Friday, July 10, 2009

On Heirlooms

I’ll admit that I haven’t paid too much attention to the presence of heirloom items in Warcraft. Not being level 80 until recently and not being an alt-aholic I felt it wasn’t an issue of interest. However, the recent introduction of the Tome of Cold Weather Flight caught my attention. Then this post showed up at Shy at Wow and got me to thinking about heirlooms. The more I thought about Warcraft heirlooms the more I found my distaste for them growing.

A two-tiered structure

Let me say up front that I don’t have any concern about heirloom items in their rawest form; that is to say bind-on-account items that can be transferred to lower level alts. The basic idea itself is nifty. The problem that I have is that the latest developments in heirloom items—the Tome of Flying and the 10% exp bonus—creates a two tiered player structure.


The problem adding these two features to heirloom items is that they are fundamentally unfair to new players. By new players I refer to players that have never played Warcraft before. With the implementation of these features some characters are given a leveling and economic advantage in the game for no other reason than the fact the account owner has created at least one level capped toon. That’s wrong.


It’s important to differentiate this reality from what is happening in other areas like the level reduction in mount availability. Being able to ride mounts at level 20 effects all characters equally. The introduction of the new quest helper and equipment manger features effect all players equally. Heirlooms items don’t; two level 68 characters—equal in experience, equal in equipment, and equal in player skill—yet one will have an inherent and unassailable advantage over the other by being able to fly in Northrend.


In particular this change will have a huge impact on gathering professions. How do you think a new player who is on their first level 68 toon is going to feel when they reach for that Tiger Lily only to have it plucked out of their grasp by another level 68 who swoops in on their flying mount. I’d be angry. In is one thing to have flying at level 77 apply to all; it is a vastly different thing to have flying apply to some characters and not to others. The net result is that the rich get richer and the newbies are put at an even greater disadvantage.


Rebuttals


I recognize there is a sense in which alts already have an advantage over newbies in the sense that the players behind them have an experience base the new players haven’t developed yet. And these alts tend to be better funded in terms of gold and equipment. But I think those realities are different from heirlooms. First, the development of player experience is not uniform and it’s not something Blizzard has deliberately implemented. If anything, a mod like quest helper is a nerf to player experience and helps level the playing field in that regard. Secondly, gold transfers to low level alts don’t really speed the leveling process that much. Equipment purchasable on the AH at low levels is rarely better than what one gets from loot or quest rewards, assuming you can even find it on the AH anymore. While it undoubtedly has some impact on the leveling process, I don’t think it’s significant. Besides, gold is so freely available now it’s a moot point. My level 54 alt has more than 12K gold all which it has earned itself.

Account Development

What appears to me to be happening with heirloom items is a shift in developer focus from character development to account development. There are solid game life-cycle reasons to do this. For one, it’s almost always more profitable to retain a current account than to entice someone to create a new one. If giving you a few in-game rewards like +10% exp and a quicker access to flying mount convinces you to renew your subscription, it’s smart business sense. In fact, in a sly and subtle way it’s another incremental form of micro-transaction like Refer-A-Friend. Yet, unlike heirlooms, Refer-A-Friend had the redeeming feature of bringing new blood into the game.


At the heart of what bothers me about heirlooms items is this. Blizzard is saying that they deliberately want alts to have an advantage over newbies. And they are not being shy at wow about it. Nothing could be more in-your-face than flying. No one but you can see exp gains; most people aren’t paying attention to how fast others level. But everyone can see you fly. When your level 68 toon is riding around on his horse or raptor and the level 68 toon next to you is flying the message being sent in unmistakable: you’re the noob; you don’t count.


This is why I can’t agree with the commentary at Shy At Wow. It’s true that Blizzard can’t take away from one’s past experiences in an absolute sense. But that misses the point. The point of heirlooms is the relative value of future experiences. In this sense the term “heirloom” is a bit of a Jedi mind-trick. Heirloom items are not achievements, they are not laurels, they are not keepsakes. They are designed to give select players real in-game (not vanity) advantages in the future. With heirloom items—and flying in particular—Blizzard is saying that the future experiences of long-time subscribers is more important than the future experiences of new subscribers.


Maybe that’s right. Maybe for the overall health of the game Blizzard needs to give long-standing accounts this advantage to keep them in the game. But as someone who just recently leveled for the first time through Northrend I can’t say that idea of having to ride on my mechanostrider through the tundra while others in the low level 70s are flying around taking cobalt ore from me is a situation that would have given me a thrill. Maybe it would have prompted me to level faster but somehow I think /ragequit is more like it.

38 comments:

Tesh said...

It does mark a significant turning point in a game's life where they spend more time on "account management" over "character management" (good way to phrase it, by the way). Yes, you always want to maintain loyal customers, but when they are your main revenue stream, the game has passed over a hump in the adoption curve that really can't be recrossed. For better or for worse.

Baines said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

As a heavy alter I feel compelled to comment. You bring up examples of flying level 68 characters swooping in and stealing nodes. Would it be any different if a level 80 came and did the same thing? Cuz they do it. All. the. time.

You mention an heirloom-geared, flying alt standing next to a green-geared, non-flying low level main, and that somehow makes the low level main feel inferior? Is that any different from a fresh 80 in Dalaran looking next to a tier 8 geared character and getting the same impression?

Or how about a level capped character without the 5k gold to get swift flight, and those with it?

To me your concern sounds more like, 'It is not good that some characters have obvious advantages or perks over others.' Perks that have been earned through gold, emblems, and time mind you - there is no free ride. In an MMO players who put more time into the game will almost always have an advantage in some form over players with less play time.

Also, the game gets easier for new players each patch. Faster leveling, cheaper mounts and flying at lower levels, new in-game features like quest pointers, and now the emblem of conquest change that will help newer players gear up faster at level 80.

A new player will reach the level cap in half the time, or even a third of the time it took me my first time through. If you look at the issue with a wider perspective, you will see the sum equation of advantages and disadvantages for old vs. new is zero.

Furthermore, if a new player is referred, they will gain 280% more experience than an alt with both heirloom armor pieces. Now I'm jealous, too!

Pangoria Fallstar said...

There is a bit of a difference between someone who has the 5k epic flying training and a person with only basic, or someone in full tier gear over someone without, and having someone flying at 68 and someone not.

IF you have the money you can get epic flying, and if you have the right raid group or guild, you can get tier 8.

But, only those who have a main who is level 80 will be flying in northrend at 68. And in mounts that are 150% flying speed as well.

Those alts will level faster than a person who's main is now 68.

But honestly, this doesn't mean anything. Because them leveling faster is not going to affect another person's game, any more than that 10% exp boost, or having a main send down 4 frostweave bags for a level 5 toon.

MomentEye said...

I think you may be worrying too much about the new players. It doesn't feel like a disadvantage or an unfairness from down where I am.

I'm not playing to get up to 80 (which I'm told is where the 'real' game begins.)
I am, literally, in the content.

It doesn't make the slightest bit of difference if someone else is getting an xp bonus because there is no competition at my level - only survival and progress.

Robert said...

If you're a new player to the game, then to you there are hundreds of ways in which the veterans have advantages over you; I doubt you actually care much about one more thing like others being able to fly 9 levels sooner.

Klepsacovic said...

This is what happens when a company pushes end game as the game. People lose the sense of fun from leveling, they complain that it is repetitive. Anything to speed up leveling will be desired.

People will complain about doing the same quest twice, but they do dailies endlessly. One gives xp and you do it once per character, the other gives gold and you do it over and over and over... Raids are often repetitive as well. The only thing making leveling different is that it is not the end game which we think we're supposed to be at. Well that and you can get 10% xp shoulders but no 10% loot shoulders.

Darraxus said...

I dont think they are saying that the new players arent important. The heirloom items are incentive for old players to level their alts a bit. People who have been throught the same content 10 times dont want to go back.

Different players play different ways. Some have a lot of alts. These people may not care for the grind. I dont see anything wrong with them. I have 3 pairs of heirloom shoulders and it makes my leveling a bit easier.

If you want to talk about unfair, how about new people who take about 1/4th the time to get to level cap now compared to the pre BC days. It took me 16 days /played to get to 60 on my Warrior. It took me like 5 days /played to get to 80 on my Druid.

Elnia said...

There are some good comments here to which I will respond. I'm not suggesting that heirlooms make or break the game. As a I said at the beginning, I haven't even paid attention to them until now.

It's true that level 80s have all sorts of advantages over lower levels now. But that's not the point. The point of comparison is two level 68s, in terms of flying. Up until heirloom items those two characters were treated alike. Now they are treated differently depending on whether one is an alt or not. It's true that those heirlooms were earned by the player but it's equally true that they were not earned by that specific character. My point is that it's maybe not good that alts have certain advantages which the character (as opposed to the player) didn't earn. Because when I am playing WoW it's not the player's account I see flying around, it's the character. In that sense flying is very different than behind the scene advantages alts have always had like frostweave bags.

As for whether or not this difference between alts and newbies affects a person's enjoyment of the game, that going to be very much an individual response. Certainly, other characters will notice. People notice when they are being treated differently. And it wouldn't at all surprise me if some people get upset about being treated differently in this fashion.

Argon said...

New players have one advantage over the grizzled altaholic: the content is fresh and exciting to them. I'd trade away all my heirloom items in an instant for that.

gnomeaggedon said...

Ummm totally (or mainly) unrelated...

I was riding through Stormwind this morning on my mechanostrider (epic one yes, but otherwise stock standard mechanostrider)...

I got a whisper from a lvl 29 rogue...

"Wow, nice mount!"

I was kinda stunned... I didn't reply for a couple of minutes, because I was sure they were taking the mickey out of me... then it occurred to me that maybe they really are a new player and had never seen a mechanostrider...

there you go...

Back on topic now...

Larísa said...

I wonder how much the new players - if there are any of them - actually think about that kind of stuff. Maybe experienced players do, but probably not newbies, like I was. My picture of the game as I levelled up my first character weas very very blurred. I had no idea how higher levelled other players were, they had those mystic skulls on them and seemed to come from a far distant country. Not part of my world really. I wouldn't have been able to tell if they had heirloom shoulders to help them or not. And I couldn't tell a normal mount from an epic. I knew that I was merely a pesant in the game, in the bottom layer, but that didn't bother me at all. Ambitions, sense of competition, goals (apart from levelling) - all that came much, much later.

So I wonder if those new players really ARE that envious and feel badly treated after all?

@Gnomeaggedon: oh, what a sweet story! I've never ever heard anyone praising the noicy old crap bird. But then I haven't been riding anything else but my dear Alterac Valley mount since last year.. Noone is praising it, noone is envious, but I don't care. It's awesome.

gnomeaggedon said...

@Larisa: The Ol' Mechanostrider still rules the roads for me...

Even on those cold went mornings when I have to get out and push start it...

Bloody Gnome engineers...

In fact as far as land mounts go, the only ones I have are mechanostriders... I have the complete "showroom" range (Apart from the new AT ones), those other race's mounts as appealing (and affordable) as they are just don't clunk the same way when you fall from 80 yards....

Shy said...

I do think that the cold weather flying tome is coming too soon, but I really don't think that the new player is being put at a disadvantage.

With regards to gathering skills.

If I would want to be a meanie to this new player I would simply switch to my main and be a meanie. Having Cold Weather Flying on alts would mean I get to be a meanie at 68, but if people want to be meanies they are meanies, the fact that their alts can fly at a bit younger age doesn't change that.

And with my post I mainly wanted to point out that one experience doesn't have to change only by looking at someone else. It's a silly trap that a lot of people step into. They start comparing their situation.

But if you start comparing your situation, you have to compare the entire situation. Where was that new player while you were leveling your first character? Oh wait, he or she was playing a different game bashing someone's head in with their OP 4 year old character? Does it change the feel already to think of it like that?

Instead it is much better to look at your situation. Are you happy where you are? Yes? Good!

No? Change it. Don't say, yes I'm happy, but they...well they have nothing to do with it, only if you let them.

Everwrath of Silvermoon said...

I think the biggest advantage to the alt is having run the content before. If you compare the speed a seasoned veteran levels with the speed of a new player - having the knowledge of where the quest hubs are, how many mobs they can handle at once, when to run and when to hearth, etc. you'll appreciate that rested xp goes down much quicker. Now I usually end up without rested pretty fast, so 10% shoulders, 10% chest (in 3.2) is a nice benefit and makes it much more unlikely that I would abandon an alt for days on end just to get that rested advantage back.

The other thing to consider with heirlooms is that when you have a server almost full, you're going to be able to roll a level 1, mail it a dozen heirlooms (cloth, leather, mail, plate shoulders, miscellaneous weapons, chests, etc.) fill the bank with frostweave bags and 20K gold, move it to a new server, transfer it to the other faction and level up another 10 alts. Fair? maybe not. But I'd hate to have to start from scratch when I've been playing endgame content for years.

rapidresponceunit said...

I remember the first time I saw someone with a flying mount, a 280% speed at that. It just gave me something to work on, I think my exact words were "Holy crapola, I want one of those" Now I own one of my own :D

Gevlon said...

I think there is a bigger problem with flying than "he has and I don't". The problem is that a lvl 68 new player and a lvl 68 alt cannot play together as the alt would have to wait a lot for the newbie.

However I don't think Blizzard is stupid. Your story, and mine above only affect the LONE new player. The average new player is boosted by an already playing friend. Blizzard's main point is keeping the current players. They don't have to care for new players as existing players drag their friends into the game.

Carra said...

I read in that that Blizzard is trying to maintain their current user base. And doesn't really care that much about those few players who still don't have a level 80 character.

And it also shows that they see the levelling content as something boring that players want to do as fast as possible. I don't see why. Levelling is fun. Levelling 10% faster is reducing the fun! I seem to be in the minority of players that actually thinks levelling can be a lot of fun.

All those heirlooms, flying tomes etc shouldn't have made it into the game in the first place. Being an alt before those items was already plenty of advantage. A main to send you big slot bags, enough gold to buy a few new items. And above all the knowledge of zones, encounters, wowhead, james guides,... There's really no need to give even more advantages to alts.

krizzlybear said...

I'm going to agree with Gevlon on this one. I have a friend who's new to the game, and he gets boosted by me considerably. The difference is that I'm actually teaching him about his class as we go along, attempting to minimize the M&S impact that boosting has in the long run.

New players who play in isolation are at a disadvantage, yes, but the mindset of a player in that position is completely different from one who's reached the cap. He doesn't know the differences between both, so he focuses more on the features that are available to him.

This isn't an "ignorance is bliss" result, since the game is a lot richer and deep than veteran players would like to admit. My friend, despite RAF bonuses and being in the high 30's, still likes to quest in the forsaken starting zone on his blood elf because he is interested in the lore.

My point is that there is a LOT of things to do on the way to 80 on your first toon; heirlooms and such are for those who have already gone through the motions and don't want to bother with them again. And can you really blame them?

Joe said...

I like your view, but at the same time, said level'd alt with the nice heirloom item, has a main that had to make that grind to 80 to get it.

Yes its slightly unfair for completly new players, but at the same time, like in your example of equality, once the NEW players hit 80, they too can do the same thing.

Since this system only helps alts, the trend is that the 12 level difference of an alt and NEW player is literally only 12 levels. In terms of leveling in northend, thats not very long imo.

The impact just really means alts hit 80 slightly quicker, it wont impact anyone else, since a lvl 68 alt could or might as well be the 80 main of the guy leveling his alt.

If that makes sense?

Anonymous said...

Other commenters already said it, but I have to reiterate - a level 68 player swooping down and "stealing" a node is no different than a level 80 player swooping down and "stealing" it. If I were a new player, I would see the level 68 player flying and ask them how I can get it. The response would just motivate me to get to 80 so that MY alts could fly at 68 as well.


The main thing is that what the alts are allowed to do in no way hinder the playtime or enjoyment factor of a leveling newbie. In fact, showing off what the game offers is a GOOD thing for newbies. A newbie that is jealous of the alt of a veteran player SHOULD be normal - it should motivate them to keep leveling, and keep playing. At the same time, they are still experiencing the game for the first time, while these alts zipping around on their flying mounts have already been there, done that.

It also makes sense for Blizzard to keep catering to the veteran players. Bored with the current raids? Level an alt! And here's more of an incentive to do so!

Frankly, I'm sort of surprised that someone would be against this new Tome of Flying.

krizzlybear said...

I think many of us are forgetting that cold weather flying is normally trainable at 78. 3.2 will not change this, so it comes sooner than what the article leads one to believe.

Elnia said...

@larisa. I think you need to draw a distinction between people who are new to the game in the sense that they don't have a level capped toon and people who are new to the game, period. By level 68 you really aren't a newbie in the latter sense even if you are still a newbie in the former sense. Maybe it's just me but some of that misty-eyed stuff had worn off by then (although not completely as I still have it!)

@shy. I think you over play this point. There is an entire school of sociology that would not only say you are wrong, but that social comparisons and deriving personal meaning from those comparisons is essential human nature. Read the works of George Cooley or more recently Richard Rorty.

@everwrath. Up until 3.2 I would agree with you. But after the new quest helper mod comes in I think that advantage will be significantly less.

@Gevlon. "They don't have to care for new players as existing players drag their friends into the game."

I'd be curious to know how true that really is. Everything I have read suggests that in fact there are more solo players than not. But I admit that I have seen no hard data on that point; I'm not sure it's the type of data Blizzard would want to release.

Frijona said...

I think Blizzard wants new players to explore the content. With an alt, you've seen everything already so it makes more sense to speed through it if you want. Also, the heirloom items are options for alts. If you want your alt to level at a lower XP rate, you can. If they made these changes for everyone, people wouldn't have a choice and just zoom through the content. I think if new users could choose to level faster they would, and would miss content in the process and maybe regret that later on.

I'm not 80 yet and while sometimes I would like to be able to fly through Northrend and get my quests completed more quickly, I feel that in the end I would wish I'd explored it more thoroughly.

Rubymelon said...

Honestly, I think Blizzard has done new players a service by not giving them access to heirlooms. While some people may argue that people won't be noobs by the time their in Northerend, I don't believe that. It takes a while to pick up the insight to how the game goes around and to understand many of the game/class mechanics. By having the RAF system, Blizzard already has given a boost for new comers to get insane amounts of XP. I've seen people in hellfire with no blues, and one or two greens that are from wailing caverns.

The problem of leveling for new comers to wow right now isn't the heirlooms. The problem is that they're getting means to level faster with each major content patch. Reduced amount of leveling time, reduced amount of xp needed to level. The problem is being able to rush through content to begin with. Countless numbers of new players don't understand simple mechanics such as CC or LOS.

Ignorance is bliss. As far as I remember, when I leveled, while there was still some pressure to hit 60 to start raiding, I enjoyed every part of the leveling as I was able to explore zones and figure out all the questing, learning mechanics during this process.

I feel it's better that new comers don't get access to heirlooms so that they don't feel pressured to level faster, and that they can do the quests and explore and learn about wow. Content is already nerfed at is it is and people are already skipping over zones because of how fast you can level. You can burn through TBC content without even reaching Nagrand, or at Nagrand. Similar with vanilla wow.
As a result we have people not knowing basic basic game mechanics, and less cooperative and don't know how to interact with a group. No more hard elites for group quests, oh noes we can't have that because people can't solo them. Solo-ers have enough quests out there to level even without group quests. But Blizzard went and nerfed those anyway. Less and less groups for lowbie instances, so less exposure to grouping for new players.

If your concern is for new-comers, I doubt that heirlooms should be your target of frusteration.

As for the flying mount. This isn't the first time Blizzard gave a class flying at an earlier level. During TBC druids got flight form at 77, and it still is that way, and will be that way at least until the next patch.

What do you think the reason is that Blizzard has always pushed flying far back in levels as possible? Level cap during TBC, 77 for Wrath? I don't think it's to limit leveling persay but to let players have the enjoyment of RPGs in general for exploring. When you fly by an area you don't notice it as much as when you're exploring on your mount. Heirlooms grant this earlier for alts yes, but they already have seen the content. If Blizzard grants all newcomers the ability to fly at 68 do you think they will enjoy the content as much? It kills the content, and it kills the fun of leveling too. Giving a mount to a 68 is like telling you to just focus on getting quests done as quick as possible without looking at the content. And as I have been reading your posts and sadness of less and less people looking at the content, I feel you will understand and agree with my point. Besides, if allowing a flying mount to alts means you're discouraged from farming ore and herbs, I think you or Gevlon would probably agree that it's better off for new-comers to learn that early on. Or is it better for them to learn the hard way by doing nothing but farming to get money? As you and Gevlon have established, you can get enough gold at a low level. If they were given a mount at 68 to make it seem easier to gather ore and herbs, it'll take them longer to figure out professions will give you more profit to begin with.

Rubymelon said...

Other than the long comment I left above, I'm a reroll from Alliance to Horde and have my 19 characters enjoying wow content. I'm totally for heirlooms because of the amount of alts I have. I enjoy the different taste of wow from each class's viewpoint, and being able to level faster, is great for me because I've been exposed to the game mechanics, ect since beta for vanilla wow. I still hold strong that the heirlooms are better held off from newcomers so that we won't see anymore 80s not understanding that unique items mean you can only have one, and that you shouldn't roll Need on a boe when everyone rolls Greed, ect. I wish more mages would understand when to sheep, and priests when to shackle. I wish more people would understand what LOS is and experience the great content Blizzard has layed out.

But as for me, being the 19th time around...I feel altaholics need a way to ease the leveling. Maybe Blizzard should up the heirlooms to 5 alts required?:P

Oh, and besides this fact. The newcomers will be able to purchase heirlooms when they reach 80 anyway. Is it unfair for those with an 80 to have an advantage? There are already so many advantages to having a level capped character, and it has always been that way. Why reach level cap otherwise? There will always be 80s that decide to reroll a profession, and such.

And may I also point out that not all level 80s decide to get heirlooms. It's mostly the altaholics. Many of the non-altaholics that I talk to that level alts, don't spend their time or badges on heirlooms because they don't feel it's worth it for just one character. I feel its worth it because I can use a heirloom across at least 3 characters.

And I can tell you, the alt item market still is doing well. Enchants as well, and they can, make a big difference. (if the item prices have dropped, the enchant prices have gone up to make up for it)

Copernicus said...

I loved the leveling experience, at least on my first three 70s. After that, it just became monotonous. My focus in the game isn't the leveling experience anymore, it's playing the end game with various strategies.

Nowadays I want to see how you run Naxx on a ret paladin or a shadow priest. I honestly don't care about Hemet Nessingwary for the 50th time, or what time troubles Chromie is trying to fix now.

Anything that helps me level faster is a huge boon.

Yes, I can see newer players being upset over something like this, if they notice. Is it unfair? Yes, if looked at from a distance. Looking closer, this is Blizzard's way of rewarding their long time members, and showing that they understand the life cycle of a gamer.

highlatencylife said...

I think your right, it's more about account development, instead of charecter development.

The WoW I fell in love with in 2004 is long gone. Not saying I don't love WoW anymore, Lets just say the honeymoon is over.

TheLumpyOne said...

Summary:
All the advantages require a time investment from the player to gain them which strikes me as fair.

Long version:
Are new players are at a disadvantage? Well, yeah.

With or without heirloom items they will have numerous disadvantages:
1. Experience - no amount of addons can prevent this. Heck, learning about addons is one of things a newb can learn about

2. Money - level 80s can get tons of money doing dailies or playing AH and send as much as they want to their new alt. The newb has to quest/kill to at least get seed money to play AH, assuming they even know what the AH is or how to get rich using it.

3. Skills/Goods - alts can share crafted items easily. The alt essentially starts with indirect access to all the production tradeskills any of the other alts the player has on the same faction/sever. The newb is at 0 in two slots plus needs the money to learn/level them. The alts can share starting goods. For example, I keep a full set of traveler backpacks/mooncloth bags to send to new alts to use till I decide if I'm going to keep the alt.

4. Social Network - the alt can usually get an invite to a guild of players known to the player. This can be a huge help. There is a guild on my server that has several altaholics that always have toons at almost any level and they love doing old world instances. Getting an alt into a guild like that is a huge boost: access to a guild bank and frequent runs at any level to name 2 benefits. Some players also get game friends boost their new alt.

Yet you don't consider these advantages unfair. So why do the heirloom items seem unfair to you?
Are they free? Well no.
Does the players creating a new alt just buy them with gold? Well no. The experienced player needs to collect stonekeeper shards(from WG dailies or from Northrend bosses when your side holds WG) or badges from heroics. In either case the players is doing something that takes time to earn them. They then turn that time invested into an time savings on a second toon.

Thats seems fair to me.

As to the new heirloom item in 3.2 for cold-weather flying being unfair. Your example stinks:
Player A goes for a node and player B beats him because [Pick one:they can fly, they can fly faster, they have crusader aura, they have on a pale horse, they gank you(pvp only), all the above, other]

Is it unfair when a level 80 toon with epic flying beats a level 80 with regular flying to the node? No. The main difference between this example in yours is that the level 80 can save up and buy the epic flying while the level 68 can't unless they have a level 80 alt.

So why do I say it is not unfair? The level 80 with epic spent time earning the gold to buy that epic flying that the other level 80 didn't which makes it fair. The level 68 that has cold weather flying has it because the player spent the time getting it for the alt while the person without the alt hasn't spent the time leveling a toon to 80 and gathering the currency.

Temitope said...

I feel a bit hypocritical here, because while I absolutely agree with everything you say in the original post, I got the Heriloom shoulders for my Druid the moment I could, and you can bet whatever it is you like to bet on things that I'll be buying the CWF tome for her once she's gained another forty-one levels.

I think the thing that bugs me most about this is the messed up sense of entitlement that it ties into. People seem to think that getting to 80 means you've "earned" perks that lower level players shouldn't get.

Syrana said...

Someone already mentioned how druids learned flight form a few levels earlier in TBC... was that fair to other classes at the same level? Is it fair that they don't have to change forms to pick that flower while I have to dismount?

Some would say yes, others would say no (mostly likely druids...:P)

Did it affect my game or experience? No.

Perhaps you might not think this is in line with the topic.. but what about the Death Knight class? Granted, you only need to be at least level 55 (and have WotLK) to create one, but that was a "perk" granted to "long-time" players. Brand new people that purchased both expansions had to wait.

Why do I bring it up? Because I got my parents interested in playing after Wrath was released. I had to explain to my mother why she couldn't create a DK yet.

And who's to say everyone and all their alts will take advantage of the Tome? I have 2 80s, but neither of them have earned the required currency to buy any heirloom items for my alts. (I might have to double check on Syr, but I haven't bought anything yet, at any rate.)

While I may not agree with your post, it still gives me points to ponder.

Mister K said...

My take is Blizzard thinks they have reached the top. They don't see themselves getting any bigger(or not enough to be of consequence) their current goal has now shifted into player retention. What can we do to keep the people we do have paying that monthly fee. Well lets make it it super easy to level alts up. Pats on back all around, that'll keep em busy for a while

Temitope said...

One further point:

It strikes me that the difference between being able to fly in Northrend on your level 68 alt and being able to fly in Northrend on your level 80 main is that flying at 68 allows you to multitask in a way that first-time levelers can't.

If I get ninja'd out of a Saronite node in Sholazar by a level 80 on a flying mount, that's fair enough. They're probably specifically farming the stuff, while I'm just grabbing whatever nodes I can while questing. They have made the choice to farm nodes instead of leveling an alt or running a raid, which is fair play.

On the other hand if alts are allowed to fly in Northrend while first-time levelers aren't, that choice no longer exists. Suddenly people with 80s get the option to level their alts *and* farm efficiently, while those of us working on our first characters do not. They get this purely because received wisdom says that people with 80s *deserve* more than people who do not have 80s.

spinksville said...

I have one alt on a different realm and I've noticed already when I run instances that it's very common for the alts of level 80s to have heirloom gear. I can't come near them for dps, for example.

On the other hand, more drops for me because they don't care about the weapons.

It would be a pain if you wanted to level with a friend though.

ZacharyPruckowski said...

Here's an advantage the new player has - the content is much more fun when you've only done it once. Leveling content is a blast the first time through. The second, third, or fourth time through, however, it's not.

It's also very time-inefficient on an alts - in the 3 hours I spend getting my alt 1 level, I could fish up or farm hundreds (if not a thousand) of gold or do 20 dailies or run 4-6 heroics or half a dozen battlegrounds, or 2 Wintergrasps. There's a huge opportunity cost there. Unless I play 12-15 hours/day, I have more worthwhile things to do on my main. By contrast, a new player can level...and that's about it.

SolidState said...

Larisa,
Sorry but I disagree. Heirlooms are no different from gold, gear or enchants sent by mains to alts. If you accept these, you accept Heirlooms. Also I don't think gold is as easy to get as you say it is, while AH gear does make a huge difference while leveling. As for it being on the AH - well I can't speak for your server but plenty here.

Yes such perks are a boost for alts but I don't think they are unfair. I will explain why in a bit, but first...

Regarding the flying mount at 68. The purpose here is clear I think. When Northrend was released, Blizzard stated that players would not be able to fly there till level 77. The given reason? So people could progress through the content as it was meant to be seen and not skip over stuff.
This reasoning still holds true today for new players first leveling.
But for people who have already done the content once, the reason to give them a flying mount at 68 is the same as the reason to let them have more perks for leveling alts faster - it is because they have already seen the content so they are not missing out on anything but being allowed to level faster or fly over Northrend at level 68.

So this is why I don't think it has to do with "fairness" - if you can even use that term for decisions made by Blizzard for a game controlled by them...
It has to do with letting new people see the content - either at 30 or at 70 - as it was meant to be, while letting people who have already seen it, level through it a bit faster.

"some characters are given a leveling and economic advantage in the game for no other reason than the fact the account owner has created at least one level capped toon"

Wrong. It is not enough to simply create a level capped toon. You also need to farm instances and get enough Emblems and Stone Keeper shards (325(!) for the Grand Staff of Jordan) to buy the items. For example to get the 2 trinkets and shoulders for my warlock I needed 140 Emblems - around a month of instances...
The flying book will also still cost 1k gold and be a 1-use item, meaning players with alts are not getting a free ride here...

Just my 2cents worth :)

Larísa said...

@Solidstate: it's not me that you disagree with, but Elnia. Just as a clarification!

Kristine said...

Great discussion going. Was going to make long involved post, but realized that what I wanted to say had been said, so here is a token QFT:

Robert:
"If you're a new player to the game, then to you there are hundreds of ways in which the veterans have advantages over you"

Aragon:
"New players have one advantage over the grizzled altaholic: the content is fresh and exciting to them. I'd trade away all my heirloom items in an instant for that."