Monday, June 15, 2009

How nerfed is WoW? You decide!

There’s a lot of talk about nerfing these days. Nerfs are incoming almost daily and if you listen to the veterans, WoW is going from a pretty easy game to just a joke.

Even Gevlon is a bit upset, although he at an intellectual level can understand the decisions taken by Blizzard. Making an MMO isn’t about charity after all. It’s about making a living.

Enjoying the freedom
However I think you could see this from another perspective. Is the content really as badly nerfed as we think? Or rather: if it is, does it put any restrictions on our playing that prevents the game from being difficult and challenging?

Think about it. Do we necessary have to follow the “normal” path that Blizzard has laid out for casual, social or even lazy players, who want to level and gear up quickly without dying and without fighting hard to reach their goals?

No. Absolutely no. There isn’t any law dictating that you must do things in an easy manner for maximised efficiency. You’re free to turn your back to boring green and yellow kill-20-boar quests as you level up. You can go for the red quests only, soloing mobs that are supposed to be killed by a group.

You don’t have to run an instance with a full or a balanced group. You can purposely go to instances with mobs that are way higher level than you are or make up a strange balanced group. Paladins only, druids only, even mages only! What do I know, all frost and a lot of bandages… maybe it works if you set your mind to it? Or maybe you could do something really revolutionary and turn off Questhelper, DBM and all of your other addons? Woah!

It’s all in our hands.

Some players look at the game this way. They’re not many, but they exist.

Those players use their freedom, not mindlessly doing what everyone else is doing. They people don’t care if the Less is more-achievement allows you to bring eight players. They will four-man Sartharion, just for the challenge and a laugh. From doing this they won’t get a fancy title and it won’t be displayed in an achievement window. They won’t be offered extra loot. They’ll be unable to tell the world about it, unless they record it and get the word out. But they do it anyway, because this way of playing the game is more fun to them. They have the courage to be different, thinking for themselves.

The nerf of Yogg-Saron
Now I admit that there have been some nerfs that I too have been a bit disappointed at, such as the latest nerf of Yogg-Saron. Our guild has made the whole way to him a couple of times in 10 man as well as in 25 man, but we haven’t yet had so much time on him that we’ve come any further than phase 1.

Would we have been able to kill the original Yogg-Saron if we just would have been given a few more learning opportunities? Possibly. I don’t know. I never will, because the encounter has changed and his abilities are different.

But at a second thought, does it matter that much? If we want a tougher challenge we can always go for the hardmodes. And even better: we can stretch our imagination a bit and find new ways to deal with the encounter, inventing our own achievements, unheard of by Blizzard.

What I’m trying to say is that in the end WoW isn’t more nerfed than we allow it to be.

Put on a Parkour mind! Leave the paths which have been walked so many times, worn down by other players long time ago. (If you don’t know what Parkour is, Wikipedia has a nice article on it.)

Shrug at the nerfs of mount costs! It will make the life easier for some casual players. Maybe even some “morons and slackers” will rejoice. So what?

Your gaming experience is what YOU make it to. There will always be challenges. No matter of nerfs.


Stu said...

Hear hear!
I love doing my own thing in this game, not being restricted into a 'you MUST do this quest, then go to THIS zone and do THIS, THIS and THAT' mindset.

Last night, my wife and some friends went all over Eastern Kingdoms, finding high places, and they each took it in turns for my wife (a mage) to cast Slow Fall on them, then they would duel me (a shaman) and I would ThunderStorm them off, so they could float around the zone. Alot of deaths, but alot of laughs, and whilst a technically 'non-productive' activity, it was fun, and thats what gaming is all about.

Jess said...

You have a positive outlook on the nerf situation, and that's a nice change of pace, I must say.

I've read so many posts recently about people either being pissed or completely disappointed. I look at the nerfs sort of in your perspective, and also, it gives me a chance to reminisce (which is something I'm quite fond of) about leveling my first and second 80s through Vanilla WoW. :)

Thank you for not bitching/QQing. XD

Klepsacovic said...

Overall? Hard to say. WoW used to be harder, but much of that harder was because of terrible balance, not due to actual challenges. Only one real tanking class made it harder to do raids due to lack of tanks, but fixing that is hardly what I'd call a nerf.

There's not much to be gained by tallying nerfs and checking the score. If the game is too easy, it means you're not trying hard enough to make it hard. If you're not willing to put in the effort, don't complain. Maybe this is where WoW has been nerfed: challenges are handed to people on platters. There didn't used to be specific challenges spoon fed to raids.

If they wanted a challenge they made it themselves. I didn't see that happen often though. Why not? Why do most people not do something unless the devs tell them to do it?

Anonymous said...

At 70 I played a lock, I often look back at the complexity of having to spam shadowbolts non-stop to top damage meters. God that one button spam was hard.

And at 60, wow, it was tough in those 40man raids - with up to 20 people afk at a time it was hard to know who to chat with during 4 hour trash clears :(

So at 80 I'm currently raiding on an ez-mode dk, so op it's funny - only 4 debuffs to track, 3 main attacks and a proc-based priority attack rotation. Blizz really messed up making them so mindless to use. And don't even get me started on feral druids and affli locks, really this game has dumbed down a lot :'(

Anonymous said...

So Nax was Kara level raiding, that would make Ulduar SSC level?

Seems about right tbh, Vashj=Yogg?
Pretty similar fights in a way ;)

A lot of people saw SSC, a lot stalled at Vashj, from looking at wowprogress it seems a lot are stalled at Mimiron and even more stalled at Yogg.

People just love to qq I guess.

Typhoonandrew said...

IMHO Adjusted or Nurfed is a state of mind. I don't think these changes affect the people who succeeded before hand, and I know that these will not be the last downward adjustments. The game ethos seems to be to allow most of the players to be able to see most of the content.

That means at some stage Ulduar will become as easy as Naxx, and means even Arthas's final battle will be something accessible to a large proportion of the player base. Serious and hardcore raiders can comment all they like, but they are the small percentage of the paying customer, and the customer is the key.

However the serious players will be the guys who killed 3 drakes for the title, have the cool gear first, and have bragging rights. Isn't that enough?

If the hardcore player base likes the fact that most of the players don't get to see some content; then you really have to question the deeper motivation they have. If the game is about them feeling special, then perhaps wow is not the full treatment needed.

Fightclub "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake"

Lance said...

We had the same issue with Yogg as you did. We had some good tries, entering 3rd phase before the nerf. We just killed him yesterday on our second try. Sometimes a nerf doe, indeed, come in the wrong time.

Still, a game is a game and the challenge is iset by Blizzard. Whatever the level of the challenge there is always one step above - for us mere non-`pro' raiders - to satisfy those seeing tricky encounters.

Yogg is down, Hard modes are up for grabs and that's that. And at the end of the day, its fairly reasonable.

Gevlon said...

That's completely true. You can find yourself your own challenge, ignoring the rest of the world. I'm doing that too (remember the 2-manned Nexus)

However it takes away the MMO part from the game. You are playing alone, doing something on your own. No interaction, no group learning, no increase in any skill that goes beyond pixels. It's fun, but nothing more.

A challenging raid teaches many real world skills, like chosing your team members, set up a common plan, teach each other and so on. This game could be much more than just pixel-dragon-hunt. Too bad that the M&S is incapable/don't care to learn anything.

Cassini said...

Yeah the game is becoming easier. But then it always has become easier over time, I think maybe the pace is just a little increased these days.

But then I'm loving the changes they made to the mounts. I can't see a single reason why that could possibly cause any QQ, since if you already have your mount then it doesn't affect you, and if you don't, or you're levelling an(other) character (as in my case), then the changes are ace. :)

thedoctor said...

good read <3

Anonymous said...

"Or maybe you could do something really revolutionary and turn off Questhelper, DBM and all of your other addons? Woah!"

Best statement in the post. As I've said before, it's like covering your dinner in tomato sauce then complaining it’s too ‘tomatoey'

Carra said...

There has to be a reward to make people do more difficult encounters. Doing hard modes is rewarded with achievements and extra gear. Levelling with only red items only makes you level slower without getting any rewards.

Personally, I need those carrots. If there's no reward in it, I'll just go do something that gives a better return of my time. But others seem to enjoy stuff like levelling a naked warrior.

This game does not need harder encounters, it just needs to give out rewards for doing them.

Fish said...

Unfortunately, I think the vocal minority has a tendency to over-shadow the majority on a lot of things. There are a lot more people who just want "easy" leveling than who want to be really challenged by the game. I think most of the changes blizz have made are beneficial and over-due. I think 60 is a LITTLE early for flying mount, but I'm sure a lot of decision making went into that.

Larísa said...

@Stu: That sounds just awesome! Too bad there seem to be so few players around who have the courage and imagination to find up fun things like that. They prefer to qq. It’s kind of strange. Is there some fun aspect of qq:ing that I’ve missed?

@Jess: well, I figured someone needed to try to see it from another perspective. The qq choir becomes rather tedious to listen to in the long run, even though I certainly can understand the frustration that some of the top end raiders feel when the content is nerfed a little bit too quickly. But the discussion becomes more interesting if not everyone writes the same.

@Klepsacovic: Yeah, it is a bit odd that people really seem to need achievements to be bothered to try the harder things. There seem to be something magic in the message flashing in the screen.

About the nerfs I can’t help wondering if some of the debaters lately aren’t right: the game hasn’t become easier. But after 4 years of playing, the player manage the basic mechanics of WoW very well – something they didn’t in the “good old days”. That’s why it was “harder”. Not because it really was. (Said with the reservation that I never played myself in those days.)

@Anonymous: Haha, well put! 

@Anonymous 2: Yeah, WoW players seem to be easily put off, they just like to whine. To me it seems that Ulduar is pretty much perfectly well tuned. Yogg will remain a challenge for most guilds until the next raid instance is launched.

Larisa said...

@Typhoonandrew: I think that hardcore players come in many different shapes, just as casuals do. Some of them are probably driven by some less flattering motive to tread on other players, feeling superior to them, because they’re such losers themselves in real life. They take it out in the game and it’s kind of sad. Others aren’t like that at all. They just want really good challenges, they want to do hard stuff to beat their head to and finally conquer, working on their own personal progression skillwise and working on improving their team work to perfection. They don’t give a damned about who sees what as long as they have hard stuff to do, preferably something they don’t need to invent themselves.

So there are several kinds of snowflakes among those people too. But sadly enough I think the ones that speak loudest often are the ones that seem to have some kind of real life problem and are kind of tragic.

@Lance: Yeah, I try not to whine too much. After all you can see the nerfs from a different perspective: the ones whining about it actually failed. There was a nerf timer ticking, everyone knows there always is. And they just didn’t beat Ygg quick enough to make it. Other guilds did. Too bad but you have to deal with it.

@Gevlon: Oh, there certainly can be some group learning there, but yeah, it may be a challenge to find a group with the same mindset. A group that want to do Sartharon on four and is prepared to take the wipes for it, even though no extra loot or title is handed out. It isn’t necessary a solo-experience.

I like to hear that you too value the experience of team development, team teaching, learning in leadership and so on. Interesting enough the skills in this area don’t always come in combination with the technical skill of mashing buttons in the right order. This makes the whole thing a bit more complex when you want to achive a goal, kill the dragon. Just bringing the technical A-players who lack skill in leadership doesn’t necessary bring you to the goal (referring to your post today). Hm… Might rant a bit about it some day, although I’ve got the feeling that we’ve discussed this pretty much before.

@Cassini: There are always people complaining about things. Even about mounts. It’s interesting to see how much people can whine over things that don’t affect them at all, just making life a little bit easier for newer players than it was in the old times. I have to laugh thinking about it. Should I whine over that people today have mobiles and don’t have to take the pain to find a telephone box? Or that e-mails have succeeded normal letters? Hm…

@Thedoctor: Thanks!

@Rapidresponceunit: I think it’s funny that we don’t talk more about the addons than we do. I wonder how difficult hardore raiders would find Ulduar if they only used vanilla UI.

@Carra: I must admit that I too often go the pragmatic, reward oriented path. Behaving like one of the other carrot-eating rats. But sometimes I wonder if I’m not missing a lot by doing this. I want to be more of a Parkour person. Why can’t I see the enjoyment of mastering my toon to perfection as a reward in itself, why does it have to come with a title or a pice of loot? I want to stand above it, not becoming a victim of my ape-subroutines, as Gevlon puts it.

@Fish: I think the game is big enough to cater both to the broad masses, wanting easy content, and to the clique who needs to be challenged. I really think there’s content for everyone. Not if you’re playing +40 hours a week, admittedly, but that can hardly be something to strive for or support.

About the flying mount thing I believe it’s an effect of that there are much fewer new players coming to the game now. The low level toons that are levelled now are probably mostly alts, and since people with mains have seen everything from ground level, there’s no reason to force them to do it more times if all they want is to try another class in endgame and therefore bring it up asap.

Dorgol said...

i think the addon comment is spot on. I use the vanilla UI, and I'm regularly mocked by other people who use addons to heal better (clique, grid). And then the crying comes in that the game is "too easy".

Tesh said...

"There has to be a reward to make people do more difficult encounters....
If there's no reward in it, I'll just go do something that gives a better return of my time."

Sounds like a job.

Call me an old codger, but I buy and play games for fun, not to maximize my ROI on playtime. This need for rewards to get better returns is one reason I'm so hard on the subscription model. If we're not locked into paying to play, there's a lot less impetus to perform.

"In the good old days" when games were sold and not monetized beyond that initial cost, of course there were the Achievement-obsessed progression nuts, but the game design and business model itself didn't push that nearly as hard as the sub model. All you had was social pressure ("No Sphere Grid" FFX runs, Ninja Gaiden NES completed in one life, Asteroids high scores...) and bragging rights, and those who were just playing the games for fun didn't have to deal with a game design bent on pushing them into min/maxing their ROI on time.

In other words, I blame the fundamental design of these games for driving people into the fast lane. MMO design could be a LOT more than it is. Yes, players are a big part of the problem, too, but if they weren't being goaded by carrots, more might just find those tangential bits of fun.

Fitz said...

You see the QQ over mounts being available at lower levels? Wait until they decide to allow you to start a level 55 of any class in the next expansion!

As a player who started in September 2008 (not so long ago), I'm very happy to see the mount changes. Am I a casual? Yes. Do I take raiding seriously on my main? Yes. But having to walk around Duskwood on another alt when the good stuff at endgame is 50-60 levels away? Eww.

The changes also make sense in Outland because as the game stands now, you cannot get flight until level 70. But then you're leveling in Northrend already, where you cannot fly until level 77. So this moves the flight back to a place where you can actually use it right away.

As for nerfing Ulduar, oh well. Our guild is stuck on Hodir currently, so we're not exactly racing through the content.

Lantana said...

I adore this post, Larisa. This is exactly how the fact that you play WoW with other real, live people can make the game more fun. And why don't people do things like you suggest more often? I do agree with Carra - those Achievements really help, not only to provide the "carrots," but also as suggestions for specific challenges.

But aren't we smart people? Can't we come up with ways to create our own challenges when we need them? Of course, it might be a bit of the herding cats phenomenon, but still, I've run lower level instances naked, for example, and it was the best instance run I've ever had. OMG I acutally died in SM at 70! It was a blast.

So again, why don't we do this/see this more often? I think coming up with our own when we've had enough of Bliddard's is the *essence* of the potential brought by the MMO aspect, rather than removing it, as Gavlon claimed.

And @rapidresponceunit - you're spot on. Too tomatoey, but how dare you not use the latest Tomato Add-on!

krizzlybear said...

"O happy dagger!
This is thy sheath; there rust -"

I'm sorry, if you you're not a hardcore thespian that makes up 5% of the population that reads Shakespeare, you can't read what happens next.

Well, crud.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we should bring addons into the spotlight. Vanilla UI is the best, period. Even Naxx is quite a challenge when you have to, dare I say it, use your brain.

If only Bliz could ban an account from using addons when someone QQed in the forums, that would be fun :D

Larísa said...

@Dorgol: It's been so long since I played vanilla UI. Can't help wondering what it would be like. What would be the hardest to handle, what would I miss most? I suspect Omen. With the 4-pieces bonus on Mages a fire mage can pull aggro pretty sudden after a few procs.

@Tesh: being a gaming noob I wonder if this has changed over time. Was the carrot incentive as strong in the beta-childhood of WoW as it is now? Or were more players a bit openminded, ready to leave the obvious main path?

@Fitz: well, the qq will never end. Mind you though - it's always different people who complain. If some people will think general starting at lvl 55 is a horror, others will rejoice... I guess they're trying to please as many as possible when doing their choices (unless the mass is wishing for something really stupid against better knowledge.)

@Lantana: thank you! Yeah, real people makes the game interesting. That's why it's a bit saddening now that I level my druid to see so few people around. Even though I enjoy my character, the experience so far has been much more lonely than I like.

@Krizzlybear: It's a well kept secret with me. I promise. Can't let those morons and slackers learn about the story.

whatsmymain said...

I find my own challenge in the game I don't expect the challenge to be brought to me. As an altaholic I find every class/spec has its own challenges that can be found. Are you a healer and Naxx is too easy? Try running it with one less healer or even completely solo. As dps stuff dying too quickly? How many dps can you drop and still make the enrage timer.

Playing as a tank? I love the how many things can I pull before I die challenge. Often times I welcome poor players into my groups because that means I find a challenge in compensating for them.

I've 2 manned all the old world 5 man instances, did a 3 lvl 60 dk ramparts run, 2 or 3 manned all of BC 5 man instances. Killed a fel reaver on my 66 dk with a 63 druid friend healing me. Killed the first boss in heroic HoL with just my dk friend and me on my ele shaman. Did these get me any achievements? No. Does anyone else care? I highly doubt it. Were they fun and challenging? HELL YA!

If you need a reward for a challenge then I would say you are more driven by rewards then the actual challenge. Me I'll find unique ways to challenge myself.

James Of Tucson said...

I haven't met another player who actually does the quest for the satisfaction of learning the backstory.

Who else here actually read the books inside the Scarlet Monastery library? Not only did I not know there'd be a question to complete the quest, I was also the only person in the party who answered the question without looking it up on thottbot.

I've learned to not care one bit about the 99.44% of players who just want to storm their way to level 80, I guess so they can "finish WoW and move on to the next thing" or whatever.

I think some of the Azeroth story is as compelling and as well-developed as anything by Weis and Hickman or Jordan. A lot of work went into that, even if nobody actually bothers to read the quests, let alone find the objectives themselves.