- Over 50% of Flex Raids last week had two or more raid sizes, so people are really making use of the flexible size feature.
- Roughly the same amount of people did a flex raid last week as the number that did scenarios.
- The Timeless Isle is somewhat of a template for endgame world content going forward. There might be some more structure in the future, but the general style of content that avoids pure daily quests worked well.
- Adding things in the world to discover while levelling will also be a goal moving forward.
We have made rather a big deal in this Parish of the numbers Blizzard have at their disposal, and how those numbers drive production choices. On Day Two of our Blizzard Countdown let us now consider what the new expansion might contain, and how information such as the Dev 5.4 Round Table Blizzard released last week can point us towards important clues to the future. Let's take these starting points from MMO's summary and see if they can't give us some indicator in what we'll see happening in the general game framework Blizzard will be announcing next month.
|Bendy is the new Rigid: Discuss!|
Flex Is Here to Stay, Baby.
If you didn't know it already, Flex IS the new Black, and the numbers are obviously confirming it's popularity. My surprise is that Scenarios are still pulling in the punters, especially when you consider you'll need to manually make a group if you want to run a Daily Heroic. However, with programmes like oQueue making doing the job LFR would be doing but with actual personal decision making in the mix, making choices like this might well be something Blizzard also factor into the mix for the next Expansion. In fact, I'd expect to see some far more robust use of your Battle.net ID for making such decisions, especially in tandem with the Battle.net launcher which is currently in open beta.
Flex's obvious popularity will be linked to it being not simply End Game content, but a level of gear that beats just about everywhere else currently in-game, and this draw should not be overlooked, especially for the Casual playerbase. We have been promised new 5 mans for the Expansion, but these as time goes on have limited usefulness, as will also be the case with starting Scenarios. Perhaps it is time for a re-assessment of loot priorities in smaller dungeons, maybe even having items whose iLevel changes on a patch by patch basis, to allow greater flexibility in terms of gearing choices (more on that later in the week.) There are many issues tied up with gear (not least the anticipated item squish coming) but the key to Flex has undoubtedly been its accessibility and inclusiveness.
If Blizzard wants more people playing in the Expansion, Flex 'abilities' are likely to come front and centre. I'd expect therefore to see more mobs which can be tagged in the real world regardless of faction, and whose health scale with the number of people attacking (which we've seen on the Timeless Isle.) I'd also hope we'll see less redundancy in older patch content as has been traditionally the case in previous expansions.
|Use them, then THROW THEM AWAY :O|
No More Dailies, Anymore
Even if yours truly is yearning for a return to a little more rigidity in her Patch Hubs, it should come as no surprise to most people that the Timeless Isle 'template' is probably here for the long haul. One hopes therefore that making mobs that any role or spec can fight is on the table: as Olivia Grace details in her op-ed on Lootistics Island, it's not all fun and games for certain classes, and I'd argue there are lessons to be learnt still from the experience. The positives however are there: I'd expect to see more use for visual indicators (skulls and crossed swords on minimaps are the way forward) and less reliance on rigid 'collect X to do Y' formats. The problem however will come if we're given a range of 'paths' to follow and some prove more popular than others, especially if these end up being tied to the same mobs for completion. We also have no real idea how Connected Realms may affect this change to questing 'mechanics.'
Will this change to questing also overspill to the levelling process? I think there is a good chance that will become the case, as we saw far more fluidity in Pandaria. There is a distinct path that can also be drawn between the first time you level and each subsequent time: the Pandarian questing 'journey' can be refined to include the quickest way to not simply level but gear optimally to boot. Blizzard do seem to grasp that to maintain interest it isn't simply about immersion but also practicality, especially for those whom the journey is only part of the equation, and end game is the ultimate aim. Will this mean that we'll see quests changing for each subsequent new alt you level, linked to our Account status? Can we expect 'intelligent' quests which act in the same way Proving Grounds do, which provide a challenge based on the particular spec you're wearing at the time? Is there any innovation left to be had in what is still the staple of progression gating?
This is an area I'll be particuarly interested in watching at Blizzcon. Questing is like Marmite, after all, and if Blizzard can crack a way for everyone to enjoy yeast-based products, they're laughing.
Look Around You, YES YOU.
This little nugget made me smile, and makes me think that even my thoughts are relevant to the progression of this game. Yes, discovery will become an ACTUAL THING: maybe we can dissuade Blizzard linking discovery this time to a mount that makes people produce guides that trivialise the content (Lorewalkers scrolls, looking at you ^^) Ideally I'd like to see discovery linked into professions (ARCHAEOLOGY COME ON) but the basic premise that was used in the One Man's Treasure/Lost and Found/Bounty of Pandaria is really very sound. Give people the OPTION to collect stuff, however, don't make it a pre-requisite for anything, so that discovery can be at the individual's discretion. I think this is the most important factor: the joy of not knowing, and then finding out is something the game has been sorely missing for far too long.
The linking factor in most of the issues Blizzard have encountered this expansion has been time: giving people so many options forces time management skills on players who may simply walk away all together rather than sort out what needs to be accomplished. As a result, there needs to be strong frameworks for any new 'discovery' mechanics: explain at the outset what's going on, and the benefits to the player BEFORE you leave them to work out the rest out their own. That way individuals can pick and choose which paths they decide to take, and place their own priority value on things that matter to them (items for endgame, cosmetic and vanity, mounts and pets.) Whatever happens however, make sure that instructions are available.
Whether the game gives those or the player base provides them via Beta testing...? That's an interesting question, and yet another we will be looking at later in the countdown.
We can, as you can see, already make some fairly informed decisions about what we might be about to see in terms of content. Tomorrow, we'll take this discussion a bit further and consider the possible Level Cap, and what basic mechanics we might see changing.