Monday, November 19, 2012

The Things We Leave Behind

CRZ is harshly criticized by some, and praised by some, but mostly it fits seamlessly into the gameplay of many (as it was intended to). The technology makes possible some truly cool things, like cross realm parties. It's a response to the many complaints that the old world felt empty and devoid of life. It's also a lot more than that. We're aware of the concerns that players have expressed about it, and we'll continue to improve it so the experience that players have with it only gets better.

Yes, the current design for dailies is very much based on player feedback, and it fixes some of the things that, ultimately, really weren't working well in Cataclysm. Now we're seeing a totally different kind of feedback, and we'll learn from that too. World of Warcraft is still very much an iterative entity.

Following on from Friday's post: Blizzard is clearly not the same entity it was when the game first debuted in the US in November 2004. An awful lot has been pumped into the business of PR since those early days: whether it be Devs answering questions on Twitter, or the company organising MASSIVE gaming events based around their own games like the one that took place in Shanghai this weekend. It is easy to forget, cosseted away in a small part of the UK, just how considerable a presence Blizzard maintains in the Far East and (taking in the scale of what took place over the weekend) how significant a market this is for Blizzard not only to maintain but to expand. Considering the importance of such global brands, getting people to answer your questions directly when you ask is no mean feat. I think people should be grateful for any response when they ask stuff to begin with, even if they're not happy with the outcome.

Let us return briefly to the CRZ question, as it is something I have direct contact with a great deal, and it is one that frustrates me. This is a many-fold issue:

  • It is a 5-10 second 'delay' between zones currently, so if I'm using my own mount this means I just sit and wait as zone name changes. Yes, there's a good chance that an addon I'm using is responsible for this, but it wasn't a problem before the CRZ were introduced, as I've not added anything since that time.
  • Flying over a zone using a scheduled flight will show me the 'unphased' version of it and inevitably report the presence of rare pet spawns that, when I arrive in the zone have 'vanished'... except they weren't there to begin with. Same is true for rare spawns, which can be frustrating but (like the CRZ addon issue) I've got used to.
  • I liked it when it was quiet.

The last point is probably the key one: if I'd have known that making a fuss that I LIKED my server with few people in it and not having to fight people for everything might have delayed Blizzard's plan, I would have done so. I grasp the points being made that stuff like resource nodes should have some competition, but then I see that Blizzard stuck more of them in game in Cata with faster spawn timers... sometimes I think the left hand and the right hand need to talk more in terms of the PR. I hear via Twitter that the Fishing Contests are still broken on the PTR (and am still staggered nobody worked out that problem before they used the phasing) and you know, part of me thinks they could solve all these problems in a stroke, if they just took the CRZ away. However, I'm guessing this is one of those ideas someone in Blizzard is just going to stick to doggedly until they make it work, because of the implications it could have for long-term gaming design. More significantly, there comes a point in PR terms where ditching an idea can cause more harm than good, especially if you've sold it as hard as Blizzard have with this.

For the record guys, I think you'd not score an own goal if you removed CRZ. I doubt I'm in the majority on that one...

It is encouraging to see the people in charge of the customer relations reacting to the general consensus, and I would suspect that before 5.1 goes live (which I'd expect to be the week before Christmas) we might see some tweaks with Reputation above and beyond the 'double bubble at Revered for your alts' plan that is already on the table. This weekend saw a considerable portion of the Guild maxxing the more problematic factions (Shando Pan and Klaxxi) and I suspect my life will return to a diet of night-time grinding with my Husband for said progression with the weekends reserved for gathering and pet battles. People may continue to belittle the system but the majority has just buckled down and done the hours, and as long as the game can command that level of commitment from the majority of its player base, then there's really not that much to worry about to begin with.

Needless to say, things were a great deal less communicative or reactive eight years ago, so before you moan there's no pet for your Anniversary gift from Blizzard, take a moment to remember that although some things may have been a lot better in your eyes 'back then', the past is not a totally accurate mirror...

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