Saturday, November 23, 2013

Superfly Guy

Down With This Sort of Thing.

Right, that's enough.

You had your chance, guys, really you did, but you won't stop going on about how unfair it is. I've read so many arguments that frankly I'm staggered: and all of this because, until 6.1, you won't be able to fly. Yes, the Devs made a decision based on some really solid, sensible gameplay choices and you all went and threw your toys out of the pram. If I was in charge, I'd be taking flying away for good.

That's right. If I had my way, you'd never be able to fly EVER AGAIN.

Ask yourself this question: would it REALLY be so bad if you didn't?

I think my major issue is highly subjective, and has been around in pretty much every part of gameplay since Vanilla. Trophies have always been a means by which people have marked their metaphorical territories: I am doing things you are not. I have achieved this and I will demonstrate this by wearing/eqipping/mounting my particular badge of honour in a prominent position (by a bank, near a quest hub.) Of course, back in those days no-one flew, so it really didn't matter, but once flying mounts appeared, certain of these became highly sought after, especially those who dropped in rare/heroic situations. Mimiron's Head, Invincible's Reins. Some of these mounts are only usable with a flying skill to boot. Some could take weeks to farm.

Time Lost Proto Drake, I'm looking at you.

However, badges of honour are only part of the problem. Farmers on flying mounts, especially at max level, you're causing trouble for everybody, especially if you're in Druid Flight Form. I'm sorry, you don't want to hear this, but you're at a MASSIVE 'tactical' advantage. No need to dismount, that pretty much says it all... and its always been unfair to give people something that loads the dice in their favour. If it makes people deliberately roll a specific class just so they can exploit a niche, you could reasonably argue it's not good for the game. So no flying means everyone has to gather on a level field. Theoretically. It also makes PvP far more interesting and considerably less kop-out. There's a reason you can't fly in BG's.

Finally, and perhaps most crucially, is the understanding of a basic concept which underpins the entire basis of the game we play. THIS IS A COMBAT BASED MMO. That means you, ON THE GROUND and everything else that is wrapped up with that. Blizzard played about with sticking stuff up and out of the way in TBC as a way to gate content. You didn't just need to just grind reps to access stuff back then, you had to be able to fly there as well. Once flying established itself Blizzard knew they were screwed and couldn't restrict access to all content without tying us to the ground, because the moment you gave people the opportunity to do their own thing then off they'd go, negating the content and screwing up the planning. So, to keep flying mounts, all those cool designs and animation and abilities (two person flyers HO YUS) there had to be a payoff somewhere. 

It worked perfectly well in Pandaria, but following the complaints about the gated rep grind in 5.0, Blizzard are changing the game AGAIN. So, because stuff didn't work, the goalposts move.

This is what happen when you say stuff doesn't make you happy and it needs to change. This is what results from you stating you want expansions faster. These are the consequences of having such a close relationship with the people who make the decisions. THIS IS HOW THE GAME WORKS. You know, for close to a decade.

Remember those six words, because they're the most crucial part of this entire argument.

Flying is NOT A GIVEN :D

See, the thing is, if you want a new approach to questing, there has to be a process that commences to facilitate that. So a bunch of people sit down and decide what happens, what changes and why, and underpinning this, at some point, is the real understanding that if they spend six months designing the entire shebang, you need to take a set amount of time to complete what you're told to do. If you don't restrict people via a rep grind, they have to be restricted elsewhere. YES YOU WILL STILL BE RESTRICTED. I'm sorry, but at some point to have to grasp the basic, inescapable fact that this is how this game has always worked. Right since Vanilla.

Then there is the understanding that, however much money you may have dropped on the Blizzard store for Flying Mounts, or the number of years you've paid for a sub, this does not give you a right to control the game. It wouldn't anywhere else either, however many Egg Twitter accounts you make to harangue the Developers. The game has a set of Terms and Conditions which you cheerfully accept every time you log on, and if you go read these you will see that Blizzard own your soul and most of the rest of your karmic value are perfectly within their rights to restrict you from flying and indeed anything else if they decide it is for the overall good of the game.

In the end, choice (as we discussed yesterday) is a curious thing. You choose to show you've bought a mount for whatever reason. You decide to drop real world cash on items and, the fact remains that if they cause Blizzard a problem with keeping the game not simply relevant but viable, they will come and say no, and there's really not much you can do about it, except try and understand WHY it's happened. The fact is, you don't need flying, and you never have.

No, you really don't.

The Ambassador, he is spoiling us. YES HE IS.

You want flying because you play your way, with your rules. So what if you think Blizzard or anyone else can't give you a 'good reason' for having to play the game this way? That's irrelevant. You never needed flying to begin with, we could have managed perfectly well all this time without it. Flying, like daily quests and Valor points, was an idea that evolved from a collaborative process. It became attractive because it allowed a number of things to happen: it gave people more choice, it gave Blizzard a way to make money via gaming transactions, and it fitted a certain mentality. However, it never, EVER suited the reality of gameplay where the only method you have to stop people doing what you don't want is tying them to stuff you want them to do first. Blizzard, like the Ambassador, spoiled us with the notion of fancy. You don't need flying, and losing it shouldn't matter. The fact it does to such a vocal minority isn't likely to change anything, because Blizzard know who play their game. All those people not making any noise about this problem now?

Yeah, they're the people who don't give a damn. You know, the happy ones.

The harsh fact remains, if Blizzard destroy the game because they took flying away *this time* it will be on the back on more gaming data than anyone who's complaining will ever get their hands on. If the game collapses because of this decision, then feel free to come back and say 'we told you so' but you know what? It won't matter. Blizzard are pinning their planning to content that will last past 100, last several months, and then will be trivialised in 6.1, JUST THE SAME WAY ALL CONTENT IS LEFT BEHIND IN THE ENTIRE LIFE OF THIS GAME EVER. You people who seem to have forgotten what happens at the beginning of every Expansion? I hate to break this to you, but it's probably THREE MONTHS of your life we're talking about, then you get the things back. If you're going to shrivel up and die because of that loss, I think maybe you're taking this all a bit too seriously to begin with.

Yes, that's harsh, and it's brutal, because you're not losing your job. This isn't going to make you pay more taxes. It's a game with pretty sparkly pixels that, just for a little while, you won't be able to use.

If all else fails, other hobbies are available

In the end, however, you're not listening to me anyway, so none of this really matters. These are the arguments. You choose to accept them, or you don't. However, please don't start throwing around the line that 'I've not heard a good argument' as justification why you're right and Blizzard are wrong.

It's their game. You pay to play it. They spoilt us with flying, and we should realise this affects gameplay, and not fight it. You could allow Blizzard to do what they decide is appropriate and give them the opportunity to make the game better. In the end, it comes down not simply to choice, but also trust. If you don't like that, the door is over there. That's how it's always worked, and will continue to do so in the future. That's your choice.

Remember to close it on your way out.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Fix


Is there anyone here who really enjoys drama?

I bet some of you secretly put your hands up, didn't you? I know who you are, you're the ones who constantly complain about how rubbish your Guild mates are but won't tell them to their face, until they're the ones who cause your 1% wipe and then suddenly you're off on a tirade. You're the person who hops on Twitter after a bad night and throws out the opportune subtweet and then wanders off to see if your friends pick up the reference. In fact, I reckon most of us might, at some point in our lives, been guilty of contributing to the Drama Pool of Gaming Life. I know I've done it. There. I SAID IT.

The problem with drama is, eventually, it all gets out of hand.

We have a way in our Guild to solve this issue. We have a Designated Blamer.

Our Paladin even has his own Guild rank: Blame Me. It means he doesn't even have to be here, if something goes wrong, we simply blame him. Bad pull? Stupid additional trash wipe? His doing. You'd be amazed how much easier this makes everyone's lives, and because he is the kindest, most generous of guys, he'll take it all with a smile and good grace. Every Guild should have a Blame rank, because once you step past the culture of having to accuse someone else of being at fault, lots of things actually change. People will actually stand up and admit their wrongdoings too, and when they do mess up will come forward far more willingly. It's all about trust and understanding.

It's all about talking to each other and actually listening to the responses, and creating a dialogue from that.

It's also got a lot to do with not being confrontational, aggressively pushing things onto others, and instead finding a halfway point where dialogue matters more than enforcing either an opinion or a point. If you want someone to understand or learn something, you are far more likely to achieve that by finding something positive to begin with before launching into the negative, because people will automatically withdraw and be far less willing to listen or indeed learn if you're always reinforcing the bad ahead of the good. I know, it may sound very New Age for many people, that I have to sit here and make these points, but I think somewhere along the way something's been lost. I had this point made to me only last night, as it happens: Blizzard spent all that time talking about Community at Blizzcon, and yet this is the Community that reacts to wrongdoing in LFR by wishing 101 evils on anyone who they perceive as falling short of expectation.

Something is not right out here, and it's been like this for a while.

How we change it is difficult, because so many people have an agenda to push, or a point to prove, or a message to pass on. They're protecting their particular space and friends, or afraid that they might be exposed as something they're not. People should not have to apologise for what they are, even if you disagree with the means their ideas are delivered. People should be given the chance to enter into sensible and meaningful dialogue with each other based on an understanding not simply of the message, BUT THE PERSON GIVING IT. Most importantly of all, if your reaction to a difference of opinion is to destroy someone verbally and give no corner, you will be on a hiding to nothing. People WILL lose respect for you. There are better ways, and change isn't just about you pushing a point until the other person shuts up and walks off.

That's not an argument, that's a tirade.

Now, because I've been deliberately non-specific about the people who have inspired this post, there will inevitably be those who will look at this and assume I'm posting this and referring to them.So, let's fix that. John, you don't need to apologise for having an opinion, not ever, especially if people don't actually know who what you are about because they don't read your Blog every day like the rest of us. You are entitled to your opinion, and if people don't grasp WHY you say what you do then maybe they need to think more and pass judgement less. Aramis, I'm really sorry your sexuality is getting lost in an argument which is as much about you as it about everyone else, and frankly your point's one of the most eloquent and understated I've seen. People really should consider a wider picture. Oh, and Scott, I'm really sorry I assumed you'd tell me, because I patently did not factor in the possibility there would be reasons why you didn't.

You see, it is very easy to simply do your own thing, observe the World around you, and patently fail to grasp the fact that real people have hopes, dreams and opinions that are often quite different from ours, and that if we all want to get on with each other, IT'S NOT JUST THEM WHO NEED TO LISTEN.

I need to change too. So do you. Don't think you're good enough, because you can always be better.

You're NEVER as worthy as you think you are.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Either Way

I've heard a lot of discussion of late about the choices we get given in game.

From The Independant. Whut she sed.

The concept of decision making in a gaming framework is, for many people, not something that ever causes a problem. In fact, when faced with the introduction of a new feature like the Adventure Guide I highlighted last week, Tobold challenges the assertion such a feature should even be required to begin with:

Specifically the problem I have is with the game telling players "what to do" and "what they're missing". I would rather have the game tell me my options, that is what I could do, not what I should do.

In the responses to his post, Linearizing MMORPG's, people point out that this feature is needed, that it in it's simplest form Blizzard are responding to the 'lol noob' mentality that undoubtedly exists in game. I'd have to say I agree, but only to a point. In my original post I used a specific phrase: 'people in game need something sometimes to tell them what to do' and although this is undoubtedly correct, it doesn't mean people will take any notice of this information, even when presented to them in such a format. In fact, in many cases, telling them what to do will result in exactly the opposite happening: you only need an eight year old with a grumpy attitude and a desire for chocolate to know that sometimes reverse psychology is the ONLY way you're going to get a quiet life. This entire concept of providing information regardless of its actual usefulness isn't new, after all sites like Wowhead have been doing that for years. The idea of people taking any notice of what they're told... well, some will, some won't, and for everyone else it comes down to being at least offered the option which can as a result dictate how we consider the approach to 'mature' gameplay.

This is not about simplifying or trivialising the journey from A to B, or making said trip easier or less enjoyable, far from it. It's about giving the power in game back to the player, and the designers handing that back to us to decide what matters without them telling us the path we ought to tread. The problem comes however when the complexity of choice becomes a hindrance to actual progression, and in that regard the Adventure Guide has the potential, at least for the younger player, to allow a measure of autonomy without the need to utterly simplify or devalue the gaming experience. That's when it will matter what the algorithm decides is important based on the position of your character: this isn't simply a linear game, it never has been, and Blizzard are going out of their way to ensure that you're not restricted in the path you take to a specified goal. However, strict linear progressions are a vital component of the issues you can subsequently solve, especially in relation to gear relevance and entry to raiding/instanced content. It's a bit of a Column A/Column B trade off, when all is said and done. You could have one without the other, but it works best if both linear and non-linear choice can exist together for the optimum amount of informed decision making.


It's not just choice when it comes to the places we go and the things we do that matters right now, there's a lively amount of debate around the Blogsphere regarding the characters we use or interact with, and fair representation of all the diversity we find in the real world in the computer-generated one. Should it really matter whether we have an accurate scope of choice or not in a virtual environment? Well, yes it should, because without the option to choose and understand all the options you could reasonably be said to being disingenuous to the potential audience you're attempting to engage. However, it isn't essential to enjoy the experience, and it's not a prerequisite for any gaming company to satisfy such desires, despite the fact that this choice can directly influence so many other potential consequences. In fact, some might argue that too many decisions in terms of race, gender or sexuality only leads to more confusion, that the simplistic choices allow players to not worry or focus on the issues that involve them in the real world and instead concentrate the mind on the business of actually playing a game, which for many people is really the point of this entertainment to begin with.

Ideally, these arguments shouldn't even happen. The perfect game, if it were to exist, would allow anyone the opportunity to create whatever they wished and to play the game in any manner of different ways and not be 'wrong.' You could reasonably argue that a format akin to The Sims would allow this to happen, because it allows the freedom of multiple choices across a myriad of different options, until you grasp the reality that this only comes to pass if enough options are provided by the game-makers to begin with. The strength of immersion depends absolutely and unequivocally on the developer who is in control of the number and scope of options presented to the player. Creating the illusion of 'freedom' in terms of decision making is something that ultimately allowed Blizzard the opportunity to make Warcraft as popular as it undoubtedly was in it's heyday... because not restricting people allowed an expansion of free thinking and independent interpretation/interaction with aspects of the gaming world. Ultimately that independence came with a coda: there's only so much you can do with the non-linear/linear decision making process, loaded with a set number of options, to maintain sustained interest for protracted periods.

Ironically, attempting to provide players with more possibilities has resulted in less people, because of the restrictions those linear progressions has imposed on the one resource the Devs cannot control: your time. What you spend your time on doing is perhaps the most important choice you ever make when you play, and its the one factor Blizzard have absolutely no control over.

1980's Concept albums, a great waste of your Time :D

This is a significant contributing factor to a huge number of arguments based on choice: we're all on the watch, and if we're going to be doing anything that wastes that most precious of commodity, then it needs to push the right buttons. It should be a representation of what we are, what we associate with, and what we agree with. It should be entertainment, and thought provoking, and it should set an example to other people, to the World in general. It should represent our online persona, and what we are about. For most people, time becomes the commodity that choice wastes, or doesn't utilise correctly, or simply the factor that determines how much time and effort we plunge into our efforts. It doesn't matter how brilliant a game is if you can't make the time to play it, or you simply don't have it due to extenuating circumstances. No manner of enticement will make a limited timeframe as attractive as a limitless one... unless you can precisely plan and decide what you're going to do at given point.

And here we are, back at the Adventure Guide, which allows you to make choices based on a limited timeframe, allowing the game to work for you in an environment where you may not have the opportunity to allow 'could' as an option. A Guide makes the decisions for you, not just when you're a noob, but perhaps when the Paradox of Choice becomes too much for you to cope with after a hard day. Six days a week you may be happy to allow 'could' a way in, but once in a while... just knowing what to do without thinking is a benefit to everyone. Choice is a harsh mistress. Giving people more might seem like its a false economy, but only if you have a dearth of options to begin with. In game, we currently have pretty much nothing that acts as a guide for any level of player, regardless of their longevity. Having SOMETHING therefore to act as a starting point can never be a bad thing.

Providing ANYTHING that can make players better informed is never going to be a bad thing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Small Blue Thing

Gaming Psychology. Discuss.

This morning, the following Tweet appeared in my feed:

Now, THERE'S a Question.

I have long advocated the process of farming as exactly this, plus a great way to remain active within the game's sphere when you've not got anything of particular note to achieve. It's also possibly THE most successful form of money-making, especially if you pick your spots and maximise your returns. There's no wonder people have entire Twitch channels devoted to this and nothing else, because doing something that benefits several goals simultaneously has always been a bonus, and there's never been a better time to take advantage of certain spots. The 9th Anniversary 'gift' you'll find in your mailbox may appear to be utterly useless for any 90 that receives it, but what you must immediately grasp is that it's not simply an XP boost item, it does REPUTATION AS WELL. That means I'll be wise to use it every time I kill a Cow on the Timeless Isle, or if I have any alts who I want to max rep with via the Guild. So, this is probably a great time for farming not just mats, but everything related to faction friendliness generally.

However, I digress from what was my original point. We're going to talk about farming as relaxation, and for that the main graphic above comes into play: there's very little risk involved (under PvE circumstances certainly) in farming things at maximum level. The rewards for doing so are often considerable, especially if you luck out and end up with something that's popular and desirable: if we use the Timeless Isle as an example, any vanity pets you might be lucky to snag are (potentially) a massive financial payday, if not for immediate sale but for the time when the Island stops being the tourist trap it currently remains. However, get really lucky and you could well be quids in: I'm quite partial to farming frogs with my pet, and this will mean I tend to kill Bufo with more regularity than most rare spawns, and this means I've picked up two Gulp Froglet pets. The current sale price for these? 3000-5000g on my server. Enough, in fact for me to pick up two of the pets that patently fail to drop for me elsewhere.

So, if you want to make things particularly profitable whilst maintaining the relaxation factor, pick your spots. For the sake of 15 minutes of research on Wowhead, you could well end up quids in if you pick a specific spot, or mobs that drop a particular item. One such area that springs to mind, and one I should go back to rather than wasting my time banging my head against the wall for the Archaeology mount, is the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.

Vale caches from rare Spawns = WIN.

The Vale ticks a great many boxes in terms of potential mats to sell: cloth, ore and flowers for gatherers (not such a great place for leather it must be said), keys for the Great Cache Caper, and a very decent number of green items for sale or DE, depending on your preference for AH/World domination. At my current iLevel it's also RIDICULOUSLY easy, so in terms of relaxation, the reward pretty much negates any and all risk... so it's not simply distraction, it's PURE PROFIT TO BOOT.

As we discussed yesterday, we might well have six months of potentially standing around doing nothing before the Expansion hits. Even if you simply logged for an hour a day to grind *something* the potential to build a nest-egg to spend when the new stuff happens is considerable. This could be your opportunity to build a new character from scratch, simply funding yourself with your own efforts as you level, which is something I've done on several occasions and which is pretty rewarding as a result. Or maybe you're one of those people who's been able to persuade a new player or an old friend back into the game after an absence using Recruit a Friend (and not been forced to cheat like the rest of us.) However you do it, grinding does have the potential to make you look at the game in a different light, especially if you remove the G-word and replace it with MAKE MONEY FROM STUFF JUST LYING ABOUT. In fact, all of this would fit quite happily under the #TEAMFAFF hashtag... so, what are you waiting for? OFF YOU GO :D

When you look at it that way, you're always onto a winner :D

TWIWBM :: Change with the Times

Valor Points Edition.

The last week, at least in gaming terms, has been a bit pants, if I'm honest.

I've not even made it to the loading screen since Saturday, such has been my general bleurghness in the Real World, but all that WILL CHANGE today, because I've got Valor to farm, and a ton of other things I really should be doing. With the news that Cross-Server BoA mail is being tested, the uses for Timeless Isle items suddenly becomes far more widespread, and so I may be forced to consider farming at least one more Mail set for the Hunter Week Horde Hunter.

My major concern however this week will be the 200 Mounts Achievement.

Got all these. WTB Fey Dragon.

I've put my Support Ticket into EU this morning to remove a couple of 'spare' accounts so I can *cough* refer myself for Refer a Friend *cough* which will provide a mount towards my total (if you'd genuinely like to rejoin the game and are reading this I'd love to refer you for the rare pets, just pop a note in the comments.)


Then... well, what do we have? I'm going to use the gold an ex-Guildie donated to make a mount as a tribute to him, so when I summon my Depleted-Kyparium Rocket I will be reminded of his contribution to my gaming existence.. That'll be 197... if the Blizzard Store EU Edition gets its stuff together I'll buy the Make a Wish mount as well... and that's us up to 198. Hey, maybe Huolon'll give up the goods or Archaeology will finally reveal the secrets of my Battle Tank. However, none of this will ever happen if I don't get the chance to ACTUALLY LOG ON.

So this week, I'll attempt to cap 1000 Valor, which will require me to DO THINGS.

If I can get further than that, I reckon we'll call that progress.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Get The Party Started...

TIME. It's a Thing (TM)

Yesterday, we saw perhaps the strongest indicator of when we might expect an Expansion Release, with what was the minimum of fuss. Christie Golden's 'transition' novel, which will cover the trial of Garrosh Hellscream, is due to be published on June 3rd. Considering this is the book that explains what happens to get Garrosh to Draenor, its significance in the Expansion timeline is considerable. [*] There's also a fair amount of precedent involved with these books and their publication, and often an appreciable gap between that happening and the Expansions themselves being deployed.

The problem here, however, is I'm not sure Blizzard would want to release an Expansion in June or July to begin with. I'm not convinced they can afford to wait that long.

I had this discussion last night on the Girls Gone WoW Podcast: there's another article on the WoW Insider website from Greg Street himself, interviewed by Digital Spy, that states Blizzard would like to be working on yearly Expansions. There's a lot of good reasoning behind this given in the article (well worth a read) and with this amount of game-savvy currently at play, it seems pretty ridiculous that Blizzard would be wanting to release a game during Q3, which is traditionally the period when there are the least number of players in game to begin with. It also pretty much flies directly against the 'accelerated' progression we've had up until this point: that would mean we'd have between SEVEN TO EIGHT MONTHS without any appreciable new raiding content, and I'm not sure that's a gap Blizzard can reasonably afford to allow to elapse, especially considering the factors we know are at play.

Click for larger version

My good Twitter Friend @Sivation has done some maths for me on this particular subject, and if we take precedent into account, we could reasonably predict that it will take 448.5 days from  the announcement of the Expansion to the release date... except I think most people would acknowledge that's tantamount to Blizzard committing gaming suicide. Over a year from now? I don't think so. With the 'possible' June date they're already pushing themselves to quite seriously slash the turnaround time by six months... which is already a MASSIVE push in the right direction. But will it be enough?

Let's do some further speculation on what we can expect when on the basis of a June release, because that would get Blizzard in under the Q2 restrictions I suspect it will want to work under to make sure this all goes off as planned...

Making sense in the wider context.

Those who played the opening zones at Blizzcon reported they were basic, to say the least, but the artwork for every zone clearly exists. Lets give the increased numbers of employees until Christmas to hit their first realistic target: a working Beta release for the game when they return to work in January. That's a month balls out, and eminently doable if no-one's being diverted by stuff like another patch. You then give your Transition team twelve weeks to sort out all the crap they need to change in the existing client to make THAT work so that while the beta's collecting data, you can distract people with shinies. Ideally, most of us (myself included) would have expected Blizzard to be two months earlier than June, especially considering much of the work may already have been done, but if they go any later than June they're into Q3 and I reckon they're going to leech too many players regardless of the current predictions.

So, Q2 this is (just), and looks eminently doable. Getting the book out the same day as the game's also a pretty shrewd marketing move, and as we're seeing with the Movie this is something Blizzard are pushing quite hard to achieve. The five of you that picked June 3rd as your #warlordsreleasedate? I reckon you might be lucky... :D


[*] We shouldn't need to buy a book to get lore that the game could provide. I'm not giving you extra money for the tie-in. Just saying.

Monday, November 18, 2013

To Build a Home :: The Pleasure Principle

New Feature, Week Two, AWAY WE GO.

The Garrison's position as a mini-game dressed up as something else been a long time coming for this game: player housing's been almost as persistent request as the Dance Studio feature since we knew it was a possibility. Hell, even that got a hat-tip in the graphics for this feature when they were released at Blizzcon. What you need to remember, when we look at the introduction of this in the wider context of the gaming experience, it's been promised in some form pretty much since forever... infact, when Alpha was released, if I am to believe my internet research:

Katricia : "Guild Halls will most likely not be implemented before World of Warcraft is released. They are very similar to Player Housing (which also will not make the release).
Both Player Housing and Guild Halls will be implemented as soon as possible after release.
I have no information available regarding the functions of either Guild Halls or Player Housing.

Various people have stated they would like it, and not been more specific than that:

Nethaera : "The word is that we like the idea of player housing and would like to implement it at some point in the future, however we don't have any particular ETA of when we will. There is a laundry list of things we still would like to add to World of Warcraft and this is just one of them."

Some even flatly ignored the idea completely (if I am to believe what I read,) even if the original article stating this from 2010 has vanished. Subsequently Mr C did something of a U-Turn...

Tom Chilton : "No, we're not working on right now, but it's incredibly complex to do right and we're not sure yet if it's going to be the right thing for WoW in the long run. It has major implications for the game itself and again I wouldn't go out of my way and say never but it's not on the immediately of things to do."

We can establish therefore that there's been a lot of internal discussion about the principle: so why introduce it at this stage in proceedings? I think we have to look at the massive success story from this Expansion that's not linked with battling small, furry creatures to the death for the answer to why this is now the right moment for player housing...

I think I'm going to need a bigger trowel...

Let's face facts here, Farming's been HUGE. Possibly THE most successful part of Pandaria in terms of hours spent has been on a part of the game-play experience that NO-ONE ELSE COULD SEE. This is perhaps not optimal in terms of the overall experience, and we are reassured by game designer Ray Cobo that this won't be the case when Garrisons are introduced:

"Player housing from other games is very cosmetic," he said, citing examples from other MMOs that let players "set up drapes” or rearrange carpets but little else. "In WoW, we really want to make sure that there’s a reason to do it."

Hate to break it to you, Animal Crossing lovers, this won't just be you buying stuff and shoving it in place... there will be work and effort involved in the process. However, the fact you'll want to invite your mates over to come see what's going on, and the fact you'll be able to have your Garrison doing the business for you even when you're not actually online should make a number of people unreasonably excited. You'll also be rewarded for Achievements in game being reflected on your Garrison's land: a giant globe, for instance, once you've explored every zone. There's also a sense in this interview that if you build stuff in the original Warcraft games this experience will be similar, with between 12 to 15 plots of various shapes and sizes... but the benefits of this endeavour do not simply extend to the land use itself.

There have been hints in Archaeology and the treasure-hunting aspects of the Pandarian experience that loot you get without having to enter instances is of increasing significance and importance to those people who play with a large alt family. Loot appears to be high on the priority list, along with a way to link material gathering to Professions as we already do with various seeds on our Farm. However, it's appearing more and more obvious we can set 'followers' to automate these tasks for us, which means you won't NEED to visit your garrison nearly as often as you would do your farm. I'd suspect at some point you'll be able to set your Hearthstone at your Garrison (though perhaps not immediately, I sense you might need some work on buildings for that to happen, or at least to have established your Town Hall to a certain level.)

The other big fat grey area is how Professions will work with all of this, as they're pretty much excluded from the current Farming experience. After further prodding on the Internets I unearthed this little nugget, which looks like some 'official' Warlords press materials:

What’s in store for professions?
One of our goals in Warlords of Draenor is to make each of the game’s existing Professions more engaging and integrated into the gameplay. To that end, the Garrison will play a major role in your character’s Professions in this expansion—similar to how your farm was key to the Cooking profession in Mists of Pandaria, only on a much more epic scale.

This is the first time I've seen anyone mention the Cookery Masterplan in relation to how other professions might be altered, and of everything I've been able to dig up thus far this has made me the most excited about what we might have in store for the future. This isn't just a place to hang out and invite your mates, Garrisons look like they may be pretty much integrally linked to the Profession experience in game and, as a result, I'll be getting unreasonably excited for quite some time to come...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Cup of Coffee, A Sandwich And You

A man made me a sandwich similar to this one. In our kitchen :P

So, I'm all out of braincells today.

I was going to do a complicated and maths-related post but you know what? I'm going to take a day off, because after fighting two hours of lag last night while we were supposed to be raiding and a ton of emotional fallout from last week. I need to be not in front of a computer screen. My poor brane could do with a rest, so I'll be seeping it in music via the joy of Spotify (yes I've only just discovered streaming audio like this, be afraid) and doing stuff to a house that looks like a bombsite and deserves some love.

For the rest of you, may you enjoy your Sunday, remember that the Release Date Contest is running and there are still dates available, and I'll see you bright an early tomorrow morning with (hopefully) renewed enthusiasm for the week ahead.

Enjoy your sandwich :D