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Oh Great Beryl Overseers,
Greetings once again. It has come to my attention that Blizzard is concerned about the significant portion of the playerbase that once played World of Warcraft, but has since discontinued their subscriptions. In an effort to assist with this dilemma, I have compiled a small amount of information regarding the Bluetip Thresher, how it has changed in the last ten months, and what that means as far as subscriptions are concerned:
A Treatise on Bluetip Threshers
The Bluetip Thresher, or Sharkus Impotenta, is a large fish native to Stormwind Harbour. It is found almost exclusively in this region and exhibits the usual attributes one would expect from a medium-sized, cartoon shark.
With a jagged silhouette and silvery-blue skin, this pixellated monstrosity was once the terror of Stormwind harbour. Eighty-five seasons old, this brute could tear the throat from an unwary lobster farmer with barely a twitch of its mighty jaws. Only those mariners with experience rivalling that of the Bluetip could hope to match its ferocity in combat, and encountering more than one of these magnificent creatures meant certain doom for even the hardiest of adventurers.
In recent months, however, these majestic hellions were struck down by a vicious plague — Structural Homogenization.
"Foury, what the Fel is Structural Homogenization? That doesn't sound like a real disease!"
Well, Magic Voice, I'm glad you asked.
Structural Homogenization is exactly what it sounds like — homogenization of certain structures found in the World of Warcraft. Allow me to illustrate:
Ever since meeting stones were introduced in Patch 1.3, the developers have been trying to streamline gameplay to reduce frustration while maintaining a sufficient level of challenge and ensuring the game is as much fun as possible.
Some excellent examples of this are linking flight paths, adding Ritual of Refreshment, and enabling players to create arena teams without the assistance of an Arena Master NPC.
There have been a few cases, however, where such changes may have been detrimental to the long-term health of the game. For instance, heroic dungeons in Northrend were not particularly challenging compared to those found in the shattered remnants of Draenor. The game was being marketed towards more casual gamers, and this was reflected most clearly in the starting-zone revamps at the beginning of this expansion.
Many players complained that the game was becoming too easy.
Now, I think that the simple, "go here next" style of story-driven play works extremely well at low levels. This draws players into the game and teaches the basics without overwhelming them. It is an excellent opportunity to ease players into the challenges associated with heroics, raids and competitive PvP.
Unfortunately, this forward progression went too far. Not only did the mid-to-high levels become incredibly easy, it is now entirely possible to level all the way to 85 without fear of death! This is exceptional news for the brand-new player — Combined with the engaging new storyline, the leveling experience for new subscribers is as smooth and entertaining as a singing tankard of Dark Iron Ale.
Now, the old levelling experience was a little grindy. Nobody's arguing that. It was like being dropped in the middle of a large city and having to figure out where to go on your own.
In contrast, the new levelling experience is like a guided tour of that same city — You get a ton of great lore and you don't have to worry about getting lost. Or dying. Or running out of quests. Or travelling really far.
And therein lies the problem (a part of it, anyway).
The levelling experience has been totally de-clawed. It's a feast of lore and a buffet of deliciously unique quests, but the player has lost a certain amount of freedom. I can quest through Redridge, but only if I follow the exact same sequence as everyone else. If I don't want to do the poop quest, I can't finish Redridge.
I have no choice.
"But Foury! Levelling is only a part of the Warcraft experience! There are still thrilling 5-player dungeons to explore at level cap, as well as Player-versus-Player combat!"
Yes, Magic Voice, there are. Unfortunately, these dungeons are often mere hallways. Do you know what my favourite instances were? Blackrock Depths, Stratholme, and Scholomance.
"But Foury! Lots of people hated Blackrock Depths! It's long and confusing and I always get lost in it!"
Yes, Magic Voice, a lot of people hated long instances. A lot of people hated getting lost, and they didn't like spending a lot of time in a dungeon. But the beauty of a place like BRD was that you didn't have to finish it all — You had the option of finishing it, or of completing only the portion that your party needed, or even avoiding the cursed place altogether!
Unfortunately, in endgame Vanilla, all of the 5-player instances were long. Players couldn't gear up using short, simple dungeon runs.
So Blizzard, in their efforts to attract new players, standardized dungeon length using the Scarlet Monastery model. By the time players could venture into Outland there was no dungeon that took four hours to complete. There was no dungeon big enough to get lost in, and there was no choice as to which bosses could be skipped. Standardization reigned supreme.
In Wrath this trend continued.
In Cataclysm a few of these choices have returned, but not enough. There is still no instance so massive that players can get lost on their fourth visit.
"Foury, most people don't have the time or the patience to finish a long dungeon."
Most don't. But some do. And instead of having one or two optional BRD-style dungeons, Blizzard decided to make ALL dungeons more or less the same length. There is now only one type of dungeon available — short and simple.
This is structural homogenization.
The same problem exists in PvP. Alterac Valley was once an epic, four-hour-long experience filled with PvP, PvE, peril, prizes, and giant Elemental Lords. But a lot of players wanted a short, fast skirmish so they could get better gear sooner and more reliably.
For details on how Alterac Valley has changed over the years, see this thread:
Blizzard shortened AV to bring it in line with other battlegrounds, and now PvP players have no choice but to play short battleground matches.
This is structural homogenization.
Blizzard, by designing every single aspect of the game for the newer generations (of WoW players), you have alienated a lot of older players.
World PvP is dead.
I have watched this game change and grow for the last five years, and the change always leads in one direction — forward. What you have failed to recognize is that, while newer is often[i] better, newer is not [i]always better.
The world is a smaller place now, and players don't have as much freedom to move around as they once did.
We have more variety on a micro scale (content), but less on a macro scale (the framework in which content is contained).
Bring back massive instances like Blackrock Depths.
Bring back hours-long battlegrounds like Alterac Valley 1.0.
Bring back the thrill of danger in the world.
Bring back World PvP on the scale of Tarren Mill/Southshore.
Consider the possibility that if you want to attract players who used to subscribe to WoW, you need to offer some of the things that used to exist, but no longer do.
And remember - You have the power to change the structure of the game.
If you think most players won't like the long version of Alterac Valley, then make it optional.
If you think most players won't like dungeons in the style of BRD, then make it optional.
Leave some of the lobster traps out of the path of the Bluetip Threshers, but put the rest directly beneath those level 85 brutes.
Take a few careful, enlightened steps backward and see what innovations you can uncover.
Strangely, i agree with you OP. Its not at all that these Cata heroics are easy (Get a fail group and watch) its just that they dont last too long. I honestly liked spending more time in a dungeon, but at the same time i didnt want it to be too long, i want a dungeon to be longer than the Scarlet Monastery- Graveyard, but shorter that BRD. Kind of like how they have the current BRD that u get the goody bag after the first boss and your done, OR you can go deeper and get more loot, money, etc. So i do think this would be a great idea, get your valor run done and leave, or stay and get more JP.
Edited by Ipoisonedyou on 10/27/2011 2:19 AM PDT
Exactly. It's all about choice.
We can choose to run a quick dungeon, or no dungeons at all.
We can choose to play a quick skirmish battleground, or no battlegrounds at all.
Just because the majority wants something, doesn't mean that needs to be the only option.
"Many are calling for Blizzard to stop the changes that they are planning on implementing in their next expansion. One of the main points that they are making in their argument is that it makes the game too simplistic or "childish." However, this is part of a fairly standard business practice that has been around for years.
You may think otherwise, but WoW needed a refresh. Power creep was already at the breaking point and the need (some would say requirement) for character optimization over creativity was ruining the truest "role playing" aspects of this MMORPG. The path that the management at Blizzard chose to fix this issue is one that is not new to the world of business and reflects, from the game's launch, a planning for such a eventuality should the game move outside their desired expectations.
A way for a game, especially in a tenuous new genre such as the MMO (back in the day), to gain a solid and reliable player base is to appeal to the more hardcore and dedicated group of fans who follow the genre. Games do this by emphasizing the aspects that would appeal to an experience electronic role playing gamer, such as: highly customizable powers, a deep lore, etc. Once this dedicated group has signed on and created more buzz and drawn in more players to the game, the creators and management now have something that all subscription services thrive on: a base that has bought into the service and will follow it until it reaches its conclusion, with very little chance they will stop or quit.
It is with this dedicated base in mind, and the fact that any change will both draw in new players and repel old ones, that they can make alterations of their product to make it even more popular and to eliminate some the barriers that may have grown in the game from the player base, that may be unappealing to someone unfamiliar with the genre or the game's own internal mechanics.. Often that means streamlining and simplifying the product to make it appeal to a wider audience outside of just those who joined in the beginning desiring an in depth experience. This is a standard business plan that many products and games have done.
I would argue that this is definitely on the minds of the staff at Blizzard when creating the new talent system. Yes you may argue that they are "catering to n00bs" or "ruining the game," but in the long term, should their plan be successful even in the smallest degree; it will make the game a richer experience with less debate over where I can get one more percent on my DPS and more discussion over the cool aspects of my character and how it fits into this wide world that many have enjoyed for so long."
The issue here isn't so much that the game is being made easier. I'm all for appealing to a greater variety of players. But instead of trying to appeal to both kinds of players, they are only catering to the newer variety.
My tirade isn't against Pandaren; I'm just trying to save a few sharks.
- phasing is used for useless quests instead of world bosses/events/world pvp
-queue to max level, queue to get better gear at max level and do nothing else
-lack of alternate pve gear progression that does not involve dungeons
-world pvp is dead and battlegrounds are boring, people do bgs just to get better gear
-world of warcraft music sucks, epic music would make people want to go to a zone
-all the problems listed contribute to making people just queueing in cities for the rest of their WoW lives
-there is no option for local server only bgs/dungeons, there should be an option for locals only in addition to cross realm lfd/lfr
-due to the lack of world events/world bosses and local server only LFD/BGs, there is no feeling of nationalism or server pride
-Achievements as substitute for real content and the reason why people would want to do something
-lack of world activity that will impact the game world and actually benefit all players in the server and create a feeling of server pride
-lack of phasing for cities when a faction leader is killed, the opposing faction should enter a phased version of the city after killing a city leader and it turns into a zone with dailies, bosses while the city remains the same for the faction that just lost their leader so it doesn't impact trade and questing
-The game has become a boring threadmill, you do dungeons till a newer dungeon comes and you know there will only be dungeons and queueing in towns in the upcoming xpacs.BGs have become nothing more than perpetual grind for gear, the bgs themselves are simply not fun
-Addons being mandatory, blizz should've just integrated all popular addons and give players the option to turn each on/off on the setting
-lack of ghost gryphon when player dies, ghost gryphon at 500% speed should be available in all zones
-guild reputation and guild rewards basically made guilds mandatory and they're a poor substitute to real content and features that will actually make people socialize and help each other out
-lack of no fly zones, there should be some no fly zones specifically intended for pvp
-lack of BGs that were truly fun and epic like classic alterac valley
-Refusing to completely segregate pvp and pve, we get boring homogenized basic skills and chain nerfs that affects both pvp and pve as a result
-pvp gear and pvp rewards are the problem, abolish them and normalize resil/hp/damage for everyone in bgs and arenas.Everyone of the same class will have the same health and damage coz skill should be the only thing that matters in pvp
-people do arena/rated bgs to get gear to pwn people with inferior gear and the pugs just willingly get pwn so they can farm honor gear to pwn people who just reach level cap.It might seem alien to us old timers but most of the newer players like the current system
Edited by Polenzsky on 11/24/2011 1:43 PM PST
As always Foury delivers. Sadly I no longer have faith that Blizzard will listen. Especially after this little nugget from blizzcon
Q: Are there any plans to redo Alterac Valley with more quests? Some of those quests were truly awesome and it feels like they became obsolete but still lurk around for years now.
Ascribing the gutted remains of AV to players strategy, when in fact the strategy evolved out of blizzard gutting the BG. Then goin on to say that TB "worked better."
They are disconnected with thier player base, and thier game.
Foury and Polenzsky have the right of things.
For those who never experienced old AV, it is best understood as a mini-game. Alterac Valley took hours to complete most matches, and without a raid leader/general guiding your team, it could feel like you were being inexorably crushed by the opposing army. It was my original reason for playing PVP and my sole reason for logging into WoW each night for a solid year.
People want AV again, or something like it, precisely because it was a completely different mode of BGing. Lots of people hated it then and I never begrudged them their opinion. The problem is, my opinion and play preference was taken away.
I am sure mini-games such as the pet combat system coming with Mists will appeal to a slice of the player base, but I want to cry at the thought of pokemon becoming a feature of World of Warcraft while prolonged, epic, exhausting battles remain dinosaurs from a bygone era.
Truly. Want. To Cry.
-Lakshmi, Daughter of the Ivory Swan
I am Aedric Storm. I am Jessica Tallianos. I am still alive.
I'm refraining from forming an opinion on MoP until more details are known, but if AV is going to be ignored for another expansion then that will probably be the dealbreaker.
All of the things that I loved about this game are disappearing, and my pleas (Four absolutely massive essays in the last few months) are falling on deaf ears.
I can't spec Elementalist anymore.
AV has been gutted.
World PvP is dead.
I've loved the Warcraft universe since I first saw a friend playing Warcraft II about twelve years ago, but its getting to the point where even that much history isn't enough to keep me invested in the game.
Blizzard, not all progress is forward, and not all steps forward are progress.
Look to your roots. Bring back the war.
The players have been asking for Classic AV for FIVE years now.
Considering the timelessness of battlegrounds relative to instances, I would have thought fixing AV would be a priority.
Give it up Foury, the Devs dont care, - and most of us who want AV back are being shafted in the new design paradigm.
Check Gw2 WvWvW,
I'll see you there, a place in the mists for us dinosuars who understand the idea of escapism as opposed to gratification.
But Foury, what did actually happen to the Bluetip Thresher?
(Has it gone altogether? I've been away for a while. I hope not. I've had an affection for it ever since one actually came up out of the water and ravaged one of my baby toons on the docks. Had same experience with the one in Dal sewers, which came up onto the jetty and followed me all the way to the tunnel!)
Provided a nice little frisson of danger for baby toons.
I'm over age 50 and have played "RPG" games of various sorts (pen and paper as well as computer based) for many years. In my experience there is an inexorable pattern to every successful game. It follows the same basic guideline as The Peter Principle: "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently. It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise which also introduced the "salutary science of hierarchiology."
My corellary for "every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence" is "every successful game tends to expand to the point of unplayability." I could rattle off the names of numerous games I've played over the years that are no longer on the market, not because they were fail but because they succeeded and grew and choked themselves to death with their attempt to cater to too many.
WoW is no exception. It's success is phenomenal, it's growth and longevity inspiring, but it too walks the paths of "The Peter Principle". Unfortunately, there is no good solution. Should the game continue evolving, the core base that made it the success it is will drop away and the guiding fervor of those players will be lost to everyone who follows. That will lead to a "dumbing down" so severe that it becomes unattractive to everyone. Should it fail to evolve, contintuing to cater to those core players and ignoring the larger potential of customers unenticed, it leads to ossification and (like the dinosaurs) eventual extinction in favor of something newer and better; more fit for the changed environment.
I see a possible two-prong solution but it will require both sides to agree and act.
Prong One: The Developers... ubiquitous and enigmatic. The people responsible for creating and maintaining the game in all its forms. They are not jsut the programmers, but also those who make the decisions on what to program (management of various sorts). They need to get a better grip on the above-mentioned "Principle" as it relates to game growth/change, do a better job of listening to the people who helped them make the game such a great success, and stop catering to the whiney minority who want everything nerfed to death for their amusement.
Prong Two: The Players... dedicated and demanding. The people responsible for recognizing the game's potential and availing themselves of what it offers in its many facets. They need to do a better job of relating their desires to "The Devs", putting it in calm, mature, factual formats that show what they want in a way that "success blinded" businessmen can understand and react to positively. Temper tantrums, here on the forums, in game, or anywhere else are counter productive and tend to turn The Dev's eyes and ears away. To better promote what is desired from the game "the community" also needs to do a better job of policing itself, quashing "trolls", and generally stop feeding the negativity of the "dispossessed minority". Be calm and factual, brief, mature and businesslike and you will have more impact. But the players also need to recognize that The Devs have a handicap called inertia. It has many forms but mostly it is the time required to examine and idea for viability, and develop it in a useful way before giving it to us. The players need more patience and understanding with this handicap because The Dev's can't avoid it. It is part of the very foundation of their world and cannot be circumvented any more than we can circumvent gravity or death.
I'm not saying "WoW is dead" or "WoW is dying", I'm just saying I'm seeing much of the same general pattern I've seen with numerous games in the past and I'm pointing out what I think may be a way to head off the otherwise inevitable.
Group together and stop the in-fighting. Yeah, we may be factioned within game, but that is for the atmospher of play. This subject isn't play. Stop the faction friction everywhere else. Get together with each other and The Devs and it can be "fixed". Short of that I have no answers.
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