Monday, October 10, 2011

Fix the ship on the sea!

Tobold doesn't approve that CCP apologized for their messups. He doesn't believe that WoW can be fixed and only expect Blizzard to learn from the WotLK-Cataclysm disaster and make Titan better.

This is the worst advice one can give. To abandon something that is broken completely and build something new from zero. A "fresh start". It sounds great. It's fresh. It's new. It must be good.

It can be. But it's extremely costy. WoW is broken, but not worthless. On the one hand it still has several million subscribers, paying $15/months. Abandoning ship would be losing this revenue. Also, 99% of the work done by Blizzard employees have nothing to do with the mess. The mob skins, the landscapes, the fight engine, the updater, the Warden, the servers, the game master support team are in perfect shape and could be used for a good game. Yes, the game mechanics and the design philosophy are a complete failure for the reasons Tobold said: trivial leveling and huge gap between the two. But is it the right move to leave everything behind and model new monsters, landscapes, train new GMs for Titan?

Yes, they shouldn't have messed it up in the first place. But it's not beyond repair. What would I do if I'd be the Blizzard CEO?

I wouldn't touch current WoW at all content wise. I'd use it to hold players while I develop the fix. It would have a new .exe, new installer, installed in a new directory. Of course it would copy most of the artwork and engine from the old WoW. When someone starts this new .exe, he sees an empty character screen, as the characters from old WoW can't be transferred. They start a new one and find the same Azeroth, but with impacting but technically small modifications: monsters fight back, dungeons need an able team. When they reach the level cap they could join the endgame dungeons and raids that would use the same graphics but no dancy mechanics, but gear and rotation demanding unavoidable damage and enrage timers. (just as I outlined on Friday).  The first raids would be purposefully easy.

I would promise to the playeres, in the legally bonding EULA that:
  • The level cap will never be elevated, no more "first murloc give better green than last expansion legendary".
  • That every new dungeon and raid will be harder than the previous tier ones in terms of output demand
  • That they will never design any dance elements to bosses
  • That later content patches and expansions will not give better gear outside of the mentioned harder dungeons, except for a few slots (for example ring, back, bracer, belt, feet) where reputation, BoE and valor point versions are available. If you got a chest from a raid, no one can get better without killing a harder boss.

I would make a marketing campaign, offer a free re-trial to people who left the game, and start opening servers for the new WoW, while slowly merging old WoW servers as people abandon it. In a year or two, the last old server will be down and I would have a fixed, thriving WoW.

Of course not all players would like the new WoW. But then they wouldn't hand on hopes anymore. They would see that the game is not for them and leave. Those who would see it's for them, would stay or come back. They would see that this game is for them and it will stay that way.

The fundamental failure was the attempt to create a game that appeal to anyone. They created a game that is perfect for no one. Every game must have a target audience and you must be clear what this audience is, so those who belong there see you and those who don't won't be fooled. It's tempting to sell a box to people who will hate the game (hey if you trick 1M people, you get $50M!), but in turn you get bad press, and bad word of mouth. It's OK if you just sell the box and run away. It's not if you want to stay for years.


The  main point however is that we can't just throw away things that are not complete rubbish and can't hope for a fresh start. We must fix what we have using the information we learned while seeing it breaking down.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

It all sounds "reasonable" when speaking from a theoretical point of view, but how exactly do you make bosses harder? By asking a perfectability of the rotation execution seems to be your answer. I just do not see how that would ever appeal to, for example, me personally, since that would just be a glorified target dummy.

Also, that kind of design would mean they also must put in your imagined EULA: absolutely all classes/speccs will perform in 1 percentile difference. Otherwise, if enrage timers are so finely tuned on the hardest bosses, you would absolutely have to stack the raid with the FOTM class.

Rigor said...

What's with this aversion against the "dance"? As someone who raids since spring 2005, I find it quite fitting and frankly, most of the veterans I know do too. Having it as the foundation of raiding is not bad at all. Granted, I'm not _that_ young anymore, but the sheer dexterity requirements of WoW are abysmally low.

Steel said...

Speaking about Tobold’s post, Syncaine’s response was absolutely devastating. A must read (http://syncaine.com/2011/10/06/its-friday-somewhere/)

What I find interesting now, is deconstructing Blizz’ internal thought process of how we got here (which would be the first step towards healing?). Who dropped the ball? How did they come up with the brilliant idea to destroy immersion, effort, complexity, progression – all the MMO game elements? How come they didn’t see it coming (when Wrath began to stagnate)? Who’s doing the “market research”, what’s the basic plan here? Who is the “loud minority” that they listened to and screwed up the game? Was it “the hardcore” (Tobold), the “casuals”(Syncaine), the “M&S” (Gevlon), innate stupidity/evil/greed on Blizz’ part (Wolfshead), or what? One thing is certain though, they show no sign of wanting to turn back, and all signs point toward doubling down on the current philosophy. I am dying to see how the LFR would work, with 25man pickup raids, and what the difficulty level would be.

Here’s another interesting article that resonates with a lot of the current zeitgeist about WoW’s brokenness (http://outdps.com/2011/10/06/geography-in-an-instant-world/). As for me, just like Gevlon, I too am very interested on seeing what comes out of Blizzcon this year, and the next expansion. To see whether I will still play the game.

Dan said...

I completely agree that there are plenty of things in WoW that are absolutely brilliant - most of the items mentioned in the post in particular. However I would do one thing with the WoW copy - a newer, updated engine that can push modern six-core (and soon eight-core) CPU, multi-GPU with large and/or multiple display machines to their limits as well as play acceptably on a netbook from 2008. An engine that is fully multi-threaded. An engine that can take advantage of the extremely good models and art assets already made for the current Warcraft. Perhaps an engine that is similar in concept to the one used for RAGE - as in the game engine will detect optimal settings for butter smooth FPS, but allow us to tweak the settings so we can have the types of and amount of eye candy we would like to see or not see.

Azuriel said...

...or Blizzard can continue doing what they're doing, earning more money than under your scheme with none of the design work necessary to retool everything (or enduring the wave of QQ from people who have accumulated pets/mounts/achievements/etc).

I am not sure where people came up with the ridiculous notion that WoW in its current state isn't for anyone. Less than 20% of all US/EU players have ever killed a single raid boss. What do they get out of a more difficult leveling/dungeon experience? Nothing. Less than nothing, actually, considering a sizable percentage would be losing content they currently own.

Ultimately, as I have argued before, decline is inevitable. You will leave WoW regardless of what Blizzard does or doesn't do. Once the novelty is gone, once you reached the limits of your skill, would you honestly keep logging in each day to try and top your high score? Some would, no doubt, just like some people are OCD and wash their hands 20 times a day. But the vast majority of everyone else will get their fill and move on, fulfilling the Bell Curve destiny of every videogame experience.

Péter Zoltán said...

While I agree that current raiding is much too dexterity based, we can't have all bosses completely without dexterity elements. That would be patchwerk and morogrim all over and over again and again.

Anonymous said...

What's all this "dance" hate?

Supposedely vanilla is supposed to be the panacea of WoW before they "broke it" yet the original Naxx was full of gimmicky dances. They made it more accessible by not requiring the whole raid to farm every consumable the game had to offer before each raid. Is clearing UBRS for the fire res buff before your raid a "fun" thing? What about collecting multiple res sets?

Your new wow suggestions won't solve much long term. Once the dps requirements of any particular boss reach 99% of a chars simmed max where do you go from their to add difficuty to the boss?

We'll be back to TBC model where classes get sat out because they sim 20 dps lower than class B, with everyone needing to re-roll each patch to grab the new fotm

Anonymous said...

"If it isn't broken, don't fix it". Everyone somehow thinks that WOW is now broken, and the loss of subscribers is the evidence. It might be not.

As everything, WOW has its time. It cannot increase its subscription base all the time, or even keep it constant. Maybe it's the time for decline?

Maybe the 'WotLK-Cataclysm disaster' was actually a succes, when the game managed achieve something which might be almost impossible, managed to combine several audiences, and earn money on them? And maybe the current decline is actually a 'normal' state?

Also, WOW is kind of an RPG. More or less. And one of the defining features of an RPG is the development and growth of the character, the story, the experience. And every development and growth ends in decay. That's what is different between WOW and CounterStrike - the 'river' of CounterStrike is always the same, but you can't enter the same (in terms of player experience) WOW twice.

And, with the upcoming Diablo and Titan games, which will feed heavily on the current WOW audience, maybe the management isn't 'fixing' anything, but experimenting with all different possible models of raiding, player experience, player interaction etc to make their upcoming games better?

Coralina said...

Gevlon you have forgotten again that Warcraft didn’t go wrong when Blizzard made a “game to appeal to everyone”.

That game was WoTLK and it reached peak subs with record numbers of people raiding and participating. Furthermore, as a sign of approval the next expansion had record sales even exceeding those of the previous expansion.

At the end of Wrath more people expressed a desire to keep playing the game (i.e. bought the next expansion) than at any point in the history of the game. Despite “Wrath” being a dirty word on the unrepresentative forums and blogs it was actually a huge success and the high point of the game.

The game took a nose dive when Blizzard stopped trying to make a game to appeal to everyone and instead made a game to appeal to the 5% vocal minority of hardcore players.

So I feel that your proposals are invalid simply because you failed to identify the problem.

It appears to me that you are asking for the game to be changed from one that currently only appeals to one vocal minority to one that appeals to your particular vocal minority. The real solution is to go back to creating a game that appeals to the masses and those are people that will never post on your blog.

I do however agree that the solution is to tweak what we have and not start afresh.

Andru said...

I am completely appaled on how you seem to ignore on an on the fact that you just *cannot* make the game both infinitely scale AND mantain any sense of coherence OR be meaningful.

Let's start with one simple mechanic. Tank avoidance. Tank avoidance helps tanks survive. By and large, a tank's survival must fall in this inequation:

healing received(HR)>=damage taken(DT).

Now, damage taken is influenced by avoidance like this:

DT = Raw damage taken*(100-avoidance%)

Observe. As you get closer to 100%, the game breaks.

Thus, you CANNOT make avoidance scale infinitely. And this is just a linear example. If we get into time to live, avoidance scales exponentially. Even worse. Then what? as we aproach 100%, new tank gear will get 'better' by 0.0000001 dodge rating each tier? That's not coherent, and is not meaningful at first glance. Implement diminishing returns? That is coherent, but there's still an 100% who reduces damage taken to 0. Remove avoidance altogether? Then why have tank gear? Make boss do only magic attacks? Then why have tank gear in the first place?

Also, let's look at another concept. 'Harder raids'. That is also unsustainable. How do you define 'hardness'? Is it by the amount of people who defeat it in % of the total population? Then it's not infinitely scalable. The population is countable and indivisible. If a tier will be defeated by exactly 25 people, and the new tier is launched who is 'harder', then who, pray tell, will be able to defeat it?

This concept breaks down at lower difficulty tiers too. If I find a tier hard, then the new tier must be 'harder' right? At some point, it will be hard enough that I can't get past. This would mean that I 'finished' the game. Then I quit. In order for the model to be successful, someone new must take my place (revolving door policy). But the game ages. There's more to the game than simply gameplay. The engine ages, new machines are launched, new games are launched with improved capability.

If history taught us anything is that people who play PC games are remarkably fickle. No one really plays the 1970's pong. If they want to play pong, they choose a modern one. Rules are the same but game is different.

The concept of MMOs is not new. Hell, it started with MUDs back in the 1990's. Despite being conceptually identical, many older MUDs only have a skeleton playerbase by now (usually counted in tens of die-hard fanatics).

Soccer is different. You can't simply 'invent new, better physics'. But you can always build a better game engine.

Grookshank said...

The fundamental failure was the attempt to create a game that appeal to anyone. They created a game that is perfect for no one. Every game must have a target audience and you must be clear what this audience is, so those who belong there see you and those who don't won't be fooled.
That is just so true. Anyone can have different expectations for the game, be it harder, easier, more pvp or pve focussed or whatever, but in the end of the day trying to please everyone does end in losing the direction. It might not be a modern standpoint, but I really would like to have developers make games work like they want them to work and not like they think their audience likes them. It would be so much easier to see if what they like to do is a game I also would like or not.

Gevlon said...

@Andru: what about "in every tier the tanks will reduce damage by 10% of their current damage". For example dungeon set gives 50% reduction compared to naked sitting damage.

T1 set decreases damage by 10% of the 50%: 5%, so tank will get 45% of naked sitting damage. T2 set decreases damage by 10% of the 45%, they will get 49.5% and so on.

@Rigor: don't miss tomorrows post.

@Coralina: WotLK was a failure because "the masses" still did not raid, but the raiders got upset. The faceroll Marrowgar was not facerolled by 80% of the people.

chewy said...

I entirely agree with Azurial. It's fun to blog (and respond) about how WoW might be fixed but why would they bother ?

It's marketing a product and towards the end its life every product goes through the "End of life kicker" which is the swan song to its inevitable demise even if it was a leader in its day. I suspect the next expansion is that kicker.

What your suggesting is the equivalent of redesigning the video recorder rather than looking forward to Tivo (even if we can't yet see the Tivo of the video gaming world).

Anonymous said...

Your tiered content with no chance to jump content means a dilution of the playerbase over the content. This means less players to group with.

No new characterlvls is meaningless if gear does the same. It's just semantics if you get 5 new lvls or gear that makes you stronger accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Some kind of dance elements in raids are fine. It's the 1 hit death elements in NORMAL modes that completely ruins the fun. Especially the healers.

Brent said...

I had a long post going but the wonders of Blogger.Com ate it so here's the gist.

Your proposal would fail like a lead balloon because it smacks of elitism, and so your player pool would dry up as old players retire and no new players join after about the 3rd tier.

WoW's lasted this long BECAUSE it slowly shifted to Casual, and this is good, because when Titan is released, all the raiders will move and the leftovers will be Casual, thus the game will work for them.

I agree the Dance is horrible (I'm in Australia so the Dance is made worse by lag) but I'd take it any day over your blind alley approach.

Bobbins said...

Blizzard identified problems many months back and have done nothing to steady this ship. Like the actuall game itself they promise a better tomorrow only to continually move the goal posts.

To argue they should now fix the ship on the sea ignores the fact that they haven't fixed the ship on the sea already. Wow generates vast amount income for Blizzard and yet the resources for Wow just don't seem to be there. Where are these resources? Titan, Diablo, Starcraft who knows but not Wow.

Anonymous said...

I dislike the dance and think Cata was a mistake. However, there was a MMO vet's presentation that said you can't change a MMO after it has launched. And that is certainly believable. If you have a brand, there is a limit to how much you can move it. It is rarely cost- effective to make a value brand be a luxury brand or vice versa; cheaper to just launch a new brand. If Blizzard wanted to fundamentally change WoW: a FPS or mainly PvP focus or RMT, it would almost certainly be easier to create a new game.

Yes, Blizzard should correct Cata. But at this point, there is a limit to how much they can move things. E.g., RMT is the industry trend but it sure seems more prudent to introduce a new game rather than trying to move the existing customers. The best business decision probably is to treat WoW as a cash cow and invest the proceeds elsewhere. Nils the blogger continues to be annoyed that one of the places Blizzard spent their money was to return some of it to shareholders.

@rigor, yes many/most veterans agree with you. The point is that is considerable % of the 12 million customers don't want a dance.

Ninahagen said...

Andru,

I think Gevlon is wrong too, however you can build a mathematical model that scales infinitely.

For instance, give 100 times more HP to the tank, give 100 times more efficient heals and 100 times more damage from the boss : the situation is the same (in fact, just build an addon that adds '00' to every numbers, that's it ...).

Problems arise when you effectively consider difficulty.

Gevlon's logic, which is bad from my point of view, is that every new raid must be harder than the previous ones.

This is "linked" somehow with the fact that every new raids gives better equipment, better stats : you become "better".

That is odd : give better equipement to somebody, how is he better ? His equipment is, he is not.

Anyway, as you stated, new raids cannot be continuously harder and harder. At some point, new content isn't new content because nobody can do it.

So, Gevlon's system is not "increasing difficulty", it's "same difficulty but better stats needed".

Make a game that FORCE a new player to do every raid in their order of release (most of them not done anymore by the ancient players anyway, because they overgear and those raids do not give good loot for them), just to get on par with the ancient players, is bad.

With Gevlon's system, players that jump into the game not at the very beginning of the expansion, but later, won't stay long : nobody's willing to raid with them.
Late to the game ? No game for you.

That was the Vanilla and BC problem. That was WHY Blizzard made the heroism/valor system. And that was a very good patch to the "bad" (for me) system that is infinite expansion of the stats.




I might add that it's obviously better to make a game that pleases most people. Economically speaking.

Gevlon assumes it's impossible.
Well, it's not.

About content, and accessibility, Blizzard just has to propose different levels of difficulty in order to please the masses : each player choose his limits.

About the REWARDS, if doing the content at the most difficult level for you isn't fun enough, many things can be done, better than the actual system, whether you think better player should receive better equipment or not.

TL;DR

1°) Blizzard cannot let the game maintain a large gap, stat-wise, between old and new players, that would be very tedious to shorten.

2°) Game that pleases most players (in the long run) = win.

3°) Difficulty cannot be infinite. What I ask is not "much harder" content, it's different content. New content. So, for me, dancing is sometimes cool. Battleship in ICC was fun, although too easy.

Ninahagen said...

And WotLk was not a failure. Most people from my server, that were lvl 80, did see Marrowgar.

ICC was pugeable at the normal level.

Morons were brought.


What displeases me though is that PuG were done for the loot and not for the fun.
Morons enjoyed Marrowgar, that's good. But raids weren't done because they were fun (they were for me though). Morons weren't brought because socials motivations (moron got a friend) : Moron were brought because the raid was easy and stat-upgrade-wise interesting. Greed runs WoW more than ever.

KhasDylar said...

Gevlon, let me quote from you: "Blizzard does not make mistakes, it makes millions." - as this statement is true, I also say, that the start of Cataclysm was good, but only for a month, after that it was a disaster, 4.2 with Molten Front and Firelands had no target audience.

When I'm thinking about "fixing WoW", I also thought about a fixed maximum level, where next tier bosses will be harder than the previous tier, basicly the same idea, what you discribed in your posts lately. That way, every new tier would require more output, which everyone would have, who completed the previous tier and noone, who didn't.
This idea did not come to my mind a few days ago, so I had a bit more time to elevate it, than you I think and as you can imagine, I found some fail-points in it, please, let me explain them:

1. If every boss is harder than a previous tier boss and you can only get enough output for it by collecting gear from the prev tier instance, how do new players catch up? This is no problem, when there are only two or three tiers, but if there's five or seven tiers, it would be a big pain in the ass to do each tier again and again.

2. This idea we both thought on does only consider theoretical outputs of classes and doesn't consider player skill at all. For a Paragon-level skilled guild an instance, where you only need to do 70% of your classes maximum, is faceroll. Not only for them, I assume the top 10k guilds would faceroll Tier 1 instances and even Tier 2 and would get bored. Remember the WotLK start, where Ensidia completed almost the whole raiding content (including leveling) within TWO days? This way Blizzard would need to give us new instances almost every month, but this way the value of gear would decay too fast, making it even more impossible for new ones to catch up. I know that the top 10k guilds only provide like 300-400k active players, but if so many raiders would get bored, they would be loud.

3. What the first anonymous said: if you only consider output maximums, your bosses would be simple target dummies. Not Patchwerk like target dummies, but even simplier than Sapphiron or Sartharion. I'm 100% sure you don't want that. You say, there would be unavoidable damage. This is okay to test healers skill (or better say: to test how smart the can gear and choose spells effectively). How do you test tank skill withour dance mechanics? Should they use cooldowns to mitigate the unavoidable damage? This way the healers skill would be not tested that much. Or if you make a boss hit so hard, that both the tanks should mitigate the damage and healers should heal through it, failing any of these would cause an instant wipe for an average group (and also a cockblock for them), but still faceroll for a skilled group. Oh and good news, Blizzard is going to reform tanking in that way, read Ghostcrawlers blog about active migitation.

KhasDylar said...

(continue from previous comment)

I don't want to mention only fail-points, so let me give some ideas against them:

1. Completely new players should not be entitled for end game content, meaning if you are absolutely new, you can't go to the newest instances once you hit the level cap - this is okay so.
Anyone else, who already has a maximum level character, can buy heirlooms. These items work exactly the same as they do now: give almost BiS gear, which provides experience bonus for faster leveling. The trick would be with them, that the further the main character progressed, he could buy more powerfull heirlooms for the alt: these heirlooms would be as strong as the previous tier instance gear. This way if you cleared the Tier 7 content, let's say on a paladin and you want to roll a priest, you give him Tier 6 heirlooms (which could also provide set bonuses just for fun), and if you hit max level with him, you don't have to clear Tier1-5 again to gear him up for Tier 7 content.

2. To counter that disadvantage we must go back a bit on your blog, until the point where you discussed boss scaling: http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2011/06/pve-rating.html
By using PvE rating, you can set an average minimum output (like 50% for Tier 1 content) and this would be scaled up of down slowly as the guild progresses. Would a Paragon-level guild run through the content in one evening? Okay, let's see how they perform next week, when the monster's health and damage is doubled! Has "Joe and Friends Co." wiped endlessly on the second boss for the entire week? No, problem, next week the second boss will have less HP or do less damage.
All you have to do is make this PvE rating somehow visible. Not the actual rating itself, but different achievements, higher ilvl loot (not much more higher, just by 3-4 ilvls), etc.
I think, this PvE rating is one of the best ideas since sliced bread: as arena rating work in PvP, the same way it would work in PvE by separating players according to their skill. Everyone would play the same game, make tries on the very same boss, but there would be still constant competition - which is the best part in PvP.

3. The third problem is already solved by #2 solution, PvE rating. An ArthasDKlól-level guild would not survive more than 10 seconds against the bosses given for a Paragon-level guild, so maybe a Blood DK of the later guild could outheal an unavoidable damage from the former guilds boss - despite they are technically the same tier bosses. This way everyone is tested: DPS for the enrage timers, healers for unavoidable damage and tanks for active mitigation - and this would scale itself with the PvE rating.

Anonymous said...

Your missing the point entirely on the dance thing. The problem is not that you have to learn a dance. People love learning new things. The problem is that people now who know what is coming and are prepared for it are unable to avoid it. Feel free to read Larissa's last posts over at the Pink Pigtail Inn if you don't agree.

As people said in your last post a output centered fight would for the most part be the same fight over and over again with reskinned bosses. What makes raiding fun is figuring out how to do better to get a kill. In some cases trying to squeeze out that last bit of dps when you almost are getting the boss down is fun but usually what is fun seeing new mechanics to try and overcome.

In all what really needs to be figured out is just how fast people can react given a certain amount of things to watch. If you read the comments you will see a group of people who still love these fights. That is because the dexterity requirement is still trivial to them. What they now are challenged with is learning which as your skill post said is fun.

Phelps said...

Your plan has already been done -- EQ2.

Bronte said...

I have to side with Tobold on this one. I know its costly, and it is a strange thing to abandon something that has 11.2 million subscribers, but I have to say, sometimes it is refreshing to just start anew, instead of duct-taping solutions until all you see is duct-tape and the original product is gone.

Anonymous said...

A quick count. There are 538 realms overall (241 US, 264 EU, 33 KR). If wow has 10.000.000 accounts (that we don't even know what type of accs are: active, banned, trial, frozen, abandoned, stolen, second account, or simply every account that has been created) that means every realm has an average 18.570 accounts. I let you some time to figure out that this is just silly. This is the number (the 10 million?) you use for calculating the players raiding experience?
What if I have 4 alts, and all raids, on 2 realms, in 2-3 guilds (you'll count me three-four times, yet, I'm only 1 person). What if I'm guildless, but I raid on all 4 characters (which I did in Wrath). You won't see any footprints about it on wowprogress. You can not calculate anything from the raw numbers.
I do believe that Wow has not more than 5-6 million active accounts that belongs to 1 person, and it meets the requirements to count in (level 85 character, active, online at the right time, has somekind of managed guild with raid events, or good realm pug environment, and willing to raid). If 2 million from the 5-6 million has somekind of raiding experience, that's a good number.
No one mentions the guild perks as the doom of wow (small guild -> no perks, people are "forced" to join into a guild, be it a well managed or a dead guild, simply "belonging" somewhere -with more benefits!- became important). And the shared lockount/gear between 10 and 25 man raids. No one mentions the parroting people (even the developers attitude was disgusting, too) in beta stage "IT'S HAAAAAAARD! YESS! NO MORE NOOB WRATH BABIES!" that discouraged people before they even stepped their feet into the new, "perfect" raids.
I think they changed too much things at once, and nothing could fix it in the past half year.
For now, the so called "pros" that are on ptr says: (in 391 gear) "thisiseasy, thisisajoke, free378gearomg". I was afk on my realm at a mailbox in sw, 3 minutes later 3 people from the second "best" guild on my realm were talking in /say (prove of pro-ness!), and they said the above mentioned sentence (isajoke, freegear, thisiseasy) word by word. They said they have no character on ptr, but they KNOW it's gonna be easy-peasy "gear heaven for the noobs". After this, I really think Blizz now decided good. Even if it will be easy, people will know that, so they will be encouraged to queue up. Then we will see...

Anonymous said...

Also, I really doubt that Blizz will ever apologize, it's not like they are. They are "the cool" guys, they are joking on forums (well, blizconn is near, so they have to make the show, but compare the tone of their voice atm with just after the release of cataclysm.) They are the "we think"/"we don' think"-guys, not the "sorry, we fucked it up, but we try to learn from this"-guys.
They also don't want to admit their failure, this is the reason they don't close empty realms/migrate them, even if people are desperately crying on realm forums that their realms is dead.
Like I said above, wow should have 18500 accounts per realm, (I doubt that the realms could even handle these numbers), but with merging realms and closing dead ones would make them admit that wow is not the "biggest" mmo, and that would lead more people to leave, and bring other "smaller" mmos into position, I think. So all they do is: let wow slowly die, and hoping that Titan will arrive just in time, so people will ESCAPE into their new game from this. = more money, with keeping the "biggest mmo" name.

Steel said...

Amazing and highly relevant article. Read the whole thing: http://flavortextlore.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/failure-challenge-and-the-decline-of-wow/

Alrenous said...

If you're not going to raise the level cap, you should think carefully about having levelling at all.

Essentially, tier 13 gear will amount to being several levels higher than tier 1 gear.

This means your complaints about changing the game will still apply; you level by XP, until all of a sudden you level by gear.

Unlike the current WoW issue, this is fixable. For example explicitly labelling the levelling experience as a tutorial because you're introducing skills slowly.

However, if you don't resolve it, then it will function like the current WoW issue.


I would personally endorse having challenging - but solo - dungeons instead of levelling. Fight bosses with bots, as you earlier suggested. If you fail, you don't 'level.' Definitely also have multiplayer dungeons, but EQ showed that having no soloable quests or goals is a bad idea.


Anon,

"Also, that kind of design would mean they also must put in your imagined EULA: absolutely all classes/speccs will perform in 1 percentile difference. "

A serious objection. However, you can indeed balance the classes within 1% or whatever the actual cutoff is.
The problem with WoW is they're going about it all wrong. It's quite amazing how badly they're doing consider how much money they spend - I can predict most balance changes on the classes I'm playing within minutes of playing any changes. A stupid example is DKs' non-disease-destroying Oblit. It was a talent and I realized immediately that it would become standard.
Which is to say I have no idea what they're doing wrong. They're working really hard at fooling themselves, though.
Here's a new prediction: 2H and dual frost will never balance out. They'll either deprecate or entirely drop the 2H option eventually.

The right way to do a combined PvP/PvE game like WoW is to very, very carefully balance PvP first. Why? Because boss mechanics are arbitrary. If one class is OP, you give bosses a special ability that amounts to a nerf to that class. If one class is underpowered, you give them a weakness. Doesn't affect PvP at all.

To balance PvP is a bit harder. But basically you do the same thing but in micro. Throw a bunch of cool abilities together, though make sure to limit class synergies and similarities. If it makes say, mages always kill warriors, then give warriors the necessary tools to overcome that. The reason you limited similarities at first is so that the warrior's new toy doesn't also apply to any other class unless you want it to.

After this, you try to simplify it down. Take all the ad-hoc abilities and try to adjust them, along with the problem they solve, so they can apply to more than one class.

Though this process will make adding new abilities to PvP problematic.

The reason you limit synergies is so that class comp isn't too important, as otherwise things like who wins random-WSG will be determined solely by whose team has more synergies. Synergies are fun so you don't want to get rid of them entirely, but they're a huge balancing nightmare which you need to adjust to fit the budget you have for trial and error.

Though honestly, combining PvP and PvE in one game probably isn't worth the hassle. I do like casual PvP though, so perhaps have meaningless PvP so you can fight if you want to, but if the classes are unbalanced against each other you can just leave them like that.

Alrenous said...

Ninahagen;

Also a serious objection.

However, you can solo-ify old raids. With all the player data, you can figure out what a good bot would act like for each class. Now, anyone can catch up with people who've been playing longer than they have, without boring their friends with pointless dungeons.

By combining this with my no-levelling suggestion, you get extra goodness, not extra badness.

Because all power comes from gear, not XP, if you want to help out your friend who is progressing through an old dungeon - you just enjoyed classic Naxxramus, say - you can pop on your old gear and join them as a same-level character, without having to re-roll.

I'm not sure if I'd let people smurf or not. If you boost your buddy through old Naxx wearing high level gear, they won't be able to make it through later dungeons on their own. (If they can, there's no point in making them go through Naxx.) I think this makes an excellent lesson on real-life consequences, but there might be too many side-effects for it to be worthwhile.

As a second bonus, making people go through dungeons in order lets you have a coherent story.


Also, Gevlon.

I just realized you can have the dance, as long as it's optional. Have two dungeons, and if nobody likes the dance, nobody goes to the dungeon with the dance. However, expanding the skillset laterally is a great way to raise the skill cap. After essentially perfecting their rotations, players might appreciate a dance or something to challenge them to grow outside the box. The idea is to test it rather than just assume it. WoW has continually mixed up rotations instead, and so the dance works out as you say in WoW, but it doesn't have to.
Properly balancing risk/reward might be a bit tricky, though.

Azuriel said...

@Anon You won't see any footprints about it on wowprogress. You can not calculate anything from the raw numbers.

You included Chinese subs (i.e. 10+ million) but did not include Chinese servers. Or Taiwanese servers for that matter.

The Wowprogress footprints are actually easy to measure. You boot up the site, see that Beth'tilac is the most killed raid boss this tier with 35,306 US/EU/TW/KR guilds having downed her, then decide how charitable you want to be with guild raid size averages. 18 would be the average between 10m and 25m, although obviously 10m is way, way more popular. So we have 635,508 raiders downing the most-killed boss in Firelands, which is approximately 9.77% of the US/EU/TW/KR population (6.5 million circa a year ago). That is pretty abysmal considering that Magmaw was killed by 17.28% pre-4.2 nerf. Even if we assume that all the sub losses were in the US/EU regions and thus the total pool is now 5.6 million, that only brings the numbers up to 11.34% of the total.

Eaten by a Grue said...

It sounds like you want more grind. Am I missing something? You propose everyone grind bosses they can defeat ,using a rotation they can perfect in a day. They grind until enough loot drops that they can then grind another boss. And so forth.

This really is not that much different than just a very steep leveling grind, and you can find this if you wish on many of the asian MMOs.

Azuriel said...

@Steel: Amazing and highly relevant article. Read the whole thing: [...]

I'm sorry, that article is pure, revisionist garbage only relevant to the literal sub-10% of raiders. It subscribes to the same ridiculous notion Gevlon has had in the past wherein The Point of WoW is to make players better gamers, as opposed to "merely" being entertaining.

The article brings up The Butcher in Diablo 1, for example, and how meaningful and nostalgic the encounter of an intentionally overtuned early boss was. Was it surprising? Sure. Did it foster a truer fear of death, so players can see what it's like? Yeah. And yet the solution was to grind some levels. It's like people's nostalgic fetish with a difficult Hogger, as if the average player didn't just walk 20 yards farther West and quest in Westfall after a few fruitless attempts.

Nevermind how that doesn't work more than once. Once players know you will stick unbalanced mobs/bosses in games, they will simply grind their way out of danger, or skip it entirely if it's optional.

Alrenous said...

Steel, I love that article, and it has made me realize Blizzard is clinically retarded. As a single person with zero budget, I should not be outsmarting them.

In a WoW-style game, PvP must involve PvE. Simplest way would be a head-to-head race through a five-man.

But I'm thinking something more interesting. On one side, a five-man group enters a special PvP dungeon, and on the other side a lone agent enters, Demon Soul style, trying to stop them from making it through and killing the boss.

The point of PvP is that PvE is predictable - facing a human intelligence is always the ultimate challenge, so the idea is to put human intelligence into dungeon challenges. I could propose to let humans substitute themselves in for the monster AI, but that doesn't involve their character's gear nor their abilities.

Now, if the one-man tries to fight the five-man alone, they'll just die. 5:1 odds will do that. They have to join in and support the AI monster groups. The one has to strategize around exploiting the trash encounters to survive and to wipe the group, and the group has to counter-strategize against the enemy agent.

Again, this is trivial to balance because if, say, DK anti-magic shield is way OP, the mobs can be nerfed to compensate if the enemy agent is a DK. Perhaps make them immune to horn of winter specifically, things like that.


While I'm here I'ma also rant about alts.
Most skills you learn grinding up a toon are transferable. So having to go through the whole rigamarole again for a different class is way overkill. Alt-lovers complained to Blizzard, who agreed...and did almost entirely the wrong thing. They made levelling faster and easier for everybody, but still left it taking way, way longer than it needs to. It's ten hours of skill building spread out over at least eighty hours.
Oh and everything is so easy you have to go out of your way to actually build those skills.

While I'm doing off-topic rants, it seems Blizzard has designed crafting around having bot farmers, either intentionally or unintentionally. They didn't tune it to allow the average play style to amass meaningful amounts of materials, and there's too many things which demand to be built.

I kind of want to try to launch an MMO now, just to do levelling and crafting right.

Inno said...

I'd like to see raiding as a requirement to the leveling process. From 85-86 you will get better gear through questing/AH/pvp and once you complete the raid then you are granted your level 86 with the appropriate upgrades in stats. This will make the raid you completed easier and you'll be able to go back and help your friends raid that tier so that they can level too. Roll this up with an expected performance based on your selected roll for the dungeon based on the performance percentage of lets call it 70 percent minimum to pass the leveling exam  Once you're at level 90 the player base will have some sort of raiding experience / performance expectations of others. Each progressive raid will require better dps checks or whatnot so you can see yourself putting out the bigger numbers/heals etc.

Ninahagen said...

Alrenous

You don't oppose he objection at all, well from my point of view.


Playing with bots ?

How is that fun ?

How long should I play with fucking bots until I'll be able to play with my friends ?

Reducing the gap is a CHORE if its drastically long. It's not fun. I find that very repulsive, even.

If I play any game with friends, well, I can do it directly.

WoW in the Gevlon model, and Vanilla/BC model?

Talk about centuries of grinding solo with bots ~~ Sounds fun.



And how about you wanting to reroll ?

Ready to eat the grind all along, even if you did it already ?


"You know dear friend, WoW is a wonderful game, just spend 6 month and then you'll be able to play with me, not because you suck, just because WoW doesnt let you have the appropriate stuff very fast, sorry".

"You know, if you want to do THAt raid, which is not really more difficult than the first one (which is the only one you can do right now), you need the blue card access. But for that, you'll need to do yellow, then white, then brown, then purple, then green, then ... .... ... .. . ... then finally you'll have the blue card ! cheers !".


How great is that game that doesn't let you enjoy content, despite you having the skill to do it, just because you didn't spend enough time in it.

What if you could not play a game in "difficult mode", but you'd have to finish the game in easy mode, then normal mode, then ONLY you could try difficult mode.
Would be stupid.

nightgerbil said...

I just been watching this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97V38aW6GEQ&NR=1

GW2. I know you have said in the past your not interested and to be honest I am still unsure myself. I really dont like their combat system. This video though(and its part1)... man Its really sold me. This could be what wow no longer is, a personal challenge, a learning curve to match my fun, satisfy me desire to improve/win and all at my own pace and with the choice to play with others or alone as I feel like.

Steel said...

@Azuriel, Ninahagen. You are simply not able to understand the “hard-work skill” dimension. And that is ok, since like any skill, some naturally have it or naturally don’t have it. Different people, different skills. This really is a case of not evil/stupid, just different.

In a “hard working game”, complicated and inaccessible is the whole point. It’s THE GAME OBJECT. One does not simply walk into Mordor. The universe is not here to please you. Hercules’ herculean tasks. Trials and tribulations. An epic quest of discovery. The journey matters, not the destination. The Iliad and Odyssey. And so on…

@Gevlon. This is interesting. The question now becomes, why do people who don’t have the “hard working” insist on playing a hard work game, that makes them exercise a skill they don’t enjoy practicing?

Ninahagen said...

Don't take me for a fool.
I know what is the "hard-work skill" dimension.

You find that dimension fun ? Good for you, really.
But don't shove that into my throat.

A great game is a game that allows you multiples roads. A multi-dimensional game.

Hard-working dimension is, as its name says, WORK.
Work is not fun, however when it's done you feel relieved, happy, proud.
Work is time consuming.
Vanilla/BC model was time consuming.

Were you happy throwing all your time in order to achieve R14 ? Good for you. Just don't force me doing that in order to be competitive in PvP.

The hard-working dimension is a path that is not fun. The goal is fun. The path is not.

That is why, but I don't know if that phenomen is seen on your servers (I'm a foreigner), the mood sucks.
That game, right now, IS a "hard-working game". You could argue it's too easy, but now everybody play the game as a work, as a chore, in order to get valot points.
That is why the mood sucks in random dungeons : playing in the dungeon is not fun. Valor points are fun.
Playing the game is not fun, completing it is.

What a terrible mistake.



Anyway, if people like you, and maybe Gevlon, like the hard-working dimension, I think WoW should propose to you that game. But not force it to everybody.
What I understand from what you say is that you WANT everybody to play YOUR game, which is, frankly speaking, not very appealing.

"World of Warcraft ! Come and play NOW ! If you don't have time enough you won't enjoy the game ! But come anyway ! Feel your uselessness !"


A game is fun when you can play it in non-conventional ways (in you way).
When you have control.

Being forced to grind, being blocked on one boss and not being able to see others sucks hard.

Steel said...

@Nina

Pasting the second half of my response to the next thread in here:

"“The bottom line is that players will endure quite a bit if the underlying game or social aspects are fun enough”. Pick a clear niche/market, cater to it. If other people don’t like your main focus area, but are willing to “endure” it because there are other aspects they do like, that is “nice to have”. You can try to accommodate to a certain degree, and indeed a clever system will make these different groups complement each other, instead of pitting them against each other(http://syncaine.com/2011/09/23/30-minutes-to-cap/), but you must keep your main focus clear. If you try to “focus” on multiple targets with conflicting demands, you end up with a giant mess. All this back and forth and finger pointing, and “vocal minority” calling, and QQ storms everywhere are due to the fact that Blizz does not know what they want the game to be, and are trying to shove cats, dogs, mice and dragons in the same bucket."

There is no law forcing you to play a hard "working game"

A great game is a game that allows you multiples roads - until you have conflicts between them, then it turns into a mess

"Fun" is the wrong/inacurate word. "Flow" is the right one.

Ninahagen said...

Rigth now, I think the game is a hard-working game that is shoved into my throat (well not exactly I stopped playing month ago).

Fact would be, you may think it's too "easy" for a "hard-working game".
But still, it is.

When you consider the example Gevlon gave with the man collecting nuts and being happy when it's topped, you'd realize that's what most play.
People go into random heroic dungeons, which do NOT require skill anymore, just time, in order to gain valor points.

I'll agree that is not the harshest model you could have as a "hard-working game".

But you should understand that back then in Vanilla and TBC, few people could storm themselves into the hard-working game (very time consuming, especially Vanilla).

So, for most, Vanilla and TBC were NOT a "hard-working game", precisely because they were "too hard hard-working game", so they had to play it another way (or stop playing).
Right now, Cataclysm is in fact an "easier hard-working game". But my point is, hard-working game is more than ever WoW's dimension, because it is the dimension followed by the majority now.
Everybody play for nuts, everybody plays for valor points.

I'm not talking about skilled players that can spend time in hard mode (or even normal mode, depend your standards on skill).
I'm talking about unskilled people, yet "hard-working", that grind equipment through Valor Points and normal nerfed mode.



Personnally, I hate the grind (though I consider myself a hard-working man, so I can totally endure a little in a GAME). But I understand people who loves it.
I like skill (in a game), but I can understand people who don't and prefer hard-working (because they are unskilled, or just don't enjoy being on their nerves in a game -reflex and "skill" involve tension).


So, I thought about a game that allows people to go both ways.

And that's we are talking about right ?
"Fix the ship on the sea".
That's the title of the blog post.


Making an "hard" hard-working game, read "more time consuming", can only be done if it is NOT required. Almost nobody will tolerate a game that asks so much time without being fun, now.

That's why many changes (and not good ones) were made.

Dungeons are shorter and linear (bad move, you should just allow parts of a dungeon to be short, the reste being made later, think BRD).

LFD (bad move, there is no social contract -dunno how to say it in english- before being grouped, so elitist and baddies are sometimes grouped together, that's explosive, you should make easier the LFM, but not to the extend of automatic LFD).

etc...

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