Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Every Silver Lining has a Cloud

Too good to be true? Quite possibly...

I've been watching Garrisons news since Blizzcon with a sense of mounting excitement: you might have noticed. I've been called 'ahead of the curve' in my understanding of what this new feature could mean and, as time has gone on, my assumptions about just how much of a significant part these 'places' have to play in a player's life have, it appears, become increasingly accurate. At some point someone was going to raise concerns, it was inevitable: I assumed it would come when we got the game to play with. However, on the back of the PAX event in Boston, there are those already with questions to ask as to what's on the table as our alternative to pure questing and Dailies:

Hang on...

When I saw this Tweet I realised there was clearly a point of reference I'd not yet seen, so I went looking for some answers. I found them in Wowhead's interview with Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut and Game Designer Steve Burke. Specifically, I direct the room to this particular section of said interview (with thanks to Wowhead for the quotes:)

Kris: I think people compare them (Garrisons) to battle pets because that was the new feature last time but I’d say they're not at all like battle pets. Unlike battle pets, they are integrated into EVERY aspect of Warlords of Draenor. Steve can actually give you a lot of info on this... 
Steve: Its a -huge- focus of ours to make sure we fold those (garrisons) into everything. We're going to re-route you back to/from your garrison constantly as you're leveling up. 
There are several things that are going to drive you back there. For example when you first get your garrison we're going to give you a mine. We're going to give you a farm, and a barn for free, basically. You're going to be able to build these structures right away. Those are going to give you the resource gathering. You're going to get every resource, whether you're spec'd for it or not, and ... 
Kris (interjects): leather, and ore, and herbs... 
Steve: Exactly, whether you're offline or online it will keep generating those. And you're going to want to keep going back to your garrison to make sure that you remove those (resources) from those facilities and transfer them over to whatever crafting buildings you might have built, whether it's a blacksmith, or leatherworking, or whatever. 
Kris: Garrisons are tied to every aspect of max-level tradeskills so if you want to advance your tradeskills, you have to build that up in your garrison. It's going to be part of what's going on.

 Now, I don't know about you, but that seems quite clear on a few things, namely:

  • Garrisons will involve you returning to them as you level,
  • They are vital if you want to max a Tradeskill,
  • Pretty much EVERYTHING will be linked to your Garrison in one form or another.

Having now digested this, I can understand why Olivia might be a *wee* bit concerned.

L100. Requires Tier 3 Town Hall.

Remember the huge outcry with Pandaria's content 'gating'? You know, the soul-destroying Dailies that everyone had to do to access gear via Reputation? Well, it could easily be argued that based on this interview we're about to head into a situation where players have no choice but to return to their Garrisons whilst levelling. Of course, this is only supposition, because a) this is one section of interview with no other accompanying context and b) it could just as easily be that all this will be skippable if people want to... except at this point I find myself remembering The Flying Argument, and the fact it's been removed from 6.1 (and possibly beyond) because of its ability to 'negate content.' Garrisons get the best billing in the Alpha Notes, right at the top of thirty three pages. This is a big deal, there's going to be FOUR blog posts on how they work at every stage of our journey through Draenor. If Blizzard are so mad keen for us NOT to avoid the content we're being presented with to the point flying could be permanently off the table... are they expecting us to play the Garrisons the same way? Could our silver lining be inside a particularly black and thunder-filled cloud?

There's also an area of payoff here that I don't think may have been considered on the strength of this interview: the ability to attach specific Professions to Garrison participation to maximise the profit you might be able to make max your skills when using them. If that is the case, people will already be considering the options presented by Cookie Cutter Gold Making Garrison 'builds' for specific combinations of Professions and Rewards. It won't be how the 'majority' of players even consider what buildings they place, because they'll be pretty much learning from scratch. But for those who are lucky enough to get early game access via an invite from, say PAX itself... suddenly that access could be a vital head start for those wishing to 'play the system' and be ahead of the curve once the Expansion releases. I'm pretty sure that's not even an option anyone whose been making this game has even considered. The fact remains that taking Professions away from one area and linking them to another is going to have consequences unless everything you make is BoA, and we already know from Engineering that's not likely to be the case.

This could be a goldrush. Time to smarten up those covered wagons.

Does this come in purple?

Again we are back at the 'well, we need a Client' argument to put a lot of these queries and concerns to rest. There's still no sign of this happening either, and there's been no movement on the Patch Notes updating or indeed much else, but you could argue that's because we had PAX to contend with. The thing is, there's a major holiday coming up (CHOCOLATE) and unless something happens this week quite fast it could be another couple of weeks before anything actually goes down. Then, we're in MAY. Yeah, time flies when you're having fun. But it won't sell you games, and when it seems each week that someone's cancelling their sub because there's nothing to justify it the clock is most definitely ticking. I didn't even mention the 'defending your Garrison from attack' nugget that emerged at the weekend either. I'm not sure I want to go there just yet myself... Whatever this 'feature' is eventually going to end up being, we need to be playing with it sooner rather than later to get the answers to an increasing number of questions. Time to cross everything and hope that happens in the near future...


dobablo said...

If designing Garrisons I would have multiple progression paths with minimal overlap. Profession levelling has garrison quests to boost your crafting hall (make me 2 items per 5 skill points). Quest zones and instances award new followers and an alchemist bench allows transmutes from one materials from one chain to be used in another process.

catinglasses said...

I believe a lot of the materials you'll be getting from your mine and other crafting buildings will be used in the construction of the garrion itself - I've seen lumber mentioned as a resource and that's something that no profession uses.

I also remembering someone saying that people would be able to skip garrisons - wish I could remember where that was from(too damn early)!

Grimmtooth said...

As said elsewhere, it fascinates me how people will see a bad implementation of a thing, automatically proclaim that that is THE thing, and then that the thing is, therefore, a bad thing. In this case, the "thing" is immersion and it has nothing to do with what Blizz is doing. If they're attempting to call what they're doing in Garrisons "immersion", they're doing it WRONG. I've seen good immersive games; this ain't one of them.

This is like looking at the ham-fisted job they did at revampling Old Azeroth in Cata and therefore concluding that ANY attempt to revamp one or more zones is a bad thing. PLAYERS say so because Blizz did a crap job. Blizz say so because everyone reacted negatively to their crap job. Revamping wasn't the problem, though. How Blizz DID it was the problem. And it was done so badly that even Blizz thinks it's a bad idea now, and decided to do WoD this way instead of revitalizing the old BC zones. (Not that I'm keen to revisit old content again, but it is what it is).

I also don't see a whole lot of difference between having to max out the garrison in order to max out professions and the way we've been doing it. There have always been stupid elements to the final tier of professions in WoW. At least this one doesn't require me to jump in LFR with 24 other cockwaffles that will sap the will to live from my very bones in order to get an Orb of Completionism. Or a Grand Orb of Compulsiveness, depending on the raid tier. We need to focus on what we want here, and that is: NO hoops to jump through to max out whatever profession.

Compelling people through a different set of hoops isn't the problem. The HOOPS are the problem.

Phat Lewts said...

I'm really interested to see the exact mechanics that shake out of these, especially in terms of professions and the interplay between the buildings. Honestly though, I feel like the rate Blizzard is releasing information on Garrisons is absolutely dismal. It feels like they're purposefully stretching it out and giving players teasers when they have the mechanics set up already.

Not only by spacing out some teasers through multiple interviews, but they're going to release info on 4 separate garrison blogs? Seriously? There's no question they couldn't answer within one succinct post, and I feel they have been intentionally vague on details to really spread out the hype.

That being said the interplay between garrisons and professions will be very interesting. It will also be interesting to see how many players care enough to benefit from all the profession perks, but like you said a client is the only way we can fully do that, and it seems far off. Read that post by BBB yesterday, and I agree that this is most likely a calculated decision by Blizzard, and that really sucks.

marathal said...

I am sure it will be a fine line they walk between something fun to do every so often or forget about, and something you want to spend a lot of time developing to be fancy.

For me it holds a lot of promise since the raiding part of the game has lost the majority of my interest. But being able to level NPC's to do my bidding has appeal. Being in construction, seeing something I draw in an actual setting is fun for me, so being able to make a small town has a lot of promise.

If I can speculate beyond for a moment, perhaps this could lead in to guild housing where the GM's garrison is able to construct a Guild hall and contributions from guild member garrisons go towards improving. Who know where it could lead if successful.

My only fear is it isolating people out of the cities working on their stakes of territory and a social aspect of the game falling by the way side, ie General and Trade. Unless they include your Garrison zone as a type of city for chat purposes.

Phat Lewts said...

@marathal It seems like once you get your garrison developed, your buildings will be able to store 7 days worth of mats, which falls in line with Blizzard's announcement at Blizzcon. We don't know how long it takes to unlock all 7, but it'll evolve into more of a weekly thing after a while, and at least a 3-4 day thing after you've done the initial quests.

Navimie said...

I think I am concerned because I have been one of those "Garrisons? Meh, I'll get to it when I get to it," people. Reading what you've said, is it going to be the Golden Lotus roadblock to getting more things? I hate the feeling of I HAVE to do something or else a big part of the game is locked out.