Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mists of Pandaria: a new hope

The recent changes turn WoW upside down on several ways, but the largest is not the talent system (that's just handy), nor the pandarens and monks (we seen blood elves, goblins, death knights before), but the idea that the new territory raid bosses won't be world-threatening monsters, rather just local villains. We are now officially not heroes, just busy bees in Azeroth. Very elegant solution to the problem that arthasdklol wants to be a hero too, despite he is obviously unable to. If no one is a hero, no one whines to be one.


While Tobold and others welcome 5.0 as the glory of "casual" playing (read: morons and slackers who expect rewards for showing up), I see the opposite: a hope for good, challenging and well-designed raiding.


Arena is extremely competitive and "casual players" are rated to 900. Zero sum PvP, with rating loss for losing. The nightmare of "accessibility" and "having fun" people. Yet no one whines, because the feature itself is irrelevant in the mainstream WoW culture. If you are gladiator, the people may tell "Yeah it's great I guess, but hey, check out my new mount!". Arena can be competitive because there are no negative social consequences for sucking. The "community" doesn't look down on you for being at 900 MMR.


By removing epicness from raiding, they can make it competitive and great without offending the "Kung fu panda woot!" crowd. Good raiders doing good raids will be just as ignored as gladiators. The average players will be (as always was) unable to raid, but they will no longer care!


Placing the endgame below the radar would be a masterful choice. Remember, the problem always was that the M&S wants to be on the "top". With WotLK and Cataclysm Blizzard tried to let them, but failed for obvious reasons. Now they might redefine "top" into pet combat and panda dance and cutest mount, therefore pulling away the lolkid attention from serious features.


Am I staying?
Why? Because it's the largest game existing and for better or worse, it's a huge social experiment in which I'm deeply interested in.

31 comments:

spinksville said...

"Good raiders doing good raids will be just as ignored as gladiators. The average players will be (as always was) unable to raid, but they will no longer care!"

If this happens (and I think you are right), it will become much much harder to recruit for raid guilds next expansion. Because some of those average players do go on to become raiders, but only because there's a big motivation. If raiding is under the radar, they won't care enough to bother.

Andru said...

What I'm more interested in is the obvious "sunken cost fallacy" trap that Blizzard laid.

You can pay per monthly basis, but if you happen to cancel, you 'lose' all progress towards the 'bonus'.

I expect to see sub numbers rising again this time (regardless of what changes Blizzard does to the game) simply because of that fact.

What it's not cool with me is the fact that developers will then justify future design choices based on these (increased) sub numbers.

As for me, maybe I'll resub. Maybe.

JackTheManiac said...

I am not certain that the raiding will go under the radar. Most of the features they promise are not implemented. Path of the Titans, for example.

I'm not so sure that the simple fact we're not fighting to be heroes that will save the world from X threat will make the morons forget about raiding.

The gear hungry idiots will still seek it, they have tasted it twice, they will want more.

It's more similar to Vanilla, where you deal with various threats not necessarily linked together. It feels like we're explorers of foreign lands, dealing with what wants to kill us, instead of going on a bounty for the head of the Lich King.

Let's wait and see how this will turn out.

Ha! You took the annual pass.

I bet you did it for the Mount.

Kidding. Will you actually use it?

Anonymous said...

"The "community" doesn't look down on you for being at 900 MMR." try making a forum post on pvp if with an arena rating below 2k: You get told to stfu regardless of the merits(or lack) of what you said. You cant even help a noob by telling them they need to get hit capped and gather some more resilliance. A troll will just link your arena rating and win/loss ratio and your ignored hence forth. That wont bother a good goblin ofc, but it matters to socials and the frly helpful peeps. Now that attitude will apply to raids to and if you cant reply to "fix your dps by taking xyz glyph and gem your gear like this" without a troll pointing out your a "pokemon carebear" who hasnt seen the inside of a raid since you hit 90, well that advice will be ignored to. So its still going to matter(to some). Im not leet and my words are wind if I havent done everything.

Gevlon said...

@Spinks: actually it will be easier to recruit, since you don't have to fish in the sea of loot hungry morons. Those who want to come actually want to raid.

Péter Zoltán said...

I wonder what the "average wow player" does. He doesn't raid, nor pvp. Then what?... I could no longer fit raiding in my schedule so I canceled because there is nothing else that is remotely so interesting/involving in the game.

In MoP nonraider, nonpvp people will have more options (pve scenarios and pet battles), that's great. Is it that these people want? Or is this just another experiment to see how players react? I'm 100% sure WoW is not just a good business, but a pilot project for Titan.

Anonymous said...

People look down less on low-Rating Arena players because they removed the Rating requirement from top-PvP gear, making striving for a high-rating an inefficient way to get gear.

I'm also curious about how Challenge Dungeons will pan out, with their normalized (so non-grind) gear. Will they become the new benchmark?

Re-subbing for a year to the game that is your blog's topic isn't that much of a surprise, tbh.

Coralina said...

Couple of issues here from a recruitment perspective….

Ex hardcore raiders like me now have no intention of ever returning to the hardcore raid scene thanks to LFR. Many of the good newcomers and the good mid range players who were destined to move up the ladder and into your guild will not do so. The new players will drift into LFR and many of the mid range players will prefer to drop down to LFR rather than continuing with organised normal modes.

Also by removing the status of raiding they severely detract from one of the main reasons why a lot of raiders raid – epeen.

A scour of the official forums reveals that many of the raiders there mistakenly believe that casual players look up to them (the opposite is true) and they constantly demand that they have some form of differentiation to highlight their greatness – whether that be higher level gear or exclusive mounts.

If no one cares anymore where does that leave them? Granted the casuals don’t care now – they just view them as no-lifers – but at least a lot of these raiders don’t realise it. If MoP causes the truth to suddenly dawn on them it may remove a lot of their motivation to play.

Of course those that raid for their own personal satisfaction will continue to enjoy their raiding. A lot of guilds however could be surprised at just how many of their team do actually raid for epeen despite what they may say. If the loot and mounts no longer offer much kudos just how many will turn up on those punishing progression evenings…

chewy said...

It's said that one of the skills of negotiation is to only give away things that don't cost you anything, well it appears that Blizzard are artful negotiators.

In return for a 12 month commitment you can have:

- A free mount: Pixels aren't expensive.
- Guaranteed beta access: Cool, you're guaranteed to play a broken game.
- A free copy of Diablo III: Which doesn't come with any production costs because it's a download not a DVD.

And what do Blizzard get in return ?

A guaranteed revenue stream for 12 months, a captive audience for their new game, a pre-committed audience for their new expansion and of course a commitment to your money (which they might or might not have got before).

I was hoping for a reduced subscription fee but I'm still tempted.

Steel said...

I don’t agree with that. Among my top complaints (and a lot of other peoples) about Cata was that it lacked an epic feel, it lacked a convincing villain, and lacked a cohesive and emotionally immersive and involving story. If the game lacks those, then I’m just killing a faceless, pointless blob of pixels, which I found to be terribly boring and burn-out inducing. It also seems to me an unnatural decision, especially in such a pure themepark – what else is there then? You don’t have dynamic content, you don’t have world impact anything, you don’t have trick sandbox PvP stuff or player content, you don’t have a solid community, you don’t even have a proper progression and gear ladder(went away with the gear reset thing). I’m totally “meh” about the new expansion… As far as I’m concerned “tell them only that that the Lich King is dead, and that World of Warcraft died with him”.

Now, of course “whenever something is awesome, idiots will be there to make it less awesome”. However I don’t agree that the solution is to go 100% scorched earth and just not make anything awesome then (at least not in this case)… Doesn’t that mean the terrorists have won and suff? Just /leave trade and join a hardcore guild already(remind me again why you don’t do that?). Took a while but I found a cool one, raid 3+1 days a week, really quiet, minimum drama and macho-bullshit, no “enforced anything” and not much else happening outside of raiding hours. And one dick joke in a blue moon is not the eternal inferno of social damnation. Everything has a price, can’t have the cake and eat it too, the universe is not here to please you, etc. Goblin should be familiar with that.

Kuckuck said...

@chewie

"- Guaranteed beta access: Cool, you're guaranteed to play a broken game."


Not only play, but also test and help fix! For free!

Andru said...

@Coralina

'Many' 'a lot' 'some'... Seriously, cut the weasel wording crap. It seriously grinds my gears when people (i.e. you) claim that they know what they're talking about while parading unsubstantiated word-of mouth and assumptions as facts.

Let's start. Who are those HC raiders who raided for e-peen? I want their names, not 'many'. I want their percent in the population, not 'most'. I want both of those facts backed up by relevant numbers.

Because if you can't provide that, you're only speaking for yourself. In which case you should rephrase your post as: "I raided for e-peen. I am therefore projecting and tarring other people with the same brush based on my personal experience."

As a person who frequently posted on the R&D forums, often at odds with the regular posters there, I can tell you for certain that I never saw a HC raider who wanted to be differentiated from 'peons' based on gear. Most of those posts were coming from 'wannabe elitists' and rose-tinted glass-wielding have-beens.

Anonymous said...

A minor correction: this is Blizzard, arena is not a zero-sum game.

Zlatko said...

My first thought about the annual pass is that it is an indication that MoP will be out no sooner than 12 months from now.

If Blizz sells many annual passes now, they don't feel pressured to release Mists of Pandaria until most of those have run out. They can just let the Deathwing patch last for another six months (total 12 months), exactly like Lich King patch did, except this time they don't have to worry about losing income from subscriptions cause most people can't unsubscribe.

Anti said...

Blizzard is running scared of SWTOR.

D3 releasing 1 month after SWTOR to entice the "play the latest thing" gamers away from playing their jedi ASAP.

12 month commitment for WOW to try and retain as many "long term" subscribers as possible, even if its just on the balance sheet and anual report.

Even a Pandas and kung fu expansion for the real morons.

Blizzard has offered my unsubscribed account 2x 14 day free pass in the six (or eight?) months since i unsubbed. not once in the 6 years previous did they offer me anything.

WoW is dead.

Ninahagen said...

A lot of potential.

In the actual cataclysm talent system, what differentiates two shadow-spec priests ?
Almost nothing, maybe 1 or 2 minor things.
Because you are to fill 31 points into the shadow branch, which let room for no choice in the end.

People complain "fewer talents, simpler talent system".
That is wrong, take a 100 points talent-system, that you must fill up with 100 points. That's right, more talents, simpler because everybody has all of them, and there is no difference.

Good talent system = relevant choices and sacrifices to make.
(potentially) 6 choices and relevant sacrifices to make in MoP is better than now (sometimes 1 or 2 relevant choices to make, most of the time, no major choice is to be made).


About the new raid boss philosophy, again there is potential. Blizzard might screw it up, but there is potential no doubt.
I don't know about you, but I didn't give a shit about Deathwing. Came from nowhere, was just a stupid villain wanting to destroy the world (how imaginative let me tell you).
I was very tormented about Illidan, Vasjh, Kaelthas in BC, and also in WotLK : we had to kill scenarized heroes, which I learned to like in WC3.
So, MAYBE, potentially, Blizzard might develop Horde or Alliance Heroes storyline, that we will see killed in raid by the opposite faction. That feels more epic to me : we kill people we like/hate.
Blizzard killed all emotionnal villains, time to recreate ones, and fuck Deathwing.


I don't think Blizzard should, or even is, putting raid below the radar. It's just : choose your path, be it raid or else. World of Warcraft is a game where you may choose the content you prefer, without being penalized (equipment stats).
So, people who will keep raiding are :
- people who like raiding
- people who have much time and want to escape boredom (they've already done other content).
- ... ?
=> less whiners.


Challenge mode has potential too (normalized equipment, control on difficulty).

Squishalot said...

@ chewy: You're wrong about D3 - the primary target audience for the annual subscription are those people who were going to give up WoW for D3 when it comes out. By giving them D3 for free, you're essentially still selling D3 to people who would have bought it anyway, and guaranteeing 12 months of subscription at 33% off.

Coralina said...

@Andru

Your argument is as weak as those people on the official forums who during the “WoW Population is declining” threads kept crying “where is your proof”…just prior to Blizzard announcing that it had indeed declined.

I will always counter with “where is your proof that I am wrong”? You cannot make strong statements such as referring to another posters comments as “crap” without some evidence of your own to back up your stance. Blogs are where we deal with opinions by the way; we don’t always have accurate stats so we look at circumstantial evidence.

I already stated that on the official (and unofficial) forums you will see that one of the most common complaints/whines from organised raiders is that they don’t want casuals having the same gear. Why?!? Epeen.

The major cause of rage on the forums for the last two years has been this issue of casuals walking around with raid gear. Look at the outrage that was caused on the official forums when casuals complained that they couldn’t get the head and shoulders with VP. The raiders went absolutely ballistic! Have you forgotten those threads? Why did the raiders go crazy over that request….? How would it detract from their raids?!? How?!? What difference would it make?!?!

Answer: It removes the Kudos/Epeen.

As far as HC raiders go – you are pulling a Strawman out of the hat there. The HC raiders are a small percentage of the raiding community and won’t have much interest in joining Gevlons guild with its current level of progression (I mean no disrespect to Gevlon with that remark). I therefore wasn’t referring to this group.

Those complaining are not the top HC raiders but they are often those in normal-mode clearing guilds that have maybe done a couple of HC bosses – i.e. “average” raiders. I’d put it to you that those are the people in Gevlons recruitment demographic. Those are the guys that are a few steps above the casuals and for them the kudos that comes from the differentiation is vitally important.

Without that differentiation, without the kudos/epeen they wouldn’t consider the extra effort worthwhile and would instead revert back to LFR or 5 man spamming.

If the casuals no longer exist or crucially no longer CARE, then that demotes the average raider down to being the new bottom of the pile “bad”. He no longer believes he has people looking up at and admiring him. Instead he is now at the bottom doing the looking up. His motiviation for plugging away and making extra effort over and above the 5man/LFR crowd has just evaporated.

Anonymous said...

"... therefore pulling away the lolkid attention from serious features"

and pulling away the serious player's attention from the remainder of the game.

World of Kung-Fu Panda is not worth my $15/mo.

Anonymous said...

Anyone bitching about MoP simplifying the game is a moron.

Talent revamps = replace the cookie cutter spec and adds in meaningful choices every 15 levels. You get your spec still and a new talent tree.

Challenge Dungeons = normalized dungeon that can never be out geared. This is where the skilled people will go because M+S can NEVER do this.

Anonymous said...

@Carolina

So basically, your opinions are facts and you don't need evidence because its up to your doubters to prove you wrong. Well, good luck getting taken seriously with an attitude like that.

Have you ever considered, the raiders you raided with weren't representative of hardcore raiders as a whole? It's possible you know. Just like the lolkids end up in guilds together, pretentious epeen raiders can end up in raiding guilds together.

Mostly all the raiders I knew when playing, were in it for the challenge and progression. Does that mean I can state my opinion that you're wrong as a fact?

Also, how many hardcore raiders posting on forums aren't complaining or whining about gear on casuals? I never seen too much of it on Elitist Jerks and I'd argue that they are more representative of hardcore raiders than anyone calling them self a raider on the official forums. In any case, out of all the posts I seen on the official forums, I seen a lot more that weren't complaining about it. Doesn't that mean a lot more aren't bothered about it?

chewy said...

@Squish: Nice lateral thinking,I'd not considered that perspective. They are creating their own market rather than hoping that it happens.

Coralina said...

@Anonymous 17:35

No, I never said my opinions were facts - I actually CLEARLY stated that we have to look at circumstantial evidence due to the absence of facts. Sorry but I call "Strawman".

The WoW forums are there for everyone to read right this minute. Do a straw pole of the Raid and Dungeon forum and you will see this argument about differentiation is one of the most frequently occurring.

If doubters want to use strong words such as "crap" they need to back it up. I've presented my circumstantial evidence and it is undeniable that this is a major issue on the forums and WoW blogs. You cannot prove that it is NOT an issue as anyone here can view those websites and see you are wrong.

I think you are also being sensitive because you think I am inferring that "epeen" is somehow negative.

The real world version of "Epeen" isn't taken so negatively. Why do people pay over the odds for a car with an exclusive badge on the bonnet or a £3000 watch that is no more accurate than a £30 watch? Because it is a status symbol and most people like to show off their status in whatever way they can. Much like Peacocks - it is nature.

It is perfectly healthy to want to demonstrate that we are better than the next person - it is an important part of breeding that comes naturally and even makes us behave irrationally in video games! It is a psycholical instinct that we as a species haven't grown out of.

That is why we have Achievements, that is why certain gear has "Heroic" written on its tool tip. That is why you are awarded with exclusive vanity mounts and titles.

I can't criticise players for wanting to show off their achievements and prowess. I criticise them for pretending they don't care.

I am merely pointing out that if those at the bottom no longer CARE then all those status symbols I listed above would be worthless.

If I could brain wash the population over night so that people and in particular women no longer saw the BMW or Audi badge as a status symbol then who outside of a hardcore car enthusiast would pay more to buy those cars over and above Japanese marks (that offer superior equipment for the money and which surveys have proven are more reliable)?

If the players at the bottom no longer care or have no interest in raiding then think about the impact on those mid range raiders. They become the worse raiders in the game. The other raiders look down at them and call them nabs whilst there is no one underneath to look up and respect them.

Where is the motivation to raid if no one gives a damn about your achievement, title or mount? The 10 million casuals would walk past you as if you don't exist. Yes the dedicated raiders (like the car enthusiasts) would raid, but a percentage of the mid range raiders wouldn't feel as rewarded for their efforts. So I put forward the case that this will not lead to a recruitment boost for Gevlons guild. I am not saying half of all raiders would quit, just that this would reduce the motivation for many - and no I can't quantify "many" but the frequency of the topic on the WoW forums & blogs would lead me to believe that "many" is a sizeable percentage.

Blimp said...

@Anonymous Nobody has facts or evidences as Blizzard doesn't provide data. Every person talking about WoW is just expressing a feeling, not analyzing data and facts. In the best case, they will use anecdotal evidences, their own experience with the game or a figure or two from WoWProgress (and only if it tends to prove the point they're trying to make) but that's it.

For example, WoW lost 300k players during Q2 2011. Is this decline due to Cataclysm? We can't tell, maybe these are Chinese players who left the game (Cataclysm was released in China in July), maybe they are players from the US and Europe or from another region or maybe the number of players leaving the game was steady but the number or players joining the game dropped during that period. We don't know.

The sad truth is that if you want analysis based upon facts, you'd better stop reading blogs talking about WoW.

Alrenous said...

"Dungeon “Challenge” Modes: Master the ultimate 5-player time trial and earn prestige rewards in a new dungeon mode that will put your resolve and coordination to the test."

Races. It's not head-to-head but apparently I'm equivalent to a good chunk of Blizzard's design office.

I'm not saying I'm especially good; I'm saying Blizzard is somehow handicapped.

This is hardly the only example I can cite, though it's the only one I can cite with actual evidence I posted in advance.

Anonymous said...

@Coralina

'The WoW forums are there for everyone to read right this minute. Do a straw pole of the Raid and Dungeon forum and you will see this argument about differentiation is one of the most frequently occurring.'

Every time I have ever looked at the WoW forums, including the Dungeon and Raids forum, I have never ever seen more than one or two threads complaining about casuals and their gear on the first page or two of threads. Usually there wouldn't even be one. To me, that says the ones complaining about it are an absolutely tiny minority. In fact, I've just took a look on the Dungeon and Raids forum now. I didn't see one 'hardcore raider' or anyone else complaining about casuals and their gear.


So, until I see the majority of threads on those forums, are from your hardcore epeen raiders whining about casuals and their gear, I'm calling BS on this one.


'Where is the motivation to raid if no one gives a damn about your achievement, title or mount?'

The same thing that motivates me to play single player games. You know, the games where there is no one to give a damn about your achievement, title or mount.

Squishalot said...

@ chewy: Yeah, I know. I would be willing to bet that the takeup would be much lower if they'd offered 33% off 12 month subscriptions, with no D3.

For my part, I didn't sign up. However, I fit smack bang into their target market - I saw the offer on the Battle.net website just as I was heading there to unsubscribe. Made me pause for a few minutes while I crunched the numbers out.

Jumina said...

"Just like the lolkids end up in guilds together, pretentious epeen raiders can end up in raiding guilds together."

This is interesting. I had always feeling like every guild has unique character or that people with the same character end up in the same guild. This could be of course wrong feeling comming from the common behaviour. People tend to talk with people who has the same opinion like themselves.

Anyway I don't see any radical changes in the raiding for the next expansion. I don't think story makes so much difference. I expect raid sets will be available only in raid (like T13) so there will be strong incentive for lolkids to go there.

But its clear Blizz is trying to make more "outside raid stuff" which means the group of non-raiders is significant to them. I guessed they will implement something like Warhammer's public quests and PVE scenario is exactly this. It will be instanced with LFG system so perhaps they will avoid the problem with a lack of players doing them.

Yaggle said...

President Kennedy once said about East Germany, at least the United States does not have to build a wall to keep its people inside. Well, I remember when Blizzard did not have to give away free Diablo to keep people playing Wow. A wall doesn't need to be made of bricks, it can be made of bribes.

Anonymous said...

@Yaggle

Who says that D3 is for free?
They get 12*15$ = 180$ from the people who would leave WoW otherwise. Thats about 130$ more (Lets assume D3 costs 50$) if they would quit and buy D3 regular.

Sounds like a good deal for me.

In addtion to that, they keep the community in the game (a huge factor for playing a MMO in my opinion)and get additional people for D3.
=> epeen for Blizzard. Great statistics for the Public Relation.

And at last:
I guess you can't compare the DDR situation with WoW. You are not forced to stay in the game, but the people in Germany were.

Anonymous said...

There is a very good reason why a raider doesn't want to see a casual running around with epics.

If you do FL on your main character and you play with a bunch of alts or casuals then you know that you are going to use that gear again on your main character. You know the people who are on their alt won't use the gear much. And the same is true for a casual. Even if he'd use the gear he'd use it to outgear old content (e.g. Zandalari). That doesn't mean you are entitled to the gear; it just means that you're more likely to use it for progression.

Gear is there to be used, to progress on content. I don't want to see gear going to people who won't use it (for their purpose/spec). For example if I run a BH run I make sure the PvP gear goes to people who have an appropriate gearset for that. E.g. a druid who was feral can roll for leather/spirit. Perfectly fine. If the resto druid also rolls, they must both equip their PvP gear and then highest roller wins. If the highest roller does not have a PvP gearset (say the resto druid only has PvE gearset) he passes it to the next person who can use it, and is next highest roller, which could be our feral druid PvE who is resto druid PvP off spec. I find this more fair than FFA or MS > OS PvP. Note that I'm not looking for someone who has full 371 PvP gear. If you have about half PvP gear and show effort in enchanting and gemming it, it proves to me you are into PvP (no matter your "progress") and you deserve the loot. Some other RL are different in this respect; they demand PvP achievements, good PvP gear, or are PvP guild who only invite PvE players in BH25. Now, why do I use this loot rule? Because all too often people roll on PvP gear "just to get it" letting it rot in their inventory.

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