Sunday, March 16, 2014

What You Want

Yup. That's right. I am a two letter word.

My Destruction Warlock is called Woo. Normally I'd not come out and admit such a thing, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions. I'm very proud of her not simply for her ability to burn mobs to a crisp on a whim, but her three letter name. Getting either a three or two letter word combo that actually works on a server is a nigh-on impossible task, just because of the age of the game to begin with. Woo was forged in the desire during late Vanilla to help the Raiding Alliance I'd just joined to down Garr in Molten Core, which required a shedload of Warlocks and their ability to banish Elemental adds. I suspect back then such responses to raid mechanics made designers look at what people played and began the understanding that it shouldn't matter what class people chose, everyone should be able to contribute to Raiding. Hence was born the relationship between what we did in game and how it affected the mechanics of potential outcomes, and that designers would end up with a fairly complex balancing act to maintain.

How do you keep people happy but still maintain the structural integrity of the game?

I got into a right fight yesterday on Twitter over the flying 'issue' to the point where virtual abuse was thrown, I was baited, and people left my feed in what I can only assume is disgust at my assertion we could live without flying, because we did for some time with absolutely no problems. Flying in TBC only came when you maxxed at 70, and I can remember one ex-Guildie riding all the way from the Dark Portal to Shadowmoon on release day, just so she could go and see at first hand what the flying mounts looked like for herself. Yes, it was that exciting for many, and I can remember the amazement when I took to the skies for the first time, even now. Hovering above Shadowmoon it was easy to see why flying was the right move for a population that had only ever lived on the ground. I was told yesterday I'm 'selfish' for wanting to take that away, that this is deliberately making other people suffer on the assertion we don't need flying. The thing is, I think Blizzard made a mistake back then and it's taken this long to admit that.

I think flying has effectively negated a large portion of all content, regardless of its current restrictions when levelling.

Ground Mounts baby, yeah!

Those of us who keep hoping that Blizzard will go back and update timelines and quests in the 'Old' World are constantly reminded by the Devs and CM's that this is unlikely ever to happen, because of the time constraints this would place on the 'new' areas of the game and would therefore mean a restriction of effective new content. However, the ENTIRE twin continents of Azeroth got just that happen to them in Cataclysm and there's still universal unhappiness at what that brought, which was done purely and simply in the first instance to allow people to fly. Having instant access to any content at 60 pretty much makes your journey from that point academic. You can in many cases simply fly in and pick up quest items without ever going into combat. You cannot be effectively controlled when you are in the air, and although this will upset people to hear, that's EXACTLY why Blizzard want you not to take to the skies the moment you step into new content. It isn't about giving you freedom in those early levels, it is about making you play the content that has been designed for you, on the ground. They haven't just removed Server Firsts to deter people from exploiting mechanics to get their badges of honour this time around, I believe this is a distinct signal of intent from Blizzard: play the game the way it's supposed to be played. There are no prizes this time for being a 'winner.'

This is *still* how my brane is. Scary stuffs.

There is no clear evidence yet to support this, but recent comments by Devs are leading me to speculate that your Garrison could have a lot to do with the fact that flying could be off the table entirely. If Blizzard are attempting to create an entirely new experience with Warlords (and quotes I'm seeing could lend some credence to this theory) then you could end up returning to the Garrison with the frequency you do a Capital City. Although it won't be a place to idle (and that much has been stated, there'll be no Bank or AH there) it could end up being connected portal-wise to everywhere else in game and then you'd negate a lot of the need for flying in one hit. There are also countless issues with flying in two person mounts across zones which utilise a lot of phasing, which could also have something to do with current thinking. Most importantly, the dedicated PvP Zone in Draenor will be no-fly by default because of the issues that causes in combat, and if you want an understanding of why flying is just a convenience and not a right, there you have it in spades. Not being able to run away by engaging your Z axis is pretty vital not simply in PvP Combat, but everywhere. Hell, not flying away has the potential to make you play better by forcing you not to just take the easy way out and leg it.

No, not him :D

I caused a bit of a stir yesterday by suggesting people might learn to play better if they're deliberately forced off their mounts and onto the ground, and this might go some way to explain Blizzard's actions in that regard. If you are deliberately presented with conflict and cannot negate it by flying over it, what will you do? There was an understandable response to this: that's all well and good until we reach 100, but why do we need tethering after that? That one's easy to answer, and has a lot to do with what's happened in the last week. Suddenly for the vast majority of players the one constant is their desire to reach max level as quickly as possible. When Warlords launches, you will have two choices: level from 1-100 by traditional means or buy a boost and simply do the last 10 levels. The quicker of these two will automatically become the yardstick for further content timing, and if Blizzard can tether players not simply by restricting movement but by slowing their progress, content will last longer. This is absolutely crucial considering current complaints of the game feeling rushed, and may (for some) seem a fairly cynical ploy, but as we have established, these guys are here to take our money. This way, content lasts and people are forced to make choices based not simply on convenience, which is going to come as a shock to quite a few people. We did say the gloves are off.

In the end, if you're going to abuse designers by name and call them selfish for their choices, it's time to take a step back and consider the consequences of your words. This is just a game, and if you're that upset by what is being asked, it's probably time to cancel your sub. You could try and engage some reverse psychology and hope that the designers see sense too, but you might then actually miss the point of this entire exercise. It isn't about making this easy for you to do anything. It isn't about simplifying processes, because if that happens what is actually the point of playing this game to begin with? Yes, I know Warcraft isn't just about challenges and provoking thought, but a journey shouldn't just about sitting back and expecting other people to do all the work. Yeah, you can do that, but I'll bet you a sizable bag of gold you'll get more out of the entire experience if you put something into the mix. You might learn something too. The problem with many players is that Blizzard has indulged their whims for too long. That's what happens with kids when you spoil them: if you try and take the toys away, the consequences can be noisy and emotional.

Kudos to Blizzard for finally trying some proactive parenting, and I hope the results make us all better children as a result.


Kyplor said...

Hear! Hear!

(Sorry, not fully with it this morning for a full constructive post.)

As I mentioned yesterday, make me grounded and I'm okay.

I saw a quick tweet by Marc @shamanrongar
These are my thoughts also.

Flight path lollygagging is the main reason I like to have my own flying mount. There's nothing worse than watching your paid taxi circle a follow-on flight point one and a half times before continuing on to the next flight point.

Bartosz Szafarz said...

My warrior tank is 90 for almost a week, still haven't bought the flying in Pandaria and is in no hurry to. Part of the reason Kor'kron Annihilator beats all flying mounts :P well, maybe not Sky Claw, which is ohmygodawesome (oh BTW it's "herbing while mounted" will still be useful - you won't be losing downtime on mounting up cast). So I'm with you on that issue.

If someone will miss the beauty pf aerial view - flight masters are there! The first time I used flight master I was indeed in awe of the view. That was way before I could fly on my own mount.

Also those people that insult others in discussion, whether devs or just those who differ in opinion, shouldn't be taken seriously regardless of the weight of their arguments. They should be blocked, ignored and reported to authorities. Sorry to say, but first things first.

That being said, I do understand those people who have the "instanced content only" mindset. I do understand OCD control freaks, those who freak out at any randomness: flying significantly reduces randomness that is tied to the open world as such. And I do understand those who don't care if gathering will be a bit more fun (a wpvp encounter here, a fight there) because the only thing they consider fun is the paycheck they receive from Auction House. I still think though, that those sacrifices in playstyles are needed to balance the game a bit more. The thing is, you can do stuff in an adventurous way now, that option is there: except you'll feel like a total freak and lonely. I don't mind, since that's what I do - quest a lot, walk on foot etc. - but feeling like you're not just one in a thousand doing that will enhance that experience a lot more.

Yamael said...

I simply do not see what's the benefit to not having flying in the game.

- World PvP: I play in a PvE server, and if I don't have to fight other players ever again I'll be happy.

- Seeing the world: This can be done while leveling and questing through the zones. If you really want to make sure people quest everywhere on foot, make flying require completing the loremaster achievement for the continent.

- Random events in the ground: These can be fun the first couple of times, but after a while everyone will just ignore them while trying to get somewhere unless the rewards are too juicy. If you can fly you can go directly to wherever you want and ignore them unless you are specifically looking for them.

- Keeping daily quests dangerous: What daily quests? They went overboard with them in MoP and now those of us who liked daily quests (but not double or triple gating things behind them) are being left in the cold. And random events do not replace dailies, because you never know if there will be any active when you go looking for them.

World of Darkness... sorry, wrong WoD. Warlords of Draenor is the first time I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy an expansion. Timeless isle didn't do a thing for me (in fact it led me out of the game for a while) and this expansion looks like it's trying to expand on that concept, so I'm going into it rather skeptical.

Saxsy said...

Integrity of the game?

Here's the thing. Jana knows how to fly now. She's known how to fly for about eight years now. Back then there were some places she couldn't fly for whatever reason, which may or may not have made sense. For Azeroth it didn't make sense but I understood why. For Northrend there was a convenient in-game mechanic (the cold winds) that explained it.

Is she simply supposed to forget how to fly now? Retcons aren't the worst thing in the world, but they are bad and should be avoided if possible. Rather than do away with flying, Blizzard could and should do something clever to address the issues flying presents, such as making flying more dangerous in certain ways or introducing the no-fly-excuse mechanics already found in various zones.

They're being lazy. And as for maintaining the structural integrity of the game? If they really cared about that, they wouldn't allow people to skip leveling and learning about a class for $60 or for a preorder.

Joar said...

To fly, or not to fly. That is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ground mountage, or to take arms against a sea of oblivious developers, and by opposing end them, and the game? To die; To sleep, to run along actual paths and roads. No more. And by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that my toon is heir to, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. Especially if I can't fly. To die; to sleep; perchance to dream, to dream of flying, on my fancy drake. Ay' there's the rub.

Actually, I hate to admit it, but I'm somewhat of the school where I'll wait to see how it looks and how it works and am willing to reserve judgement until I experience it first hand. The inability to fly on Timeless Isle or Isle of Thunder doesn't bother me in the slightest, so I guess we'll see.

The undiscover'd country of Draenor from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will, especially since we have not beta, and makes us rather vent those ills we have upon twitter than fly to conclusions that we know not of.

My apologies to Sir William.