Tobold's Blog
Friday, July 06, 2007
The better Freezing Jihad

Four months ago I wrote a parody about the next World of Warcraft expansion, which I called The Freezing Jihad, in an obvious antonym of The Burning Crusade. That one got a lot of laughs, and even Blizzard linked to it from the WoW homepage. But what many people didn't notice was that it was actually a sad and pessimistic text, making fun of all what is wrong with TBC and assuming that the next expansion will continue that trend towards the unimaginative. So today I'm going to write a different text, not so funny, but idealistic and optimistic. I'm keeping the Freezing Jihad name, but I want to imagine what features the next World of Warcraft expansion could have that while still being realistic are a lot more exciting and innovative. So here is the feature list of the better Freezing Jihad:So what do you think? Would you like this list of Freezing Jihad features more than the first one? And what is your guess, will the real second WoW expansion be all about the level 70 to 80 game with another layer of raid dungeons, or will we get content for all levels and totally new features like player housing like in this proposal?
The problem with new WoW content (and this doesn't detract from your ideas, which are imaginative) is that they have enough trouble balancing what they got.

Adding new stuff in just makes it a steaming heap of crud, as they've shown in TBC - balancing that is an ongoing mare.

New content is what people crave, as it keeps the game fresh - I like your idea of hero classes that allow people to undertake a quest with their existing toon. I'm not sure I like the idea of low level dungeons so much as you'll spend so little time there.

For my money, WoW would go a long way if they introduced a roguelike dungeon design for an expansion, where levels were randomly generated and balanced dependant on your party. No more, "/2 LFG Healer, Priest Preferred" - the game builds itself around your fun, when you want to play.

I don't think Blizzard will make these sorts of changes tho, as they're fundamentally against WoW's core design of poor rewards for repetative engagements. The randomness of rewards needs to be removed (or enhanced so that they're useful - shards aren't) to encourage people to want to play; I mean by the time you've farmed your five mans 302297 times to get your gloves or whatever, you just don't want to go back.
New professions of lumberjack and woodcrafter. The lumberjack can fell trees at new tree nodes distributed all over the world and gather wood, which the woodcrafter turns into bows, arrows, and staves.

They should also be able to craft Throwing Weapons (boomerang) or some types of musical instruments for the new Bard Hero Class like pipes, flutes, whistles and lutes.
maybe they can produce incense from rare wood that can be used with a camp fire to power spells cast by shamans, warlocks and druids.
No real need/point for an increased level cap. If folks make a game of racing to the end, it's still there. The end, that is. Make it 80, 90, 110, they'll be there in a week or two. Keep it at 70 and nothing's lost. They've still "won", though their victory pales to insignificance once all the casuals reach 70, multiple times. And that's always inevitable.

How about cap increase very two years (like we just had) and brand new content, lots of it, in the alternate years.

Outlands was required by the level increase. But with no level increase, no new 70-80 content required. Lots of time therefore to work on 20-70 again.

Northred is clearly in the lore. And looks to be continent sized. Increase the old world's size by 1/3 and you've got land enough for entirely new 1-70 content.

New dungeons. Of course. However, if your idea of playing WoW is to race to the level cap as fast as possible this idea probably holds zero interest to you. But if you like to enjoy the game, live in the world, explore, most definitely.

Four new races. That'd be a lot. In a neutral faction. Goblins and Arrakoa and Sporelings... and Pandarens? Yes, that would pose problems on a PvP server. They'd have it easy mode in that neither faction could attack them. Lorewise, and on the otherhand, why should they be hostile to both other factions.

A 2nd option for a third faction, that is inimical to both existing factions, and hence make it a 3-way war, would be the Scourge's forces. This would include the Undead (non-Forsaken), the Nerubians (undead too, but spider based), demons, and the Eredar (your "dark" Draenei). This would tie in Northred, the Outlands, and beyond.

Trouble is on a PvE server, like I play, there'd be Scourge & Gnome picnics all the time. At least in our world, at this time, Alliance and Horde do have a common enemy and can justifiably work together at times. And though I hate to say it, yes, even picnic together.

This 3rd, against everyone faction, would allow you to keep a big neutral faction in place, ala the Goblins of Undermine.

Though I do like your idea about mercenaries filling BG ranks in order to speed up queues.

Hero class? For the character/player who says "I'm bored. To tears. Endlessly. But I'm not ready to quit. I'm going to reinvent myself and be a hero." This would be the most twinked group in creation. There'd have to be incentive to leave level 19 WSG though.

Player housing would be nice. Fluff, but nice. Real nice. An added bonus to something (else) good.

Lumberjacks. Very much in the lore. :)

Dyes would be cool. But then Blizzard couldn't cheat on it's armor and weapon designs like they do by simply recoloring old stuff to make it new. (Dungeon 2 sets anyone?)
Grear post kinless after I took you on on your own site before.

Great ideas and I hope Blizzard listens to these request, even a bit better.

More content for the population and not just for hard core raiders.

I think better quest items would also be great and maybe even better gear just for progression.

The neutral races can even be against both alliance and horde for a triangular tie?

This is my dream expansion aswell...

Cant wait!
You're just starting to notice that WoW is an unimaginative game? :)

Blizzard don't take risks. Why should they?

Everyone slates SoE but at least they tried to do to actually push the industry forward.
I fully expect the next expansion to increase the level cap and include new content for the push to 80, plus maybe some low-mid level zone to accomodate a new tradeskill-come-timesink and new race/class. I don't expect much innovation in TBC+1 as it was probably under development before everyone found issue with TBC. I would hope that TBC+2 (and TBC+1, I just don't expect it) would have a new continent to level to 70/80/whatever in so that theres some incentive to level an alt again, beyond 'guilds need shamans/paladins so I'll get easy raiding if I reroll'
Really good ideas, I like them alot, in fact if Blizzard did everything you suggest there I'd be a million times mroe escited about the next expansion. And to be honest I'm still really enjoying TBC!

I think 'balance' is something that Blizzard should worry about least and imagination is what they should focus on. Balance in MMORPGs is like Utopia in RL - it ain't going to happen!
Nice but complete fantasy.

Sad, but true.

Of all the features, new 1-70 content would top my list, with one new race and one new class.

race = goblins
class = mechanic (pet class)

I'd rather see monks but the mechanic fits the goblin better, and they would be the first (but not last) of the 4 neutral races (good idea there, Tobold).
Probable next race, how about Etherals?
Doubt there will be an increase in level for quite some time. How many people have even been to the Black Temple or Mount Hyjal, and we still havent seen Zul'Aman yet. Level increase must be at least 2 years away.
Another wicked little thought.

Maybe talents should have been aa points from the very beginning.

That would have added meaningful advancement to the end game.
Should read "quest and portal hub like shattrath"

- Ben
dam, the comment system killed my long post, *sigh* please delete the useless other one.

- Ben
I would love it, but not in North Rend. North Rend means Arthus, no matter how you look at it, and level 70 just seems weak to be facing one of the most powerful beings in the known Warcraft Lore.
To think Blizzard could have saved millions in lost subscription by hiring Tobold as a designer ^^

I'm not kidding. You've got the make of a game creator, there.
For the hero class, do your previous talent points matter?
I like your ideas for the next expansion. 2 that stand out the most and I would most like to see are the new pre 70 zones and the new professions.

If all the new expansion added was new zones and quests for levels 1-60 I would be happy. I understand that it would almost have to have more end game content but I want more pre end game stuff that makes leveling up an alt not so much of a boring grind.

The 2 new professions would also be great and make sense given the existing professions already avilable.
Most of these are great ideas, and WoW definitely needs to implement at least a couple of them. I have, as always, a few ideas.

In this design, you decide against raising the level cap, and instead implement a continent with new content for the lower levels instead of the higher ones. By doing this, you're shifting the focus of long-term gameplay toward rolling new characters instead of continually progressing with the same character. Is that a good idea? I'm not sure yet. But maybe it's worth keeping the balancing act between the two.

Dyes are a good idea, but probably impossible to implement on old armor sets without spending a disproportionate amount of time changing the old models. Maybe just with the higher-level gear sets, so not all lvl 70 warriors look alike? Sort of like gems, but with appearance instead of stats.

Mercenaries in PvP are a probably a bad idea. Forming an AI capable of being useful in battlegrounds is too much trouble. Although it might be possible if the raid leader had some system to send commands to them. (And, hopefully, pass off the control of some of them to other members of the raid.)

Throwing tree nodes into the game seems a bit... silly. There must be another way to do professions than copy mining. Anyone else remember all those logging camps scattered around the map? Can't we use them?

Which leaves us with hero classes. WoW pretty much needs hero classes. Of all these changes, this is the one I most want to see in the expansion. I'd like to see the process of becoming a hero class be a quest chain, maybe one that even spans a variety of zones. I'm not sure that three hero classes would be enough, but coming up with a whole set of balanced classes is probably too large a task for one comment. (Maybe a sniper, a death knight, a sorcerer and a barbarian?) And it'd be neat if hero classes could get those dragon-thingies on their portrait. But that could always be added in a patch after the expansion is released, I suppose.

Still, if Blizzard doesn't implement at least one of these ideas (and it looks like guild housing is first on the agenda) I'll be very disappointed.
Oh, right, I almost forgot.

Can we PLEASE see more secondary professions? Anything? It doesn't have to be useful, just mildly interesting.
Intriguing. I don't know yet about the level cap. I actually enjoyed going fom 60 to 70 and would enjoy going from 70 to 80. But then again the real question is content and exploration, so if the level cap remains but new explorable content comes it's all good I suppose.

I do agree that there needs to be more content at all levels, but not just in new areas. The old 20-60 areas all need 3-4 new quests or more.

On dungeons, I like 10 at 60-70 but 5 is nice too.

The race idea is nice. One is in fact trivial: Goblins. Already fully animated in the game as a neutral faction. I'm really not sure if there is a need for 4 though.

The real problem is: How to make people level them. There are woefully few Draenei already and they have very nice racials.

I don't know about hero classes. Yeah sure some people might sacrifice a lvl 70 to get these, but I hardly would. I rather prefer leveling a new class from scratch. Doesn't exclude anybody from getting to that class.

I actually think that WoW has plenty of classes, but that's me. I can see 10 classes total, that's just one more per faction. But 3 more is loads more than I'd like to see frankly.

Player housing? Lots of people talk about it, I don't even know if I really want or need it. I rather see polish on game-play. Less of messup in that area (like total face-against-the-wall potion regen design for mana longevity). But again that's me. I thought WoW was fine despite no player housing.

Instances city parts might be nice for RPers but that's a different story.

Not particularly fond of crafting in general so don't really resonate with adding yet another collectors job... while arrow crafting would be nice for hunters, really that could be a class ability (should in fact).

Dye? Too LOTRo. Let WoW have their vanity scheme ;)
I've messed around a bit with what WOW is capable of, and in its current form, the true level cap of the program is lv 255. So there's lots of room for expansion. Personally, I think they should do what other games have done and make an unlimited level cap, but with an insane curve as you go past 100 or 150...
I think you've made some great idea's there Tobold, some people may not like to play an alt as they have so much pride in their epicced out Undead Warlock named wincoil but SERIOUSLY with the new arena system how many people do you see in this gear anyways? Like ALL of them.
I have 2 70s both in some epics but really its the alts I enjoy because its the elite that make 70 gameplay NOT fun. when you work your ass off in PvP to just have some Black Temple preset tear your face off.. (Dont get me started on going to Black Temple either - DE'ing your Full T2 set by lvl 62 anyone?) So yeah gear up some new zones so you can play lowbies with your mates again!

and player housing is a mad idea, some people may not want it but they don't have to go there then do they? The people who do, sweet.

Dreyfus - 70 Holy Paladin
Asmodai - 70 Arms Warrior
I like all of your ideas. Like the man said, the expansion after the Bitter Jihad, they could raise the level limit to 80. But in yours, they could add all of these wonderful ideas.

I hope someone at Blizzard is reading and decides to "borrow" your ideas.

As to balancing? So far all I've seen so called balancing attempts by Blizzard do has been to screw up or screw over classes. True class balance is about as realisticaly possible as Plato's Ideal Forms.
I like your suggestions Tobold, very well thought out. The only thing I would change is loosing a 70 for a new hero class, I don't think I'd be willing to sacrifice my 70 mage for say a level 1 Necromancer or Death Knight. I think you should have to work a character to the max level to open up a certain hero class (I think I posted this on my blog or on the wow forums one time).

You could mix/match still. Mage=Archmage(Alliance) or Lich(Horde)
Paladin=Death Knight(Horde) or Champion(Alliance)

Or just require one level 70 character to unlock one or two new hero classes that you can choose from. As long as you have at least 1 70 you can create a new character from one of the two hero classes. That would work better for balancing.

Paying for housing doesn't sound great but I suppose if you want the prestige of it you have to pay rent to someone right?

I would definitely like to see some new content for the 1-70 range. I am so tired of seeing stranglethorn vale.
They should hire you as a game designer.

I've only one thing the add.

Increase the stats on the reward items you get for BRD, Scholomance, Strat, etc and the rest of the "old" 60 level instances. I don't understand why green item rewards for killing boars at level 58 are better then anything you get in an instance at level 60.
Or create Heroic instances for all the instances.

Heroic Deadmines anyone?
I agree and disagree on your ideas. I understand that raising the level cap might not help, but we have been told that in order for us to beat Arthas (final boss of Northrend) we will need to be at least level 80. Northrend is the origination of the Scourge, there are very powerful enemies there, and I think it would be a good place to make 10 more levels. Leveling from 60-70 was very fun and enjoyable, and I would like the same type of thing to happen again.

The idea of a neutral faction might be a good idea, but when it comes to PVP, it would break the pleasant balance we have now. I'm not sure what to suggest, if it was a free-for-all between the 3 factions, that might work, but not lore-wise. I'm not a lore fanatic, so I'm not sure how it would fit in, but possible new races could be Goblins, Murlocs, Arrakoa, Pandarians (I would love this race to death), maybe Naga, and Furbolgs. Although they would need their own seperate continent sort of, and I believe Northrend should be just for high level players.

I love the idea of a hero class, it would give the game more meaning, and a nice feel, but I think your ideas are a little off. In some of the older Warcraft games, there seems to be hero classes that are individual upgrades of each main class. So instead of just 3, there should be 9, one for each class in WoW currently. I'm not sure what they would be, Mage would be Archmage, Shaman would be Far Seer, Warlock would be Necromancer, and so on. Not sure what bard or monk could be, but people come up with good ideas. And when it comes to the purpose of these classes, they would be just as strong as your normal classses, but only hero classes would be able to go past level 70 to level 80, but a level 70 hero class would be just as strong and as useful as a level 70 non-hero class.
One thing I'd love to see is some sort of Naval side game or battleground, similar to the space combat in SWG.

It would be set in instanced battlegrounds where you or a 5 man team control different sizes and types of warships and battle. You could access the battlegrounds from docks like Booty Bay or Ratchet. Maybe you could have persistent ships that you could upgrade through winnning battles. Faster sails, better guns, etc. Also, you could use the ship to access new areas like islands and secret coves where you could do PVE missions and maybe level up the ship or win items to improve it.
You could also have a new profession to tie into the ships.

You could also expand on it by having land based Tank battlegrounds with differentland based vehicles.

There are already tanks and naval units in the Warcraft RTS and there are plenty of tanks and ships already in WOW. Why not let us drive them?
I don't know how much experience you have with rpg games and Warcraft universe, but some of your ideas are childish.

Rerolling your char for a "heroic" class from level 1 after you have reached 70? LOL

The heroic classes is a very good concept while it adds to the current char, and change it in a new radical, but very powerful way. Some have already suggested some hero classes based not even on your current class, but also on your race, which is a very good and unique concept. Imagine the heroic types for the warrior class - the Sentinel for the elves or the Mountain King, each with unique abilities and maybe weapons. Each class should have a heroic counterpart or even more - that would be the whole idea of leveling again to level 80. Some heroic classes: Archmage, Conjurer, Templar/Crusader, Ranger, Assasin, Spy, Cleric, Monk, Necromancer (available to the Forsaken), Blademaster (orcs), Archdruids, and so on.

I would like more classes or abilities restricted only to a faction or race, so when you choose a race you don't choose it for looks only.

A great feature would be a 400% xp gain trinket that would be available to players that reach level 70 with a char, that will be tradable only to own alts for faster leveling.

New dungeons are ok, even though there are enough already, but a heroic mode would be great.

The lumberjack trade is crap imo - you cut down trees... even low level fishing has more thrill to it.

What I would really love is real target dummies and training fights to level up weapon skills, according to the zone level (they should work something like increasing the fishing skill)

I would like to see maned boats with Alliance or Goblin (neutral) sailors instead of the ghost automated ships.
The most realistic would be just to up the levelcap to 75 so you could introduce new skills for the various classes. Perhaps 2 new racials for each class, like the priests.

Hero classes? Well, the necromancer could easily be done with a new skill in the Warlock Demo-tree. The monk is just a druid without the cat and bear form. The bard is just the druid, again, with a buffed Leader of the Pack-aura.

Dyes for cloth would be very nasty for blizzard since the re-hash so much graphics.

Banks for chars and guilds would be nice, though.
"But what many people didn't notice was that it was actually a sad and pessimistic text, making fun of all what is wrong with TBC and assuming that the next expansion will continue that trend towards the unimaginative. So today I'm going to write a different text, not so funny, but idealistic and optimistic."

Don't get me wrong, as this is an honest question, but how are Bards, Monks and Necromancers seen as "imaginative"? Sure, you can offer unique skills, but c'mon - there are a lot of better classes, straight from WarCraft lore, to choose from.
Instead of the normal kinds of classes, why not a DPS/Healer hybrid?

With a lack of anything better, I'll use the Runemaster as the base of this class.

The Runemaster is unarmoured in any traditional sense of the word. Instead of armour, the Runemaster covers his body in an array of runes that provide various bonuses to his stats, etc etc.
Similar to Enchanters, they have an ability that allows them to break up an item into its core energies - destroying the item, but giving him pattern he can use to tattoo himself.

Has a Rage bar (or similar) like Warriors. The Runemaster has some excellent DPS abilities and excellent Healing abilities, but the trick is he can't heal unless he's causing damage, essentially the Runemaster is a purely combat healer.
I guess I'll have to echo some sentiments expressed in the comments, in that most or all of the suggestions are not new to fantasy-genre games or MMOs, but are simply a different mix than those chosen for TBC.

Not that the various suggestions are bad ones. But I have to wonder whether introducing new classes and new lowbie content would really revive WoW. For example, does a person who is burned out because of endgame demands really want to jump off the treadmill only to get back on it at the beginning? Do players who have not played all of the existing classes and skills really need another? Do players who have not exhausted current content, whether of their own faction or the other faction, really need more mid-level content? Will people tired of grinding rep for a prestige mount or cool-looking PvP gear really be motivated by a trophy room that can only be filled by more and more and more grinding? And if they have exhausted the current capacious content, then what are the chances that new class / race / profession / content in an expansion will hold them for more than three months?

I could easily make a long wish list, but I doubt that I have anything particularly innovative to offer -- just another remix of existing game design ideas. In fact, it might be rather difficult to actually introduce something entirely new. I'm just pointing out that if TBC had all of the suggestions of the blog or comments, I would think it very likely that there would still be a host of people with various wish lists and problems to solve.
I think I love you for these ideas sir =)

Pretty much everything would still be involved in the lore, so I don't think these ideas would be th "risky" like I saw a post say. But, I would like to make one change.

While I see that not having a full level cap would be benficial, I think that for those players that do still love there characters, and want to get past the dullness of quest grinding for loot and money, I suggest a half cap. Just up to 75. The exp to gain would still be huge, and about as much of exp equivelant from 60-70.

The Hero classes I love! Currently I have a 70 hunter that I just use to grind for greens for my alt enchater to DE, and make some money =P.

Whatever happens, I sincerely hope that Blizzard listens to these ideas, and uses some of them. GG sir, I commned you
One thing I see here:

Instead of implimenting NEW races, what if there are just new starting zones for the hero class that you choose.

I.E. what ever they are (lets just say Monk), all the monks start off at level 1 in there own zone in Northred.

One more thing I was thinking of:

Having Neutral races would most likely be too dificult to do, as people have stated, would give a PvP player such a huge advantage over everyone else.

What I suggest is that a third faction be brought up, in which each hate each other just as much.

Maybe a BG that will allow a person to temporarily side with and opposing faction (I.E. Horde and Alli temporarily join forces to battle those who choose the new faction that is alligned with the horde). Basically causing some horde to fight themselves, some alli to fight themselves, etc.

The second part may be too far fetched of an idea, but I think throwing a third faction into the process would not make the game more interesting and challenging, it would eventually be more of a WORLD of Warcraft. To be honest, it's starting to get a little boring ALWAYS fighting alli in BG's. This could kick everything up a notch.
I like all the ideas here but I would like to add one if someone hasn't already thought of it. ITs so easy for dps classes to keep most of their same spec for raiding and pvp so they usual do a mix. They may not get everything they want but they get most and they should because they are dps classes. Other classes with the ability to heal are forced to heal in raids most of the time and in order to heal well they sacrifice MOST of their dmg capability which is lacking enough already. Why not allow everyone to have 2 different talent builds and have them on a 1 hour cooldown timer so you can use your raid build and then after the raid ends you can click your talent switch button to enable you to go pvp of solo grind. OF course it would be unfair to allow this to happen in combat and there would need to be a long cooldown timer on it. That way everyone can stop crying about the way their guild asks them to spec for raiding because they can go back to how they want it right after. To change what their 2 builds were they would have to still go to the class trainer and pay to change them. This way someone doesnt have to sacrifice the solo/pvp aspect of the game to go raid. It seems to me that its a choice of which half of the game am I going to enjoy? effective pvp or effective raiding? Why not both? It seems unfair that a hunter can get out of his raid and go farm places without changing his build. Where as a holy paladin gets done raiding and dreams of soloing something that day. IF that holy paladin could go to retribution spec and then go grind mobs he would be happy and I bet every other class in the game would love to have 2 talent builds.
At the end of the day everyone wins by faster grinding and getting to play more of the content in the same day.
Furthering Hero Class ideas in these comments...
Giving Hero Classes their own unique starting zones is a cool idea... very cool. Gives people much more incentive to take the hero Class route.
Here's what I'd like to see.

-Hero Classes have their own unique starting zone, from level 1 to level 20.

-There are 3 Hero Classes (just throwing a number out there really...)

-Each Hero Class has a base element to it... something to make it unique... at its simplest, one hero class could be based around DPS, one around Tanking, and one around Spellcasting.

-Now, to make them unique, your spell and ability options in your Hero Class are partially based on your original class. Essentially giving you tonnes and tonnes of classes in the end. A Warrior taking the Spellcasting Hero Class would end up with a bunch of spells that augment his Tanking, for example.

-The level cap would remain 70, but the new end level content would be considerably tougher than it is now to accomodate the Heroes.

-There should also be extensive new mid-level content to make leveling Heroes less of a grind.

-When starting a Hero class, you are essentially starting again. You lose much of what you already had in terms of abilities due to the need to 'focus on your new path'. However, at the end of it your new spells and abilities more than make up for the sacrifice.

-For those unsure of the sacrifice, a one-time-only character copy can be used.
I stopped playing WoW a few months ago out of boredom but I still read this blog occasionally to see what's happening. Once again, Tobold nails it. This is what it would take to bring me back.
I think these ideas are splendid. I think that what wow is really missing these days is mid level content. I got my main up to 70 and did arena for a while, but its just not all that much fun.
I have always liked the idea of hero classes being like jumping into one of your talent trees. And I think it is a wonderful idea to start back at level one, assuming a whole load of new midlevel content was added. I would love to be able to take my hunter and turn him into a hero class that was centered entirely around beastmastery or marksmanship.
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