Friday, May 02, 2014

Gimme the Prize

Can you see what it is yet?

Yesterday did not go exactly as I'd expected.

The backlash for LFR happened. I'd have been staggered if it hadn't, because on the most basic level Blizzard took something away from people who don't 'seriously' raid. Without context and a sense of what that will mean in the wider game plan, it *does* look like a slap in the face. It means that when I look at the picture above and see a wolf's head, others stare and see only Blizzard destroying their hopes and dreams. The thing is, however, a test is NEVER conclusive. What I see you won't, and then it boils down to how that in itself makes you react. Does it bother me that I sometimes don't consider all the possibilities? HECK YES.

Yesterday was utterly a case in point.

This is where it began...

I've followed Kamalia's Blog for some time: like me she is a Mogger (and an absolutely superb one at that) with an eclectic view on the World I wish more Warcraft Players shared, frankly. I have a great deal of respect for her and her words, and when she left a disgruntled response to yesterday's post I was, initially quite alarmed, as I'd gone out of my way to not try and stoke any fires with its presentation. However, when I read it a few times I realise exactly why her ire was genuine and justified. I'd suggested mogging away from LFR gear if people didn't like the look and wanted to hide where it came from. Kam's point, which she very eloquently explains in this post, is that actually some people might just want LFR just so they can Mog with the gear. I was staggered: I'd never even considered this possibility.

You mean people use current gear to Mog with?


I think this must be roughly akin in Real Life terms to spending my life eating soup in a trendy Lunch Emporium with one of those plastic forks with small prongs and a bit of space at the back where I could grab SOME liquid, only to be told by some kind person one day whilst struggling that spoons were indeed provided at the checkout if I'd actually paid attention. That one time I couldn't find a spoon, so I just stuck with the fork and now, out of habit, I assume I'd just manage. People like Out of Beta wrote very sensible and rational posts on yesterday's announcement, and it occurs to me now looking back on my reaction I've forgotten that my opinion isn't the only answer. I thought I'd done the right thing by covering a few bases, but it never occurred to me that actually, it isn't about having all the facts. It is more about grasping the reasoning sometimes and with Raiding... it's actually a really emotive subject. After nearly a decade, it's far less about the gaming aspect, and far, far more about the personal perception of the result.

No prize for Second. Hang on...

Lines are beginning to blur in gaming all over the place. The clearly defined goals of 'go kill X and you get Y' aren't sacred by ANY stretch of the imagination. Motivations have altered, and designers are beginning to understand that plot-based context is actually as important as the business of getting players to engage. You could be playing your favourite first person shooter very soon and a Really Famous and Rather Good Actor could suddenly appear in it and he's not just there to drive forward the plot, he's been retained to give your game some gravitas and make you feel like you're in a TV show and not a game... This gig is no longer about simple desire-driven goals, the levels of complexity some designers are having to go to in order to ensure they keep their audiences happy is... frankly, mind-blowing. That means covering every base whilst at the same time giving people at least some incentive to do more than just turn up, take loot and go home. Except for many people, that is still the game. For at long as World Firsts and Raiding Guilds drive Tier and Progression, this is what Warcraft is, like it or not.

The Revolution is here however, and has been for quite some time, and I'm not just talking about those who want to run every instance for the matching gloves and belt combinations. Just as Mogging and Roleplay matter to some people, doing things exactly NOT the way they were meant to be done is a thing for others. Why? Because they can. Take the World First Roof Dark Shaman that Orcish Army Knife scored in this last week. Look at the Panda who's never left the Pandarian starting area but who hit L80. If there's something off the beaten track that people can do you can bet in Azeroth they will, because the individuality of action matters far more for some in the end than legitimacy. This is what playing Warcraft has become for many. It is no longer about the obvious achievements, and far more about what can be considered personally as worthwhile. Keeping those people happy's going to be a FAR harder job in the long term.

The Revolution will NOT GET RID OF THE NUBS.

When considering why Blizzard do anything, it is important to grasp a number of intractable truths. The company regularly survey their playerbase. I know, I had one a week or so ago. They also have an enormous amount of data at their disposal simply from what you run in game every day. That's how Achievements like Insane in the Membrane come about: understanding what people are doing and rewarding them for doing so. Part of me can see that Dark Shaman kill being awarded a Feat of Strength for just that reason, because it would be a method for the Designers to acknowledge the players who took part and nod at how they took the game and made something different from the norm. By then it'll be too late for you to emulate it, so if you wanna stand a chance of greatness, GO TRY IT NOW. That's the thing about winning, you need enough people to validate you to make it worthwhile.

Next time Blizzard suggest something like this, I will be considering far more than the obvious repercussions. I've learnt my lesson: there are more things in Azeroth, Godmother, than dreamt of in your Blog Posts. Never forget that the size of the playerbase is directly proportionate to the number of awesome people in it.

Most importantly, this is why you should NEVER just think your view of Azeroth is the only one. Or indeed the best.


Bartosz Szafarz said...

I don't understand. LFR will have unique looks, so there's still possibility for it to look cool and wanting to mog into it? THey are not removing one art set, they are adding a new one! Nobody said the LFR sets will look ugly.

Or is this whole mogging thing not about the cool looks but pretending you're a top raider (and hoping nobody notices different color pattern)?

Kamalia said...

Thank you for the hat tip, Godmother. One of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog is that it helps me to think about the game in ways I wouldn't by myself :)

There are previews of the Warlords armor sets up on Wowhead. To my personal aesthetic -- yours may differ, of course -- the cloth LFR set looks pretty good, but the other armor types don't.

For me, at least, Mogging is all about the cool looks. It's not in the slightest about pretending to be a top raider; I know I'm anything but that, and that's one reason why I am content to work with the color schemes available on the LFR versions of the gear. Sometimes that tier model item is the *perfect* piece for the outfit I'm putting together, and nothing else is really quite as good.

Alternative Chat said...

@Kam: The thinking thing is completely mutual :D

Grimmtooth said...

Crikey, it's a Shadow! Get the blasters!

(pew pew pew)

dobablo said...

If unique armor styles are too appear in LFG that means they almost have to remove the maximum level restrictions on LFR. The alternative is L101+ players forever locked out from obtaining said gear.

dobablo said...

@Jeblammy found me an answer.