Monthly Archives: May 2015

Flying – You can’t put the Genie back in the Bottle

Note – This is a rant. I get ranty. And the f-bomb gets dropped with increasing frequency as it goes on. You have been warned.

 

There are many things they have added to WoW over the years and then later taken out. Like attunements and reforging. There have been many arguments on if these decisions were good or not. But in the end, they don’t impact the current face of WoW terribly much.

This expansion’s argument though is different. Flying. Blizzard decided to not allow flight in Draenor. Not just while leveling, like they did in Wrath, but at all. So here we are, level 100 for 6+ months, and still stuck on the ground.

I hate it. I HATE not being able to fly. It is by far my BIGGEST gripe with Draenor – and that includes the horrible random nature of crafting. I’ve even mentioned it TWICE before in previous posts about WoD:

– 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.

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.

So now that Mr. Hazzikostas has implied there may not be flying in future expansions I have to raise my voice. Before, I grumbled, but didn’t write about it, because, well, it was different. And I did need to experience it. And I did need to PLAY it to judge. And honestly, I thought they would be patching it in at the end of the expansion. So now, despite the fact I know people don’t want to hear the griping anymore, I am fucking griping, because not being able to fly is BULLSHIT.

The Problems with No Flying:

First – it’s a COST we already paid. We bought flight for 5k. Then we paid 1k for it in Northrend. Then we paid 250g for it in Cataclysm. Then 2.5k for Pandaria. Some of us have paid this fucking cost over multiple characters. This is not a fucking insubstantial amount of gold. It was an investment in our character that is now fucking worthless.

Second – Flying mounts. There are at least a 100 flying mounts. These mounts look fucking stupid when waddling on the ground. Remember the Netherwing Rep grind? The Cloud Serpent Rep grind? How much time did we spend grinding rep to get flying mounts that are virtually useless now? To head off the arguments, I have a spectral tiger. I have a BAD ASS ground mount. My owning of that mount doesn’t mean I don’t ever want to fly on all the fucking flying mounts I earned and farmed up over the years.

Third – What a Long Strange Trips It’s Been. Really? I spent a FUCKING YEAR doing every single damn holiday, stupid fucking rng within fucking rng achievements, and my reward of super speed flight is what now? A complete FUCKING WASTE. Thank you Blizz, for respecting the time and energy I have sunk into your game. /sarcasm (who am I kidding this whole thing is dripping with sarcasm because apparently some idiot thinks it’s a good idea to not have flight!)

Fourth – Archeology. It’s a profession practically requiring the speed and ease of flying around the world to dig sites. I haven’t done it outside my garrison because it simply takes too damn much time to travel now. So I do it through the mine. I am sure the designer who came up with it is happy to know that their profession has been reduced to something done off hand while getting ore.

Fifth – it just makes the designers build annoying ass landscapes like Nagrand and Spires of Arak. The inflation of time for travel is just fucking annoying. There is no reason it should take me 15 minutes to go from my garrison to the raid. NONE. And I certainly shouldn’t be showing up with a huge group of mobs chasing me that are the equivalent of mosquitoes.

Sixth – It just makes it HARDER to get where we want to go. I am a RABID pet collector. I didn’t go get the wild pets in Draenor until about a month ago because it was too fucking annoying to ride around the zones to FIND them. Making things harder is not going to retain old players or bring in new ones. Path of least resistance is the player way, and sometimes that’s right the fuck out of your game.

Blizzard’s Solution: “We’ll work on flight paths!”

UM. DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND? We want to be DOING things in WoW, not waiting while our character travels.

The game’s gains for not having flying:

Hidden treasures? – They aren’t that cool guys. OH AND RIGHT, you already added Aviana’s Feather, and Gliders, and all kinds of other CRAP to get around that. Can we just use the mounts we fucking paid for?

Jumping Puzzles? – If I wanted to play a fucking platformer, I would fucking play Mario. I want to play WoW, but more than that, I want to play WoW MY way. And if that means ignoring the fucking jumping puzzles until i can fly, then I am gonna fucking do it.

Travel time – Because apparently there just isn’t enough crap in a game with 10 years of content – they are still artificially inflating the time people are playing.

“It makes it feel dangerous!” – Yeah except it doesn’t. Danger is when I am level 90 and running around Shadowmoon Valley. At 100, it’s just annoying and leads to me dragging 20 mobs and finally stopping and nuking them all down. I am sure the poor little player leveling over there didn’t need those mobs for his quest did he? It was totally a great idea for me to drag them across the zone and kill them all. I felt so in danger when my health dipped down to 90%.

More structured leveling experience – this is the ONLY excuse that makes any sense. But again – WHY does it have to continue past level cap? Just require level cap for learning flight. It was done in all of the previous expansions. Yeah, it makes getting rare treasures easier, but at 100, that’s pretty easy ANYWAY. Oh look at that! A simple solution! Gosh, if only you had fucking known it would work really well and mollify your players… OH WAIT. YOU DID. BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE IT FOUR FUCKING TIMES BEFORE.

 

I get it. I am a level designer. I GET how flying makes it harder to design zones. But you know what? You can’t take it back now. Suck it up, deal with it, and spend the time to make it work. We paid for it. We collected mounts for it. We sunk hundreds of hours into getting it and making it better. You can’t put the fucking genie back into the fucking bottle, we already found our freedom.

It’s a Mad Men World

It started as a joke. “in 40 years, a Mad Men-like prestige drama about a 2010s game studio falling apart” – a funny idea. Take the show Mad Men and make a version of it that deals with game studios dying.

Someone else tried to spin it into a “woman power story” which I could approve of, except for the fact that *I* work in this industry and I immediately laughed at the implausibility. “Underdog female protag starts in QA, becomes the studio’s lead designer in 7 seasons. I’m in.”

I am a woman, designing levels and games, I have a Master’s Degree. I have 8 years of experience. I have shipped 6 titles. Three of my titles have sold over 15 million copies and earned over 3 Billion dollars in 4 years. If a season == a year – this idea for a story line was completely implausible. So we started piling on more “joke” ideas. Only they weren’t jokes. They were things. That have happened to us. The laughter stopped and all that was left was several people staring at Twitter slightly disappointed and dismayed. That was when I realized, it really was a good Mad Men like story. It left us just as depressed and demoralized as if we had been watching Mad Men.

The season arcs do write themselves.

Season 1 – our studio is starting work on a huge game. Staffing up, hiring friends. Getting into the flow of making the game. 3 episodes in, a publishing head hancho comes in and makes some outrageous and insane demand. Adding some super complex feature without adding more money. 6 episodes in, the game is announced. The high is being ridden. Everyone parties, then buckles down to work. 9 episodes in, crunch begins. Episode 12, after 6 months of crunching, the team finally ships the game. Season finale.

Season 2 – The team celebrates launch. Halfway through the first episode half the team gets canned. Those who remain get doctor’s appointments and lawyer appointments to deal with the fallout from 6 months of crunch. The season continues with the team getting to work on a sequel to the game they just launched. The game has gotten a 7.5 metacritic. It sells well enough to get a sequel, but not well enough for anyone other than leads to get bonuses. Over this season, good talent starts leaving and the only ones who get promoted are the idiots to get them out of the way. The season ends with being halfway through the 1 year turn around sequel when a competing company announces a game that is the same game, but with better art, better licenses, and a dynamic lead designer.

Season 3 – The deathmarch of crunch is worse, more talent is bleeding away to other studios. The team is completely demoralized working on a project that no one wants because of the other better game. The season continues showing the life costs of working on this game. Divorces, affairs, lost connections. They finally ship the sequel game, to lower review scores, lower sales, and the internet is calling for those “hacks” to be fired. The finale is the employees showing up to work one day and they are locked out. The studio has been closed.

Season 4 – Starts with a few of our favored protagonists starting an indie studio. They are living on savings, borrowing money, etc etc. They try to get publishing deals for their “genius” idea game. It never works out. The whole time one of the no talent hacks from the former studio goes off, manages to luck out and get a job as a lead designer on an amazing game. The indie guys keep working, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and finally at the end of the season ship their indie game.

Season 5 – Indie game is DOA. They try to monetize it differently. It’s critically acclaimed but no one buys it. They struggle on, as the team loses people 1 by 1 as they all go back to crap jobs at big studios just to pay bills. Maybe even losing one or two to death – especially due to heavy alcohol drinking (which has gotten progressively worse over the series). Season and series ends with only character left getting a super high paying job as a programmer in banking doing mindless menial tasks 8-5, and coming home and playing video games. Not doing his dream job, but happier for it.

 

There. There’s the outline for the Game Developer Mad Men. I am going to go get a drink now.