Monday, November 12, 2012

The Elephants in the Room

A Giant Crab, speaking at the Weekend.

I think, Mr Street, your blog post should be covering considerably more than that.

This weekend, it has been universally acknowledged in Guild, marked a distinct change in Server mentality. AH sales were very definitely up, considerably more stuff got sold across the board (10k pet sales :O), and after some discussion the conclusion was reached that maybe people had stopped solely focussing on their 'Mains' and gone and done something else. This is what happened with me: I've put half a level on the Horde and Mogging Hunters, mostly because all three characters are now running my new UI and it seems like a decent way to practice the new regime. More of that later, for now I am discussing the (I suspect) unintended consequence of making many achievements account wide: people have stopped playing alts.

Only now, over this weekend, am I seeing Guildies abandon their Mains. There are some who staunchly remain in Rep Grind Purgatory (one of our MT's informed me its unlikely he'll feel the need to touch any of his alts until at least 5.2) and we do have one hugely dedicated soul who's managed to do 4 L90's already. He is very much the exception. Certainly in Cataclysm that would have been me, when it was clear that gearing via levelling wasn't really an issue. Now I find myself planning which zones I'll need to cover to pick up the gear I'll require to make it into Heroics with far more care. Suddenly, the entire process has altered, and it means that alts are going to suffer. They already are, in my case, quite apart from the fact that I know that to even begin to complete dailies at max level I'm going to need to be armed to the teeth.

I have a couple of issues: one is with the way certain achievements have been 'assigned' across my account. The standout example has to be Glorious which isn't account wide, when something like Finders Keepers is. The time it takes to swap from one alt to another when I find a Champion I don't have (and inevitably it is when I'm questing) is normally enough time for that mob to be tagged. These are the kind of achievements that would most benefit from the account wide status (pretty much anything with a time-dependant degree of difficulty or which relies on a spawn) The other issue comes with awarding something like Stay Klaxxi to everybody (or indeed the Zone Quest achievements): what's the point in even playing an alt to begin with? Yes, I know you 'get the ding' when its done but actually, I have to say, that's not enough of an incentive when you know how much work you're going to have at the end of your 85-90 grind to gear said alt to a standard where they can survive in the World to begin with. Somewhere along the way an impetus has been lost.

The main killer for me is the professions 'gating': if I want that Royal Satchel recipe for my Tailor I have absolutely no choice but to level my Tailor to 90, get the Golden Lotus and Shado Pan dailies to a certain level and then spend however long it is on the Augusts. How on Earth am I supposed to do that when at this stage I'm probably a month away from being rep maxxed on the person I want to raid with? Yes, that last bit does sound like whiny needy moaning: its no different from getting that Jewelcrafting bag recipe I STILL don't have from Firelands Dailies. The problem this time is just that, time, and despite all of this I am still sticking by my assertion that this is by far the best way to prevent server economies collapsing, and to preserve the sanctity of professions saleability. Our #1 Tailor is now capable of making those bags, and it will be Quite Some Time (TM) before I see people flooding the market with them. That is the way it should be. I'll just have to accept the fact that having a family that I can rely on for self-sufficiency takes more time this time around.

This means, like it or not, I really need a plan before I start levelling each toon. If I want them to be able to ride turtles, for instance that means a Panda tabard the moment they step out of Stormwind. If I want to maximise gear gathering whilst questing that also means I'll not do Krasarang at all, or indeed Townlong unless absolutely necessary. I have therefore the beginning of an alt levelling strategy:

  • Starter quests in Jade Forest, questline to open the Jade Serpent 'meeting' and subsequent events
  • Only do the quests in VoFW that open my farm
  • Only quest in Kun-Lai (until 89) If not at 89 when Kun Lai complete, possibly do stuff in Townlong
  • At 89, go to Dread Wastes.
  • Run as many dungeons as possible

It stops after I've achieved the exploration achievements on P really mattering about the rich tapestry that Blizzard have woven to immerse me in as I grow. Before the change to achievements it didn't, because you felt obliged to give the 'shallow' alts some depth, maybe even grind a title for them so it was clear you weren't simply going through the motions. Now, all I want is a decent plan to get everyone to 90 with as good a set of gear as its possible to garner from the most efficient number of quests because all I'm really interested in is the iLevels not just for Heroics but then LFR, as that's likely to be the main place I'll see my epics. Suddenly all that Valor gear is a waste of time, especially when I know that if enough time elapses I'll end up with a massive gear reset anyway. If I'm not raiding with alts, if all they do is act as farmers and equipment specialists I'll just make money to buy the stuff I need. I won't be paying the worth of the item, I will start paying for the time it took that person to farm the relevant level of rep to own the recipe to produce it.

The shift has been subtle, but it has been noticeable. Alts are likely to be left by the wayside by many except those with a huge amount of time and patience. Its not just about the achievements either, there are a lot of choices bound up with the way the current system is being weighted. The key question now becomes what will happen to Valor Gear come 5.1. As it is unlikely to become Justice Gear any time soon (with the plans for upgrading items in place) those of us playing the alt game have some interesting decisions to make in the future...


Jonathan said...

I've pretty much parked my alts on their respective farms, where they currently grow veg for my main. To be fair, that's more than happened to them last time round.

I always look to alts when the need to level them becomes more interesting and worthy of my time than doing stuff with my main. That point is normally once my main is 10-man raid ready, but there's so much content this time round I just haven't bothered.

"that also means I'll not do Karasang at all"

You're the second person I've seen misspell 'Krasarang' that way, there must be something about that place!

dobablo said...

If you feel you need to flesh out characters because their achievements look bare then turn off the cross-accounts achievement functionality.
It is good that my alts lie neglected. My main is my main because that is my preferred character. I have been able to spend the vast majority of time on my favourite toon simply because there is so much I can do. I am not forced to run off to secondary characters because I’ve run out of stuff to do on my main. Still, I miss not being able to heal instances and that is why my alt is starting to see a bit more activity, but that is because I want to do things on that character as opposed to having run out of stuff on my main.
I do hoping that faction crafting recipes become BoA.

dobablo said...


Patch 5.2 - Dr Medivh's Sing-Along Blog

OldRolandGuy said...

"You're the second person I've seen misspell 'Krasarang' that way, there must be something about that place!"

It's wild!

Round 'em up, kill 'em fast.

This is where I'm actually looking forward (yes, really) to grinding the rep on my B Team once A is maxxed on his own. I can't speak highly enough of the benefits of buddying up for both levelling and dailies, and am still loving doing so on the #2 Protection Paladin + Elemental Shaman Combo. So yes, 2-boxing, as much as anything else, because the tank kills things in massive numbers veeeery slowly (my heart sinks for every Alluring vegetable or Occupied Soil as she has to solo them) while the shaman now has a proper tank 'pet' so can kill things in massive numbers really fast.

But the same principle applies to my main. If The Godmother isn't available for dailies that day (to do the 'kill 'em fast' part of the equation above, while I do the 'round 'em up' bit) I'll whine, and go find something else to do or seek a dps to team up with.

I'm even considering levelling a dps alt on the non-main account to attack the next sets of rep grinds with, or transferring the shaman so it's not on the same account and can therefore dps for my Main. Anything to minimise the dailies-as-protection (or worse still, holy!) effect!

Stuff of the Ancients

The way things are set up at the moment, we are positively encouraged to max Mains per time-period before moving on to alts. Last night was the first time in ages I've maxxed Valor for the week, and having done so I then jumped, with renewed vigor, onto 2 alts and ran a bunch of heroics for 150% VP, thanks to the VotA buff. Once I got above 800VP for the week, the cap felt 'within striking distance' so alts took a back seat until I hit the cap. Happily, VotA is BattleNet-wide, so toons across my accounts benefit from the efforts of my Main.

So it is with rep too, if I understand correctly. Alts gain rep faster once mains are capped with a faction? So, given the finite amount of time to play per day/week, it's more sensible to buckle down and grind up to cap (see above re. help from the Godmother) than it is to go do something more interesting. As if there could be anything more interesting than questing with one's Nearest and Dearest!

My 2c.

OldRolandGuy said...

To clarify, without getting unnecessarily philosophical: "it's more sensible to buckle down and grind up to cap (see above re. help from the Godmother) than it is to go do something more interesting"

My use of the word "sensible" there, is from the perspective of an Economist. There is, of course, a perfectly good argument that it's actually more sensible to go and do the "something more interesting" altogether...

But then, we're talking about WoW here :)

Anonymous said...

Alts... What are alts? ;-)

Angelo said...

I agree with you. I sent yesterday a twitt to @Ghostcrawler telling him how MOP has killed the one man Alt least for now.

I have managed three lvl 90s so far and have assigned a priority as to who do I level based on what they can provide to my main.

Currently working on my BS

TheGrumpyElf said...

I would love to see what Mr. Street had to say and more so how far he will go in showing how out of touch he is with the player base.

I am right there with you on the tailoring thing. I have a tailor/enchanter who basically exists to make make enchants and bags for my hunter. Now I need to get rep with that character? Excuse me? Just make all rep purchasable crafting items BoA and I have completely fine with reputation the way it is. Just do not make me have to grind everything on an alt just to support my main that already did all that grinding himself.

I disagree with you on the leveling thing in a few areas. Avoid dungeons. Once each if you feel you must, they are a drain on leveling speed, big time. And go to townlong as soon as you hit 88. Without the townlong gear you will be in a much harder position entering dread wastes which seems to be way to much for most players. Them doing it with even lesser gear will be impossible. The townlong gear is required for most. I love dread wastes myself, wish every zone was as good as that one questing wise.

I have 4 90s, will have a 5th soon. The rest of my characters will make it to the summit, up until I start the shado-pan stuff and wait at the farm until rep changes come. At least I will have enough cooking materials to last a lifetime.

Draynee said...

Hi Godmother,

Very nice post, it really got me thinking. I'm having a hard time understanding why everyone thinks it's so hard-up for alts this time around, and why it's any different than any previous x-pac. I am a self-declared altoholic. I had 6 85's in LFR gear at the end of Cata. I had 4 healers I ran randoms with at the end of Wrath. Though that is a condensed version of my gaming life, the thing that is true in both situations is that this happened at the end of the x-pac, when the lifestyle is vastly different from the beginning on an x-pac.

A quick check though my acheivemnts shows my 2nd 85 dinging on 12/29/10, but I never did anything with her after that, she's still in her Twilight Highlands gear. My next 85 didn't happen until Feb 22nd. My point in these dates is seems only natural that people are finally starting to play their alts again now, a little over a month after release. It's happening in my guild as well, although we don't raid, so we've had plently of time to do dailies and accomplish things on our 'mains'.

Lastly, your example of the Royal Satchel requiring you to level your tailor to 90 and then grind rep to receive the pattern doesn't seem historically different than any other time in WoW history. I have a friend who quit playing a long time ago. He said he would come back to the game when my husband's tailor could make him Glacial Bags. Whether for that reason or another, I'm sure he's never coming back, and my husband will never be able to make Glacial Bags. (

Anyhow, I hope this doesn't come off as defensive or even offensive. I'm truly trying to understand why the inevitable change to playstyle that comes with a new expansion is being received so poorly this time around. Not your post, but the whole attitude I have seen around the web almost reads as "I want new content, but I want to be as bored as I was during Dragon Soul so that I can do what I want when I want, and not be forced to do your new content." I know I have been guilty of this. It took a good two weeks of Mists being out for me to stop having this though: "I kind of just want to go back to Cata when I had time to just do whatever, and play my Draenei alts, and spend hours buried in MogIt!" Once I realized I was making myslef unhappy, Mists became much more enjoyable. My husband wants to do dailies with me, my guildies want to run heroics! I'll have plenty of time for MogIt once the shinies wear off, just like every x-pac previously :)


OldRolandGuy said...

"Slow doooown"
"There is no hurry."

Even the NPCs are in on it.

Draynee summed it up beautifully :)

Yoco said...

My view matches the previous posters - Take it slowly... But I have to remind me myself of that over and over again.

Alts? I have a lot of them. And when I say "a lot" I mean that at the end of Cataclysm I had 28 different level 85 toons. To offset that a bit I consider myself not to have a main ... Yes, that means no raiding for me - but then I got burned out on that already back in 2005, when the hottest raiding thing in the game was Molten Core :P Of course that doesn't mean I don't play my level 90 toons at all - I still want to access the trade patterns that are gated behind reputations, and I'd like the characters to be geared enough to be some use in tighter spots while questing and in battlegrounds.

That said, a comment on a post I read earlier today sums up what the problem is right now: doing dailies on max-level characters is taking away from my other play time, not leaving enough time for leveling alts. Last week I realized that just handling the planting and tending to the farm on 6 toons is simply taking more time already than I really want to put into it. I decided to do the farm stuff only on the characters that have an acute need for motes and a few characters I need to log daily anyway for their Imperial Silk and Scroll of Wisdom cooldowns.

Most of the level 85 characters I mentioned before are still level 85. Some may stay there forever, just like the two characters that never got beyond 80 during cata. But I fully intend to take most of them to 90. My two goals for this expansion are to get (at least) one character of each class to 90 (4 classes done so far) and to get (at least) one character of each race to maximum level (3 races done so far, team red is off to a good start, but team blue will catch up!). Ow and of course getting each tradeskill to maximum level, but that should be easy - only archaeology and first aid are missing there.