Thursday, April 24, 2014

ALPHA :: Green Door

Wasn't just me then ^^

The problem with a brilliant idea? Someone has to actually execute it.

I did a massive reorganisation of Twitter yesterday, and moved a bunch of Blizzard Dev accounts out of my personal Twitter and into the feed for my news podcast. As I did, I came across this post linked by @Celestalon. Its premise is wonderfully simple: you make a game about Doors, and instantly you want to do everything with them. You need them to be shiny and awesome and capable of 101 brilliant things... but that's just your idea. Putting that into practical production? Slightly different, and often by making your door Green in certain circumstances will restrict it from doing 101 other things you might have wanted. Then it becomes about compromise, and nowhere was that more apparent than with Mr Stockton and his 'levelling flow' that ended up being a bit of a flashpoint in this parish yesterday. However, The Mumpster never promised us a moose like the other guy never guaranteed we'd have Garrisons movable. At no point did anyone actually confirm *anything*, because after ten years they never *really* do.

With every brilliant idea there are always potential downsides.

However, we should all be very aware of an often-overlooked truth: we're not the designers.


If you can separate the person from the concept, there's a lot of mileage in understanding *why* we may have been tied to a zone with the Garrison. I have to say although the whole 'levelling/possible narrative flow' thing is a good enough reason on its own, I suspect there are a large number of practical coding considerations at this early stage in having everything tethered to a single point in Warcraft time and space. If this isn't actually finished yet (and 10g says they're building it as you read this) then they'll want to actually have the entire thing working in once place, consistently, before they even consider moving it elsewhere. That would mean that we *might* see this happen later in the game, and indeed that possibility has already been discussed via the medium of Twitter:

Rule #2: Never discount a possibility.

With every brilliant idea there'll always be someone who thinks you're having a laugh.

We've already considered those people who won't want to use this feature, and there will likely be an increasing number of those as time goes on. It will have something to do with this being perceived as 'mandatory' content even though there is absolutely nothing here, thus far, that says you'll require it for endgame. The inherent problem, of course, is that levelling is mandatory at this stage, but we have already seen a new willingness by Blizzard to circumnavigate even that obstacle with the L90 'boost.' It's probably worthwhile saying this now, long before the indignant cries begin, but you WILL see L100 paid character transactions well before this next Expansion has run its course. Even at this stage there will be someone considering those options, and running the spreadsheets, because ultimately this is business, and if someone like me can work that out, there's already a person in Blizzard doing the numbers.

So, if you're smart and patient, just give it a year. Come back, buy your 100 and away you go. Welcome to the Disposable Generation.

Rule #3: You won't please everyone. Pick the largest sample.

The fact now that we're seeing tweets where it's being made clear this is optional should be enough to reassure those who want no part in this that they can walk away. However, and we have iterated this before, that's not what Blizzard will want or indeed hope for. They will now try their level best to make this feature as attractive as they possibly can. The whole 'moving' thing will be an issue, of course it will, for Anne's observation above alone, quite apart from the aesthetics. The fact that new players can pay for an expansion plus a character boost and have two toons with every profession is probably quite attractive if those professions have any actual value, and this is where we drift into one of those mist-shrouded parts of the Draenor map where we have absolutely no idea what's going on, and won't until Blizzard reveal their hand. If Professions have been totally devolved from combat usefulness (with the possible exceptions of Alchemy, Cookery, Fishing and Enchanting, discuss please Goldmakers) then does it matter what you do with a Garrison anyway? It will if those four have a value for Raiders, and I've seen Enchants and Potions already in Alpha files. The key then becomes if this is an individual responsibility, or if raiding guilds could assign 'mules' to cover the Garrison tasks for their teams.

Needless to say, until they're ready and Blizzard hand over the facts, we just won't know.

There's also one final possibility to consider in all of this: if, as a solo player, you want to prepare yourself for End Game currently it's a pretty thankless task, and can be extremely expensive to boot. If the Garrison offered individuals the right combination of factors to be able to quickly and easily prepare themselves for raiding and be self-sufficient at the same time, this would become a very attractive proposition indeed. Mandatory would vanish, and essential would appear in it's place, and you'd have people happily levelling their Garrisons knowing they could provide their own food, flasks and enchants without the need to ever set foot in an Auction House again. Certainly the possibility for this is here, especially as all professions are now devoid of an advantage to take for individual bonuses. This morning, with my cuppa in hand, I see myself wanting Alchemy, Herbalism, Enchanting and access to the Fishing Shack as a matter of priority to make sure I'm ready to Raid and be self-sufficient the moment I hit 100. Tomorrow, that might change, it all depends on the information we have to hand. 'Playing' your Garrison may end up as more fun than speculating on the Auction House.

With every brilliant idea there are often a number of unexpected consequences...

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