of dungeons becoming easier is inevitable. The good news is that one *some* point in time the dungeons are at the perfect difficulty level for any given individual. The bad news is that this point in time is different for everybody, and we'll be forever stuck in beating the dead horse of the discussion whether WoW dungeons are too hard or too easy.
Comments:
Thanks for a good post!

I'm gathering my mats, preparing to level all professions as usual. I like being self-sufficient, so I tend not to sell mats until my own professions are maxed. I know, I'm not particularly economically sound :)

As for the dungeon bit, I still haven't gotten to 85 on any of my toons, but so far I'm disappointed with the instances. They're well done and all, but the advertised difficulty is nowhere to be found. I'm hoping that this is just to give me a false sense of security and that the heroics will be hard. If I make it in time before everyone is geared to the teeth!
 
I guess one of the only ways Blizzard can avoid the problem of 5-mans becoming faceroll is to introduce new ones along with each raid tier, sorta like they did with ToC and ICC, although it'd be nice if they released more than just one instance - the three ICC instances were a good addition.

Another alternative might be to just add increasing levels of difficulty to existing heroics, possibly with additional/different bosses or boss mechanics
 
The people complaining about "easy" WotLK dungeons are exactly the ones you mention: people who never did them in the early beginning. They were easier than the current Cataclysm ones, but not even remotely the faceroll people assume them to be.
BTW 15/g mineral is not expensive.... I've bought quite a few stacks to powerlevel my JC to 475 for the daily. Gold is there to be spent, and this is a good time to spend it and get the crafts you want fast. I've dumped around 10k in craft materials and I won't hesitate to spend a lot more for the ilvl359 crafts. If I've made 200k in WotLK it's to use them when I need them, not to keep them in my guild bank....
 
"Hard" or "easy" are not a properties of a dungeon alone, but has to been seen in combination with the gear ... obviously.

Thus, a dungeon that is hard today can be easy tomorrow. It is still the same dungeon, but its difficulty changed.
 
Good points there.

But the corollory to this for crafting is that soon, almost no one will want to buy the various greens and blues you will make while levelling a trade skill because they will have better, cheaper and easier ways to get gear. So there's a sweet spot where you can sell the stuff but the raw goods aren't crazily priced.

You're dead right on the difficulty of instances though. What's hard at gear level 300 might be easy at 333.
 
One more point on the speed at which the heroics will become easier: That will take time. Some mechanics are basically instant death or one shot the tank. What will beocme easier is CC. In a year tanks will easily be able to tank all those groups.
 
You make it sound as if there is only one sweet spot in time for each player when all the dungeons will be at the perfect level of difficulty for them. What if you forget to log on that day?

Surely the system works better if you have an array of dungeons ranging from easy to hard in difficulty level. Everyone will be able to progress to their own level and the impact of time on overall difficulty level means that even the "weakest" player will eventually be able to get to the end.
 
Surely the system works better if you have an array of dungeons ranging from easy to hard in difficulty level.

*WOULD* work better, certainly. But currently all dungeons are supposedly the same difficulty level, and based on previous form there will be only one "harder" level of dungeons added, consisting of 1 to 3 dungeons.
 
Yesterday I was in Grim Batol heroic for the first time and had a great time. Guild run, only two had done the instance on normal before, everyone just barely over the 329 itemlevel threshhold.

We wiped enough to go repairing twice, but I hadn't that much fun in a 5man since the unnerfed BC heros running in blue gear.

We went to Stonecore and killed the first two bosses two for a third full repair before calling it a night.

I am certainly not pug'ing Cata heroics until everyone and their dog outgears the place, but it's guild run heaven now.

I'm with Tobold, if you like some action go ASAP.
 
@Helistar
Every server economy is different. Just because 15g is cheap on your server doesn't mean that for every server.

@Tobold
I'm doing the same. I've been selling all my materials I've gathered. The problem is I just rolled a new character, a Worgen, so I wont be in the Cata dungeons for awhile now.
 
Thanks for the good post.

FYI, while everything will be much cheaper in the future, Bliz made the uncommon gems vendor for twice what they did in LK, so there is a floor under mineral prices of approximately double LK. So your 300g of ore would have sold for over twice that on 7 Dec but even at the end of the expansion the equilibrium price should never be much below 60g/stack. Whereas today's 30,000g epic could be 100g in 18 months.

For some reason, the 200g/stack elementium does not bother me as much as the 120g/stack embersilk.

There are not many sweet spots at the moment. most of the time I see crafted items sell for well under production cost. Uncommon cut gems sell for half the uncut price (leveling) 800g of materials to make a 22 slot bag that sells for 2-300. .Even the PVP gear with pvp season starting are well under cost.

The exceptions are rare cuts of rare-quality/meta gems and 359 epics including darkmoon cards. Soon the herb prices will be down, but also people will not be willing to pay 50-150k for a darkmoon card or 10-50k for other epics.

It is one of the few things that EVE Online is clearly superior. You can come back in a year and your stuff might not be FOTM but it is serviceable. In WoW, you can work very hard to get through Ulduar and then boom ToC and T9 make it essentially worthless. Similarly, 359 epics will provide no cache or profit or progression help when the next level is released.

For me, the current system favors hybrids. I may pug some as DPS but have no interest in healing pugs atm. I am a bit dubious about cata healing in general but that is another topic.
 
@Hagu
That's been one of my problems with WoW since the first expansion. While I understand the need for a gear/character reset to even the playing field I dislike how old content/items become worthless.

In EQ, yes I am getting tired of referring to it too, content that was 2-3 expansions old was still valuable.

Blizzard has said that they don't want to change the expansions with each new expansions because they want new players to experience the content as it was intended. How are new players experiencing any raid content or epics from a past expansion? The quest lines sort of make sense, but there is no reason to not scale BC and WotLK Heriocs and Raids to the new current top Tier.

I would also love to see more blue/purple random item drops in dungeons and rare spawns in the world to add to the economy.
 
Insightful post, Tobold.

WoW changes with each expansion, both in difficulty and in economy. Although you've said many times that an MMO is not a race, the fact that many players treat it like a race -- that drives these changes.

Raw mats are more expensive than crafted items, because people are racing to powerlevel their professions, or in some cases racing for Realm First achievements. I got Realm First Enchanting and Jewelcrafting on my server and spent over 100k gold in doing so. I'll slowly make it back over the course of Cata. Why spend that kind of money? Because 100k comes and goes, but a Realm First is forever.

My main hit 85 on Sunday (5 days after release) and was already one of the slowest in the guild to do so. So I'm behind in heroics and finding it a bit hard to get guild groups to do them already. I fell behind in the leveling race while working for Realm Firsts.

As for dungeon difficulty, we took a group of 4 80's last night, 1 in Naxx gear and 3 in crafted L200 blues (one of those being my wife who only plays to humor me), and we downed the first 2 bosses of BRC. Many wipes, but it was doable under-manned, under-geared, and under-skilled. And only 1 healer. :-)
 
So you're saying that in a year, when everyone has grinded each dungeon and raid 30+ times, and outgear everything, its going to be easier?

MMOs are way too stagnant.

Imagine a MMO that didn't have expansions the way WoW does it, but instead constantly added in content: A few months from now, a few new zones/areas open, and you can level to 86. Profession levels go up, and maybe a new dungeon and raid instance, storyline, etc.

The whole, grind everything into oblivion for two years with a sprinkling of new content is what killed WoW and MMOs in general for me. I guess I just can't see the good side of games like WoW, now that I've been through two expansions, and know that the only thing you're supposed to do is grind, regrind, and then repeat it, begging Blizzard to reset it so you can do it all over after two years.
 
While i see a bit of "too hard" comments, i see way more "wrath baby" insults from people who don't get that these will be steamrolled in a year and a half too. That insult really does say more about the person using it though too than the one they are insulting.
 
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