Sunday, August 28, 2011

4.3 Tidbits

We got a couple of tidbits from Blizzard during Gamescom, regarding some designer choices in the future - here are some I found worth commenting on;

"Armor dyes are unlikely to be included in the game, but mount customization is a possibility."

Although I am very happy about the new Transmogrifier I can't say that I've been longing for the possibility to either dye my gear or my mounts. Now, they say mount "customization" so that could mean more than just changing its color, but what more? Size? If we got to change much more than that it wouldn't even be the same mount anylonger, so I doubt it'll go that far. And are there really that many people out there who've always wished they could run around with a red kodo instead of a teal one? Well now that I think of it it doesn't sound so bad.

"Class Quests are unlikely to return due to the amount of time it takes to design and implement them."

I'm quite sad to read this actually. Class quests were one of the things highest on my wish list for things to be implemented in WoW, or in this case rather re-implemented. It could be that I have my nostalgic pink-tinted goggles on when I think about how much fun I had with my class quest, but I seriously think people would enjoy it. There were several different types, some showed that you had massive skills, some showed that you had massive patience and money and you always needed a little luck for it as well. In either case, my class quest turned out to be one of my fondest WoW-memories, my hunter friends class quest too. It doesn't have to be "mandatory" in that it rewards the best item in the game, but it could be something cool - much like the new hunter pet challenges show that you have skills and reward you with a cool looking pet to tell everyone you made it. Is it too difficult to make things as personalized as a class quest is in the current state of WoW? Has the magic totally gone away? It would be really sad if that was the case and if Blizzard think they only can give simple, repeatable quest chains. I also think that saying that time is the major reason they won't implement it is the badderest excuse of them all. If there is anything we as subscribers deserve from Blizzard, it is them taking their time to implement cool things for us (as long as there is a reasonable ratio between time spent and coolness factor of course). If they had said that it would be too difficult or that not many enough people are interested or just about anything than basically saying they're too lazy to implement them (because that is how I interpret it) - I'd be happy.

"A real money Auction House is not planned for WoW."

I don't think it would've bothered me much if they would've implemented a real money auction house for WoW. It's not the fact that money is involved that has ever bothered me, it is always what you can buy for it that really matters. If the auction house would work the same way, in that you still only can buy items (as opposed to levels, skills, talents or whatnot) then fine. It would allow people with a lot of money to get their hands on some nice gear, sure. But that is already the case - but with people who have a lot of in game money instead. I don't see the difference really - if people want to spend their hard earned irl money on game stuffs, then be my guest. I can go farm in game gold instead and buy the same stuff, so I don't think it would make much of a difference.

"RealID LFD grouping was originally going to be paid because of the similarity to Paid Character Transfers, but they decided it was the right thing for the game to offer it for free."

And they did the right decision. I've already vented some thoughts on this matter, and I am really happy they changed their minds. This is one example of the things I don't want people to be able to buy with irl money. I wouldn't mind if it cost in game money to "unlock" or what have you, but you shouldn't connect irl money with something that, according to me, is part of the core mechanic of the game. Unless of course they allowed you to buy it with irl money and in game money (see above), now that's a whole nother thing. There has been suggested around the bloggosphere that us bloggers hook up and do instances together. While I secretly think that is an awesome idea it will probably take some time before I actually dare to take that step, because I am a lonewolf by heart.

"New players are still having trouble with the first 30 minutes and five levels of the game, more hand holding is coming for very basic concepts like moving, questing, fighting, and looting."

I find this really interesting. I can only assume they are talking about people who play WoW as one of their first real games ever (by real game I mean something other than Angry Birds and Farmville). Indeed Blizzard mention this over at DigitalSpy;

"I think the people that get past about level five or so, they're having a better and smoother experience. I would say we struggle with getting players through the first 30 minutes because the audience that we get for new players becomes increasingly more casual over time.

"They struggle with the very basics of controlling the camera in a 3D space, moving their character, and often, they are unfamiliar with RPG concepts such as looting a monster after you kill it. We still have a long way to go to improve that part of the experience, but level five and on is a lot better."

People around me basically go into two different categories - the ones that know games because they enjoy them and the ones that don't know games because they don't enjoy them. The latter ones probably wouldn't enjoy WoW no matter how easy it was at the start because the whole idea of running around and killing monsters on a computer simply does not appeal to them. The one who comes closest to some sort of middle thing would probably be myself, but that wasn't because of lack of interest, but because of lack of a viable computer to play computer games on. But even I had played a lot of games before I started with WoW, I knew the concept of how to control the character, leveling up, combat, looting and all that. Indeed, when a friend of mine, who's basically only ever played Mario on NES, tried out WoW she almost panicked when the first mob started hitting her. She had no idea on how to handle the spells, although there were only two or so, or what to do with quests. I find it really hard to see how you could make the game so easy so that she would be interested in playing. Am I evil to say that people who can't get through the first 30 minutes of a game that is as simple as WoW should be trying something else instead? Can WoW ever be the learning grounds for people who've never touched a game before?

"The shared 10 and 25 man lockout has had both positive and negative effects, it solved the need to do both every week but removed some extra content that could be done every week. Some changes will be made in the future to make everyone happier with the solution."

I've always felt like there was more of the negative than the positive with the shared lockout. Personally I never felt like I had to do both (but I am the one not doing dailies either) but I always thought it was good that I could jump into a 10/25 pug if needed or if I felt like it. To me, the shared lockout didn't fix anything but removed something. These mysterious "some changes" perplex me though - what could they do to have this work better? It would seem like you could only have shared lockouts or not have shared lockouts, how can there be something inbetween? I am glad they are trying to fix this however. We'll soon (hopefully) find out what they've come up with.


  1. About real money auction house: Did you know that the question probably popped up due to it being implemented in Diablo 3? And that it is causing quite a bit of commotion in those circles? Not that I am all that knowledgeable in the matter, it's just something that I've heard.
    It would change some things as the "normal" auction house would attract a lot less sellers as you in RMAH could make an actual profit from selling things. The item you're interested would perhaps no longer be available for in game money as people would want to earn "real money".

    About making wow available for n00bs:
    No, I don't think such a statement would make you evil, perhaps merely pragmatic (or wishing that others are). Wow is a huge name and should be as user friendly as possible to be able to introduce new gamers to our medium and our culture. (As long as the most basic tutorials are skippable to those who do not need it.) I do not know if how many of wows players are first time players or if they started their gaming there but it is not inconceivable that there are at least some. Anyway they do deserve a chance to learn the basics as well.
    To some the experience your friend had could have been an exiting spur to continue playing while to others it might have been an deterrent. It is perhaps as you say a basic question if whether you are interested in games to begin with. But still, wouldn't it be sad if potential players got turned away just because they are unfamiliar with with basic wasd-movement control? Or do you simply assume that those who do not know have no interest of learning? ;)

  2. "when a friend of mine, who's basically only ever played Mario on NES, tried out WoW she almost panicked when the first mob started hitting her. She had no idea on how to handle the spells, although there were only two or so, or what to do with quests."

    I been playin' computer games fer over thirty years now. Shoot, I was programmin' me own games fer a while, so's I could get sumthin' what did what I thought it should do. 4x, FPS, RTS, MMO, the Sims, flight simulators, solitaire, I done run the gamut. Ya know what, though? I cain't play Mario games on the Wii fer ta save me life. Cain't jump, cain't bang me head on the shrooms or whatever, just cain't. The kids, they think is glubbernuggin' hilarious fer ta watch me flail.

    Me point be, some paradiggums plain don't shift. And ain't much fer what ya can do about it.

  3. About the mount customisation, I'm kind of guessing they might be thinking of things like bridles, saddles or other ornaments attached to your mount, along the lines of how the guild level 25 scorpion has a guild flag attached to it. (It counts as part of the mount there obviously, but I reckon there are people who'd quite like to show their guild pride while riding other mounts as well for example.)

    The shard lockout comment had me confused as well. Maybe they'll make them separate lockouts again but you'll get heavily diminished rewards for doing both? Still, I don't see how that would make people that much happier...

  4. @Hartland
    Yeah, the RMAH in Diablo 3 has been a big discussion in WoW-circles as well, seeing as the two games are pretty close to eachother.

    It's an interesting question actually, how the RMAH would affect the old AH. I suppose it's a real danger that most people would prefer to sell their items on the RMAH. I know I probably would. Maybe a way to counter this would be to actually have one AH with two different options of paying the item, but there are a lot of flaws with that idea as well.

    As for the noob-gamers - maybe I am simply old and think people who've never played any sort of game before should start out with games like Mario to NES, Lemmings or any other very basic game, then moving on to more and more advanced games. Maybe that's a dream that just isn't true anymore, but I can sometimes feel like you wouldn't give Odysseus to someone who wants to learn to enjoy to read either. There has to be beginners step to get people into it, and I'm not sure how far Blizzard should or could go to make WoW that kind of game.

    I'm horribly bad at games like Mario too. Don't think I have the patience for all that trial and error!

    Yeah, you're probably right and I wouldn't mind a big guild banner on some of my other mounts actually.

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  6. I probably would've flipped out if they'd kept RealID grouping a "premium" feature. This game doesn't need to eat more of my money, and making it easier for me to stay in touch with people is more likely to keep my subscription active.

  7. "Am I evil to say that people who can't get through the first 30 minutes of a game that is as simple as WoW should be trying something else instead? Can WoW ever be the learning grounds for people who've never touched a game before?"

    It's a very good question. I tend to think that WoW is pretty easy once you get an idea of what all the things going on are.

    I could see, though, that if you haven't played RPGs before, it would be shocking how much is going on on the screen when you start. Kudos to Blizzard for trying to reduce that initial shock. If anyone can do it, they can.

    a game anyone could learn to play and enjoy with a little bit of coaching.

    The question then is how to provide that coaching in-game.

    It's a really tricky problem, though. If you log in and really have no idea what is going on, then you won't even know how, say, to read your chat messages from someone trying to help you.

  8. As far as being a n00b - when I started playing WoW, I was completely lost. The only games I'd ever played were on the Atari (Pitfall FTW!), the Nintendo, and the PS2. I was only used to 2d movement, and had no clue how to move in 3D. I kept getting stuck on fences, eaten by wolves, and turned around in caves. But I prevailed, and I LOVE WoW. I'm proud to say that it's my only 'real' game, and that I'm halfway decent at it now. I rarely get stuck on fences now ;)

    Blizzard can make it easier for new players to learn the game, and I think the new starting areas do just that. But if someone's not interested in learning, then no matter what Blizz does, they won't learn.

  9. I think a lot of primarily console gamers, especially those who don't play FPS games have trouble with basic MMO concepts like camera control. MMOs have a ton of conventions, from the way the camera handles to the types of shortcuts used. Console gamers often have a hard enough time adjusting to mouse/keyboard control, let alone trying to learn all the rest of the things that come with MMOs.

    That doesn't make them non-gamers or people who just "have no interest." WoW was my first MMO and my first PC based game since the days when still-background games were the new cool thing (Myst). Since then I'd been playing console games, up to and including on the PS2, but I wasn't into action styles so I haven't really done much that didn't have a fixed camera. I wrote game reviews for a small website then and if you'd called me not a gamer, we'd have had a big fight because I considered myself a hardcore gamer.

    All the same, it took me several months to learn to control the camera in WoW without getting motion sick. Granted, I stuck it out, but I could have used more guidance and I think the new tutorials have had a very positive effect on the new player experience.

    So no, I don't think your view makes you "evil" but I don't agree with it. I don't think your experience covers all the options, by far.

  10. @Rhii & Caliea
    See, you both are perfect examples of what I'm trying to say - both of you hadn't a clue, but prevailed anyway, because of massive interest. This during a time when WoW was a lot more difficult for newbies than it is today. The only PC game I had played before WoW was Settlers. But playing console games (like we had) still gives you a basic idea of the concept of a game. We still approach WoW because we want to play a fun game. But what kind of people are WoW trying to help? People who don't even know what a game is? People who've never played any kind of game, not even console ones?

    I'm not saying there shouldn't be any kind of help for new players, personally I hate it when I start a new mmo and have to figure out the entire key settings myself. There is nothing worse than being put off by nothing but not understanding basic controls - I know how this feels myself. After 6 years I still occasionally get motion sick by the camera, maybe that is just how some of us experience the game. There is definitely nothing wrong with tutorials! And there might be things right now that need some fixing. The wording Blizzard used however seemed like they were ready to take this very far, and I was wondering - how far is too far?

    If someone gives up on a game because they don't have a clue and think its the games fault, then maybe this game isn't for them. If they can't even be bothered to try the game for more than 30 minutes, then do they really like this kind of games? To me it feels like trying to accomodate a type of people that just aren't interested (like my friend). The risk is of course that they ruin the initial experience for people who like some sort of challenge and don't want to be spoon fed. Because people who are really interested won't let a little (or alot) of lack of knowledge stop them - like you.

    Personally I don't think it's the first 30 min that is the problem. People still struggle with basic understanding of how tanking and healing work, how to gear (understanding stats) or how to not be kicked from groups. Some people haven't a clue about their class even after 85 levels. More work should be put into helping people learn the rest of the game, rather than the first steps.

  11. How I wished I could dye my armor, that's part of customization aside from changing your mount's color right? With regards to the real money auction house, WoW may have this maybe sooner. o.O

    Sell WoW Account