Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Can the journey be longer?

Yesterday I promised another post on helping, but need more time to finish it. So here is a prewritten post.

Tobold argues with other bloggers who want leveling slower, not to make the game in-accessible, but to make the journey longer. As I'm leveling a lowbie now, I skip insane amount of content, without any kind of optimized grind. If you go to Ashenvale as lvl 20, and do all the quests, you end up 30, where going to Duskwood, Wetlands or Stonetalon mountains is pointless, as most of the quests and monsters are below your level. I rarely go an instance twice, often go to selected dungeon if there is a large chance of getting the same again, still there are instances I've never done. The leveling is simply too fast to consume the content.

A genuine newbie skips more content as he plays even less optimally than me, for example kills more non-quest monsters (I just CC them, kill the quest one and run away), not getting all the quests at once, and going to the same region again and again, killing the same monsters again gaining more XP. If he plays less, he spends more time under rested XP, getting even more XP. WoW is full of content, and a genuine newbie skips most of it. And do it for what? To reach lvl 80 and do HC Nexus 100000 times for full T10???

Tobold's answer is that leveling separates friends and it makes the game anti-social. If I want to play with my girlfriend and she plays less, we get separated. Except not. I do play with my GF, leveled several times together and found a very simple ways of controlling XP:
  • if there is a gathering and a kill quest in the same zone, only the one with less XP picks the gathering one
  • if there is a gathering quest that we both will do, the one with the more XP loots first, and after got all the items, leaves party and let the lower XP one tag all the monsters. (this way we kill 2n monsers, the higher XP guy gets 0.5n, the lower 1.5n XP).
Also it would be pretty easy to fix the separation problem, by making the effects of levels more subtle. Now the level itself has a huge affect on the battle, as you hit chance is very low after 5 lvl difference. The soloing-duoing plan was without wipes at 5 level difference and impossible with 6. Simply the voidwalker missed too much to make enough aggro to hold the boss against heal. If the level difference would affect character power only indirectly (by higher spell ranks, more talents, better gear), it would be much easier for people with different level to play together.

While the higher level player would do more DPS/heal/treat than the lower, the latter would still do his part, making it "playing together" instead of "boosting". It would be similar to "new lvl 80 and his geared friend going together to a HC". Of course the lower player would (relatively) get more reward (+50 XP is much more for a lvl 10 than a lvl 30), so such playing together would decrease their difference.

Even more brutally, one could set an option "Don't need XP from this group" on the group interface, distributing his share among the lower level groupmembers. This would be way too little XP to make it an effective exploiting-powerleveling strategy (you get 0 XP from grey monsters anyway), but would be an effective way to help a friend.

So Blizzard could easily let people play together with their friends. The reason for fast leveling to the endgame is completely different. No, I'm obviously not talking about the 5-10% elite who wants to get quickly to 80 to do competitive arenas or hard mode raiding.

The reason is completely social: the social does not want to look lesser than peers. While everyone accepts that the "newbie" is lesser for a time being, this time being must be short. With minimal effort, the social must be among the "big guys" or the game becomes "no fun" for him.

It's the same with gear: the badge gear practically deleted Naxxramas, Sarth, Maly, Ulduar from the raid content, it's impossible to go find groups there. There would be much more diverse content if players would gear from heroics to T7, from T7 to T8, from T8 to T9 and so on. But this scheme is rejected by the socials despite the T7 content itself is easy and T8/T9 could be nerfed to be equally easy (in previous tier gear) without any raider giving a damn (as they are in ICC HC).

The spcials simply reject any activity that would distance them from the "elite". If Ensidia is in ICC, then they must be in ICC too. Telling them to be in Maraudon, Mechanar or Ulduar is an insult, implying that they are "lesser" players. They rather farm badges which is much more boring than Maraudon, Mechanar or Ulduar.

They must have the same gear, must go to the same place as the "cool ppl" to feel at least equal to peers or the game is "no fun". Their mindless badge-farming and demands for obvious skipping of content shows it without doubt that these players are not playing for experiencing the game content. They play for social status, for peer respect and acceptance.


pugnaciouspriest said...

I'm currently leveling a Shammy with a friend playing a druid - and idealy as much time online together is spent leveling together, but with our class only quests, some involving massive travel - they have to be done so are best done while the other is offline. We have managed to keep our leveling pretty close - often with only a few bars difference - but we do do 'catch' ups to make sure we are around the same place to ding if we find an inequality. Level 26 hasn't been much of a challenge to keep it even so far, but it has been very much a specific project in that we have to play together all the time or the leveling will be uneven - It does makes training breaks more efficient if we ding together

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed. You were supposed to link this to Leftist socialist theology.

Blizzard is forcing us to be amongst bad players via the leftist's atypical cry of Affirmative Action. WE earned gear the hard way, while THEY are getting gear for less work (badges from 5-mans), just because Blizzard wants us all to be equal (again, leftist socialism).

And yet, you didn't. Why?

Kewi said...

It would be great to have an option to turn off xp while in a dungeons. I'm leveling druid, this is my 4th toon but i still want to do as much quests as i can. On the other hand i want to practice healing in dungeons.

Anonymous said...

It's fairly simple. Blizzard spends a lot of time making a raid, in fact aside from world-building it's the most labor-intensive job they do. They have to be able to justify all the man-hours spent on the raid, and if only a small percentage of the player base ends up actually seeing the content, then why should they spend so much money making it?

Gevlon said...

@Last anonymous: absolutely not. The point is that the people always see the last instance. Those who start playing now will never see lot of content. They could make a nerfing system where everyone sees every content.

nonameform said...

My guild finally managed to get a proper setup for LK and killed him on 25 man last Thursday. Since it was our first day of raiding this week, we were free to do old content and finish some of the stuff that we didn't manage to do earlier (Yogg with no keepers, Anub'arak 45/50 attempts). However, as soon as the officers declared that we are going back to do that content, people started making excuses to skip the raids. People no longer see doing something old as "fun" because it doesn't bring them latest tier of emblems/gear, though in my opinion Yogg with no keepers is quite an interesting fight, even if you have really good gear due to the sanity mechanics. Unfortunately, it seems to me that by the time we actually head to Ulduar with the goal of killing Yogg, we won't even have 20 people willing to spend their time wiping to a boss they should be able to one-shot (that's how we did our 10 man Yogg with no keepers: wiped for weeks and then one-shot him and Algalon). It doesn't mean that at our gear level we will have more trouble killing him than when we had heroic Ulduar gear, but I'm honestly surprised that people who show piss poor performance in ICC argue about the value of doing outdated (by gear) content.

Eaten by a Grue said...

Gevlon, you have this habit of just throwing out some facts and jumping to a conclusion. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So when you are armed with you anti-social agenda, every action seems to be grounded in being "social."

An alternative theory. Players want to see end game content before cataclysm. They want to kill the Lich King and get the best loot from the best dungeon, before it becomes obsolete. Getting the best loot and finishing ICC is as close to "winning wow" as you are going to get. You can basically complete your character for this expansion.

Blizzard wants to give players a reasonable shot at getting this done before Cata. Especially alts and new players. Forcing Heroics to Naxx to Ulduar to ToC to ICC is just going to cause players to give up and maybe cancel and wait for Cataclysm, when there will be a gear reset anyway. Blizzard wants people to keep playing, so they make the path to endgame easier.

Nothing to do with everyone wanting to be like Ensidia.

Kaaterina said...


"I'm disappointed. You were supposed to link this to Leftist socialist theology.

Blizzard is forcing us to be amongst bad players via the leftist's atypical cry of Affirmative Action. WE earned gear the hard way, while THEY are getting gear for less work (badges from 5-mans), just because Blizzard wants us all to be equal (again, leftist socialism).

And yet, you didn't. Why?"

Because it's a stupid notion. And because it's not true.

Top PvE players do not play for gear. Only scrubs play for gear. Top PvE players play for world/server firsts, and progress in itself.

People who get gear served to them on the platter do not get ANYTHING of worth from top PvE player's view. Gear is a means to an end, and if others get it after it's obsolete, THEN WHO CARES?

I'll tell you who cares. People who view gear as an end-goal, then cry back for the 'epics were epics' days, failing to see that they're just another social wanting respect of their peers while they idle in Ironforge in their top-tier gear.

Anonymous said...

I thought they made leveling faster so that the time from level 1 to max remained constant across expansions?

Gevlon said...

@Eaten by a Grue: NO ONE wakes up one day and say "I try out this new game WoW to kill the Lich King and get the best loot from the best dungeon, before it becomes obsolete, to basically complete your character for this expansion"

People start playing to ... play the content. Doing 100 DPS on a 80K HP boss is no different from doing 10K on a 8M boss. If people would want to PLAY, they would prefer more content.

"Complete your character" or "getting the best gear" does not make sense on its own. Try to approach a non-player and lure him into WoW by saying "hey, subscribe now, because now you can play much LESS than others to get the best gear" and write me his answer!

"getting the best gear" makes sense only in the social frame of the WoW-playing community. They will respect your "complete character" (or you believe so).

Wanting to get the best pixels itself a social thing.

Okrane S. said...

Yes, I completely agree.

My guild was getting Anubarak 25 Heroic to like 20% prior to patch 3.3. ICC hits, we start doing that, get tons of new upgrades, but on the days ToC25 Heroic Runs were scheduled, nobody bothered to show up (like 10 people out of 25 signed for it)

To say the least, people play for Content when there are also valid rewards for them such as gear.

As for the leveling in itself, the main problem is that at the start of the expansion everyone was level 70 climbing up to 80. A level 1 will be completely alone. That's why leveling from 70 to 80 is rather slow and they've sped up going from 1-70. If you're all alone, doing pre-level 70 content is just kill 10 more foozles...

Kring said...

If only Ensidia would be in ICC then there is no point in developing it.

It would be very "social" to develop a dungeon, paid by all subscribers, for only a few percentage of the player base.

Anonymous said...

I can't agree more that all of the countless 'bring back days when epics where epics' threads on the forums essentially boil down to this that the only reason why hardcore socials play is to boost their e-peens by their superiority over their peers. They have no other argument. They feel they must be visually superior over their peers just because they invested more time. Or what they call 'effort'.

Anonymous said...

Re "(+50 XP is much more for a lvl 10 than a lvl 30)" if you are 1 million XP ahead of your friend, then you might be dozens of levels ahed of them at low levels and 12 bars at 79. But you would still be 1m XP ahead because 50XP is 50 XP.

While I agree Bliz could have done a better job of going slower, WoW is really not a sandbox. If you play the game, you broadly need to do the game. Doing Nax now when there is much better gear for less effort is just being inefficient like not getting raid gear enchanted. M&S are skipping Nax, not because they are being M&S but because that is the way Bliz designed the game.

Is getting 2xx gear off LK any more or less illogical (or irrelevant to the non-player) than the victory conditions of Chess or Go or Monopoly?

Neil Cerutti said...

I don't agree that missing content is a problem. Having too much content is why I came to this game.

If not being able to to play with friends due to level difference is the problem, then something like City of Heroes's Sidekick system is the solution. The lack of a sidekick system in WoW could be thought of as a Goblinish feature: It encourages me to group with "strangers."

Vulpina said...

I'm terribly glad that I'm able to skip some zones while leveling. Why? So that I won't be bored out of my mind when I level a second toon, I can just go to the zones I didn't do before. It's rather nice actually.

Kira said...

I've been playing WoW for over four years. I did 1-60 on 3 characters before BC came out, leveled an additional character through BC, and have 4 80s now. I know all about questing the slow way, but there were, and still are, ways to maximize efficient questing by traveling between several areas in your level range.

I can say that trying to quest with a friend can be annoying, especially if you and said friend have disparate play times. To remedy that, I would suggest having a character to play with the friend, and one to solo with. Not only would you have more knowledge of the game to benefit you both later on, but you would make additional money as well.

WoW supposedly has over 12 million subscribers. But it would be interesting to know how many (active) characters are spread across all of those accounts. I would venture to say that there are probably at least 20 million active characters doing things, even if it's just doing a pug daily 1/day for two frost badges. That's a lot of alts. I believe that Blizzard implemented the leveling changes to make the system better for the vets (BoA gear), and for people who got into the game because of a friend and want to level quickly to catch up to that friend. Additionally, with each new expansion, that content becomes the new focus of the game, and they want as many people in that content as possible.

As you mention, with the current leveling system, you can easily attain 10 or more levels by questing in one area, therefore making other areas completely obsolete. I feel that this is a disservice to new players because they are missing out on huge swaths of content in an attempt to access only a small portion of content in one level range (70-80).

In Cataclysm they are redesigning everything in Azeroth and making questing areas more defined and streamlined, as they are in BC and WLK. However, that will not change the fact that several of those areas will not get quested through, making much of that effort a waste.

Can the journey be longer? Not with the way Blizzard has designed the system of the game to revolve around expansions and end-game content.

Anonymous said...

For "friends" to level together requires a certain level of commitment from both players. A player such as myself, who only heads to the city to auction off loot and get trained has to be willing to move over to another project or toon when their leveling "friend" is offline. I will leave camping out in Goldshire or dancing on the Stormwind fountain to others. The same goes for dueling. Likewise, the more casual player has to be willing to commit a certain amount of time to levling the their toon with their "friend."

If someone is so determined to keep pushing through content while leveling with a "friend," who can't or won't commit as much time as they are willing to commit, they can always pay the nominal fee to shut off xp.

As for skipping old raid content because badge gear is superior to the old loot drops, if you want to slow down the rush to ICC it's rather quite simple, just require an attunement. Something along the lines of complete Sarth, you can do Naxx, do Naxx you can do EoE, finish that you are eligble for Uld, folowed by TotC, and lastly ICC.

With an attunement the members of the social raiding guild can be good "m8s" by carrying a less geared guildie though the old content, as is often done in heroics to get attuned for ICC. Meanwhile the more enlightenened raiding guild or progression guild with some downtime can use it as an opportunity to earn some extra income by charging a fee to carry a few people through a few old Northrend raids.

Klepsacovic said...

The problem isn't "distance from the elite." The problem is distance from friends. That's exactly what Tobold explained and you basically ignored it.

Most of it is on Blizzard's end though. They want people to see the latest and greatest content and that means not making people spend months in Naxx and months in Ulduar and months in ToC and then finally when the expansion is over they see ICC... but go level up to 85 instead.

Eaten by a Grue said...


I agree that best gear is of course relative. This is a multiplayer game, so everything you do is somehow better or worse than someone else, and it is impossible to ignore it.

But the goal of any game is to beat the game. With a MMORPG, that is a shifting target with each expansion, but at least for a given expansion, it is sort of possible to beat it. Blizzard is making it possible for players just out of heroics to have a shot at beating the game.

Sure, with a longer grind, some players may quit out of a feeling that they cannot compete with others, but many would just calculate the hours required to beat the game (even if the game was solo), and say, forget it.

This is completely consistent with Blizzard's action to speed up leveling up to WOTLK content (1-70), and also the most recent buff to ICC. Their MO is clear - give many players (i.e customers) the satisfaction of finishing something, rather than just having a few elite players have that pleasure.

Remember, there are still games with long grinds, and people complain about the grinds, and these games alienate all but the most hardcore.

timejumper said...

Gear is simply a means to an end.

For most players, the only reason to rush to 80 is because they aren't intrigued by the leveling process.

I've only leveled two characters to 80 (both with my wife), so I still enjoy that journey. It's fun to see new places and follow the stories.

But I can understand how long-time players might be jaded to that process.

I think the same thing holds true for endgame content.

Why should Blizzard force players to go through the exact same content a dozen times just to gear up a second toon?

My main has been through Naxx a few times, but I don't have any reason to take my second 80 through, except for getting better gear. And now I can get better gear without bothering with the same content.

I think the new 5-man ICC instances are an excellent way to accomplish that. It gives players a new way to gear up characters if they are wanting to get into higher raid content.

I haven't done much raiding due to time restraints, mainly Naxx and Obsidian Sanctuary with a bit of Ulduar. But I want to get geared up enough to go into ICC to see the end of the Lich King, since he's the main bad guy.

Players aren't just wanting gear for the sake of gear. They are wanting to improve their character for a purpose.

Anonymous said...

Eh. I got so much of the content on my main that I really, really don't want to deal with the same old shit on my alts. I just got my fourth alt to 80 (feral dps), and have been doing heroics... yes I want badges, but it's not for some glory of GS or some bullshit; it's to be able to have more crit, more attack power. I want to kill stuff more efficiently. I want to get a tank set that'll be good enough for tanking ToC. I don't really care about taking it to ICC... I just want to have a decently geared alt that's fun to play. My main is geared enough, my primary alt is geared well, and the others can get gear eventually. I want to skip content because I just want to get my alt to endgame so it'll be fun and I will have all of the cool abilities that I can get on the toon.

Anyway. They have the damned Loremaster achievement, as well as the other achievements (like the ones that get you proto-drakes), in the game so that people WILL go back and do all the old quests, experience the old content. Even if it's for some prestige thing, it still makes them experience the game at some point. And the people who do that are LIKELY not new to the game; they have done this shit ad nauseum on their mains and they just want to get it over with on their alts. To some extent, leveling a toon of a different race/class gives another perspective of the game, but it's not enough to want to immerse yourself into it. You know, "I can skip this," or "This one has a great quest reward!" It's about being efficient as you move towards your goal.

What about the people who do recruit a friend and then use that to level REALLY fast without actually doing any of the work? Maybe you should be picking on that. Some guy in my guild has two accounts; he runs his Nth alt through dungeons on one of his tanking toons, and has leveled faster than anyone should be allowed to. I have more respect for the person who speed-levels by actually playing, even if they skip a lot and have heirloom gear on.

I think that the LFD tool shouldn't be available until you hit 60. People should have to find groups for the old content the old-fashioned way. AND THEN, perhaps, we could stop party-leveling shitty tanks that then come to Northrend thinking they can autoattack and hold aggro...

Reversion said...

"They could make a nerfing system where everyone sees every content."

This is the best summary of your post and totally right on. I like badge gear and nerfing because it makes CONTENT attainable that was not before (to someone that does not make raiding a second job). The system is clearly nerfed because not the content is bypassed because no one wants to do it. If they had left ANY REASON to do the second and third from the top raids that would have been great. But they didn't. Not any decent reason anyway. I can think of lots of ways they could have, like making badge gear cost more and drop extra badges for a full clear. The weekly raid was a nice idea... but it is too easy. They make a weekly heroic that is a full clear and drop like 10 frost. Or anything else. As you said Gev, there are ways they could have done that and should have done that. I don't know for certain why they didn't, but they darn well should have.

Yaggle said...

Leveling does not make the game more anti-social. Blizzard making the outside world and quests easier has made the game more anti-social because there is much less need to group up for levelling quests. There are a large amount of monsters that used to be elite that are now normal and many quests have been made easier. Vanilla Wow was very well balanced for all types of players but they have gravitated further and further to trivialize leveling and emphasize getting max level for raiding.
There is a sickness spreading in the Western world, particularly the United States, that end results and focus on reaching goals are all that matter. The Eastern philosophies that the journey as every bit as important as the destination are better, in my opinion. How often do we obtain what we strived for, only to feel even more empty on the inside than we did before?

Anonymous said...

Everquest II has a nice feature that allows higher level toons to play with lower level friends. It just adjusts your gear down to a similar level, and the power of the spells. The good part is even though you are now lower level, you still have access to spells and abilities you would not have at that level normally. This would be a nice addition though I doubt they will/would use it.

Wiggin said...

I was once those "when epics were epics" people, reminscing about the old raiding, pre TBC style of gameplay.

But I realized it wasn't raiding that was fun, but the shared experience with others.

1-70 sucks because it isn't new, it isn't fresh, and no one else is there to experience it with you. Those that started playing on a server several years ago, with a lot of other lowbies, saw each other often, perhaps even grouped together, on their way to max level.

There is a level of community and comradory established between players as they experience content together, and by far, the most content experienced is the leveling game.

People helped each other learn their class, challenge each other with difficult quests, etc.

This is what I most fondly remember.

But this isn't the fault of players, rather, simply of age. WoW has been around a long time, and players have become jaded.

I think Blizzard is totally aware of these issues and is directly addressing them in Cataclysm. We will have to see how it works however. But I look forward to leveling a new Worgen or Goblin, and I bet others are too, simply BECAUSE I, and others are as well.

Taemojitsu said...

Another alternative theory, with more disturbing conclusions because it means the situation is harder to change : free gear and instant leveling is not because of bad players QQing, it is because those things were restricting people attempting to do high-level content who had legitimate reasons to dislike the previous system of difficult leveling and gearing up. I believe the Greedy Goblin gave scheduling and guild hopping as the reasons for stopping raiding in TBC, and grindable gear from badges was supposed to stop guild hopping and make it easier to gear up alts.

Blizzard tried to give grindable gear as an option, and trust that people will still go to old raid content and do low-level quests via alts or slower leveling methods if they found it fun. But Blizzard did not predict that when the game declares that older content is not relevant to long-term goals, the community would deteriorate with differing values of achievement and become obsessed with the only benefit of grindable progression, i.e. gear or level, as the standard of achievement. Blizzard did not predict Gearscore, but now it is up to them to deal with it.

Freddyboomboom said...

Thus you hit upon what is one of my frustrations with WoW.

There are TONS of quests that I've never seen.

So I'm going back and doing the Loremaster achievements so I can see the majority of them.

I know it's not an efficient way of earning maximum gold per hour and such, but I want to see the content, dang it!

I'm just bummed that I'll probably not get anyone to do a bunch of the Outland instances, and I probably won't be able to solo them.

Tonus said...

I think that Blizzard understood what the fast progression would do to earlier content, but they came to the conclusion that this is the most effective carrot. I think that a big part of the appeal is what Gevlon alluded to; people like the idea that they're at or near the cutting edge of content and (especially for M&S) gear.

There are certainly hardcore players who resent it when they do not stand out from the crowd. But I suspect that it does not stop them from playing. On the contrary, they probably try harder than ever to get the best gear and latest achievements. It is important for them to be able to tell themselves that they are better than Joe Average and his iLVL 251 badge gear. So they keep playing and keep paying.

Making the lowest common denominator feel as if he's part of the crowd can be very lucrative. They seem to be overdoing it, though. I began playing again a couple of days ago and my shaman went from mostly i187 gear to mostly 200/219 gear in something like 3 hours. Sure, I was being carried by well-geared friends, but I could be in mostly 232/245 gear (251/264 even?) well inside of a month without setting foot in a 10/25 man dungeon, and that's just insane.

Wiggin said...


Interesting ideas, I've thought that myself. We have already seen the changes (or consequences, depending on your view) of add-ons like GS, lazy-achieve, as well as gear falling from the sky.

Is it possible that things can't be turned back, or scaled back without a giant QQ fest? What if grinded emblem gear is now the expected norm, and players are not willing to adapt?

Cyrell said...

Didn't read all the comments, so I'll probably double up someone's. What my GF and I are doing with our characters is leveling them to the *9 of a bracket and then freezing exp at the ghost in Orgrimmar. That way, we get to enjoy all the low level content and have fun in battleground at the same time. Granted, we're not in a rush to get to 80 on these alts. It's more to see the 70% of the game we skipped leveling the mains to 80.

Littlebear (Stonemaul US) said...

This has been a sore point for a long time with me.

It took me ages to level as a hunter, making mistakes, and LEARNING MY CLASS. It took me time from when I got to 70, to be geared enough for Kara. It took EFFORT and LEARNING. Along the way, I found some teachers, and guides to show me how to do it right.

Far too many people are going from 0-80 in a few weeks, getting full purples in a week after, and cant understand why they called bad.

Anonymous said...

There's not too many things I'm in agreement with Gevlon... But this is one of them.

I think BC handled this fairly well, by making the old tiers of content relevant.

Now, much of BC progression was gear grinding... So for the best of both worlds, you should have still had to get, say, Tier 5 on farm before moving on to Tier 6, but bosses should have dropped more loot, so that the process would not have taken so long.

Mike32Gr said...

Hmm, too many posts stating the same or similar problems over and over and too few fresh ideas.
I believe the question of the topic was "Can the journey be longer?".

Here's a fresh idea that could be implemented into Cataclysm or any other expansion packs out there:
Let's say you are lvl 80 going for lvl 81. You grind yourself the traditional way a certain amount of xp needed to unlock a "become lvl 81" event. This event could be something story related, voice casted, some nice sequences and videos and has to be done by a group. Again, to become lvl 82 you have to unlock the "become lvl 82" event. Everybody wins, there is traditional "fill your bars" grind and these events would help in immersion and story driving.

Mike said...

The old Azeroth is a hold-over from when leveling took longer than it does now. Do you really think the leveling experience will not be collapsed and streamlined to avoid skipping over multiple tiers of zones once Cataclysm completely jettisons the content we're talking about here?