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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Daily Grind...

What do you mean, this isn't a job? From movinghere.org.uk

I am seeing a fair few people making noises about the changes to both Dailies and Professions in game. The interesting aspect of this, at least from where I'm standing in the queue (sixth from the clock, hands in pockets) is that no two complaints seem to be the same:

  • Things take too long
  • Things are too reliant on other things
  • Things I need are too hard to find/don't spawn fast enough
  • This isn't actually any different from the things we did before
  • This is too different from the things we did before...
and so it goes on...

As briefly touched on yesterday, I don't have a problem with any of the changes that have been made to both Professions and Dailies. In fact, I'd say the refinements that have been made are not only positive but should be rolled out across more of the game, so that not only does it take longer for you to complete them, but the value of what you make and what you grind for is more significant over time.

Hang on, you want this to take MORE time and not Less? ^^

The biggest single issue, it appears to me from what I've seen, is the value people place on certain sectors of the game. For a long time Cookery was something you did when you ran out of other things to do: with its escalation to significance via the six available buffs the profession now grants everyone (not just looking at the raiders) plus the clearly deliberate removal of Cauldrons from the game, key responsibilities have shifted. I sense focus being pointed towards individual accountability, greater gearing flexibility and that the 'grind' is deliberate: call it profession 'gating', if you like, but suddenly when time becomes the only limiting factor on whether you complete content first... the responsibility is yours. Time management becomes a Thing. Suddenly LFR is only one of many things you'll need to do if you want that Server First.

The Hardcore, of course, will grind their reps and their buffs without an issue (because that's always the way its been and frankly nothing is likely to change) The problem this time appears to be emanating from sections of the player base that sit between the hardcore and the committed casuals... and I have a fair deal of sympathy for the position. The problem Blizzard have to address is quite simple: last expansion people got things quite quickly and then got bored. This time the mechanics are holding people back so that the the content lasts longer. That's why there's no tabards, so you can't grind to Exalted in a weekend of frantic playtime and then complain you have nothing to do. That's why LFR's not all out in one hit, so that you're not running that incessantly until you hate the sight of it. Making things last longer isn't there to make you frustrated you can't have stuff sooner, its to try and help you slow down and appreciate what you have to choose from. It is, in essence, EXACTLY what the ethos of Pandaria is based upon.

Sit back and enjoy the ride.

The problem then becomes making the theory work in practice, and clearly for some people Dailies aren't doing this well enough. I've heard concerns about 'flow' and 'numbers' on what Dailies offer you, but I'm really not seeing an issue. Despite other anxieties that the quest 'grind' hasn't really changed over the years I see a definite evolution of ideas through the quest chains I'm doing right now: yes, there are elements of the past to be seen (bandaging people in the Vale of Eternal Doobrey is straight from the Firelands for instance.) However, it is clear that thought has been applied and there is some definite effort to inject variety to the process: the Klaxxi buffs for instance make that sequence considerably less hassle over time. Add to this the fact that there are hidden gems out there, that stuff lying on the ground can sometimes be worth 100g on pickup, that Champions spawn regularly enough in busy areas to add some spice and I'd say, at least until 5.1 comes along, these places are doing their job.

Looking to the 5.1 changes it is apparent that Blizzard grasp the need to keep people moving from expansion to expansion: new hubs appear, new 'distractions' are put in place. The fact remains that choice is a primary factor in all of this and there remain a reassuringly large number of choices to be made on your journey. If there is one problem I'd foresee in all of this emphasis shift it is that there will be those who expect Blizzard to explicitly mark their path along the way: what iLevel do I need for Heroics and LFR? What Reputation hubs should I attack first? These are answers the community has become very good at providing themselves (and they do) and I think Blizzard are aware enough of how the community now works to not feel the need to provide easy answers. Again, this is pointing the finger of responsibility squarely at the forehead of the individual: go and find out for yourself. use your brain to work it out. If all this information is freely available in game and other people can sit and write articles about it, you can do the thinking too.

Maybe you could even write a blog post about it yourself.

I had a really enjoyable 'exchange' on Twitter on this subject last night, and I'd like to thank everyone who contributed. From my small straw poll, the following became apparent:

  • Most people enjoy what they're doing
  • Everyone would like more time to play
  • Haters Gonna Hate

The more cynical of you might have a point when you say that nothing has actually changed, but I think if you look closely you'll find there is an effort being put in place to make the 'same' at least better than it was... Now if only Management would stop posing for the camera we can actually get on with our Dailies... ^^

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