Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The accessible gear makes the game inaccessible

The "loud minority" of HC gamers are sure for years that WoW is declining because Blizzard dish out welfare gear to the "noobs" who "don't deserve it". Their opponents say that they are just angry kids who are sad that the epics are no longer exclusive and they are so few that if Blizzard would drive all of them away, it wouldn't be seen on the subscription data.

I start to realize that both of them are right. WoW is really declining because of the welfare gear and the constant gear resets but not because it make the "elite" lose its status. It is completely true that the majority of the players never even set foot to a raid and has no idea that the "elite" has ilvl 391. Actually they don't even know what ilvl or "elite" is.

There are three gaming groups: the hardcore, the M&S and the casual. Blizzard is right that the casual is the largest group. They are right that this group just want to hop on the game in weird schedule, do something fun and log off. Blizzard is completely right to try to cater this group.

The decline of WoW is because of making the game casual unfriendly by making gear accessible to casuals. How can "free" gear, easy rewards be harmful? Because of the M&S of course. The developers constantly ignore the M&S or even worse, consider them to be the casuals.

In Vanilla and BC, the casual player wasn't really behind the average. Except for the members of top guilds no one raided and even doing HC dungeons needed a good guild. So most players had similar gear as the casual. The few people with epics were extremities. They were like the millionaire who pass by you in his Lamborghini. Do you bother that you don't have one?

Now you can hardly do the same. The content is designed to be consumed in fast groups. The casual therefore is naturally exposed to the "community". And the community is anything but welcoming. Imagine a true newbie entering a random HC. In Vanilla there wasn't such feature, players did not even know they could go there. Now it's on their face. Calling them, offering rewards and fun. Being the only feature that provides them upgrades. And what they get is "omg u n00b u haz 340 ilvl gtfo". They get a mindless AoE fest where people rush like crazy, where pulling a "skippable" pack is a mortal sin. Even in the smallest casual guild they see ilvl bragging and achievement spam. Everything they see tells them that they are below average, they suck, they are "behind the curve".

Wait a minute! How could the casuals, about 80% of the playerbase be below average? Because of their limited playing time. If arthasdklulz play 30 hours a week and Mary plays 3, the chance of you being exposed to the crap of arthasdklulz is 10x more than your chance to meet Mary. The perceived average of the players is weighted by their playing time. The elite is capping valor via raiding, if they can't cap in the first weeks, they go with guildies. So you don't meet them. The M&S, the ones who play a lot but suck swarm the LFD. If there is just 20% M&S playing 20 hours average, and 75% casuals playing 5, they are already outnumbering the casuals online. They capped conquest, got all the rep items that FL trash runs can provide, got 365 from the 3 vendors of the FL dailies.

Gear accessibility became gear baseline. And "accessibility" is misleading. It means you can get it without brain. It doesn't mean you can get it without time. And time is something the casual doesn't have, by definition. You can buy ring, wrist, neck for 1250 valor, hands for 1650, chest for 2200, relic for 700. That's 8300 valor points, 60 zandalari runs. Try to market an MMO with the slogan "to avoid being called a gearless scrub, you must run the same 2 instances 60 times, maximum speed, chain pulls, while someone with ilvl 378 tells you after every boss how he pwned you on the damage meter" and tell me how it went.

To make it perfect, Blizzard is now giving meaningful conquest reward for doing random BG. The majority of the players in an RBG will have 4K+ resi. That's clearly a fun environment for a casual with only a few PvP pieces.

The progression gearing, the removal of gear resets, the inaccessible raids, the removal of dungeon finder from HC dungeons, the removal of conquest reward from random BGs is not the interest of the elite. No doubt they would feel better if their gear would be exclusive, but they won't unsubscribe if they don't get it. It is the interest of the casual to make the 90% of the players unable to reach these niches, so he won't be behind just because he is casual.

In short: In Vanilla you had to play 20+ hours if you wanted to be above the crowd, wanted to belong the elite. In WotLK-Cata, you have to play 20+ hours if you don't want to be behind everyone else, if you don't want to be reminded all the time that you are a terrible noob.

37 comments:

Clockw0rk said...

Just as a thought, the truth of this kind of depends on just how much of the population is "casual" by your definition and how much is "elite". If the vast majority of the population is casual as they claim, then the baseline doesn't exist since the casual "spectum" will just be colored by those with more and less time...with people having better gear as the patch treks on.

If the casuals are a small group then you indeed correct, that the "minimum" because that which is considered easily attainable. Frankly I am surprised people don't expect the 365 cloak and first Molten Front reward for anyone entering a heroic.

I eagerly await seeing how this works out in LFR, the train wreck coming in 4.3.

Killan said...

The main problem here is that the word "casual" disguises "lazy" most of the time. Nobody will ever say he's too lazy to spend 1-2 hours to read a guide for newbies. They say they don't have time instead. People get trashed for wearing 340 ilvl in raids because a fresh 85 character can get 362+ ilvl in a weekend. In just TWO days. It's not months. It's not hard. It's just that pretending to be "casual" and whining about everybody being an "elitist dick" is a lot easier.

Anonymous said...

Our guild will be using LFR and avoiding the train wreck by having 20-22 people be guild members. Of course, we'll stop doing that at some point, but by then there might be enough experience with LFR by the general mass that it'll work just fine. Also, Clockwork, you underestimate just how easy the LFR raids are.

Chris K. said...

because a fresh 85 character can get 362+ ilvl in a weekend. In just TWO days. It's not months.

Uh... no. Unless you're playing 15 hours/day during that weekend.

Having geared up a healer quite recently, it took about 30 hours to get her to ilvl 355, and that was with me already having a 365 trinket and a 365 ring from the seasonal events.

To get to 362+ you need multiple pieces of valor gear (at least 3-4 weeks with the current cap) and/or 30-50k gold for BoEs.

For the average player, 1.5 - 2 months is a pretty good estimate.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realise this was what I was thinking until I saw it written down by someone else. In BC, you could use a certain level of skill to skip rungs on the gear ladder, but now every gear piece is a badge/honor grindfest. Apart from the latest-raid-only gear, does anyone even bother with drops any more?

@Killian, yes, if you want to spend 2 12+ hour days back to back grinding out LFD with the M&S. I can barely stand 2 LFD's back to back, and grinding out BGs with sub-2k resil is even worse - if possible in shorter chunks.

maxim said...

The distinction between M&S and "casual" is not an easily quantifyable one. For example, all casuals are slackers to a degree in terms of game-world.

Furthermore, there has always been and will always be "best in slot pre-raid" gear.

However, in vanilla, TBC and pre-Colloseum WotLK "best in slot pre-raid" required more than just mindless 5-man zerging and daily reapeatfest. Therefore, M&S simply couldn't get it and couldn't look down on people that didn't get it.

The "start of darkness" would be WotLK's ilvl explosion and inevitable introduction of "mid-expansion" 5-mans that inevitably make craftable and rep gear useless, thus making a good chunk of game... well, not unplayable, but rather unrewarding to play.

wojtek said...

This post is a perfect summary of how I feel about WoW now - I really hope some devs will read this.

Botter said...

Blizzard listening to M&S gave us:WotLK

Blizzard listening to both MS & HC gave us:Cataclysm

Blizzard didn't listen to the majority because they simply didn't complain and cry at the official forums, they were happy with the game so they had no reason to go there.

Grim said...

So much truth in this post!

But its even worse. In Vanilla only the hardcore could get epics. In Wrath, everyone could kill normal modes. Now Cata has the worst of both worlds - everyone can get epics by throwing enough time at the game, but the dance means you still need a competent group to get through even normal mode raids.

In Wrath, at the height of Gearscore age, I could tank ICC pugs with half-blue-half-ToC gear without any experience. The first time I went there I hadn't read up anything, so I only got "grab left adds" or "taunt when other tank gets debuff" worth of tactics... and the bosses went down. The higher the buff climbed, the more bosses went down and by the time I started raiding with a fixed group, I had already pugged most of the place no problem (and those were all /2 pugs).

In Cata there is no casual raider. You either spend hours on each new boss, learning the dance, or you don't kill that boss.

However, with LFR, I hope it will be so nerfed, that I will be able to kill everything without grinding once more.

Andru said...

The post is roughly true.

I don't necessarily agree with Killan, even though what he says is almost true.

A newbie has severe trouble getting past the information gap. If they're a newbie to MMOs, even more, and if they're a newbie to gaming in general, they're basically screwed.

Information gathering is a very high-level meta-gaming procedure, requiring at least basic knowledge of the game. What's more, meta-gaming in general is an alien concept to beginner gamers in general.

To put it into perspective, one can play chess just fine by knowing the gambits, but they will not win much in structured tournaments, where chess requires knowledge of openers and finishers, standard 'set pieces' cases, and so forth. This requires reading of chess theory books, and more importantly WHICH chess theory b ooks.

MMOs are a million times worse. Chess has remained constant for 500 years or so, and should you learn it once, you're good to go. Meta-gaming in MMOs change every week, sometimes every day.

This is the same as the gear gathering race to a point. Informational arms racing excludes M&S by default, even though it also often excludes newbies.

WoW is a particularly nasty example of this. After a leveling game in which meta-gaming is not required (and sometimes dis-encouraged, as shown by people in lower dungeons doing away with tank and healer roles), a newbie will find themselves at max level with a bait-and-switch game, in which not only do they have to climb over the informational wall, but scale the gear gap.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Scaling the gear gap is practically a no-brainer, leading newbies to think that's the only thing keeping them back. This creates a very dangerous confirmation bias in the mind of the newbie, such that any kind of lateral thinking that challenges it would be met with resistance. To add some more fire to the inferno, gear can be easily measured and its benefits seen, while informational power is elusive and sometimes difficult to grasp. Gear levels can be beat into mathematical models, knowledge can't.

NetherLands said...

Not suprisingly, I agree completely with you on this, especially where PvP is concerned. The allowance of Enchantable Heirlooms in early level XP-On PvP is another great example (the alt-levellers who whined about Twinks now tonking around new players in far greater numbers and even more unfairly).

As far as PvE is concerned, there is however the design decision to tell the main stories in a game funnily called 'World' of Warcraft not by world-events or other open world content or just back-story but in danky Instances, creating the 'need to see the content' issue.

While e.g. the MoP trailer regales about 'us' the players defeating this and that Big Expansion Bad in this or that Raid when the content was current, the reality is that
for most of the player base the story is more "I slew pigs in Elwynn, I slew pigs in Hellfire, I scooped poop in Northrend, and I scooped some more in Hyal". This is why in itself I laud the decision to return to more local bosses in MoP: people don't have to feel they never 'finished the story' when it is more their own story to 'write'.

Also:
making the game more 'accessible' has in a sense made it so your character progresses more in absolute power (related to other players there's of course the treadmill issue you posted about, but let's be completely anti-social) by not playing the game than by playing it.

Sure one could bust ones balls to get this iLevel gear this Patch, but if you wait a Patch you will have an easier time getting that same gear on that same toon.

With the levelling part of the game it's even more rediculous: you will have a far more powerful toon and with far less hassle over the levels by not playing that toon through level-appropriate content but by playing another at end-cap to farm Heirlooms - and that is if we ignore that you buy Heirlooms for lowest denominator currency/Gold you are collecting anyway for stuff you're doing anyway already so that you're actually getting freebie gear by having something to spend your spare tokens on.

Azuriel said...

You are correct in saying that accessible gear increases the delta between what is seen as the "norm" and what is "lol-worthy."

However, you are absolutely dead wrong that this is bad for casuals. Wrath had orders of magnitude more accessible gear, and while we saw the rise of GearScore because of it, subscriptions did not tank but peaked at 12 million. What is actually bad for casuals is:

1) Hitting end of their progression.
2) Tying all progression to hard content.

Imagine the daily heroic didn't reward Valor. The LFD system would collapse overnight. People would cap out their Justice gear, get bored, and quit.

Remember your post about workers and labor? Casual players need long-term goals and the ability to feel like they are progressing towards something each time they log on. The Wrath model worked, and the Cata one didn't precisely because casuals don't want "accessible" hardcore content, they want content tailored to their skill level, e.g. easy.

The issue has never been about gear; the issue has always been about character progression. Once Casuals reach the end of that road, whether it was because they capped out or whether they are too frustrated to go on, it's Game Over.

Anonymous said...

after your raiding idea's, finally a good post again.

I think you are very close. But you simplify it to strong, there are more than 3 playergroups...

I think the mentioned points, changed the community. Wow for casuals must feel like Mc Donalds.
Fast Food on the first time is fun, but on the long run?

Wyrmrider said...

It's very quick for a fresh 85 to get gear that's _technically_ good enough, based on the DPS/tanking/healing requirements of the fights.

Unfortunately that level of gear won't get you many invites. The raid may only need gear level N, but the people who play every week are at gear level N+1, so N+1 is what's expected.

Halfway through WotLK I shifted my focus to PvP, but still raided occasionally because I enjoyed seeing the content. I off-tanked the first wing of ICC soon after it was released, with 4800 gearscore. The following week, the "requirement" for the same content was 4900. Then it was 5K, 5.1K, 5.2K... eventually the requirement for a FIRST-WING FARM RUN, with the buff in effect (!), was 5.4K.

I only took that character inside ICC once (but boy did I feel smug about it).

Rob Sharp said...

Do you think people become bored with easy content quicker than they become disillusioned with difficult content?

I gave up playing through the hate-fests that ZG and ZA became very quickly...

Anonymous said...

Putting people into labels is difficult. Those with Heroic raid gear with consider anyone else not on par with them to be casual. I feel like I fit into the category of, I play 20+ hours just to feel "ok" about my gear.

Well we're all "supposed" to be raiding right? That's the end level content that Blizzard has pushed, patch after patch for every expansion. And once a few guilds have heroic raid content just about on farm, it's time for a new patch with a gear reset.

Most players I've met just about do the raid content on normal. The gear resets seem to only favour the hardcore (i.e. Heroic Raiders).

Class specific quests doesn't really exist anymore (few exceptions). Epic quests... are long grinding daily token farms. I wouldn't even specifically call them epic quests either. I wanted to bang my head against the wall with the Firelands grind. Why do these have to be dailies? Why not have an epic quest chain where every quest is different - where you truly feel like a part of the story. Every new telling of the story has to result in a raid. I can see where they're going with MoP. But it's taken Blizzard a long time to get it.

In vanilla you could get a dungeon set, with shoulders and helm (from drops). You can't get that since cataclysm. You have to raid to finish a set, as you can't purchase them with tokens earned from a dungeon. And yeah they've totally messed up with the ZA/ZG dungeons with the token rewards. The JP tokens should allow the helm and shoulders to purchased. The Valor should stay as it is - although perhaps through a decent epic quest line the "special" token could be the reward to purchase helm/shoulders. For those that choose not to raid (casual because they choose not to?)

Maybe 4.3 will address some of it, or create new problems.

Killan said...

Chris K. said:
For the average player, 1.5 - 2 months is a pretty good estimate.

Can't agree with that. What I wrote, was about my alt shadow priest. You're right that my main's gold helped to fill some slots. But don't forget that 353 BOEs are dirt cheap these days, as well as most 359 BOEs. And powerquesting to 85 with 2 gathering professions provides enough gold to buy several BOEs - even on a new account with no help from a rich main.

Anyway, the initial post was about (in)accessibility of content and its social reasons. My point was that most people encounter problems in game simply because they don't want to put a bit more effort in what they do. (Actually, that applies to any activity in life, not only WoW.)

Gevlon said...

Many of you misunderstand casuals. Actually reading this blog itself renders you hardcore as your read up about a GAME.

For example you CAN gear up fast if you know where to go, what to do. A casual doesn't read up and doesn't even think he should. He is NOT preparing for raiding, he is PLAYING.

Killan said...

A casual doesn't read up and doesn't even think he should. He is NOT preparing for raiding, he is PLAYING.

If that is what you mean by saying "casuals" then the answer is even simpler: as of now endgame is not designed for casuals, since it's designed around the assumption that you're hardcore player - that you read guides, discuss stuff, that you're ready to wipe, ect. Tell somebody "who just plays the game" that you wiped 20 times in some progression raid last evening and he/she will ask "why would you do that". For this game to be "casual"-friendly, it should have some kind of "kindergarten" mode (and LFR is not that mode since it still provides SOME challenge).

Anonymous said...

the problem with the current atitude towards epics is that you get a new one for that slot next month or two.

this is the thing that hurts casuals my first tbc epic my Spriest had for almost a whole year, a Year it wasnt replaced next month by a wellfare epic, by giving gear to anyone who plays 5 hours you pretty much "#¤" over the casuals.
because whats the point in grabbing a gearpiece that you will be able to replace next month and whats worse you cant do content since it requires better gear than drops there (shoulder, head)
and grim put it best:
Cata has the worst of both worlds - everyone can get epics by throwing enough time at the game, but the dance means you still need a competent group to get through even normal mode raids.
and killian there is no point in getting the gear since you cant raid anyway since the dance is more important than you dps/hps or EFH

Ninahagen said...

I'm quite happy to see you are considering comments wrote some weeks ago.


[i]In short: In Vanilla you had to play 20+ hours if you wanted to be above the crowd, wanted to belong the elite. In WotLK-Cata, you have to play 20+ hours if you don't want to be behind everyone else, if you don't want to be reminded all the time that you are a terrible noob.[/i]

I don't agree entirely with all your post, but the short is very good.

And
[i]No doubt they would feel better if their gear would be exclusive[/i]

Yes, this could be cosmetic-exclusive though (like arena).
And there are achievments too (title, vanity pets, achievs points).




[i]Try to market an MMO with the slogan "to avoid being called a gearless scrub, you must run the same 2 instances 60 times, maximum speed, chain pulls, while someone with ilvl 378 tells you after every boss how he pwned you on the damage meter" and tell me how it went.[/i]

Kaboom :)

Though, Vanilla had no better dark advertising, you've read me posting some I guess.
Blizzard did some changes, which brought some others problems. Vanilla was not better.
All of this because they want to keep stat-progression.

In a MMO, in a "perpetual virtual world", that means infinite stat-progression, and that is senseless.
In a MMO, that means players with more time than you have better gear, independantly of their skill.

In League of Legend, you can have better gear than the others, but it's truly your fault gameplay-wise in that case.
What could be the name of the gameplay mistake a gamer does when he logs off ?

Pheryl said...

I was surprised when I logged into SC2 for the first time and I checked the difficulty setting to find the options were hard, normal and casual instead of easy

I think that says more about blizzards definition of casual player more than anything

Ever since tigole voiced the phrase "welfare epics" back in tbc there has always been a shadow over being classed as a casual player, but it's like you said they are not the enemy

Andru said...

@Killian

You need not insult every casual by pretending that they cannot grasp meta-gaming.

As an alternative to kindergarten mode, I propose a non-trivial (but passable) leveling scheme, an introduction to dungeon group dynamics (possibly subsidized by pets, mounts, achievements), simplified mathematic models (prime example on how not to do it are diminishing returns on avoidance, which require a calculus textbook in order to make sense of them), and transparent(er) gameplay mechanics.

The journal is a good step to begin with.

Chris K. said...

Can't agree with that. What I wrote, was about my alt shadow priest. You're right that my main's gold helped to fill some slots. But don't forget that 353 BOEs are dirt cheap these days, as well as most 359 BOEs. And powerquesting to 85 with 2 gathering professions provides enough gold to buy several BOEs - even on a new account with no help from a rich main.

The average casual gamer will not "powerquest" to 85 with 2 gathering professions, to fund 359/378 purchases. And he will most likely blow all his money trying to max out his flying skill (or at least go up to Epic flying), leaving him with 5-10k gold at 85.

Darkmoon trinkets still go for 7-9k each. 378 loot go for 20-30k a piece. These are not attainbale by the average gamer.

Someone who finishes levelling at 85 will have 3-5 pieces of 333 Blues, with the rest being 325 greens at best. Add to that the 365 cloak from Thralls quest and they may not even have the ilevel to go for the normal heroics.

Not being able to chain heroics on a daily basis is a very real possibility for casual gamers.

So yeah, I expect the average gamer to spend at least a couple of weeks in normal heroics mostly for the justice gear and then migrating to the Zandalari heroics for a month or so, so that he will have a nice mix of 353s, 359s and a couple of 378 pieces from the Valor vendor.

The fact that all this seems trivial to you, means you are playing on a Hardcore scale, not that the casuals are being lazy.

Anonymous said...

i remember in vanilla, just before we downed the 3rd boss in molten core, that i dinged 100 days played, and i was apparantly not one of the first to get there, some was even at 140 days. we we´re guild number 3-4 on horde raiding wise. (remember at that time you always had a another raiding group that was your rivals.)

Anonymous said...

The casual is the Slacker component of the M&S. The morons are not mutable. We cannot change the morons, but we can change the slackers.

Hardcore players play less time than casual players and still cap all the rewards.

Jumina said...

"Everybody who reads this blog is hardcore because he reads about the game." Very true and the only true.

The casuals have no problem with accessible gear because they don't know it is there. They don't bother with LFD because they are casuals. Their problem is simply lack of content. And Blizzard knows this. They even acknowledged it.

The LFD and valor points are hated by that part of the player base which would like to play the game more but can't raid. You just run the same boring 5man over and over until you buy everything and than you are stuck. That's why LFR is seen like a good think. It could allow such players to raid without joining a guild and making all that "social progress". But they are by no means "casual players".

The real problem for casual players is to fast leveling. Blizzard should give up and allow to create your second character as high level and make the actual leveling last longer. And to make some epic quests is also a good idea. The valor points are good for raiders because they allow them to quickly catch up with a new character. For casuals they are irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

All casual bashing is fine and all, but with 5h/week how much time does a casual need to reach even 85 ?

And to a normal person 5h of game per week is alot, and considering that in those 5h you also have some downtime, because a casual won't maximize his "progression".

MMO's are not "5h/week casual" friendly.

Vinther said...

About you playing WoT... sample of ~70 battles is really insignificant next to Tobolds over 3000... I'm not saying that you did that but: you could easily pick best sample of more than one account in WoT. I play different nations on separate accounts and for ex. in American tree i had over 70% wins... initially of course. When i approached ~500 battles it got normal (as in ~50%). As noone uses gold ammo in random battles, and "premium" tanks are not better than regular tanks (they just bring more credits) i would say this game is as close to balance as possible. Also there are no factions so todays foe might be an ally of tommorow.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: "MMO's are not "5h/week casual" friendly.".

This is true only because endgame is all that matters. Until you reach max level you are basically in dead zones.

In WoW there is so much content not relevant anymore that finding a way to revive it might be a killer. I hope their efforts with the Dungeon Challenges and the gear normalization mean they are investigating some solution about this.

Steel said...

I'll have to make an account called "EVEDoesItBetter" and start trolling MMO game design blogs. I blame Syncaine.

Richard Bartle: "Design that is short-term good but long-term bad I call "poor". [...] Good design keeps players; poor design drives them away (when the short term becomes the long term and the game becomes unfun). "

Lack of death penalty, item loss and PVP looting was heralded as the great thing that made WoW. You can see now how many issues grow from it: lack of content (once you have your shiny, you are done with that content), item inflation (new tiers of gear must be constantly created), a nightmare of designing and managing gear availability, etc.

EVE has only six or so meta levels for all pieces of gear. And you can buy them all on the market. But since there is constant item loss and destruction, you always need to replace stuff, so you must constantly work to get more money and more stuff - you are never done with any piece of content, regardless at what level you are.

So many issues are solved by having item destruction, which is a natural force of any system (if garbage didn't rot in real life...). Removing it seems like a good ideea short term, but long term is an endless shource of problems.

Bristal said...

The whole discussion is pointless because clearly nobody has the same definition of either casual or M&S.

There is no definition because they are personal constructs. It's basically akin to racism. Borne out of misunderstanding, fear and loathing of others not like ourselves.

Which is, btw, an ape sub routine.

And it's so easy and acceptable in an MMO because we can't see each other. We at essentially unknowable in a human sense, yet we struggle to define the unknowable.

What confuses me the most in this discussion is the apparent acceptance of the hideous power of "being looked down upon".

Your whole argument is based on "feeling bad", yet goblins are celebrated for having no feelings? What am I missing here?

Andru said...

@Steel

Eve does it better for people who LIKE their stuff blown out of their pockets.

If you think that implementing item destruction would go over well with WoW's playerbase, (in a direct form, like EvE's) you're delusional.

Also, we're just arguing against the fact that gear, in WoW is a Red Queen's Race... and then you come out and say that WoW does it wrong, citing as an positive example... another game with a Red Queen's race. Well-la-dee-da.

People don't like working just to have their work destroyed and starting over.

Just ask http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyphus

If I wanted to work and have my work destroyed by some muppet in an instant, I'd get a job. OH WAIT, I already have one. Well, then I can just go to work and pretend I'm playing Eve.

Killan said...

@Chris K.
Darkmoon trinkets still go for 7-9k each. 378 loot go for 20-30k a piece.

Oh, I see. The thing is 378 weapons cost something like 7k on my server, most 359 BOEs (except some rediculosly overpriced pieces) are at 300-1000 and 353 BOEs cost like 40-60 gold. That's more than accessible to pretty much anyone regardless of how they leveled. Forgot that prices are not the same on different servers. My bad.

Anyway, I still don't think that spending a weekend for your hobby is not THAT hardcore as you try to make it look like. :) And even if you'll not be able to get 362+ by the end of those 2 days, you'll not be 340 either.

@Andru
I'm not trying to insult anyone. I'm just following Gevlon's definition of a "casual". And as I understood it - they are people who play the game and not the meta-game.

Imagine you're a new player, who hit 85 recently. What's your impression of a game? Since most of the time you spent questing, the game was pretty much a singleplayer for you, where you're a hero. You defeat armies. You don't or almost never die and each time you die that's a big deal, because heroes normally don't die in singleplayers.

Now you're at max level and everything changes completely for you. Regardless of what you'll do next - PvE or PvP - you're not a hero anymore, you're no one. Actually, you're even less than no one, because you're worse than the other guys in terms of playing. Your DPS is crap because all you did while leveling is mashed 2 buttons. Your healing is probably even worse, because there's almost no need for serious healing while questing.

Another thing that changes is that you die A LOT. You die all the time. You may argue, but that is very disappointing and hard to get used to after leveling. Like I said before, most new players will hardly understand the need for wipes on raid bosses if you'll tell them about it.

That's why I said about the "kindergarten" mode. It's not an insult. What I meant is that transition to PvE should be smoother. Blizz could get people into a raid via some quest that would queue them into LFR for a super-nerfed version of a dungeon where only newbies play, so it would be doable in greens and blues easily for the first time. The whole thing should resemple players' previous experience, which is questing and trivial 5-man dungeons.

After that, they could adjust the difficulty on-the-fly depending of players' gear, providing more and more challenge to make people thing "how can I perform better?". They'll start asking, will get directed to different sources of info on game mechanics - and voila, they're not "casuals" anymore.

"Too long, didn't read!"
At the moment the end game experience is not designed for people who play the meta game (which is what Gevlon means by "casuals", if I understood correctly), hence inaccessible for them. The transition between leveling experience and end game experience should be a lot smoother.

NetherLands said...

@Killan

"Anyway, I still don't think that spending a weekend for your hobby is not THAT hardcore as you try to make it look like. :) "

You migth overlook here an important part of the issue:

WoW is both a 'shelf-game' and a 'hobby-game'.

A hobby-game in game-design terms is a game people spend time on even when not actually playing it.

This includes things like reading up on tactics, read tie-in novels, paint up your miniature army in the most striking way possible etc. (and yes, the last example shows the primary origin/proponent of the concept of 'hobby-game', namely GW's Warhammer).

A 'shelf game' however are games like Settlers: you pick it up and play it, and after you're done, back to the shelf it goes.

Partly this is a design-choice (shelf games make money by being very accessible and selling lots of units, hobby-games by having loads of tie-ins etc. to make money of the fewer players), partially it's up to the player themselves (there are e.g. sites where people talk about Settler tactics - Settlers being their hobby - but the game isn't primarily designed that way)

In short: you - as do most people on the blogosphere - approach WoW from the 'hobby' aspect, were as the casuals etc. approach WoW as a 'shelf game' you log in, play a bit, then log off and go back to watching the telly or smth.

Killan said...

I understand your point and agree that it affects the gameplay. But what I also know is that people want to be better at what they do regardless of what it is. If I install MW3 for just 5 minutes only to check it up and uninstall, I still aim in the head during those 5 minutes.

That's why I actually don't believe that there are pure "casuals", people who just play and don't care about anything. As soon as people start wondering how to get better, they start playing a meta game. They're by definition (at least Gevlon's definition, I actually call such people "beginners" instead, because that's who they really are) not "casuals" anymore. They are terrible "hardcore".

Anonymous said...

"Spending 20 hours on a weekend for a hobby...". IMHO, that's a fallacy... I think a hobby is usually not casual, but hardcore.

I know several people who tried WoW, played it for half a year or longer, but never reached max level with their char. And finally stopped playing, because WoW isn't accessible for people playing only some hours per week.

Or in other words... those people would just look at me like I was crazy, if I suggested, they play 20 hours in one weekend session. For them 20 hours play time mean a month or more in real time. The same as I can only wonder about people "wasting" 20 hours a week for their hobby of choice which I don't share.

When my nephew visited me for a month, I only logged in about half an hour a day when he went to sleep. I got nothing accomplished that month in WoW, except keeping up with day to day stuff. There is an event? Nice, do the quests... oh, 30 minutes already over again.

I remember one day (this was during BC), where I had to go from Orgrimmar to Un'Goro and when I arrived (about 15 minutes later), there was no time left to do anything meaningful. (If that's not clear... the 30 minutes I had were real time, not active play time excluding being afk for flights and such).