Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A flood of epics doesn’t make up for lack of content

I like sweets. Salt liquorice, chocolate, fudge, I’m all in for it – as long as there’s about a handful or two of it. Then I hit a wall and my pleasure is suddenly turned into nausea.

I wonder if it isn’t a bit like that with epic loot. Don’t we eventually reach a point, when the abundance of it is about as sickening as spending too long time in a toy store and you desperately long for some fresh air?

Badge changes
I come to think of this as we’re approaching the 3.2 patch. The player community is eagerly waiting to see what Blizzard has in mind for us this time. It’s like an extra visit from Santa Claus coming in the middle of summer. The real Christmas gifts won’t come until the next expansion, but knowing that we’ll get cranky if he keeps us waiting too long, he drops by to give us some presents for consolation.

This time the bag of Santa Claus seems to be filled with sweet purple delights. He has sprinkled every heroic instance with badges that can be converted into shiny epic gear. Some players get a bit grumpy about it, others will cheer since they’ll finally be able to sparkle (or at least they think they will, how little do they know!)

I look at it and I shrug a bit. As far as I can tell it doesn’t change much to my gameplay. My motivation for raiding has very little to do with loot. It’s all about the challenge and experience, about seeing development and improvement, for myself and for my group. And I think I share that philosophy with most of my fellow raiders. I don’t think anyone of us would be interested in swapping one of our 25 man raids for a night of farming 5-man heroics for badges, even though it would give more gear return compared to the time investment we’ve made. Raiding is simply more fun than farming heroics. And we’ll also get a new raid instance that will take over now that we’re about to finish Ulduar. So basically it’s business as usual.

Lack of content
But at the same time I can’t help feeling a little bit sorry for the “casual” players, who are supposed to be the ones that will benefit most from this change. Yeah, I feel sorry for them. Even if the sweets, the easy-attainable epics – may seem nice at a first glance, they’ll just give you a bad stomach and leave you with a feeling of emptiness after a while.

What players want most of all isn’t purples. It’s content. If you’re a somewhat serious player, but have with real life obligations and priorities which prevent you from joining a raiding guild, your options are rather limited to say the least, especially if you prefer group PvE to PvP or the chase for vanity items and achievements.

You can’t run the current five-man instances more than every so many times before they turn into a boring grind. The achievement versions can keep up your interest and challenge for a while, but at least the harder ones can be something of a pain to find a pug for.

It doesn’t take too long at level 80 before you’re basically overgeared for all Northrend instances. The only exception is Occulus, where gear didn’t matter, but that’s about to change as well.

This isn’t exactly new; it has been the state of the game for a while, but with the improved badge loot the situation will become even worse. Running the 5-mans is about as exciting as to grind elementals, pick herbs or solo Deadmines.

The better gear you get the less excitement will you get from the process of obtaining this gear. You’re eating candy but all you get is pain in your stomach.

New content
Admittedly, some new content will be offered in the patch. We’ll get one new five man instance, and one new instance is certainly better than none. But still – the “new car scent” in it will wear off pretty quickly, and definitely not last us until the next expansion.

So is there anything good in the upcoming changes for the serious player with casual playtime? Well, I’ve spotted one thing so far. I think the findings from about the possibility of prolonging the raid lockout up to two weeks are interesting.

Provided that you can make the concept work practically (so you for instance don’t risk to get locked into a failed pug-save longer than necessary), it opens new possibilities for all players who can’t raid more than one night a week. They can form decent guilds with likeminded and have a chance to make progress in raid instances in their own pace, thus getting access to new content.

This is really a good thing. Blizzard has moved from the “none-or-everything” philosophy, making it possible for raiders to come in different shapes. There’s certainly something for everyone.

Still: I would have preferred to see more carrots and fewer sweets in 3.2. It would make me a happier player in the long run. We’ll see what the future will show. Maybe all gifts from Santa Claus haven’t been revealed yet?


Klepsacovic said...

In regards tot he lockout change, I'd like to see them changed to a personal thing rather than a server thing, so after a week players have the option to remove a raid ID if they want. This would be a big help to guilds without much time, allowing them to progress even if they can only put in a few hours a week.

Loot isn't content, but at least it's more than nothing. Content is better though, but maybe it's our faults. Why do we insist on playing so much and clearing so fast? We race through leveling to get to raids and then try to down them as fast as possible.

On a related now, yesterday I wrote a post about candy, though with a different idea for the candy. It should come up tomorrow morning.

Anonymous said...


I have been reading your blog for the past few months and it has been an interesting reading for me. I have also read other few blogs like greedy goblin since my current WOW style is more into playing casual and making gold.

A bit history of my wow experience. Playing wow for 2 years now. Been raiding as Holy priest in TBC and clear all content including sunwell pre nerf. Back then,it is kinda hard to raid as holy priest (low hp, little raid buff), especially in top sunwell raiding guild where raid success is dependant on how many shamans we bring and many good healers back in wow manila still plays holy priest and that 1 spot in raid is really competitive.

I think i am not a bad player,i design the healing strategy for my guild back then ,Though now at wotlk, just bring 3 healers to sunwell and burn boss will do too...

Come to WOTLK and RL caught up to me and i decided that i do not want to raid anymore (back then raiding is not a matter to attain hard mode achievement but rather whether we can down that 1 boss, yup, that 1 boss) hmm, except for illidan, we down him after 12 hrs straight 1 nite raiding ( i am not sure how we do this, probably, the pain of wiping for the last 6 months 6 hrs straight every night is really a good motivation for all the players "Hell, let get this done when we first see illidan" )

Anyway, i play casual now, ret pally lol, my guild still continue raiding, i think they are 2nd best in server now, they been asking me to raid with them but i guess you cant do one thing without sacrificing another and i choose my job though probably it is too late now (yah, i guess that 4.5 hours sleeping every nite has impact on my job performace).i left the guild and join a very casual guild, with at most 5 players online nightly.

I really hv to admit that it is hard coming from top raiding guild whereby back then we could clear BT and kill Illidan in just in 1 night raiding and people were like "zomg" when you just stop at AH in ogri to buy stuffs. Now,, i am not sure how many times i have been rejected by that pug heroics "sorry, we do not need dps" "nah,we do not need another plate dps" "dude, you are ret pally, LOL ". "dude, you just do 2.5k dps, you are bad"

hmm, i think it is an achievement to do 2.5k dps in guild that dun even run heroics. lol.

To cut it short, i am glad with 3.2 , now i can get access to conquest gears and should be no problem to join any pug raid without need to endure that nerd rage or begging just to join that 25 man naxx raid :D

Keep the good work,

Maybe come 3.2 , i will reroll female gnome mage too. they are so cuteee.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't really paid any attention to the raid lockout change, until you mentioned it...

On of the frustrating things I have found is we often get to Sapp in a night, then people start dropping.

As I wont be playing for another week, I have been excluded from opportunities at Sapp & KT...

I so hope you can extend (and reset if required) the raid lockout... I would love to be able to define our lockouts...

On a different note...
It is a shame that we rush through content... often skipping content because we need to be further progressed.

Maybe Blizzard should change the Instance Emblem drops so you can only receive emblems from any particular instance when you have cleared all the others... would keep them turning over.

Anonymous said...

If I have to run one more heroic I am going to pour hot grits down my pants.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

@gnome: From what I've seen, the lockout extension can be dropped.

As for carrots, I think 3.2 is for people who are NOT going to Ulduar yet. Of course, that's from my point of view (I haven't been to Ulduar yet).

Carra said...

I've pointed it out in a previous comment. People who run five men instances must be getting bored because by now, they've run them all multiple times. So they need new content. The proper way is to add a few new contents. The easy way is to add more gear. And even lazier, add badges. That must have taken one programmer about an hour of work to implement. The bored players can do the instances again for new loot... Except that I don't see new loot making the old instances any less boring.

It's a shame they can't create more content. You'd think that a multi million players company can afford to create a new instance every four months. But apparently they think that people will be happy if they just throw more sweets in the existing dungeons.

Dw-redux said...

Well there is a whole new instance comming in the next patch. how much time it will take, and how big it is, is left to be seen (i've skipped all the spoilers), but that is new 10 and 25 manned content.
But i dont think Blizz is fooling anyone when they claim we have more raids available now than we did in TBC - and im kindda insulted when they try and pretend we are that dumb.

@gnom: the big problem with "forced" content clearing in order to recieve badges, is the same as we had in tbc: When a new raider join, the guild has to go back and clear old content in order to "attune" that player to whereever they are content-wise.
I personally had to set my guild back 2 raid nights in tbc, when I rejoined after a hiatus. The BT progression was put on hold in order to get me (and some alts) attuned through ssc and the eye. ( back then you needed drops from last bosses of both places in order to play BT and hyjal). Trust me, you dont want that again.

Larísa said...

@Klepsacovic: yeah, I guess they'll have to do something like that. Else it will kill pugging!
And you're probably right in one way, you could ask: how much content is enough? But still... not being around at raiding level when TBC was launched, it seems to me that there was more content there than what they present now... Same instance in four different difficulty level doesn't make it become four instances by some magic trick.

@Anonymous: fair enough... Since I normally wouldn't pug 25 man instances I didn't think much about it as an option. As far as I can tell from LFG channel they don't ask that much for gear though. All that counts is achievement. Which is sort of silly, a catch 22, and a terrible obstacle to get passed for players with casual gaming hours. How are you supposed to do it first time if noone will let you?

@Gnomeaggedon: yeah, I was thinking about you as an example of people who can benefit from this. Your 8-man-team can certainly get more time for progressing now (provided that your pugged members don't run away with your raid ID.... of course... ah, well..)

@Pangoria Fallstar: but those who haven't been to ulduar, are you so sure they'll go there just because of easy badge loot? It takes more than gear to make raids happen and work out. The non-raiders would have benefited more from more content, more 5-man instances, imo.

@Carra: yeah, it seems as if the more creative forces in Blizzards already are working on something else. Hence the badge/epic focus...

@Dw-redux: yeah, I haven't got as much to complain about - I get that new instance. But it's not for everyone. So yes, we could certainly use more content!

And I agree, I think it doesn't matter how much incentives you put up, either it's attunements or badges... the thing is that we want instances we haven't done over and over again. Regardless of reward. Another attunement would probably mostly be annoying, even though we can look back at it now with some nostalgia in our eyes.

Firespirit said...

I'm curious Larisa, what might those carrots be?

Balance changes? More PvP content? More PvE content in the same tier?

Dorgol said...

One thing of note:

5-mans may be "as boring as grinding elementals" for you. But I still get a big kick out of them.

Raiding is fun, and I love it. I'll be happy when we finally kill Yogg instead of slamming our heads into the wall that is Vezax.

But I'll take a night of chain running heroics over a night of Naxx10:

Reason 1: The scenery changes - Naxx is pretty bland.
Reason 2: I like smaller groups. I don't really "know" 20 out of the 25 people I raid with. But I'm good friends with 2 or 3 people to fill out a 5-man.
Reason 3: Raiding Ulduar is a challenge, and I love that. But that's only 2 nights a week. This is still a game and running a 5-man COMPLETELY overgeared is just FUN. See how fast you can clear a place. See how many mobs you can tank. See how many mobs your *DPS* can tank. Oh, and because you don't have to be watching for every cooldown and every ability... it's easier for us, as a group of friends, to just talk about other things.

All in all, 5-mans are still my favorite aspect of WoW.

Gevlon said...

Believe me, the shiny epics is all that most subscribers want. So why should Blizzard bother with content?

Anonymous said...

As far as 5-mans, the amount of content is sufficient. But it took way too short of a time to grow out of the heroics. They are too easy to be interesting.

In contrast, towards the end of BC, I still enjoyed running heroics.

krizzlybear said...

You are assuming here that the downstream gamer has the time to see all that content, or to commit to a guild with a set-in-stone raiding schedule. Perhaps if he/she did raid 3-4 hours 3 times a week, that person would eventually see all the content. But for someone who doesn't fit into a set raiding schedule, taking the limited time available to find the right pug to go through the content might be adequate enough for his or her tastes.

krizzlybear said...

That is, if the person wants to see the content at all. As gev pointed out, epics is a large motivator, and the non-player would be more than happy to spend the rest of the expansion farming naxx and raiding archavon when they get control.

Those who have tendencies to shift upstream to more progressive content have the option to do so with the "relatively easier" content. It's a very good move on Blizzard's part, IMO.

Fitz said...

The lockout change is a welcome change for guilds like mine (and I am sticking to it in case you were wondering from my question two days ago), which are far from a group of 10-25 top-quality raiders. Clearing the same 4-5 bosses at the beginning of a raid lockout sucks up one of our raid nights and so we don't have more than 1, maybe 2 nights to try the new stuff, which leads to less progression. So it's a welcome change.

I think Blizzard is bringing out a nice amount of content, honestly. Maybe TBC had more, but we'll have received 3 major content patches, 1 revamped 15 boss raid in Naxx, 2 new raids with 19 bosses total (Ulduar/Coliseum), 2 new battlegrounds, Wintergrasp, dual specs, and DK content in the course of 8-9 months. The only people who are bored raced through it too much IMHO.

I do wish heroics were more of a challenge, as I cannot find guild or PUG's willing to go for the harder achievements at all.

Tesh said...

This is why you let the players be the content, as Wolfshead argues now and then. There's no way a MMO dev team can stay ahead of the locusts that are progression guilds, for better or worse. You've got to leverage the players who are actually playing and let them drive the world, creating their own content.

...or make players do the same content over and over to get different rewards, and call the rewards "content". It's easier to do that... but not nearly as satisfying for the players.

Anonymous said...

The badge change is fantastic for casuals. I've been gone from wow for 6 months and recently started playing again and Im having a blast, doing PUGS! Seeing alot of new content and getting alot of overflow loot.

With the badge change the casual player that can't set aside a certain time every week for raids can still gear up enough to fill a spot in a PUG. Without this change they would be left behind without a chance to see the new content.

Gibbiex said...

I agree w/ the first Anon, so far raiding in wraith is meh. I stopped raiding after a clear or two of naxx. Hopefully i'll get back into it when i finish leveling my DK and druid.

Sure hope they do something to ease the leveling process for people who have multiple 80s. We shouldn't cheat, but we shouldn't have to invest months of work just to get to raid content again.

Honestly i'd like a whole new philosophy in dungeons and raids. Instead of finding a group of 5 ppl who are level 50, and 1 of them a tank and the other a healer, make it so that you can get a level 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50, and run the same content and get porportional amounts of xp and loot. For example, everyone gets 50% of a level, the blue sword that has +20 str for a level 50 has +5 str at level 10. Anyway this isn't going to happen in this game, but as the game gets longer its hard to justify producing breaking edge content then just throwing it all away next expansion.

Dreadheart said...

I agree with liquideggproduct...

There are a sufficient number of heroic dungeons on offer in WotLK, they are simply too easy and outgrew their challenge and purpose far too quickly compared to the heroics available in BC.

At the end of BC I was well geared, raiding BT and Hyjal, yet still returned to heroic dungeons regularly - some of which still weren't a pushover.

On top of that by the end of BC there was still a huge amount of the game that I hadn't experienced or completed. In comparison there is currently nothing in WotLK that I haven't done except for a full Ulduar clear and some mundane achievements - almost all faction rep was at exalted level within 2 months of turning 80! The content, especially the challenge and fun of the content of WotLK is severely lacking compared to the epicness of BC.

Doesn't stop me playing... but does make me wish for the good ol days.

Larísa said...

@Firespirit: oh… new zones. New quests, new 5-man-instances, whatever. I guess I’m a spoiled child. Those are probably the real gifts, not coming until Christmas/expansion…

@Dorgol: I love the 5-man format, too, I really do. And the kind of runs you describe are fun. The sad thing is that I don’t have that many close friends to do this with. Outside of raids I mostly play very late, and when I log on people are generally occupied in 10-man raids or chainrunning heroics. So I’m left to pugging if I want to do that, and I’ve got no reason in the world to do it. I guess badges will give me a reason, but it’s still not as fun as it would be if I had a new instance. Do you remember when MgT came out? Oh, what a relief it was!

@Gevlon: I’m not quite as pessimistic about this as you are Gevlon… But on the other hand, I guess Blizzard don’t do things without doing some customer research first… so maybe I should be more of a cynic than I am.

@Liquideggproduct & Dreadheart: Yeah, I agree. I guess we outgear the Northrend instances too quickly. And they’re so short as well, for good and for bad. (I think there are huge advantages about it as well, so don’t take this wrong.) … But do you remember the good old days when running Shadow labs was a 2-hour project, at least… all those huge pulls. That teleporting warlock. It took us quite a while before he too was a laugh. It gave a much more epic feeling than the instances in Northrend imo. Running heroics in those days could be almost as challenging as raiding is today.

@Krizzlybear: it depends on what kind of casual player you are. I think that provided that you’re not in a raiding guild, and not much for pugging raids, but just want to run 5-man instances, the content is rather limited atm, unless you limit your gaming to just a few of hours a week.

@Fitz: oh yes, I’m all for the lockout change. I guess that’s the hope for casual players – they can get more content if it becomes possible for them to raid. On the other hand it still require you to stick to some kind of regularity in your playing. If you want to play more by impulse, your options will still be quite limited.

@Tesh: Actually he’s really on to something there. I think one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had in game was our player-created anniversary hunt… On the other hand it requires so much that I guess it’s hard to run a game that way over time. All in all we’re a bit lazy. We log in to get entertained, not to create the entertainment by ourselves. You could wish it was different, but that’s the reality.

@Anonymous: well, good for you! But admit that it would be more fun to see some new bosses while you’re gearing up at the same time…

@Gibbiex: hm… that’s actually kind of interesting… a bit challenging I guess to tune the dungeon for it.. Then I’m not a developer/programmer, so I don’t know what’s easily done and what’s not. You’re suggesting some kind of system where “boosting” becomes accepted and a part of the game sort of. I don’t know if it would work, but it’s true that something has to be done so we can enjoy the old instances as well. I’ve been trying to pug it levelling my alt and it isn’t all that easy… which is a pity if you want to learn how to play your class before hitting 80.

Anonymous said...

It's not so much purples being content or not, it's dailies and achievements being content.

What is really being added in Wrath patches? More dailies and more pets and mounts. More achievements.

I've nothing against collecting pets and mounts but if that was all I wanted to do I'd be on Pogo or Zwinky. I'd get useless achievements and outfits and pets. Wheee.

Captain The First said...

There is no lack of content...

An unhealthy obsession with end-game content is what is.

Temitope said...

I see where you're coming from, but for me, more epics really *does* mean more content.

I'm not in a raiding guild, at least not until we get more level 80 healers and get them geared up, that means I have to rely on PuGs. The problem is that most pugs don't want you unless you are, at least partially, geared from the raid you're supposed to be running. With the system as it stands I won't be able to get into Naxx until I have already run Naxx, let alone any of the higher tier content.

By allowing me to gear up from Heroics, I'll be able to reach the new entry requirement for Naxx-10 which I currently have no way of reaching.

Lantana said...

Although I do see how great the upcoming changes will be for casuals, I too, kind of get blasé about the epics after a while. They are great fun, no doubt, but after a while.... it's just *stuff*. More stuff. And I already have a lot of stuff.

Hoenstly, I'm not all that geared. Oh, I have some great pieces, but I kind of feel like, once I have all the pieces I want.... then what? It is a bit like craving candy. Yummy yum yum! Okay, next?

Pai said...

I like fluff items (pets, mounts, etc). I wish there were more things like that in game, so that people could have goals for rare things or challenges to win to get them.

For instance, I'm considering starting to solo ZG to get a tiger or raptor mount. Sure, it would take a long time, but it would be a fun challenge. Too much in Northrend is too easy, imo.