Monthly Archives: December 2014

Mine Mine Mine – Work Work

For once, I read a thing on WoWInsider that I completely disagree with. Like not a little disagree with, but at least think they have a point; this is full on I think they are wrong.

Professions in WoD are not broken. With one *minor* complaint, they are better than they have ever been.

Statement 1: “As the game stands right now, you could never touch professions and you’d miss almost nothing of importance.”

Except for the huge piles of gold and gear. Nope, nothing of importance. Adam makes the statement that all of the crafted gear is easily replaced with LFR drops, and seems to be missing a few steps of logic.

I have run LFR every lockout on my main, Joyia. Not a single piece of gear has dropped. For that matter, I have 23 boss kills across all difficulties and world bosses and I have a grand total of 4 pieces of gear from all of that. I have two from Missions. And I have 3 crafted pieces. The purpose of crafted epics is to upgrade pieces you need that you can’t or haven’t gotten drops for. It’s a way to ease the pain of the random loot system. (Just like valor, which is why I am still cranky that’s gone.)

Why are crafted pieces actually MORE awesome this expansion than others?

First, they are no longer limited to a few slots. In MoP, as a tailor and clothie, I only got to upgrade/replace my legs and belt. But legs and belts were both SUPER common. I sharded multiple ones along the way. I didn’t get shoulders though until literally the LAST Garrosh kill of the expac. And even then only because the priest HANDED them to me because it was so absurd I still didn’t have them. It’s a lot like everyone felt with the cloak drops… they were worthless because everyone was working on the legendary. But now in WoD – if I get a great cloak, leg, and chest drop, I can make epics for 3 other slots! If anything, this has made crafting epics MORE valuable than ever before. As raiding progresses, the prices should stay fairly solid across all pieces too, because there will always be a need for that one piece that just won’t drop for someone.

Second, they can be upgraded. No, it’s not cheap – but then, it really shouldn’t be. Item level (ilvl) points make a much larger difference this expansion than previously. I went up 4 ilvl points and gained over 5k dps. And even at market prices, it’s still cheaper than buying a BoE epic of that ilvl.

No battle pets? What are the Elekk Plushie and the Soul of the Forge then? Chopped liver? And the mounts! My leatherworker is seriously eying her crafted mount instead of leg armor.

Also, the fixes don’t actually *fix* the problem he has detailed. He wants professions to be important. To have something to do with the mountains of ore and herbs he is stockpiling.

Fix 1 – more gear – Um… what professions is HE looking at? Because my tailor HAS a set of level 98 gear that is perfect for gearing up for dungeons. So did my Leatherworker and Blacksmith. It’s about the same as the gear I could get from quests in Nagrand, so really it works. The epics, built off of the daily cooldowns, are the source of steady gold this expansion. I sell at least 2-3 epics a week, each for 10-15k, which is far more than I ever made from blue dungeon gear in MoP.

Fix 2 – eliminate the need for daily cooldowns. First off – this is ALREADY HOW IT IS. My blue tailoring patterns don’t require the daily cooldowns.  Hurm, neither do my leatherworking ones. I bet the blacksmithing ones don’t either. The epic items are the only ones that need the daily cooldowns.

Also he seems to be missing the point entirely. The daily cooldowns are the things DRIVING the work orders in the garrison. They are adding purpose to having the buildings that match your profession. But once more, it’s better than it has ever been before, because you don’t have to have the profession to make an item from it. My rogue can finally make her own gear, without having to drop Engineering or Mining! My mage can make robes without dropping Alchemy and Herbalism! Also, by limiting it to 3 crafted pieces, they ease the entry to raiding, without making dungeon running and early raids completely pointless. No walking in, dropping 100k gold and being decked out in epics.

Fix 3 – the mine and herb garden… So he wants to go back to the dark ages of riding around fighting over nodes? No thank you. Yes, the ore and herb drops the first two weeks (three?) were FAR too high. And unfortunately, many of us built massive stockpiles during that time. But even so, the fact that I can mine my own ore, easily, without having to fight over it, means I have made far more crafted plate than ever. More gems have been cut than ever! I am actually leveling alchemy! These two inclusions have changed the default state of professions from gathering being the professions chosen just for gold making purposes to actually crafting things to use. Which arguably, is the whole point. And oh, the joy of not having to ride all over Draenor since we can’t FLY to get herbs and ore.

But even so, ore and herbs still sell well on the AH. 150g per stack of ore? For almost no work involved in collecting it? 300g per stack of herbs? Sure! As for too much of every material, they give 2-3 per node now. Yes, on level 3 mines and gardens, that adds up to a large amount, but it also cost almost 4k gold to get to that point. And the recipes require large amounts of all of it. My tailor uses 10 flytrap a day. So does my other tailor and leatherworker. I need those gardens to feed that.

People also keep asking for the ability to turn in herbs and ore for Savage Bloods. Um. You sort of can? Sell the herbs and ore to earn gold to buy the bloods? Make epic gear and sell that to buy the bloods? It’s all part of an economy! Or goodness, go and get the barn and farm your own savage bloods (I sell mine for 1k each, which is a steady flow of gold!)

 

This all makes sense. It’s a nice system that allows players to be self sufficient, and make lots of gold. I would even say I am exploiting it – with 5 mines, 3 herb gardens, 2 barns, and six crafters doing profession cooldowns every day. I am crafting more right now than I have in the last three expansions put together. Usually after the first month I am only making bags and gems.

Now. Professions and crafted gear DOES have ONE problem. FUCKING RANDOM STATS. (Sorry, I HATE RANDOM, THE CURSING IN WARRANTED.) It shouldn’t be easier for me to sell an epic on the AH with junk stats to buy the one with stats I do want. Especially with the removing of reforging. And the reroll items? WAY too expensive since you still might get the same bad stats. If anything THOSE are what shouldn’t use the daily cooldown items, and instead should just use massive amounts of regular mats. Actually, that one change would address all of Adam’s issues too, without hurting the way I and others use them.

I disagree Adam, I think as far as gearing and goldmaking, crafting professions are actually important. If anything, herbalism, mining, and skinning have been nerfed to unimportance and are likely going to get replaced for some of my alts, just to be able to make more of the daily cd items. Crafting has leapt into the position of actually being a useful gearing tool instead of something I only use for my main, then never again.

Promoting Better Play

“We’re not above bribing you to be nice to each other. And frankly, neither are you.”

They said this at the BlizzCon they announced Warlords of Draenor at. And I remember thinking… That will be a neat trick. In the words of our tank Xxiv, “You can grief someone at anything, says the guy who was griefed in Journey.” (Journey has no chat, matchmaking etc, you just move through the world with another player. But apparently his match didn’t move. They just stood still.)

As a game designer, I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to convince the player to do what I want them to do, without just flat out telling them. And sometimes with just flat out telling them. It’s funny, because it kind of crosses over into being a parent. How do you get the toddler to do what you want, without forcing them to do it.

As all parents and pet owners know, there is positive and negative reinforcement. Positive is rewarding them for doing what you want. Bonuses, treats, special treatment. Negative is punishing them for doing things you don’t want them to do. Spanking, time outs, etc. Blizzard is pretty good at getting a majority of people to “play” the way they want us to play. They want you to quest instead of grind just killing mobs? Make the quests have better rewards, take less time, and give more experience.

Torgo answered the question “Does WoD promote better play?” and he answered the question from his pov. But the game designer reads that question very differently.

This question is asking a lot of things. And play is a very loaded word for a designer. So I wanted to answer it, with my designer cap on. Play is not just about with other people, but everything you do within the game. other people are going to come into it more because it’s a multiplayer game.

Yes. And oh god no.

I am sure you are all surprised at my dichotomy.

Promoters!

– Garrisons do an AMAZING job of promoting play. People logging in at weird hours and staying up late to check missions, discussing buildings endlessly trying to figure out the best ones, helping with invasions, even working together to get achievements to get the guild banners! Further, they provide a very REAL reward in the form of bonuses, extra gear, extra materials. Very much a positive reinforcement to get us to play and play with all the parts.

– Flexible raid size. Our team of raiders is 15, just within our guild and real life social group. Now 2-3 of those might drop or wander away, but that would still leave us with 12. 12 is an awful number of raiders in the old system. In WoD – no worries. Even so, if you add our partners in crime, we are at potentially 32 raiders. THIRTY.TWO. That’s a ton of players and far beyond what I ever expected us to be at. So many people to play and have fun with. No man or woman left behind!

Non-Promoters!

– Items in dungeons not dropping from the final boss. Oh man… do you know how many times I have gotten into a Shadowmoon Burial Grounds run, the tank has been just terrible… we get to the first quest item and bam – he’s gone? Only to realize he was a dps, who had a tank offspec and used it just to rush to the item? It’s in the double digits already. Even worse – I had to run Grimrail Depot TWICE because I forgot to pick up the quest item off the ground, and even though I had a lockout where I had killed all the bosses, it wouldn’t let me back to that spot. So far actually none of the rumored “incentives” to keep playing together have been clearly communicated. And furthermore I have actually found it MORE difficult to succeed in a group of friends because we don’t get the luck of the draw buff.

– Proving Grounds. These were flawed to begin with. Players don’t really learn about their class in them. They don’t learn how to raid. They don’t learn how to move out of the stupid. All it does it gate the content. And what if my friend I want to drag along on heroics can’t do it? That doesn’t promote play, it promotes frustrated and upset people. This is a heavily negative reinforcer. It’s not good at all in that it makes players feel like crap and like they shouldn’t even be trying to play.

– No Flying. I haven’t done one bit of archeology or farming because oy is it HARD to get around Draenor. It’s very clear they wanted to gate and limit the player’s movement, but did they have to make it SO MUCH in every zone? It’s a very strong reason for why I don’t want to do these parts of the game. I don’t want to use a glider, I want to fly. Fiddly one off mechanics over a system wide ability I paid a great deal of gold for… yeah.

– Melee unfriendly fights. I already know one casualty to the melee unfriendly encounters of Slag Mines and Shadowmoon Burial Grounds. It is only a matter of time before we get into raids and find them there. Too often Blizzard seems to think the answer to making a fight “difficult” or complex is to make it insanely busy. There are a dozen different things to keep track of. And poor melee have to worry about huge swaths of downtime as they move. They have done this to a lesser extent to ranged, by taking away our ability to have some spells cast while moving. This is so negative. Especially for my guild groups, which are melee heavy. We would queue for a dungeon, get halfway through and be unable to complete it, despite having all done it singularly with pugs. The luck of the draw seems to be the deciding factor here, and we all miss it by playing with our friends. Bad choice.

In the end, I think WoD is just as good and just as bad as most expansions at promoting play both alone and in groups.

Warlords of Draenor First Impressions

WoW is a big thing for me, so in preparation for the new expansion, I flew my mother out to watch my toddler, stocked the house with snacks and Coke Zero, and took Thursday and Friday off work.

Here we are, 5 days later and I have a level 100 warlock, a level 92 monk, and a level 90 priest in her garrison. What do I think of WoD?

Amazing

Garrisons. I have my laptop set up at work so I can pop over and check mine before work, during lunch, and during break. At 8am, a time no one in my guild ever plays, there were 7 people on, checking before going to work. I have been moving characters into Draenor just to get to the garrison and start stockpiling resources.

Story. Holy cow. I really can’t say much without giving away spoilers but PALADIN TAUREN.

Good

Bonus objectives. The bonus objective areas are interesting and a clever way of having areas that are just “kill the things” without having those quests. I am a bit disappointed I can only do them once.

Rares and treasures. Once more we have brought back the MoP treasures idea and I really like it. It gives me a good reason to go poke my nose around in all the nooks and crannies of the expac.

Bad

Garrison dailies – the “strategic” ones. Could these be any LESS explanatory? They don’t give you any information about what you need to do. It turned into a cascade of people asking in guild what to do for the quest as the day went on.

Inn Quests – These are awesome, but it makes the inn feel very mandatory. As does the Stable. As does the Trading Post… In fact, it just feels like every building is fairly vital. Are they planning on expanding garrison? I deeply would like to have more of the buildings and I hate feeling like I have to choose between one content and another.

Outpost stuff – I was unaware how important some of those choices were. And now I find out it’s 10k gold to change them? OOF.

Ugly

No flight at 100. I decided to go do the daily in Spires of Arak yesterday and it took me 20 minutes to find my way there. Once I got there (after dying from fall damage) I was greeted by a few HUNDRED people all trying to do the same daily. 20 minutes later, I gave up and went back to my garrison, with 10% of the daily complete. This is NOT how I want to spend an hour of my game time.

Follower Mission Levels. These scale based on the player level, not the follower level. Which means my blitz to 100 has led to me having a ton of low level followers with no ability to level them. (Edit – they fixed this.)