Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Quoted for truth

It is great if I don't need to reply to Syncaine's nonsensical rants because somebody else already did it for me. Thank you, Anjin from Bullet Points, I completely agree. When I say that pandaren monks are silly and somewhat childish, I am talking about the World of Warcraft. Which has been somewhat silly, overly colorful, and accessible to children since a long time.

But there is nothing (except for maybe common sense) that prevents anybody from taking any silly game and playing it in a very serious way. Monopoly has a World Championship. James May built a full-scale house on TV in Lego. And some people take playing World of Warcraft extremely seriously, and get all upset when they find out that the large majority of players doesn't consider WoW to be all that serious at all.

There is nothing wrong with taking your hobby extremely seriously, whether it is Lego, toy trains, Candyland, or World of Warcraft, as long as you get your priorities straight and don't neglect your real life for it. What you can't do is forcing the rest of the world to take your hobby as seriously as you do. For the regular guy these are all just toys and games, with no real significance whatsoever. I'm sure there will be long discussions about the role of pandaren monks in hardcore raid guilds, but for normal people the pandaren monk remains a rather silly looking character resembling the Kung Fu Panda in a video game. And while a lot of adults play video games, we are not yet past the point where people generally think that video games are for children. Using characters from movies for children obviously isn't helping.

Players will be able to play the new class (Monk) with other races too (Humans, for example). But I suppose those races will not start in the Pandaria continet (every race has its own starting zone).

I am personally intrigued by the expansion, because I love the Asian setting and the general "peaceful and zen mood". I also liked the minipet combat stuff.

What I still don't really see is a panda running around Stormwind or flying over a dragon mount. It's not a problem of being childish, cute or anything else: it's just it does not fit the current WoW mood, in my opinion.

Pandas should work well in the Pandaria continent. I can't see them "outside" their specific world, though.
I can't see them "outside" their specific world, though.

Good point! I believe this is true for many other cases as well. The gnomes are consistent with themselves and their specific world, but a female gnome warlock with pink hairs summoning demons in a raid look out of place to a degree which makes them silly. The goblin "bling" is consistent with the goblin starting zone, but doesn't fit a world at war. etc.
In my opinion the WORLD of Warcraft has become comsiderably more silly over time.
But this is a matter of taste and the present can blurr one's view of the past.
"Out of place" isn't automatically wrong though. Hobbits were out of place for 95% of their journey in The Lord of the Rings, and it didn't detract from the story.

I still agree with you, but it took me a bit longer to realize why. I think the problem is not the "out of place" per se, but the fact that the different out-of-places don't blend well. Hobbits in Mordor sound silly, but it made sense because there was a motivation for them to make the arduous journey. They also grew on their way to fulfill their quest. In many MMOs, WoW included, there is little motivation to a character's journey, and even less character development. Maybe that is why a goblin, a gnome, and a panda in Blackrock Mountain sound silly.

(You could always argue that it's the player's job to come up with a motivating back story, but please... we're talking not about that kind of online game here. WoWlikes can be very enjoyable games - but they're not conducive to role playing.)
Sure it's silly. Wow has never taken itself serious (just play as a gnome and you'll see) though and it's something I love about the game. It's full with spoofs on movies, books, other games.

Since I love cute characters like gnomes, adding Panda's is fine with me. If they're cute and cuddley enough I'll even play one.
"It was never a serious game”

that say it all..this is my opinion..yes wow always had something childish and silly but that wasn't the core of the game...yes a paladin going in war and have a penguin pet with him?yes it wasn't ever 100% serious game..

but the core game was epic! the core story was epic, Demons invansions, scourge, places like under Karazhan (removed now), the children in Goldshire that was in a formation of 5A and many was a serious game but it had also things for children and women, now it will be a game for children and women on its core..
In my opinion the WORLD of Warcraft has become comsiderably more silly over time. But this is a matter of taste and the present can blurr one's view of the past.

I'd like to point out that I have a cute panda pet which came with the World of Warcraft collectors edition back in 2004/2005. There was also the Zergling and Mini Diablo. The pink hairdo of the female gnomes was in from the start, and so was cows riding on lizards. Maybe it didn't strike everybody as silly then, but much of the silly stuff was already there.
"we are not yet past the point where people generally think that video games are for children"

Agreed that we are not past that point yet but I think we are finally getting close. Yesterday my wife surprised me by quoting from a mainstream newspaper article which announced that the average gamer was a 43 year old woman and talking about the new marketing opportunities that this represents. I am pretty sure they mean Facebook games but this is definitely a new concept for the mainstream media.
The penguin-pet popped out while raiding against a badass-boss is a perfect example of "always present" silliness of WoW.

Over time, players will get used to pandas and pet-combat system (that I don't find silly at all, to be honest).
How do you measure silliness? What is the threshold? At what point does a game go from whatever it was before being silly to being silly?

Unlike taking a game seriously, which can be measured in a number of ways, like hours played or hours spent thinking about the game, silliness is completely subjective. Right?

I ask these questions because I have a hard time reconciling your point of view with mine. (And that's OK, it's just interesting to me.) I find the World of Warcraft universe, with all its characteristics, to be a cool and interesting background for its stories. Sure, when I compare the World of Warcraft to my own real world, all sorts of things start looking ridiculous (long before Kung Fu Pandas came into view). But within itself, it's a completely self contained universe owned and developed by Blizzard. I don't necessarily see those things as silly. They just are what they are. You either like it or don't.

I think people (not you necessarily, Tobold) make commentary on WoW with the past game revisions, and/or what they would wish for WoW, in mind. Where there is conflict, there will be strife. But if you just take it for what it is, you can decide whether it is for you or not, and move on.

I for one like the Pandas. I like the universe. And I don't raid, I can only play a few hours a week. But I still find the game compelling. Perhaps when they introduce something I don't like, I'll feel different. But I would hope I can just put the game down and walk away at that point, not because the game suddenly became a bad game, but because the game just isn't for me anymore. And that's OK.
There have been silly elements, like your pet, Tobold.

With MoP we will stay in the city of Pandaria that is filled with Panda-NPCs. From there we will teleport to our daily Panda-quests, Panda-dungeons/scenarios and Panda-raids. Moreover, in contrast to your pet, those Pandas will be full-size. This is a significant difference to Gnomes, who could easily be ignored - especially when playing Horde. The occasional Gnome warrior in a battleground was funny, but he didn't ruin anything, because he was rare and easily ignored.

Furthermore, I don't accept the notion that Pandas have always been in the lore. I didn't play Warcraft 3, but more importantly, I never really cared that much about the lore. I enjoy good style and immersion, but not reading walls of text that are purposely irrelevant for the game. I didn't know anything about Pandas - and neither did those players who are more casual than me; which is the overwhelming majority. Maybe their point of view can be guessed by looking at the 45% dislike votes at the official cinematic at youtube.

Nobody has a problem with animals being used as stereotypes for races and other entities in World of Warcraft. Animals have a long tradition of being used in fables; and fables are rarely silly. If anything, Tauren are not a mix of cow and man, but a mix of bull and man: Minotaurs, as in Theseus. The cited examples are dishonest, because there is a difference between adding a new race that originates from an animal/cultural stereotype, and copying a comic-book stereotype that is purposely funny.
For example, Bugs Bunny would be more silly than a Tauren, because Bugs Bunny is purposely funny. But even Batman in WoW would be silly, even though he is human.

Finally, it is important whether something is meant to be silly or not. Tauren and many other races/mobs were not meant to be silly. With Pandas I am not so sure, because there is a deliberate similarity of the Panda-cinematic to the “Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom” movie. Deliberate, because some scenes, and even the racials, are almost copied 1:1. I wrote about that recently. If Blizzard really, desperately wanted to introduce Pandas, they should have made sure that they are as different from Kung Fu Panda as possible. But they considered this similarity a chance and not what it probably is: a trap.

(Please delete my earlier comment)
I agree that the MoP expansion as far as we can see it from here makes World of Warcraft "more silly". But if you plot WoW silliness over time on a graph, I don't see a point where WoW turns from "serious" to "silly" in a sudden, sharp development. I'd say it started out not completely serious, and got a bit less serious over the years.

What I think is that the "serious" players were so enchanted by WoW (as everybody else) in the beginning, that they were willing to overlook the parts that weren't to their liking. Now that they increasingly burn out, the same parts are suddenly not acceptable any more.

I notice that in this discussion we only talk about the world aspects. As far as I could read, the MoP announcement doesn't change anything major to the seriousness of the raiding game. Opinions are mixed about the talent tree revamp, but that one is hardly "silly".
I think Daniel Silva hit a big nail on the head. There is a significant difference between something that is silly according to the in-game world and something that is silly according to our world. Gnomes. In-game, there are only the occasional references by other races to their silliness. They're entirely consistent to the world they reside in.

Do we have any reason to believe that pandaren will be silly according to in-game, in-narration opinion? They're humorous because of their analogue to our world's culture and stereotypes. They have fierce appearances, they're armor clad and hold massive weapons. It is consistent with the world (of Warcraft) that there would be a race of black-and-white bears that drink a ton and fight for fun.

In-world consistent, our-world humorous. Isn't that the WoW way?
"What I think is that the "serious" players"

Your understanding of 'serious' players is about as solid as your understanding of EVE. Or burnout.
WoW has always had silly elements, but they used to be a lot more subtle and spread out. When that was the case, it was easy to find them amusing and chuckle at them.

Linken's Boomerang and a few scattered things in Vanilla were amusing because of their scarcity.

But the problem is, WoW devs started reading their own press way too much. Every time they read somewhere where someone loved a vague reference to something, it made them decide to put 10 more in somewhere.

After a while, the ratio of joke/silly stuff to real stuff got skewed badly.

That's when it stopped being cute or funny and started being ridiculous.

That's the danger you have when you get TOO silly. I don't know if Panda characters tips the balance even further, but I suspect it might.

-Michael Hartman


If you peel the outer layer of rage, I guarantee you every non-Nils objection to pandas revolves around not an objection to pandas per se, but a lamentation of that player for the presumed squandering of mainstream acceptability. In other words, the idea that non-gamers could not superficially reject WoW as a "in your mother's basement" game because of the "serious" bits like the Arthas storyline. With pandas on the box art, all that "work" trying to mainstream the product in a way that brings it closer to CoD or Gears level of acceptability or whatever is "ruined." There will probably be another South Park episode about this once the game is released.

What gets swept under the rug is how completely irrelevant it all is in the scheme of things. Pandaren probably won't look any more or less ridiculous on a dragon than Tauren do, and both will only be recognizable as silhouettes once they are layered with armor anyway. Gnomes and goblins are MUCH more of a joke race with 0% seriousness, and those are tolerated because we have come to accept that as fitting into the theme of WoW. One month after MoP's release, Pandaren will be accepted as well.

Worst case scenario is the race will have no connection to anything at all, like draenei who have been in three expansions and have had zero development.
Honestly when I came from EQ to WoW I never considered WoW to be a serious game. People had names like LuckyCrit, Igankjoo, Ugotowned, and so on. On regular servers in EQ naming policies were strictly enforced so being greeted by that my first time logging into WoW it sort of set my expectations of seriousness pretty low.

Nothing about this world is serious, from the artistic design to the puns and Easter eggs spread out across every zone. I'm sorry if you disagree with me. I will agree that certain systems are serious. Raiding is serious were 1% increase in DPS matters. While I don't care for the fire dance mechanics knowing them and executing them is serious. PvP is also serious. The environment is not though.

To be perfectly honest, while this may outwardly appear to be childish, I don’t believe it to be so. Everyone is citing Kung Fu Panda as WHY this is childish. A movie doesn’t make over 600 million dollars by only appealing to children.

Just because this doesn’t appeal to you doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to other people.
Your understanding of 'serious' players is about as solid as your understanding of EVE. Or burnout.

See, this is the difference between us. I use arguments, you use personal insults instead, without bothering to mention anything which would support your statements.
I don't really understand the reaction to the Pandarens at all.
Bull-men: Fine
Wolf-men: Fine
Panda-men: Silly

It's a bit of a head-scratcher.

I understand that Disney made a movie about a Kung-fu Panda. Of course, there was a panda character who used Kung-fu in Warcraft 3, which would mean that it was introduced to Warcraft lore shortly before the time that the creators of Kung-fu Panda came up with their great idea for a movie.

WoW has given me enough quests to sift through feces that I'm not very convinced that this is a step in the more juvenile direction.
"Which has been somewhat silly, overly colorful, and accessible to children since a long time."

Sounds like the real world to me. Pandas and all.
You use arguments?

It's clear to everyone how well you understand EVE and it's players whenever you post about the game.

You yourself admitted burnout is NOT the reason you quit WoW, or why I quit. Or why millions just suddenly all 'burned out' from Cata.

Yet here you are, talking on behalf of a segment of the gaming population you have repeatedly shown you simply do not understand. That is your argument? That is your basis for (once again) misunderstanding a post?

Is it a personal attack, or simply pointing out the obvious truth to you in just a few words?
You yourself admitted burnout is NOT the reason you quit WoW, or why I quit.

Not only do you not argue, you also consistently misunderstand or misrepresent the arguments of others. What I wrote about your and mine burnout was: "While we might still disagree about the relative degree, we do agree that there is some sort of burnout happening simply with time, and that burnout speed can be modified by good or bad changes to the game." How can you read into this that burnout is not the reason I quit WoW? Changes we like or dislike only change the SPEED of our burnout, which still inevitably happens with time. And I definitely quit WoW because I was burned out, and I think I even said so in my "I quit" post.

You just tell me I don't understand, without even saying what exactly you think I don't understand. Or why you think I am wrong. Wasn't the first mob you killed in World of Warcraft shouting "You no steal candle!"? Isn't that silly? Weren't you willing to overlook that silliness because you felt at the time that WoW was such a great game? Tell me, where exactly in this chain of arguments do you think I made a mistake? And how does your version look?
Found the I quit post. In it I say: "I burned out from World of Warcraft, which is why I cancelled my account. I need at least some months of break before I can play a similar quest and level-based game again, which will most probably we Star Wars: The Old Republic. As I realize that the burnout is in my head, and not the fault of WoW, I don't believe in the solution of just switching to a new game already now, which is over 90% similar to WoW."
That you mistake the game changing for burnout (after 6 years) is your issue. At least you came a little closer to acknowledging it in that comment you quoted.

But if you truly believe that millions of people all magically 'burned out' at the same time (Cata), or that magically the market for WoW 'stagnated' (drop in US/EU, boosted by Asia) just as WotLK was released, well, I can't really argue with that kind of 'logic'.

If tomorrow Blizzard changes WoW to nothing but collect 1,000 flowers quests, and 99% of the population quits, did they just burn out on WoW? Oh right, the recent change just 'accelerated' the burnout process, right?
I can't really argue with that kind of 'logic'.

Actually that is YOUR logic. You said yourself, on your blog: "Cata caused Tobold (and many others) to quit, while at the same time Tobold (and likely many others) were already growing tired of the formula that is WoW. The Cata changes simply accelerated the path to “not having fun anymore”. And like Tobold says, had Cata been WotLK, perhaps it would have bought Blizzard another month or two, but the same-old feel would still likely have kicked in."

So when you write this, it is the absolute truth, but when I write the exactly same thing, you need to put quotation marks around 'logic'?

How many Syncaines are there? You know it is very hard to argue with you if you constantly completely change your mind. Like calling EVE "Excel in space" on one day, and re-subscribing to it the next just because WoW released pandas? Are you sure that is rational behavior?
Just as we seem the evolution of WoW over time, we see Syncaine come into his own. WoW becomes less and less like Warhammer, Syncaine becomes more and more like Wolfshead.
Does anyone here like chocolate? The reason why I ask is that the Pandas themselves are not the issue. People cite Taurens as ok, so why not Pandas.

The issue is the "flavor of the game".

Wow was Vanilla and has over the years changed its flavor to something else. A vocal crowd, be they hard-cores or raiders or adults or whomever, simply do not like the new flavor of the next expansion. "It feels childish", "It's lame", whatever. The point is that the expansion is delivering something different from what they are used to consuming. It is Asian - yuck. There is no grand villian -- yuck!

Is that bad? Only if Blizz loses money.
You know what? Players CAN get bored of games, especially after years. There are no specific reasons. You just get bored, that's all.

Now... if being bored comes after few months then it's a game's fault. But if you play for YEARS, I think it's perfectly normal to get tired to do the same thing over and over.

Playing a panda or a pet-battle after 4 years can sound "meh". But if the new race/class was announced 3 years ago, no one would have complained I guess.
Syncaine becomes more and more like Wolfshead.

Is that supposed to be an insult? I like reading Wolfshead'S posts a lot.

I really think we should stop insulting each other. Every blogger has his points of view. If Tobold or Azuriel comment on anybody quitting WoW, the reason is always burnout.

If Wolfshead comments on anybody quiting WoW, the reason is always that the devs just don't get it and still haven't added player housing.

If Syncaine comments on someone quitting WoW, the reason is always that Blizzard caters to the stupid masses.

If Gevlon comments on someone quitting WoW, the reason is always that there are too many Morons and Slacker (everwhere!!).

If I comment on someone quitting WoW, I always leave a very nuanced and smart piece of text; naturally.
Why don't you include the rest of that post? It's not like it's called "Bad Content Burns You Out" or anything...

Oh right because out of context it twists around to fit what you want it to look like, kinda like those Google Analytics graphs you posted, and then filtered out my comment with my counter-examples showing how silly your link was. Maybe that's the problem, you don't read an entire post and remember it, instead focusing only on the little bits that fit what you believe.

I'll help you out:

"Isn’t that… the point of the MMO model? (Or was anyway) And more importantly, isn’t that the ideal MMO experience? To have a game that is constantly evolving in a positive way, while retaining the core that got you interested in the first place?

Isn’t that why we all thought MMOs would dominate gaming forever, because instead of consuming a set amount of content and moving on, we would now be in a world that constantly provided us with more content, enabling us to stick around ‘forever’?"

And I do love how you simply have zero grasp on EVE, when you believe my line about EVE being excel in space was serious. Bet you think EVE has 8,000,000 vanity items now too huh? Quick make a post about it!
Okay, now that syncaine is getting really low and accusing me of deleting comments he never made, knowing full well that I can't prove I didn't delete them, I'll just go and block all syncaine comments in the future. He's just trolling anyway and not contributing anything to the discussion of the original post. My fault for not understanding that while I see blogging and commenting as PvE, he sees it as being PvP, with the point being to gank the other person.
I've read the blog posts, here and elsewhere, that argue WoW is becoming a worse game.

Some say for content, because of the Pokemon pet battle system, and/or the Pandas.

Others say for game design / evolution. I.e., the talent system that was been redesigned over and over again, up to six times by the count of one blogger who happens to be an MMO game designer.

In the end, the real sourness here is that WoW isn't becoming more like what *they* had in mind. And so the proclamations are made: "WoW is a bad, bad game." The implication being that if you like WoW then you are a fan boy that has bad taste in games.

I don't buy that argument.

Ultimately, a game is worth the enjoyment the player gets from it. There is no universal metric that says, "This game is good." It's why rating games is so difficult. How can a reviewer possibly know what I like?

So WoW doesn't have a ton of attunments any more. Or it has Pandas. Or the epics we work so hard for are made irrelevant with patches. If you don't like it, unsubscribe. That's your right. But how you feel, or your perception of what the masses feel, does not define the quality of the game. And I think that's the source of the angst.

If you don't like the game, I respect you for that. I can see how over time WoW is becoming less appealing to the niche MMO crowd of 2005. But at least acknowledge that what you're really wrestling with is your disappointment with the great opportunity cost of Pandas, Pokemon Pet Battles and a simplified (at first glance) talent system. That's a fair assessment. That's something we can discuss.

But suddenly WoW is garbage and you have to preach it like it's salvation to an unsaved world?

I don't buy it.
"I see blogging and commenting as PvE, he sees it as being PvP"

Wait, didn't you open this very post with calling out Syncaine for writing "nonsensical rants"? That seems pretty player-vs-player to me.

Honestly, I think at this point you're both being silly. :P
I find this silliness debate quite perplexing, because to me, I don't really see the problem with WoW being silly!

I find the people that get involved in these constrained arguments about 'serious' and 'silly' are accepting that view that a game being serious is superior to one being 'silly'. There is nothing wrong with anything light-hearted or comical, in fact it's capable of some pretty interesting design in the context of games (see: Super Mario, Little Big Planet)

People need to realise that WoW is still being taken seriously. It's content may be less mature, or bound by strict high-fantasy tropes, but that does not mean it's pandering (pun unintended) to children and pre teens. It just means a new direction for all of us.
I have nothing against panda's, I just wish the expansion was less focused on pandas. A second race, 10 levels rather than 5, and 4 more zones would have made me a guaranteed collectors edition buy just like I did for vanilla through cata; now they've pretty much guaranteed that I don't have to spend the money.

"It is great if I don't need to reply to Syncaine's nonsensical rants because somebody else already did it for me."

Provocative, directed comment right in the body of the topic. Seems a little PVP-ish to me.
It's obvious that Tobold and syncaine disagree with one another, and I can see why people think his post is a little 'PvP', but syncaine's comments on this post read as extremely angry and somewhat bizarre. The idea that Tobold's quotation (which looked to be an entire paragraph) was out-of-context is ridiculous. Unless it was preceded by, "The following paragraph is not my opinion," I don't really see how to misinterpret it.

As someone clever pointed out (and I wish I could find it now), WoW subscriptions are basically following the exact same trend as all other MMO subscriptions - just on a much more massive scale. If WoW's fault, as syncaine clarifies in his quotation of himself, is that it was not able to hold people's interest *forever* then: 1) I don't see how that is different from saying people leave because of "burnout" and 2) not being able to do something that nothing could even possibly do is not much of a fault.

I don't play WoW anymore. It is because six years was enough for me. I finally quit because I didn't want to spend another month doing the same content over again, but this time on hard mode - but when "hard modes" first launched with Sarth and then with Ulduar, I would have spent another year playing them. The game changed, but it was changes in me that really did it.
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