Blizzard Customer Survey? Oh, Yeah. I Have Feedback…

So I was selected to fill out a survey after the little ‘problem’ yesterday. The problem that lead to my cancellation of my World of Warcraft subscription. It’s going to be boring around the house for awhile, but I’ll be damned if I’m giving any more money to a company that has so little regard for it’s player base.

The Customer Service representative that gave me the e-mail address so that I could protest the temporary ban; I give him high marks. He did exactly what he should have done. The moderators that banned me, and the drones that attacked, though? They represent exactly what is wrong with the World of Warcraft community, and that community is doomed to cannibalistic failure unless it changes.

There are serious issues in the current version of the game. Effort/reward is far skewed towards the wasted effort side of the scale. Endgame play is confined and cramped, in a way that has never been present before in the game. Months of endless grinding is required to get the 5 faction reputations necessary to get a set of epic gear, unless you happen to be a member of a large guild. There is no acknowledgment of the casual player in the game. Casual play is a virtual impossibility once you hit endgame. I could go on, but I’m sure the average player knows what I’m talking about, and if you don’t play you aren’t going to care.

There are serious issues in the community as well. The high-handed nature of the actions of the moderators in my case is a prime example of the basic problems in the community. In fact, there really isn’t a community, in the natural sense of people working in concert for a goal. There are just guards and inmates. The guards look for examples to make to keep the other inmates in line. The inmates conspire to get away with behaviors that are officially banned; by going outside the game to communicate, to exchange gold, etc.

I was limited to 1024 characters for my response in the Customer survey. This is what I wrote;

Your prison guards (forum moderators) decided I didn’t need to be playing Blizzard games anymore by permanently banning me from the forums. None of my posts warranted censure for 72 hours, much less permanent banning. Because they are prison guards, and I questioned their authority, they exercised it. But there are other games out there. I will be playing them instead.

I offered sincere suggestions for improving gameplay on the forum, and I was routinely attacked by drones in the forums for daring to be unhappy with their game. But I’m not the only one, and I don’t participate in activities that don’t bring me joy. If Blizzard will not change Cataclysm, if they are not interested in player feedback (and on the forums, they are not. If they were, I would still be there) then I have to go elsewhere to find entertainment, because I’m not going to just endure the monotony.

Then I realized I would run out of space. So here I am. I have agitated in the forums, repeatedly, for real community policing tools. The ability for players in the game to isolate the bad players from the good ones, to allow natural behavior patterns to reinforce good behavior and punish bad. To get rid of the guards, in essence.

But it goes beyond that, and I think I’m beginning to understand why I’m dissatisfied in World of Warcraft these days. I shouldn’t have to go where they tell me to go, and do what the developers want. They, like their moderator stooges, have acted in a high-handed fashion, artificially limiting endgame play, and manipulating access to areas of the game that they don’t want us to spend time in. When players balked at going into Cataclysm dungeons, they took away Dungeon Finder access to content that wasn’t part of Cataclysm. Was that in the patch notes? No, it wasn’t. But they did it. When players suggest, over and over, that they want easier access to older parts of the game…

They end up banned, like me.

Well, they can erase me from their forums, but I know the truth; and lucky for me, I never trust moderators. Most of my arguments were written here before being copied to their forums. So if you’ll allow a moments crudity, let me just say: DELETE THIS, MOTHERFUCKERS!

Also, I pulled this image from the Google cache. Like most images, it’s worth a thousand words.

Thank you to the players that put this ranking on the thread. I’d be proud to raid with you any time.

…if I’m still playing.

Blizzard No Longer Interested in Complaints

In the continuing saga of my issues with Cataclysm, we hit a new chapter. I tend to spend a lot more time on the forums now, or I did until recently. I find myself flying around Azeroth, boating around Azeroth a lot more of late; and when I’m trapped on a taxibird or a boat, essentially unable to do anything in game other than watch the scenery go by (and contrary to forum opinion, transit times from one area to another can be upwards of 30 mins) I tab out of the game and surf the forums for responses on my various threads, or drop hints on other player’s threads concerning community policing tools, the artificial scarcity of materials for the various professions, the lack of rewards for legitimate time spent, etc. Whatever seems appropriate for the discussion at hand.

I started a new thread a few days back. I have been trying to create a new ‘main’ character to play, I’m going to pick one of about three that I’m grooming. All of them have very low fishing skills, and while many players may not think this is a problem, or simply suggest that I just get to grinding on fishing…

Grinding? Let me explain grinding.

Grinding is the term used to describe the monotonous effort required to achieve particular goals in an MMO. Rather than introduce a level of difficulty to play, most games simply require that a certain action be taken several times. This practice has gotten ridiculous. Some of the professions now require that you perform certain actions over a hundred times, perhaps several thousand times, in order to achieve a single goal. This introduction of monotony into the game keeps some players (I’m one) from attempting certain parts of the game, thereby making the reward look more attractive and desirable to the rest of the players. While I do love my Wintersaber mount, I would not recommend the average player embark on the month-long quest grind that (used to be) required to get the mount. Oh, it’s cool. Even I don’t think it’s that cool.

So, catching stacks of fish with low-skilled player characters. Doing reputation grinds and daily quests to achieve goals and leveling in-game professions at the same time. the idea struck me that if I could just get quickly to the old quest hubs in the previous expansions of the game (these are the cities of Shattrath and Dalaran) I could use the daily fishing quests still present at the old endgame hubs to speed up the grind of leveling fishing, and add some short-term goals to what could turn into a month long attempt to level fishing.

This idea keyed into the storyline ideas that I had come up with previously. Re-route the now inexplicable portal to Blasted Lands from the major cities, to the Caverns of Time and involve the time tasked Bronze Dragonflight in the efforts of the bypassed game expansions, so as to give the story some sort of reason to go where it has to go if you are leveling a new character.

So I started a new thread titled “Dailies in Dalaran and Shattrath” and proposed just that, that a portal be created that lead from the new hubs to the old game hubs, so that players could go quickly from new to old for the purposes of leveling or questing. I was immediately set upon by Blizzard’s drones on the forum. Apparently using the word ‘portal’ in a thread tips over the hornets nest, and no amount of elaboration will ever cut through their noise.

“Blizzard is not going to put the portals back in Shattrath & Dalaran”

That’s great. I don’t want them back, they didn’t serve the purpose that I’m suggesting anyway. After about seven ridiculous pages of being flamed (more on that in a bit) I hit upon the idea that hearthstones were the answer, and my final post to the thread made the suggestion that the Bronzes give players a “Time Displacement Stone” at level 58 for Shattrath, and at level 68 for Dalaran. Give the stones a 12 hour cooldown, so that you can’t just shuttle back and forth between the two areas, but could go there once a day to do dailies (there are plenty of other items in the game that have 12 hour cooldowns, it’s hardly a unique idea) or to get your hearth set there or whatever. Any player over 68 could just go through the portal to the Caverns of Time and get the stones. Problem solved. No portals to Shattrath or Dalaran, but access provided that doesn’t take 20 mins in game to complete.

So, why is this not the end of the story? This is the fun part. The thread was deleted, and my account was banned for 72 hours. Why, you might well ask?

Obscenity. That’s right, I was banned for obscenity.

One of my posts, which I wrote when I was responding the many, many flames in the thread, included my statement that I…

well, I’ll just post the notice.


Forums / Comments

Ban Type: Obscene Language

Expires: Saturday, February 26, 2011 11:16:34 PM UTC (in 2 days, 3 hours)

Ban Reason: Suspended from the World of Warcraft forums for a 72 hour period for posting / masking obscene, vulgar or inappropriate language on the forums.

(Current) – Feb 21, 2011 7:44:18 PM————

Not having portals is kind of a downer but it doesn’t really effect my play. My Death Knight and Priest, both leveled from 1(55) to 85 after the portals went away, just never went to Shatt or Dal and remain parked in SW at all times. On the flip side my Hunter is perma parked in Dal, because I don’t feel like moving her, and I never see more than five or six other players there when I log into here. Taking portals away has just turned those areas into ghost towns.However I don’t see the portals coming back anytime soon so I suggest you do what everyone else does at the point and pretend those places don’t exist.

No, I’m going to @##!. @##! constantly, apparently.

The term in question is bitch. Not “you bitch”, which could be construed obscenely, since it calls into question the sexual practices of the person so labeled, but rather “to bitch” as in “Strongly Complain”. Yes, dear reader. Blizzard doesn’t want to hear your complaints. They are obscene, and they will get you removed from the forums.

The wife and I had a good giggle the other day. In-game chat is governed by the same ridiculous adult language filter that the forums are governed by. I have turned it off several times, but the default setting is on, and it gets reset every time there is a patch. So I’ve just left it on for awhile now. One of her clients had been phished and had lost access to her email account, which was being used as part of a 419 scam (she was telling me because I had gotten an email from this person, and I knew she wasn’t trapped overseas) She told me that it was a 419 scam because the IP address pointed to @#$^!ia. That’s Nigeria for the slow reader. Country names are obscene, apparently. We laughed and chatted back and forth, testing variations on a theme. Couldn’t be stingy, as in @#$$^!dly. You could say black in spanish (Negra. Never mind that the slang term that is considered obscene is a bastardization of the term the Spanish sailors attached to the slaves they were transporting, which was a description of skin color) so at least you can name colors in the game, if you speak Spanish. Can’t see any words that contain the 4 letter combination for that most favorite of American curses. The French love it too (Excrement! Just doesn’t have the same ring to it) I wonder if they have weird problems trying to block the word merde from appearing? And cheese and rice don’t you dare misspell continuous. That would be catastrophic! Any number of innocuous words or partial words are blocked by this annoying filter system. And some words, like damn, are left completely unfiltered (apparently calling for god to smite your enemies isn’t a obscenity any more) which probably has more to do with the combination of letters and their appearance in other words in the language than anything else.

So, when the word bitch was filtered out, I went back to check the text and edited it, but decided that bitch was the appropriate word for the kind of complaint I wanted to lodge, and that people were just going to have to figure out that the 5 letter symbolism represented the word bitch, and that represented a complaint.

…and now I’m banned for complaining. So watch yourselves, Blizzard subscribers. You’d better be happy in your grinding gameplay; if you are not, don’t think of complaining. You most certainly should not bitch about it. Learn from my example, eh?

Permanently banned from the forums now. Prison guards are so predictable. They reviewed the 72 hour ban, and in light of this blog post, decided I was a trouble maker. Into permanent solitary I go.

I’ve said it before, there are other games to play. I guess I’ll start playing them.

Murglesnout and the Philosophy of Game Design

You might not have noticed, but I’ve had a few issues with the current release of World of Warcraft. I seem to be at odds with a good many players, and clearly I’m in disagreement with the deciding input on the design team. I actually think my issue with the designers can be simply summed up though.

Murglesnout. That’s right, Murglesnout sums it all up.

What is Murglesnout? Murglesnout is the most common fishing drop in ocean water in Cataclysm. Fishing in ocean water is the only place to get Deepsea Sagefish, the reagent for the best healer food short of the ridiculously hard to get fish feast (which requires 10,000 catches, pool fishing only. 50 days to get, best guess, with a good guild fishing every day. Not too long, right?) in the current version of the game. The catch is that to get a good stack of sagefish, you also get two stacks of Murglesnout, which is vendor trash in the current game. Basically, two thirds of your time fishing is a complete waste of time (there is a recipe coming out with 4.0.6. Gives no buffs though. If you are leveling cooking, great. Useless otherwise) a philosophy in this version of the game that seems to carry across all facets of the game. Whether it’s archeology creating vendor trash for 105 items (why can’t these things be equip-able trinkets? There is a scarcity of trinkets in this game at all levels) just so you can get those 27 items worth working for, or dungeoning and world PvP, there is an expectation that players will return again and again to the game even though there is little return on time spent, and a serious level of frustration.

I’m actually beginning to find my stride with the new mechanics, and I even consider the changes to some classes as major improvements (sans druid changes. Druids have been nerfed, and there’s just no other way to describe it. I don’t even want to play mine anymore) but the time spent/reward earned factor is grossly out of balance in this game.

I’m spending more time writing than I do playing, again. That should be a sign all by itself.

Posted here on the forums. Posted it in General, they moved it to Professions.

Reading Comprehension, Anyone?

So I started a thread over at the WoW forums with the title It’s Not that Dungeons are Hard… (12 pages now. Yeah, I have no idea what I’m talking about) trying to respond to the developers and players wrongheaded assessment of the problems with the current incarnation of World of Warcraft. You’d think that the title would sort of give the thrust of the argument away; that I’m in fact saying that I like my games to be challenging.

But I’ve gotten at least 10 responses, variations on a theme. The theme being “if you want the game to be easier, go play a different game” (I think I’m safe in assuming that Blizzard does not endorse this suggestion, as a remedy to frustration playing their games) apparently everyone who has a complaint about this game is really a crappy player that just wants the game to be easier. What I’m betting though is I’m running across players that don’t quest, or if they do, they have to have quest tips turned on; because people with that low a score on reading comprehension can’t possibly follow written directions successfully. Let’s hope they’re never asked to empty a piss filled boot with directions written on the bottom…

This game is too easy. Here’s an example. I miss when you had to train a weapon. If you’d never used a mace before, and suddenly found one you liked, you could be pounded to death by everyone else until you really learned how to use that weapon (I always thought that training dummies should have provided this experience, but…) I also miss when hunters had to actually stock ammo for their weapons, instead of magically having bullets and arrows available at all times. I miss when rogues had to brew their own poison, or when they had to earn the ability to use poison with a quest, or any number of a dozen or more simplifications that make the game easier now (flashy buttons that let you know which spell to cast being top of the list. No, actually, I like that change. But the wife doesn’t) in Cataclysm than it EVER HAS BEEN.

Ah, those were the days.

It’s Not that Dungeons are Hard…

It looks like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft developers are on the defensive. Apparently I’m not the only player that has problems with the new expansion of the game. Here’s a few quotes from the latest blog entries over at the WoW forums.

On the subject of Tol Barad;

[W]e want winning Tol Barad to be a challenge for the attacking faction… but we don’t want it to be impossible. Taking Tol Barad should be tough — but right now it’s a little bit too tough, and it’s something we’re actively working to balance. Earlier, we attempted to temporarily address the issue by offering a far better reward to the winning attackers: Honor Points awarded for successfully attacking were increased tenfold, but that was such a great incentive that it ultimately undermined the spirit of competition. Since then, the reward for winning as an attacker has been brought back down to a more reasonable amount.

I’ve played Tol Barad. More than once. Unless the defenders are AWOL, winning Tol Barad is a virtual impossibility. I don’t care how much they minimize the difficulty, this battleground is not fun. It’s a mental grind. I”m not even sure how it can be made to be fun. Perhaps some temporary defenses that could be erected to slow down the opposing faction, before they just run right in and take one of the three assets that you must possess simultaneously in order to win…? At least with Lake Wintergrasp there was a clear goal, a task that took some skill to achieve. This battleground is won or lost on attrition alone. When Alterac Valley battleground goes this way (when both teams fail to kill the opposition’s leader, and instead must whittle down the 600 reinforcements) it is a grind as well.

Then there’s this on the subject of dungeons, from the post Wow, Dungeons are Hard!;

The bottom line is that we want Heroics and raids to be challenging, and that is particularly true now while the content is new and characters are still collecting gear. They’re only going to get easier from here on out. We want players to approach an encounter, especially a Heroic encounter, as a puzzle to be solved. We want groups to communicate and strategize. And by extension, we want you to celebrate when you win instead of it being a foregone conclusion.

On the other hand, we don’t want you to stumble your way to victory. We don’t want you to be able to overwhelm bosses without noticing or caring what they’re doing. We don’t want healers to be able to make up for all of the mistakes on the part of the other players. While at the end of the day, dungeons may just be gussied up loot vending machines, we want you to do more than push a button to get the loot.

Ultimately, we don’t want to give undergeared or unorganized groups a near guaranteed chance of success, because then the content will feel absolutely trivial for players in appropriate gear who communicate, cooperate, and strategize.

We didn’t like that the Heroic dungeons in Lich King and early Naxxramas had become zerg-fests. It made the rewards feel like they weren’t earned. It made all rewards except the best-in-slot items feel transitory — why enchant or gem an item when you don’t need the performance boost and you’ll quickly replace it anyway? Furthermore, it set the expectation that everyone would eventually earn all best-in-slot items rather than those being rare and treasured goals. It made class abilities feel less useful and interesting. Who needs that crowd-control or survivability talent when nothing is hurting you? Who needs a mana-conservation talent if you’re never going to run out of mana? Who needs a crit talent if your heals often overheal anyway?

Finally, the encounters, even the bosses, ended up having a sameness to them because you could ignore their mechanics. It didn’t matter — in fact, you didn’t even notice — if the dragon breathes or silences or drops a void zone. The fights all felt the same.

First off, it’s not that the dungeons are hard, it’s that they are too long. It’s not that the dungeons are hard, it’s that the rewards aren’t great enough to make it worthwhile to run them, especially if you are healing.

There’s a new philosophy afoot in the healing sphere of WoW called triage healing. While this isn’t explicitly mentioned in the first few pages of the post, what triage means is that you let the DPS that does the least damage and takes the most healing…. die. That’s it in a nutshell. There isn’t enough mana to keep everyone alive so some DPS will die in almost any encounter. This is how it always has been in raid encounters. Most raiders understand the vagaries of healing priorities. But. Combine this with a PUG (pick up group) and DPS that never does anything but DPS dungeons, and you’ve got a potential of being kicked at every encounter that results in player deaths. Considering how much pressure there is on healers to start with (it is the most difficult job in a dungeon, you always have 5 potential targets to work on) combined with having to hear Healer fail! repeatedly, right before being kicked from a group, you might be able to understand why dungeon queues are nearly an hour long. So much for the Dungeon Finder and PUGs.

The reason the WotLK (Wrath of the Lich King) dungeons are boring and blend together is not so much that they were easy when we first started doing them; it’s that Blizzard has set the standard for endgame play as a daily random heroic dungeon run and a daily random battleground victory. That’s it. If you are gearing and interested in raiding, that is what you do. This is 2/3rd’s of the WotLK endgame, which included the Argent Tournament dailies in addition to the two randoms. The Tol Barad dailies (probably intended to replace the Tournament dailies) are functionally not available for the faction that doesn’t own Tol Barad, so can’t be counted on.

After you’ve run the same 16 dungeons for two years, as an overgeared 80, things seem to be a bit bland in hindsight. Cataclysm though, is worse. Nine dungeons instead of 16, dungeons which must be run 2o time for each piece of gear (100 points per run /22oo points per piece) thats two runs for each dungeon per piece of gear, 17 potential slots, the possibility of no drops in any given dungeon being an upgrade for any armor currently equipped…

…Dungeons which are generally longer and significantly harder than the previous dungeons, with rewards that are not scaled up to meet the extra time/effort invested. 680 hours invested to gain enough points to get fully geared for raiding, and that’s if the dungeons aren’t complete failures, in which case you get nothing for your two hours.

I would mention professions as a gearing option, but that would just be silly. The professions are clearly included simply to give the professional some kind of buff to apply to point gained gear, because the gearing choices are laughable at best, and insulting at worst. There really aren’t any other methods to acquire gear outside of random battleground and dungeon runs. Is it any wonder that the battleground queues are all quite short these days? Battlegrounds give points, even when you loose.

The casual player doesn’t have a hope in hell of being able to meet the requirements for playing this game at endgame. I’m not sure why any of them should bother. Why were the heroic dungeons from the previous expansions not all updated to cataclysm levels? None of them serve any purpose anymore. With the addition of the dungeons from Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, at least there would be some potential variety and reward for reaching endgame. Professions that actually provide gearing options would be nice too, and would give the casual player the potential for getting gear without having to invest a significant portion of their lives.

I can already hear the QQ comments bubbling up, and that brings us to the last point I want to make in this post. That is the community, or rather, the general lack of community when it comes to realm wide chat channels and cross-realm PUGs. Everywhere you go in the Warcraft world there is a general lack of civility. Having honed my teeth in CompuServe chatrooms in the 90’s, I’m not impressed with or threatened by bluster. Still, every complaint about the game on forums designed to air complaints is met with hostility. Every group encounter seems to be dominated by the emotionally crippled child that thinks that yelling about failures is going to solve some issue, or by grimfaced elitists that kick people at the slightest provocation (guilty as charged) because that’s the only way to exert any control in the group. Strategize? I’ve had groups fall apart from simply having a question about a fight be asked. There’s another wasted two hours. There is no effective tool in game to police the community, no way for the average player to flag other players for behavior that deserves demerits, no realistic method for letting Blizzard know of violations without taking the time (and generally getting kicked as AFK, Away From Keyboard, in the process) to fill out a form. Seriously, is it that hard to understand the need for basic community policing tools?

…Oh, and while your at it, how about a quest history?

I don’t see myself playing this game in two years. I looked forward to the progression of WotLK, and while I just finished Christie Golden’s book The Shattering and loved it (I also think that any player that doesn’t read it is missing out on essential game lore) what I find myself wishing for when I log on is; to play that game, in that world in the book. Instead I find myself here, with 9 dungeons I dread, a server-wide battleground I have no hope of winning, and the resounding echos of healer fail in my ears as I watch the load screen deposit me back at my hearth point. I don’t see myself putting up with that longer than the date when my current subscription expires.

Posted here on the forums.

Cataclysm is Not the Game That I Loved

(From a series of posts at Blizzard forums)

But it might become that game. That fate remains unclear though.

What I am disturbed by most in this new flashy WoW world, is this insistence on the part of the developers to discredit any quest progress that was generated in previous versions of the game. I don’t care at the bottom of which locked file cabinet the notice was posted that all of the old game quests would be deleted, and the quest count reset, because I wouldn’t have agreed with that decision from day one, and would have argued then just as vehemently as I will now. The only difference is that we will have the conversation now.

My only regret in playing World of Warcraft is that I didn’t sign on when it was rolled out to start with. Then I would have had a chance to track down King Wryn’s kidnappers. I would have been able to do the jailbreak quest. I would have been there when Eastern Plaguelands was a PvP region that was populated with players intent on game progression. I would have been able to confront Onyxia, and liberate the King from her. I could have been part of the opening of Ahn’Qiraj, confronting Eranikus in Moonglade. Instead I signed on when Karazhan was the raid of choice, and a good portion of the classic game was already a cricket chirping wasteland.

Still, it was fun exploring the old world. was irreplaceable when it came to looking up arcane bits of lore that the game no longer explained, things like who Onyxia was and why we wanted to kill her; or how King Wryn could at the same time both be in Stormwind and be kidnapped. It made me appreciate the size of the game and amount of programming that went into creation of a world this detailed.

Then I noticed that Varimathras disappeared from Undercity, and some upstart Orc took his place giving out the same quests he did, even though he claimed that he was going to put a stop to what Varimathras had done. The (always disturbing) apothecary quests still continue, right under the Orc overseer’s nose, leading inexorably to the confrontation at the Wrathgate, even though they claim to want to stop it. Then I had to ask myself, “what do these guys not understand about storytelling?” the content doesn’t make sense without Varimathras giving out the quests, and Putress directing the apothecaries from the depths of Undercity.

When the new maps rolled out last week, I took the time to make a new toon for each race, listen to the intro cinematic, and play the first 5 levels. Again I had to ask myself if the developers understood motivations of the players, and proper storytelling. The intro cinematic was all about events that lead to the Cataclysm, and talk about events that occur in Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King as if they had already happened; as if the players making the new characters would not spend the next few months finding these things out for themselves. “The Draenei retake Outland? Then why am I playing one? The Blood Elves stabilize the Sunwell? Guess I don’t need to play that race. Deathknights defeat the Lich King? Then what am I rolling up a DK for, and why would I play Northrend?” Spoilers is what we are talking about here. Yes, the content is out there if you want to know about this stuff, but why throw it in the face of a new player? Just so they can be reminded that their next few months will be completely occupied with game content everyone else has done before? Not what I call positive motivation.

However, it was when I took my Loremaster out into the “New, Flashy” world of Cataclysm, trying to asses the changes that what was disturbing me really hit home. As somebody else noted “it’s like Cataclysm is the new toy, programmed by a child. And they can’t wait to let you see it” and nothing that came before Cataclysm counts. All of the quest counts are reset, with the exception of Silithus (the one area they could have nuked into oblivion and it wouldn’t have offended me. That one they keep. At least I don’t have to go back there) I’ve checked, and a good portion of the quests are identical in goals and locations. They aren’t “new” quests. But I’m expected to happily do them again, with no acknowledgement that I’d done the exact quest before. As if there was no WoW before Cataclysm (here’s a thought, if I wasn’t playing the game, then I shouldn’t have been paying for it. Perhaps a refund is in order…?) and that, as the intro blurbs hint at “all that other old stuff we’ve already done. This Cataclysm is all new” Well, it’s not new, it’s just been rehashed.

There is new content, yes. Lovely new content. I’d like to be able to distinguish between the old and the new content. I”m not allowed to do that because of this insistence that “all the old quests have been reset” and I have to do all of the content over again. I can’t say that I’m interested in doing that. I will say that insisting that I’ve wasted two years playing a game that the developers no longer want to acknowledge existed isn’t going to motivate me to re-up the 4 subscriptions my family maintains. Judging from the feedback on this site I daresay I’m not the only one.

From a player’s standpoint, the quest counts should never have been deducted. It wasn’t me that started counting the quests, it was Blizzard that introduced achievements for numbers of quests done. Just because the developers think the old game was embarrassing doesn’t mean the rest of us agree. We’d like our deleted quests back, at least in the count. What was done, from a players standpoint, always counts. Rather than rolling the Loremaster into a Cataclysm achievement, there should be a special set of achievements denoting just how long some of us have put up with disappearing content. How about a “Jailbreak” achievement? “I liberated King Wryn and all I got was this lousy achievement” achievement? “Varimatharas? I’ve seen him!” achievement? The “I knew Naxxramas when…” achievement? “Hey, where’d the dam go?!?” for having worked the previous version of Loch Modan. “Watch your step” for falling to your death in the new gulf in the map. How about we acknowledge the real changes, rather than hiding the sameness.

Here’s a thought. How about a new set of quest chains poking fun at game developers that don’t understand the motivations of the players after all? If they did, they would have understood that discrediting the players past work was going to make a good portion of us very mad.

Again, I’m not the one that decided that there should be achievements, Blizzard did. I happily played the game for a year before these things rolled out. Were there not achievements, I would still be offended by the insistence that something I had done before wasn’t something I had done before. I may be curmudgeon, but the brain still works, and I know when I’m being fed a line of bull.

The count should never have been deducted. That this was even entertained, much less followed through on is a mistake of such gigantic proportions from a motivational standpoint that I doubt I can communicate the impact of this. No amount of promises about all the “cool new” stuff that is too come will offset the disgust that I feel at people attempting to sell me on a game that I’ve already willingly paid for for nearly three years now (4 accounts even) none of which would have been necessary had the developers understood the first thing about player motivation.

The two issues in tandem make playing the “new flashy” regions of the classic game a prospect that I actually dread. Probably not the response that the sales department at Blizzard was looking for (yes I have canceled pre-orders of the game. I offer that up to the sales department for their information) when they go about promoting their new product.

I would like to look forward to playing the new game. Clueless game developers have negated that possibility.

The real core problem here, is I expected more of a change. What I didn’t expect is they would reduce the quest tallies as if I never did the quests; as if I hadn’t been playing for 3 years; and if I haven’t been playing, but I’ve been paying, then they owe me a considerable sum of money (I mention this because corporate types only pay attention when there are dollar signs attached to the problem) What I didn’t expect is they would reset quests that are functionally the exact same quests, and then expect me to happily just do them again on toons that had already done them. To get the exact same quest credit that they took off for doing the exact same quest, previously. I have 18 toons over level 40 and only two of those are DK’s. I’ve done the old content to death. I like the new content, when it’s new. Just don’t tell me it’s new, when it’s not.

Quest History! I’m telling you, put the old quests back, build a quest history into the quest log, and let the quests we’ve done show up there and be tallied but not be in the game anymore. This isn’t rocket science.

The other issue is phasing and storyline. While I agree that not all areas of the game can be phased, I’d be willing to bet that the lowbies (especially on PvP servers) would prefer that the higher levels couldn’t see them anymore. That should be doable and be done, in my opinion. The voice over intros are horrible and should be redone. There should be more of an explanation as to why there’s a new Bronzebeard on the throne in IF. I hope there’s more to be done about the Tauren and their leaders death at the hands of… Well, roll a Tauren and find out. It’s in the voice over. About the only one I liked. Undercity should be phased. Varimatharas should be there until the toon in question does wrathgate. My level 5 undead hunter was just in the city. The NPC’s there are telling her about the Wrathgate. That’s BS from a storytelling perspective, especially since there are plague tanks all over Tirisfal now. These Kor’Kron types never go to Brill? It’s just silly. If the King Wryn Abduction chain is still in the game, he should be phased for people on that chain. That’s the problem with storytelling that I was alluding to, without getting into detail before. I expected phasing, to assist with the storytelling. We were basically told there would be phasing. I expected my Gnome to be able to hearth to Gnomeregan, but now he doesn’t even have a place to come back to at all, other than tents set up in Dun Morough. No evidence of phasing for that in the game.

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun on the story issues, the full game isn’t out yet. Still, they were so clueless as to think that players wouldn’t get pissed off (or even notice) at having their quest tallies reduced, I’m not holding my breath on storyline.

Ancient Loremaster achievement with title “The Curmudgeon” for anyone who had Loremaster in Old Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, and I’ll shut up and go away.

Would like to note that the major offense, the reduction of quest tallies, seems to have been corrected. Thanks to the programmers that corrected that oversight.

Would love to see some achievements for those of us who loved and took the time to play the old game, to the point that fellow players would ask “but why are you doing that?” (Never did manage to get a fired seal of ascension. Does the quest still exist? and why? Not listed on wowhead anymore) But I’m not going to hold my breath on that count.

I would really suggest that the voiceovers be changed. They are buzzcrushers, not invitations to explore the world of Azeroth; including Outland and Northrend, not just the shiny new areas. Of course the average gamer will quest until they can dungeon or hit the battlegrounds, then will power level to 85 and only then begin to wonder where the fun is. That would be their problem. I have always enjoyed playing the different areas at level, and will try to overlook things like plaguetanks in Tirisfal glades, just outside of UC, a city occupied by Orc guards who talk about the incident at Wrathgate as if it already happened…

…hmm, guess I’ll need to work on that last bit. But seriously, at least I can continue down the road to the new quests without having to contemplate -1301, -1300,-1299 at each step. That does make it possible to enjoy the process again. Here’s hoping I can re-suspend disbelief.

I have now been told by three GM’s that the lowered quest tallies are intentional. Were I a programmer or a developer for this game I would be backpedaling from any statements that this punishment of the long time players was in any way intentional, and would instead treat it as a bug that will be corrected (by raising the numbers back to the correct level, the higher level) ASAP.

“So you care about a number? How does another player even see that?” There’s a function in game to compare stats, but you don’t even need to go there, it’s right on the forum now.

Isn’t that nice? The correct number is 2384, BTW.

This is the really insulting one.

The correct number is 3083.

Or this one.

The real number here is 1865.

This reduction, this punishment is going to cost Blizzard money. My money, for starters.

For what it’s worth, I know how to make the Cataclysm expansion work with the superseded previous expansions as a continuous narrative. The BE’s and Draenei starting areas could be tricky to fit into the scheme, but the voice-over could be tweaked to mention the Bronze dragonflight placing them back in time to relive blah, blah, blah… which would then tie into the fix for the previous two expansions that weren’t revisited (DK’s don’t need any work other than to have them go straight to BC after the beginning area) they could even write in Chromie to introduce the newbs to the fact that outside the beginning area the world has changed, when they ‘graduate’ from the beginning areas.

Now for the unedited expansions. Redirect the portals in the cities that lead to blasted lands to the CoT, and have the starting area for BC and WotLK placed there, with a leader quest in the capitols (much like the one for Cataclysm at 80 now) directing 58’s (and 68’s for WotLK) to go there to speak to the Bronze’s about problems in the past needing to be addressed, yada, yada, yada.

Tie the required visits to the past to the already established time travel work done in CoT, it really is that simple. They could even poke fun at the anachronism at the different boat and zepplin landings. Have the NPC’s talk about the strange rumors of the ships traveling to the past, and that Arthas still sits on the frozen throne according to the people who return from Northrend…

They may have already thought of something like this and are ready to implement it. Considering how much programming work remains to be done on the game, I wouldn’t be surprised at much of anything that would emerge over the next month or so.

Something needs to change. The way things are now is too jarring. I would have preferred that they wrote in new content for levels 60 thru 80 (as the original announcement stated they were going to, “new content for levels 1 to 85”) that would have provided an alternate for going through the superseded expansions. I can see that was never going to happen, though. What I described above would at least allow the player to pretend it all makes sense…

So, here I am. Two weeks out from Cataclysm release, and faced with having nothing else to do in the game but endlessly rerun dungeons for gear, the only way in game to realistically gear up toons, once again. I was bored with that in Wrath of the Lich King two weeks ago. New dungeons? Sure, 5 of them, and those 5 are all that’s available in the dungeon finder (the only way anyone does group efforts that aren’t raids, anymore) and with no way to get to the old content except fly, those 5 is all anyone will be doing. I don’t know how else to define “even more boring” than 5 instead of 16 possible dungeons in random. I don’t know if I’ll ever find out how many dungeons are available in heroic. Since I’m not going to endlessly repeat dungeons looking for gear, I may never get to heroic level dungeons. I would have hoped that they would have updated all the previous ‘heroic’ dungeons (they are as useless as ‘tits on a bull’ as the saying goes, now. Providing gear that is surpassed by any measure of the game other than vanity) so that a random was as likely to send you to Hellfire as it is to send you to Blackrock Caverns. But I’m not bothering with hope anymore, considering how much possibility with this expansion was just left lying on the table.

Would have loved a mage portal to summoning stone locations ability, that would have made it possible to get to the old content easily. Ah, well. So many things that “could have been done” but weren’t done. Things like real professions for gearing purposes, instead of profession limited buffs being the focus of every profession in endgame.

I’m going to winge on about professions here for a bit, professions being one of the major stumbling blocks in the game as currently structured. The worst off is strangely enough the most recent addition, Inscription. Sixty of the glyphs for this profession are only learnable by finding a Book of Glyph Mastery, and they are a rare dungeon drop in Wrath of the Lich King dungeons only. Consequently the supply of these has dried up of late, since no one runs those dungeons anymore. The 450 to 525 levels don’t even concern the making of new glyphs. Since they’ve made scroll effects duplicates of potion effects, they’ve made glyphs permanently learnable; and the trinkets, off hands and ‘ranged’ are all surpassed at level 85 heroic, the only reason to do inscription is the shoulder buff. Big woop. Leatherworking is in a similar fix, I’ve gone on long enough about that one elsewhere (seriously? 5 for one Heavy Savage Leather? Not reasonable) Complaints about blacksmithing are similar to those with Leatherworking, being only in slightly less of a fix because the mats are at least reasonably farmable on off hours. Extra buffs for wrists and legs, or wrists and belts. Not motivational as far as maintaining the profession goes. Tailoring? Haven’t even looked. Two more slots on bags isn’t enough to motivate me to worry about it. Engineering? Gave up on that before even getting past Outland level. The cost of the vanity bike at the end of WotLK was enough to do that. Seriously, how much gold? Unless that’s my focus in game, I won’t ever have it for that, unless I go to a gold reseller, which will potentially get my account banned. Enchanting, Jewelcrafting and Alchemy remain the only professions that have relevance in endgame, because they have buffs that can be given to other players at raid level.

Rare mats once again seems to be the rule, scarcity being the motivator of choice to keep people occupied in the game.

I would spend some time exploring the updated content, but since they’ve chosen to punish old players with reduced quest tallies, I’ll have to do that with a new toon; and a new toon will have to play through the bypassed areas of Outland and Northrend, 20 of the longest levels of work, in content that serves no purpose in the current storyline, just so I can once again face those interminable last 5 levels of new content, and the same gearing roadblock. Strangely, I’m not hyped up for that journey.

Perhaps it is time to find another game. I always said I’d quit playing when I wasn’t having fun. I can’t say that I’m having fun playing WoW right now…

World of Warcraft Endgame Professions Critique

Actually, it’s mostly about leatherworking in WoW. But it applies generally to the other secondary WoW professions.

Having now leveled every profession except Engineering through the functional end of WotLK (425+) I have some basic complaints about the endgame LW in WotLK that weren’t present in any of the previous incarnations of the game; things I would like to see not happen again in Cataclysm.

The first one is mats. None of the professions require you to initiate a sequence 100 times in order for you to make one item of ‘epic’ quality, other than LW. Heavy Borean Leather, which is manufactured at a rate of 6 to 1 from Borean Leather (twice as much as Heavy Knothide Leather, and there is no classic equivalent to this process that I know of) the skinner/Leatherworker if they want to make level 78 to 80 items, takes Borean Leather skinning drops and combine them to make Heavy Borean leather, which does not drop. One item for about a stack of 20 Heavy Borean Leather. Crafted epic items which are promptly replaced as soon as Heroic dungeon level gear is available because that gear is superior. This bottleneck of mats has literally caused me to abandon the practice of making gear for my alts, in favor of simply repetitavely running dungeons in order to obtain badges and points for gear that is far superior, and cheaper from a time/gold spent perspective.

The other issue is patterns. There aren’t enough of them, especially at endgame. Full sets of mail, leather (and plate for BS) should be available every 10 levels or so (and they should be able to be worn at vaguely the same time, unlike the patterns in BC) When new content is added to endgame, trainer patterns for the gear that drops there (or similar to that) should be made available. Doing this would actually stimulate profession usage, and gameplay at endgame levels, broadening the already tending to narrow focus of endgame play.

I’d really like to see a blue post that addresses my concerns here. I see this as a serious flaw in game design, that the profs are left out of the endgame play, other than vanity items like engineering choppers and the like. Please, please make Blacksmithing and Leatherworking(and tailoring! tailoring at least has bags to make. Leveled a mage to 80 just farming mats and making bags for my other alts) relevant at endgame. Reduce the boredom repetitive dungeoning brings. Please.

New World of Warcraft forum location the post above can be found here.

I’m working through Cataclysm Leatherworking profession now, and I just hit the leather roadblock again. 50 kills to make one item? Bloodied Wyrmhide Shoulders, just as an example. Not to mention the rare as all hell volatile water? 10 of them? For shoulders that will be replaced as soon as you get a heroic drop?

Did you people think about drop rates and relative work to create items before you programmed it? Or just pull numbers out of a convenient orifice? Because if point systems are structured as they were in Wrath of the Lich King, I’m once again going to be (borrrriiiinnnnnng!) endlessly repeating dungeons in order to gear toons rather than doing the even more (borrrriiiinnnng!) lengthy work of farming leather for gear. Ya’ll are making me think I need to find another game.

If a pattern of a particular level requires a particular weight of leather, then skinnables of that level should drop that item. Basic rule of thumb in game design. It’s strange that I need to remind the programmers at Blizzard about this.

FIX THIS!! It’s a simple thing to change the skinning drops, so change them!

Looking back from 8 years in the future, I find my frustration at endgame crafting amusing. In every single expansion after this one, endgame crafting has been utterly ridiculous when it comes to the amount of mats necessary to craft an item of endgame gear. I’m sure this is done to make it as hard to get superior gear as it is to get it through working dungeon and group instances. It’s actually much harder to make your own gear in endgame than it is to keep running instances to get it, and the crafted gear is never the best in game for long, nor is it usually upgraded to match the latter parts of an expansion. The only time it has been upgradable and useful in my experience was during the end of the last expansion, Broken Isles, and then only for things like alchemy trinkets. So, not worth the time to maintain most of the professions.

I still obsess about them, but I frequently wonder why these days.  

Gaming’s Potential Contribution to the World

People ask me all the time “Why do you spend so much time playing that game” Warcraft is but the latest in a long line of game obsessions of mine (been working on that post for awhile now. That one and a religion one and a citizenship one and a disability one…) This is the first explanation of why that ever rang true to me. It’s also an explanation of what gaming might be able to do for the world.

Can’t Pirate Starcraft II? Says who?

From Structured Dream

I just read a review by Matt Peckham mentioning the lack of free “pirated” versions of the long-anticipated game, StarCraft II, which he sums up as: “PC gaming 1, pirates 0”. In his view, “PC gaming” is pitted against players who want to play, but are resistant to being forced to pay $60 or more, in advance, to a secretive corporation, which is part of an even more secretive, corporate, profit-maximizing conglomerate.

Pirates 85, actually. That’s the count on for Starcraft II. I paid for my copy, as I pay for my WoW usage (I want to play on the official servers, not the private ones that are free) but it’s hardly the case that the game(s) can’t be pirated.

But I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. The question then becomes, how do these entertainment employees make money if they can’t charge for their product? Fee for service (as in the WoW public servers) shouldn’t be a problem, but that’s what kept me from playing the game for years. What bothers me is they still charge for the game (and they still charge for 10 year old games on the battlenet site, BTW) even though they will charge you to use their servers as well. That feels like double billing to me.

Player vs. Player, the Newb Curse?

We were in a Warsong Gulch Battleground tonight. Started off pretty good, we got a capture right out of the box. Looked like a quick victory. Then two different (I think) idiot toons from Jubei’Thos server picked up the flag, two different times. Both of them went afk long enough together for the timer to expire on the battleground. We killed the horde flag carriers at least 10 times, and these (two?) idiots were never around to capture the flag a second time, which would have insured we won the BG. Finally, with about 30 seconds to go, the second one chats “What do I do with the flag?” and drops it. Luckily another ally picked it up, and the timer expired before the horde could return their flag and capture ours. Is it possible that someone could be that ignorant of gameplay at level 80? I find that hard to believe.

Facebook status posted in the Frosty Wyrm Riders guild group. I’m modifying the group to be a general fandom group (August 7th, 2018) and adding my old Star Trek club members to it, as well as fan friends who know how to play nice with others. All the old posts are leaving us. 

Red dragons over Northrend. Frosty Wyrm Riders Group Cover Photo