Monday, September 17, 2012

What is Wrong With this Picture?

Spoilers? BEFORE the Performance?

Why are some films not reviewed until after they are released in theaters?

A lot of movies don't have critic screenings before their release because the studio does not have faith in them. It's a sign that the movie's being dumped or is going to be dumped, and they just don't think it's a movie that's going to gain anything by getting reviewed. Of course, these movies will get reviewed eventually, and people will find out that they're dogs. Maybe the studios are hoping that first weekend might be successful without a critic screening. The first two weeks are really the times when the studios start paying attention to the big box office, because after that there's drop-off and the figure critical attention can only hurt this movie, so they don't screen it ahead of time.

For a long time, something bothered me about the Theramore Scenario. The only (brief) look I got of it was via some fan-rendered models taken from the beta files: it never made it to the play stage during my time in Pandaria. In fact, unless you were MMO and able to datamine your own version, no-one got a sniff at this Lore-rich nugget during the entire Beta process. When the PTR launched for 5.0.4, again... no Scenario. I assumed this was because Blizzard was keen to keep the spoiler-rich nature of the encounter a secret until the Lore-related novel of the event was released. It never occurred to me that they might simply be hiding something below par...

I like the idea of Scenarios a lot: the concept of a 10 minute 'mini dungeon' is great, especially if you don't need a tank or a healer to complete it. I can see the potential this kind of event has in helping people without the time and ability to run LFR or LFG. What I'm finding really hard to swallow right now is threefold:

1. This lore event is too significant for a ten minute, three man scenario. Really, this is an act of Genocide on a massive scale, it will signal all out war between the Horde and the Alliance, and you deal with it in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered...? I appreciate the time constraints we have in our busy lives, and the timing issues Blizzard had when making this expansion (and balancing what they could reasonably produce in the time available), but to go ten months without any new content in the game and then to be given what is a major life-changing world event in TEN MINUTES... I came out of the whole thing feeling... well, cheated. There's no other word for it. After lots of promises of things being fun and immersive again, this really doesn't do the cause any favours.

I am also aware of the significance of the novel that ties in with this entire event. I think it is not unreasonable to assume that I really should buy this novel, read it, and then understand what has happened in the context of both events. I don't think I should have to absorb secondary source material in order to better understand what I'm being given, I feel it is the job of the game I'm playing to do that in the first instance. Making me buy something else to make what I already pay money for more three dimensional is a smart move, but really should not be a requirement.

2. It took my initial party of three (two tanks and a dps) three tries to actually progress past Stage One of the Event. All of us massively outgeared the minimum restrictions, and we discovered eventually that we had to stand and wait to be told to do stuff before we proceeded... VERY slowly. Being forced to kill things at a vastly different speed to normal, effectively waiting for the NPC's to 'catch up' should not be a requirement in any situation. I understand the need to tune an event to the lowest geared individual, but not at the expense of making things unplayable if you do things the way you always do. In the end, this evening, my husband has run the Scenario seven times with only one successful completion. That's not a great average.

3. This event is not broken for everyone, but clearly it doesn't work 100% of the time: why was it never aired on Beta or the PTR? Surely the entire point when you have something new is to test it as much as possible? Why did Blizzard feel the need to keep this away from everybody until it was too late to do anything about it? Is it really because it's a 'dumper'? Was it because they were worried about spoilers? Who knows, but with a week to go before the Expansion hits there's not much else to do now: this is what you have for a week and then we move to Pandaria... 

The biggest kicker for me of course wasn't apparent until we finally managed to get an event to complete: this exercise constitutes a Feat of Strength. Whereas before I'd have spent the night (and probably tomorrow) running the thing for the Achievement... now I don't have to. Do it once and everyone ticks the same box. For the three people on my 85's list who could benefit from one of the weapon or hat drops... frankly I find myself not bothered with the process of running a buggy, unfulfilling 10 minute event to gear them early as much as I thought I would. I can wait another week.

I really hope this isn't a portent of things to come, and is simply the last throws of an Expansion that I suspect a great many people will be very happy is finally coming to a close.


Grimmtooth said...

I'm not usually one to play Devil's Advocate, but the entire "spoilers" reason given doesn't jibe. Pretty much everything is already out there, public knowledge. "Spoilers" comes across more as a convenient excuse than a real reason.

I don't know what the real reason MIGHT be, but I'm really not convinced.

Xaiz_EU said...

The thing is, you can't use the argument "spoilers" as a reason for not testing it as there really were very little spoilers in the event. Having played it I'm left just thinking "do I have to read the book to understand this further than 'bombs go bang, lets do some fighting'" and if so then is all lore going to be like this now?
"turn to page 86 of the book for your next quest 0/10 complete"

Very lackluster event.

Sarolian said...

I enjoyed the scenario for what it was, 10 minutes of easy loot (2 got epics and one got the fireworks... RNG??) Perhaps I'm easily pleased.

Until I read it here, I didn't know there was a book connected with this event. Being a huge lore fan, I'd hoped to get the whole story served to me in-game. Like it has been during the last expansions

TBC had the opening of the Dark Portal event.

WotLK had the annoying zombie illness, but peeps who'd played Warcraft 3 and the xpac knew Arthas' story.

Cata had Deathchin flying around setting fire to the rain... er.. world. And the elemental invasion.

Pandaria... A 10 minutes scenario which doesn't tell us anything more than that the horde is an evil force that should be eliminated from the face of Azeroth. Or was this just the actions of one mad person? Why did the Goblins drop the huge bomb? Who ordered it? Has Garrosh really lost it and can the Alliance now go and kill him for good? I have a lot of questions and I hope I can get them answered in-game.

I also agree this scenario is bugged like @#%¤, my group strolled through the scenario up to the last event where it bugged out, because (like Godmother's group) we killed things TO SOON (EXECUTUS)!!! When we finally got it done, we waited for the speeches to be done and the last boss engaging us (not the other way around). How could we know that...

Anyhow. I see potential in the scenarios. But I hope the future ones come with a little bit (read: a lot) more background story. Would be the least one could demand, right?

Andy said...

I'm guessing it's only the Alliance version that's bugged with the "too soon" stuff, as on the Horde side you have to:

1. Rig six explosive barrels, each on a different ship in the harbour.

2. Talk to a goblin, who then makes said barrels explode.

3. Kill an elite gryphon/dwarf (who has some trash mobs and a couple of smaller gryphons by him).

4. Destroy a big tank and sabotage three other, lesser tanks.

5. Kill an elite guy in one of the fort buildings to get a key so that you can...

6. Free a blood elf spy, who then creates a convenient portal to Orgrimmar.

(7. Watch the cinematic where goblins drop a bomb on Theramore)

I got fireworks both times I tried it. As an added bonus, the belf dude sends you a Mini Arcane Bomb in the mail - a reusable item you can 'cast' at a targeted location to throw a little bomb which does a mini arcane explosion when it lands. Has a 3-minute cooldown.

Zellviren said...

You've drawn all the same conclusions as I have, Godmother; there's loads of potential in scenarios, but this can only go down as a thoroughly depressing launch event that, yet again, will get people shouting about money-grabbing Activision having too much say in what goes on.

I don't know the truth of such a jibe, but we're talking about a company that scrapped an entire Starcraft expansion that they weren't happy with.

Obviously, that was BK (Before-Kotick).

Glyneth said...

I think the best they could have done was tease enough lore into the scenario to make you want to find out more, and buy the book. Enough that you don't have to, but if you're interested, you can.

That obviously didn't happen with this scenario. It's sad that it's not the world event everyone was hoping for. I'm sorry that it was bugged for you. I did it 7 times last night, once alliance, and 6 horde, with no problems other than dying deaths that should have been avoided by us if we'd been paying more attention.

I think Scenarios have a lot of potential, but this was a poor choice for a scenario, lore-wise.

Grimmtooth said...

@Sarolian - If you think all the lore associated with previous expansions was served up in-game, have a look at /The Shattering/, /Wolfheart/, and /Stormrage/ for three examples of huge chunks of lore that you never saw in game.

The first book, for example, explains who that Orc woman is that Thrall - excuse me, Go'el - is hanging out with all through Cata, how Prince Anduin has developed his powers, what exactly took place in Ironforge to give us a council of three where before there was one ... and so forth.

dobablo said...

Free Gnomeregan/Isles wasn't any longer, was much buggier and was a lot less self-explanitory. (Hey, random, get back, you are bugging the event for the other 30 of us). I've had no bugs so far running on Alliance side. The only difference is that I had a purpose for liberating those places. I don't know why I was dumped in Thernomore.

There is no lore for Alliance. It is like Southshore all over again. There should of been a short quest chain to unlock the L85 scenario. Even a simple quest chain would be a big improvement.

1. Summoned to Wrynn
2. Wrynn explains Jaina has sent a garbled message about a disaster. Wrynn sends you to the mage tower
3. Mages explain huge magicial interference preventing mass teleport but they can send a small party to a ship just of the coast.
4. Scenario unlocked.

I enjoyed the scenario and will be doing it multiple times. I do hope that the Mists ones have in world explanations.

Jonathan said...

Coming to this late as last night was my first chance to try this out. Got to agree that it needed something to introduce why there was this bloody great big purple bomb being dropped on Theramore. Reading a book should be optional and add to the story in the game, not replace chunks of it.

On the lighter side, I did smile on reading the following in this blog:

"why was it never aired on Beta or the PTR? Surely the entire point when you have something new is to test it as much as possible?"

...given the comment back in June:

"Hmmm. You know what, I miss the days when stuff broke and it made things interesting. I miss the possibility stuff might go wrong. I find it sad that everything has to be tested to the pojnt where (if you're not careful) the fun can be beaten out of it all in the name of not upsetting people or being sued because the 'risks' weren't clearly stated.

It might be fun if we didn't assume everything had to work."

I hate to say I told you so... :-)

The Godmother said...

I think I'm going with the reason why it never made it to Beta or PTR wasn't the technical problems, it was content :P It was a Dumper!