This year there are even more rewards than usual. Log on and pick up your breadcrumb quests, then head to the Caverns of Time and join in the amusement and general chaos that is a world event in World of Warcraft.
I got bonus loot while doing the Memories of Azeroth raid that is part of the celebration. A mount that I had been trying to get to drop off of Ragnaros for several years now in the Firelands raid was in the loot I got off of defeating Ragnaros in Memories of Azeroth. I can now cross the Pureblood Firehawk off of my want list, making Memories of Azeroth doubly worth my time. The only way the experience could have been better is if Invincible’s Reins had dropped off of the Icecrown instance. No one got that one in our group, making Arthas’s stallion still one of the rarest mounts in World of Warcraft.
Part of this event is looking back on these fights and feeling that nostalgia if you were there, or seeing the building blocks of WoW if you weren’t. It’s a chance for an old vet like me to pull up a chair on my porch, sit down next to a youngblood, and regale them with tales of honor and horror. “I remember when Lady Vashj’s Tainted Elemental phase wiped my entire raid over and over for hours. The flasks and food wasted are the stuff of legends.” Memories of Azeroth feels like it was targeted at me.
World of Warcraft studio Blizzard has apparently announced that WoW is going to reduce its level cap – a so-called ‘level squish’ – at some point in the future, and it has done so via a customer survey asking if you knew about that.
Wow. An idea that I’ve been pushing for awhile now, and I didn’t even have to write them about doing it. I really don’t know why they ever increased character levels beyond 100 in the first place. It just doesn’t make any sense. I’m not even sure why leveling is still part of the game, at this point. It just serves as a gateway that players have to get through before being able to be free to do what they want in the game.
Blizzard has conducted a stat squish already. The player base got over that. They take away in-game flight routinely with every release of new content. The player base puts up with that. I can’t see why reducing levels to 100 from the current 120 makes any difference at all, or should make a difference to anyone playing the game. Max level is max level, no matter what number is attached to it. You can’t get more max than max.
I’ve been of the opinion that levels should be reduced and capped at 100 for quite some time now. If Blizzard insists on leveling-gating new content, they should just reset the level of existing maxxed toons to 99 and be done with it. As I outlined above, I don’t understand why this warrants a lot of wishy washy, hand wringing bullshit. Just do the thing and be done with it. The players will probably not even notice. I’m convinced they won’t notice much of anything unless you went back to making them walk everywhere in game. That suggestion seems to piss most players off the way I get pissed off about not being able to fly in game.
The War of the Thorns is in its second week, and the gamer portion of the internet is having a drama meltdown because of it. If you’ve played World of Warcraft (and if you haven’t, you’re probably already dead, so stop reading this) then you know that every two or three years Blizzard, the creators of the Warcraft gaming franchise, release a world-changing patch called an expansion that the company hopes will reinvigorate its flagship game, World of Warcraft. Long time readers of this blog will know my back story for this game because, for several years, I couldn’t stop talking about it.
For those dead people (undead?) still reading, I will mention, briefly, a little lore and history. Warcraft is a series of Real Time Strategy (RTS) games. All versions of Warcraft prior to World of Warcraft were RTS games, a completely different animal from a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game like World of Warcraft. Maps in an RTS are built for complex battles fought on the ground using large armies. Maps in an MMO are used in world-building, an essential ingredient for any kind of real-world feel in online gaming. In Warcraft there were essentially two teams, Orcs and Humans. As the game evolved over Warcrafts One, Two and Three (and their associated expansions) the Orc and Human teams were fleshed out with races that could assist the Orcs or the Humans (or both at the same time) This introduced Dwarves and Elves for the humans and Trolls and Ogres for the Orcs. Gnomes and Goblins were addons that either appeared as part of Dwarvish construction for Gnomes, or Goblin mercenaries who could be hired from specialized structures in the later Warcraft III maps. With Warcraft III the two teams were expanded to four teams. Night Elves appeared for the first time in the woods of Kalimdor, a new continent that was reached by using ships to cross oceans that were created for Warcraft II. The Undead faction was also introduced in Warcraft III with the corruption of the Human prince Arthas, inheritor of the throne of Lordaeron, Lordaeron being the Human faction dominating the game Warcraft II.
The important thing to take from the above is that, Night Elves lived in the woods of Kalimdor, the second continent of Azeroth, created for the RTS game Warcraft II. Humans lived on the first continent, the Eastern Kingdoms, and there were several cities for Humans and Dwarves mentioned there or located there throughout the first two games. The Elves that were part of the Human faction prior to Warcraft III also had cities in the Eastern Kingdoms, unlike the Night Elves. Orcs were from another world that was briefly explored in expansions for both Warcraft One and Two, as were Ogres. Trolls had no origin prior to World of Warcraft, they were simply part of the map obstacles for teams, and part of the support group for the Orcs, a smattering of races which came to be known as the Horde.
This is the first bit of World of Warcraft lore that I have mentioned and I am three paragraphs into a simple description of the lore of the game. Bear with me. The faction I mentioned was the Horde, a faction which also incorporated what was a second faction or army in Warcraft III, the Undead. The human team had the name of the Alliance in Warcraft, an alliance between humans, dwarves and elves. The Alliance also absorbed the forth Warcraft III faction or army, the Night Elves. This brings us to the creation of World of Warcraft as a game and a map.
When Blizzard took on the task of creating a real world map for Azeroth, the world that most of World of Warcraft takes place on, they had to create origin points for all the races to start from, so that low-level players could have time to learn the mechanics of gameplay before being dumped out in the hostile world of Player vs. Player (PVP) competition. This is where most of the places that are near and dear to any hardcore players heart were created. Stormwind, destroyed in Warcraft I, lived again as the home for Humans. Ironforge, the mythical home of the Dwarves was finally given form, as was Gnomeregan for the Gnomes and Thunder Bluff for the Tauren, another supporting race for the Horde that was also introduced in Warcraft III. Finally, Teldrassil was introduced as a home for the Night Elves. The Night Elves, who called no place home other than the woods that they loved and died for, and the real reason I took everyone down this long, winding path in the first place.
To further embroider the story I’m telling here, a bit of an aside about Gnomes and Gnomeregan. Gnomeregan is a sore point for anyone who plays Gnomes. Gnomeregan is a five-man dungeon, not a home. At least Gnomes have a home to be excluded from, a fact important enough to warrant a dungeon instance. Trolls had no home at first, simply being pointed North to Orgrimmar, the same directive that low-level Orcs experienced in game. They were pointed North to a city in which they occupied a slum adjacent to the Orcs, but were not really as well respected as Orcs. Trolls later claimed their home back from Zalazane, but that isn’t the point of this winding trip down memory lane.
The point here is that Teldrassil, the home for the Night Elves, was never part of Warcraft until World of Warcraft, and even then it was a seriously flawed creation of Fandral Staghelm and the druids that he lead at the beginning of World of Warcraft. Fandral Staghelm, who harnessed dark magic to make the tree what it is today, before he became a raid boss in the Firelands raid of Cataclysm. A servant of the Firelord Ragnaros. Teldrassil stood as a testament to his control over the druids in particular, and the Night Elves in general, until this week.
The Daughter has been telling me for months now they burn Teldrassil. I didn’t believe it until I saw it, but the animated short released yesterday duplicates the final sequence in Tuesday, June 31st’s expansion patch for the War of the Thorns currently underway as an introduction to the new expansion due out August 14th, Battle for Azeroth.
So, yeah. They burn Teldrassil. I’m not exactly appalled or outraged by this sequence of events. As others who are even more lore-wise than me have pointed out, this is not even the first time that a major city has been destroyed in World of Warcraft or that this strategy of roping in the player base by shaking up the maps and relationships we’ve come to accept as a given was used. These tactics are not groundbreaking and they may or may not be effective at driving more players to play the game the way Blizzard envisions.
The book that corresponds with the release of this expansion, Before the Storm, was penned by one of the better authors for Warcraft lore, Christie Golden. I would prefer to have read the book before the expansion comes out, but like all things financial for me these days, some things have to wait for the bills to be paid so that the lights will stay on here. Hopefully I’ll get a copy for my birthday in two weeks. So I haven’t read the book. Most players have not read it and probably should read it before being too outspoken about transpiring events. As a druid player (not to mention Paladin and every other class for both factions) the ability to opt out of participation in the slaughter at Teldrassil would have been nice. Druids would not agree to attack their Shan’do. There were, however, Druids working for Sylvanas in Darkshore. Just slightly South of Lor’danel where the final battle takes place, there are druids of the claw attacking in a circular formation. So Druids were present in the battle, despite rumors to the contrary.
I wonder what game these players shocked by Sylvanas’ actions have been playing? They certainly haven’t leveled toons through the early game areas for the Undead in the current version of World of Warcraft, a storyline that has been in place since after Cataclysm reworked the area following the Wrath of the Lich King expansion and the killing of Varimathras. Anyone who thinks that Sylvanas doesn’t want to be the next Lich King doesn’t understand the undead, hasn’t played undead characters, hasn’t been paying attention to the characterizations in game. Her disavowal of knowledge of Varimathras’ plague plans at the Wrathgate was just her engaging in covering her own ass. She set about making more plague and using it in South Shore in the very next expansion. She has been experimenting with the Val’kyr, using them to resurrect fresh undead. It’s right there in the Undead storyline right now, go play it.
However, frontal assault is totally out of character for Sylvanas and her Rogues. She is a master strategizer, well-versed in the underhanded ways of the Rogue class (Rogues that should be using bows the way she does but currently cannot) This one size fits all storytelling is at the heart of my dissatisfaction with Broken Isles, the last expansion of World of Warcraft. The Broken Isles had Rogues leading armies as heroes, not to mention Mages willing to follow Warlocks into battle as if Warlocks hadn’t been demonstrated to suck the souls out of their friends when the expediency of the moment calls for it. Most of the stories since Wrath and Cataclysm have been underthought and not fleshed out very well (what the hell happened to Wrathion?) I was hoping that Christie Golden being brought on to help with plotting and storytelling would make for better stories being told in relation to the MMO as we move forward in time. Maybe she just hasn’t had time to make the kinds of deep changes that really are warranted in the game experience. I guess we will find out eventually.
In any case, good riddance to Fandral’s creation, Teldrassil. None of my druids had any abiding love for the place and Tarashal only regrets not being able to save more than a hundred out of the nearly 1000 people supposedly taking refuge there. It reminded him quite poignantly of sorting through the bodies at Auberdine after Cataclysm started. Not surprisingly, I’m sure. He looks forward to making his new home on top of the mountain next to Nordrassil. Tharthurm asked the Paladin standing next to him when the cutscene ended What does a Paladin have to do with this? What does a Druid? before flying off and getting drunk at a tavern (yes I am an incorrigible roleplayer) Hope does spring eternal, Sylvanas. You cannot kill hope unless you destroy all life. Keep walking the path of the Lich King. I know you as only one of your own (Eugennah, Creavishop) can.
All of the Battle for Azeroth videos and stills can be found at this link. After the first two Warbringers shorts (I’ve shown the one for Jaina to so many people that the Daughter storms off in anger when I show it again) Blizzard released this short.
Varok Saurfang is the tragic figurehead for the honor of the Horde across all of Warcraft, even if we didn’t know his name until World of Warcraft. Just watching that cinematic can bring tears to my eyes. It would seem like a hollow gesture following the burning of Teldrassil, but he was prepared to throw himself on Alliance spears in order to avoid fighting for a Horde that had no honor, and Sylvanas Windrunner has no honor. She has not had room in herself for honor since losing her mortal shell to Arthas’ necromancy. After the foretold defeat of Horde forces at Lordaeron Keep, Saurfang is taken prisoner and hauled back to Stormwind to await King Anduin’s pleasure.
This sets up the next portion of the story of Battle for Azeroth, at least from the Horde side. Now my Tauren druid can take part in the game again. Of course, my undead toons are livid at Saurfang’s and Baine’s betrayal, but the undead were never really part of the Horde in the first place.
Patch 8.2 is now in beta.
I’m glad someone took the time to piece together all the cutscenes for Vol’jin’s interactions with the players in Battle for Azeroth. It saves me the trouble of doing it, and Vol’jin appears to be the missing link in determining what Sylvanas is really up to and who wanted her to be warchief of the Horde. Spoilers! are in the video. Just FYI.
Well, the first chapter of Battle for Azeroth has come to an end. It came to an end rather spectacularly, with this cinematic.
Blizzard put together what can only be called a short film, 30 minutes of cinematics edited together as a tribute to Varok Saurfang. Since I had already linked all the other cinematics previously, I didn’t see the point in embedding that video here. Still, it is worth noting as a worthy effort on blizzard’s part. This will probably be the last update to this post since this is the end of the first chapter of this expansion. The battle goes on, but with different actors on the stage, and we have yet to see the ultimate plans of Sylvanas Windrunner. You get a hint of what they are if you play a Horde toon, ally yourself with Sylvanas, and finish the war campaign.
I’m not going to tell you what that is here. You’ll have to look elsewhere for those spoilers. I’m still playing so that means that this version of the game isn’t as boring to play as Warlords of Draenor was for me. Still, WoWClassic is looking mighty tempting as the wait for the next raid to drop looms in front of me. I’ve leveled all the toons I plan on leveling at this point. It’s just a matter of fleshing out their gear now; which is a tedious, never-ending process in any MMO that has ever existed. So I may duck that job and go play something else in the meantime.
An artist friend was lamenting being called a drawer recently. Tongue-in-cheek he informed the fan of his artwork that he was not a drawer, a single container in a dresser or chest of drawers, but was rather a draughtsman, thank you very much.
This witty rebuttal sent me scurrying to check word meanings at my favorite quick-reference of choice, Wikipedia. When I got there I discovered that I couldn’t use Wikipedia as a reference for this subject, as I have discovered with previous subjects on this blog. Wikipedia defaults to popular word usage and doesn’t reference the word draftsman, or draftsperson if you insist on neutralizing the word. It doesn’t even reference the proper English Draughtsman that my friend used. No, wikipedia gathers all discussion of the field of technical illustration under the term…
The sound that you are hearing is the spinning of a million proofreaders in their graves. It’s quite a rumble, isn’t it? A drafter is a racing driver following a pack leader close enough to get a speed boost from the lead car’s wake in the air. In no way, shape or form is a draftsman a drafter. That just isn’t English.
An artist creates art. A draughtsman or draftsman produces technical drawings (which is where the slang drawer comes from) I was a draftsman for many years, I know what I’m talking about. Applying art techniques to technical drawings produces a “rendering,” something I have hired artists to do. I would never refer to an artist as a draftsman. That is an insult worthy of a good cuffing in my book. What artists and draftsmen do look similar on the surface but are in actuality two completely different fields of work.
The insistence on sounding like a moron when speaking has driven me crazy for years, drafter/drawer is just the latest insult that I’ve stumbled across, and that one has bugged me since I started drawing. As far back as I can remember I have tried to correct others poor word usage only to be rewarded with the label of smartass from most of the people I’ve tried to educate. I was either born a proofreader or a pedant and I’ve never worked out which group I’d rather be affiliated with, but it does remind me of one of the few times that I managed to get the last laugh on the subject.
In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Blizzard added the inscription profession to World of Warcraft. I thought a scribe would be an interesting profession to get the Loremaster achievement with (Scribe. Lore. Get it?) so I spent a lot of time on the two ‘toons that I leveled as scribes. In World of Warcraft, like most MMO’s, you can spend a lot of time making things for other players. There are chat channels in the game where you can request needed items from or advertise your profession; and none of the players that I ran across in 6 years could figure out that someone who inscribes is referred to as a scribe. Inscriptors? Scripties? You name it. Never a request for a Scribe. In a moment of frustration I hit upon the right way to deal with this annoyance. I started explaining to the poor illiterate souls that a practitioner of inscription was referred to in a variation that reflected the sex of the practitioner. Like draftsman or draftswoman and many words found in romance languages. There was a sexual differentiation in the names and you needed to be sure to use the right one. Females were to be referred to as inscriptionatrixes. Males were only to be called inscriptionators. In six years of playing World of Warcraft, that never got old.
You may well ask “Why Burning Crusade?” at this point. Burning Crusade is the first expansion of World of Warcraft, not the vanilla version, the original version.
The answer to that is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that Blizzard has dropped the myth that Burning Crusade is a separate expansion (even though you can buy packaged versions of it and later expansions from Amazon) and back in the days of Mists of Pandaria they bundled the two together, creating a default image for WoW that was different from the vanilla version of the original game.
With the current expansion they have dropped the pretense that any of the previous expansions were actually expansions to the original game in the online store. So why are they sticking to the Burning Crusade image? Because changing it would take work, and they are on a budget from Activision. It is either that or perhaps there is truth in advertising. Burning Crusade is what the current WoW experience seems most like. Burning Crusade is where the new class was the enemy of choice. Burning Crusade is where the Burning Legion was first assaulted directly. Legion is a rehash of Burning Crusade in much the same way that Warlords of Draenor was a rehash of story content first introduced in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal.
In the online store you can’t get any of the previous expansions. You can only purchase World of Warcraft and Legion. There is a problem with this, and that is where the story really gets complex. It gets complex because there really isn’t two versions of the game.
Blizzard will tell you that there are two versions. There is the version of the game which includes preserved content from previous iterations of the game. Then there is the version with the additional content that they want to charge you almost three times as much to play, as well as the cost of a monthly subscription.
Never mind that the content represents the smallest expansion of World of Warcraft to date. The problem is that what they are calling World of Warcraft isn’t World of Warcraft. What you are purchasing is a disabled version of the accumulated base programming that Blizzard has put into their World of Warcraft project. You are being asked to pay for what the programmers who first put together Blizzard gave away for free. A shareware version of content to whet your appetite for what Legion has to offer. That is because there really isn’t a version of WoW other than Legion.
Having played every version of the game since and including Burning Crusade, I can tell you the differences between each expansion it pretty gory detail. I won’t bore non-players with too many of these details.
It is worth noting that major sections of each expansion have been lopped out of the current game structure. The legendary quest lines for Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor have been removed. It may not seem like much, but those quest chains marked the actual progress through the game as it was played when it was the current version of the game. If you are playing the game today and you wonder why certain factions, structures and islands still appear in the game, what you are seeing are the remnants of endgame content that has been bypassed and pruned.
This is aside from the fact that playstyles of the various classes have also been changed and simplified. If I was purchasing and playing the first game called World of Warcraft, I would have to have extra space in my bags for soul shards while playing a Warlock. Brew poisons as a Rogue. I would have to have arrows or bullets for my weapons. There would be no professions of inscription, jewelcrafting or archeology. There would be no Pandarens, no Blood Elves, no Draenei. No playable versions of Goblins or Worgen. There would be no Death Knights or Monks. You would have to be in a particular faction to play Paladin or Shaman. I would not see a disabled option for creating and playing a Demon Hunter.
In short, it would be a different game if it was really World of Warcraft. This is the bigger problem for Blizzard. Last year Blizzard shut down the fan-run server Nostalrius. Fan run servers do present a threat to Blizzard’s intellectual property, and they had every right to shut that server down; but the existence of the site and others like it present the problem and question that Blizzard wants to go away.
Players want to play the games they purchased, and those games don’t exist anymore.
There really is no place to play the games that I have faithfully purchased from Blizzard over the years. I cannot play Wrath of the Lich King. I cannot participate in the battle at the wrathgate and then storm the Undercity in retaliation, facing off against the opposing faction in the throne room of Sylvanas herself. That pivotal moment in the game is lost. The Kor’Kron and the rise of Garrosh? Also lost. Orcs no longer guard Undercity watching the forsaken, guarding against another attempt to turn all of the living into puddles of goo.
If you click one of the many links above (aside from the battle.net links) and purchase one of those products right now, you cannot play the game that is pictured on the outside of the box. You will be forced to play the disabled version of Legion, the version now called World of Warcraft. There are no servers which run the historic versions of the server software, software needed to play the games historically sold under the World of Warcraft banner.
A consumer should be able to be assured that their purchases can be used in the fashion advertised. This is business 101. That none of the expansions exist to be played in the fashion the game was intended to run at the time of publication and purchase presents a problem to Blizzard, specifically because they make noises about this being one of the longest running games in the history of computer gaming. Because they are still making money off the franchise they have created. Because they have a lot of disgruntled fans out in the hinterlands who have previously purchased games they’d like to play but are prevented from playing them because Blizzard does not maintain a copy of previous integral parts of the game’s programming.
If this is one of the longest running Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games Blizzard, why can’t the fans of previous versions still log on and play the game they played then? I really wish someone at Blizzard would take the time to answer that question.
I took a break from World of Warcraft when Legion went live. I took a break because they stood fast on the promise to release the game without flight being integrated into gameplay. I took a break because World of Warcraft wasn’t World of Warcraft anymore. But mostly I took a break because the game wasn’t fun anymore.
One of my guildmates on Muradin observed, after I spent several minutes bitching about Legion gameplay,
If you aren’t having fun, why are you playing?
That stopped me in my tracks. I logged off right then and there. I fired up the Playstation 3 and I played Playstation games for the next year following that observation, specifically because I was having fun playing them. This was completely the opposite of my experience playing World of Warcraft for the last few years. The constant farming of raid materials. The constant drive to seek the newest and latest gear so as to have the best chance of beating whatever progression raid boss we were on at that minute. The same material grind and the same gear grind repeated through Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor. Different mats and different gear, but always more mats if not more gear. Stacks and stacks of meat and fish and herbs and… everything. Always more. More time, more energy, more strategy. All devoted to equipping a team to play a game that I didn’t enjoy anymore.
The game had become the grind, and the grind was never fun. So I took a break until I heard that they had added flight back in. When that happened I contemplated getting back in the game, but I didn’t subscribe again until I heard that the final patch of Legion was due to be released. I did want to see what the game was like before they changed it again.
I burned through the content of the expansion in a few weeks. Then I did portions of it again on a few other toons. No where close to the twenty-two that I pulled through Mists of Pandaria. The content was all a bit silly, which is true of a lot of games and especially true of most Blizzard content. The silliest of all was the fact that they had Rogues leading armies as heroes, not to mention Mages willing to follow Warlocks into battle as if Warlocks hadn’t been demonstrated to suck the souls out of their friends when the expediency of the moment calls for it.
Rogues do not lead armies. Rogues hide in the bar until the army is distracted, then they gank the wealthier ones and steal them blind. Rogues as heroes? Warlocks as heroes? That is beyond silly and bordering on the unbelievable. Following a demon hunter onto Argus to destroy the heart of the Burning Legion? That is insanity. That part I was up for, if I had the right group with me.
So I had flight again and I could move about the maps doing the parts of the game that I wanted to do without having to crawl through the same damn MOBs repeatedly (the one downside to Mists of Pandaria. Flight had to be earned for each individual toon) however, I didn’t manage to get into the final raid because I wasn’t willing to go without my raiding guild friends that I had abandoned to play other games instead of helping them through Legion when it was hard going work. It was too much to expect them to let me back into the group at the last minute just to go through the raid one last time, carrying me all the way.
They’ll get bored and want to get achievements for old content eventually. There will be vengeance against the legion for me one day in the near future. Then I’ll be able to turn in those final unfinished quests.
I honestly find myself wondering how World of Warcraft could possibly top Legion. I mean, where do we go from here? A full-scale invasion of the Burning Legion a scant sixteen or so years after the last one. Considering it took them ten thousand years to return after their first attempt, it feels like the intervals are getting shorter
Because they are.
So I’m wondering what happens this time. If we beat back the Legion, it’ll have to be a pretty decisive win, wouldn’t it? Not just shutting down the portal they’re using to invade, we’ll also have to eradicate every last trace of them: every cultist and every demon that’s currently on Azeroth. That’s a mammoth undertaking. But if we don’t do it, when will the next invasion come?
So what do we do after we accomplish it? Is it finally time for us to go to Argus? Take the fight to the Legion’s doorstep?
I find myself wondering how many worlds are left out there. Are there allies for us to find? Is there a grateful cosmos waiting to be delivered from the Legion or are we one of a few ragtag holdouts, enduring in spite of the Fallen Titan and his army of annihilation? What else is there for us to do once we stop the Legion this time?
What do you all think? What’s next, after Legion?
There are so many problems with this question, it pretty much requires that I wax literal in my attempt to unpack it. Oh, you’d like me to do that? Here goes.
Time doesn’t exist in the sense that Matthew Rossi at Blizzardwatch suggests, especially in fantasy worlds. Time isn’t a set interval marching in unmalleable increments down to the end of time. Time is more gas than fluid or concrete. It can be compressed or expanded to fill whatever boundaries we place on it.
But we can set that aside because we aren’t talking about reality, but rather fantasy. It has already been established that the Legion lives outside of time and space. They don’t see time as temporal creatures (like humans) see time. Consequently the interval can be ten thousand years or next week, it is the same difference to them.
Blizzard can literally have every expansion after this one be The Burning Legion Returns and it can be factually defended from within established World of Warcraft canon.
So what comes after the current expansion is pretty much irrelevant, from a story perspective. It’s already been established we can travel to parallel universes and port to any world within the current universe of Azeroth. The Burning Legion can be there, mucking up the world. Or not be there, if the developers decide not to include them. Mists of Pandaria added the only part of Warcraft III that I felt was left out of World of Warcraft, so I can’t suggest any new content just right off the top of my head.
The real question is, will the next expansion be something the player base will want to play? That is quite literally the multi-million dollar, multi-million playerbase debate.
Since I’ve still not bought Legion (#noflynobuy) I think they’ve already gone there. They’ve been headed that way for quite some time. The first hint of their direction was in Mists of Pandaria. In MOP flight was an endgame-only perk. You had to be at top level in the game to be able to fly. Contrary to what the naysayers insist, this was a retrenchment from both Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King, where flight was incorporated from the beginning of the expansion, and a return to the old ways of Burning Crusade. With Warlords of Draenor the world of the original game, where no flight was possible, was reintroduced.
This is, to put it bluntly, going backwards.
I get it, the new owners (Activision) have a gameplan that requires Blizzard to milk every dollar out of the playerbase that they can get their hands on, while simultaneously devoting as little programming time to the game as they can get away with. This means simplifying the game in ways that are less noticeable if the players cannot simply fly over obstacles.
Here is an example. The world of Outland is physically bigger than the old world of Draenor. I have proven this to myself by flying across regions of the game map in both areas. This fact is the reverse of established game lore, that Outland is smaller than Draenor because of the destruction wrought by the Burning Legion. The world can be smaller because in Draenor you were expected to fight across the ground for every inch of territory you wanted to traverse. Constraining the players in this way allows the developers and programmers to skip creating the larger worlds that Warcraft is known for, making it possible for them to economize on programming time.
The Broken Isles of Legion are demonstrably smaller than every single expansion that has come before in World of Warcraft. Why are we limited to just the Broken Isles? Why isn’t the invasion everywhere on Azeroth simultaneously? This is the Burning Legion, they have uncounted demons at their beck and call. They could easily be in every city on Azeroth simultaneously.
But that would be one whole hell of a lot of programming. It would equal the amount of programming that went into creating the first game.
Which is my overarching point here. The Legion expansion is the smallest addition to the game that has ever been introduced, and it comes at the cost of a complete reworking and simplification of every system in the game outside of redrawing maps for the game itself. It is a lot easier to program simplified playstyles and constrain players to small sections of ground-based maps than it is to create new worlds with new areas to explore, complex and challenging playstyles to master.
Playstyles that include flight.
But it isn’t just flight. I was disgusted at the garrison copout in the last expansion. Sending followers out to play the game you couldn’t take time to play. Building ships that you never sailed on. The one thing that might have saved Warlords of Draenor for me would have been allowing me to build ships I could sail where I wanted to go. But that too would have required an exponential investment in programming time, something Activision doesn’t want to spend money on.
Having all of Azeroth be under siege would also make the garrisons we’ve spent two years building have a use beyond becoming just another game hub no one goes to anymore. It would do something unprecedented in WoW, not abandon former content as being that old game we used to play. The garrisons have their own separate hearthstone. Draenor has been protected through our actions from invasion by the Burning Legion lurking out in infinity. Why would we not stage our last defense of Azeroth in the one place we know the Burning Legion can never return to. Draenor of the past.
So it comes down to this for me. Until and unless they revise their development strategies, I can’t see them doing anything I will want to play. I could be wrong, but I’m betting I’m not. Waiting and seeing is something I do well.
Meaningless Punishment in Battlegrounds While Leveling
World of Warcraft suggestion/bugfix of the week;
If you level in a battleground and that level moves you to a higher bracket, you are now removed from the battleground and marked as a coward for leaving. That is either a bug, or a serious oversight on Blizzard’s part. The fun of leveling in battlegrounds is that moment when, for the rest of that one instance, you rock. Now it is a punishment to level that way. This needs to be fixed. This game is already punishing and boring enough.
Specifically this toon (My 17th, I think) confirmed what I had suspected with other toons that have hit 100 in battlegrounds. Several of which I have taken to battlegrounds throughout this xpac just for the pure fun of hitting 100 while in a PvP setting.
Not all the changes are bad in the current expansion. I like the fact that toons are scaled to max level for the bracket, it makes the heirloom twink problem that I’m sure was a frustration for players who didn’t invest in heirlooms less of a problem and more of a reward for playing the game with multiple toons. Now all players are the same level (instead of a potential 9 level difference in one battleground) the only variation is gearscore.
I’m really enjoying Ashran lately. The latest patch seems to have fixed some serious problems with this world PvP area. I was actually able to get into a raid sized group after hitting 100 with my second paladin (linked above) and farm enough broken bones to keep my garrison building churning for a week or more.
So there are good changes; and then there are meaningless changes that just make the game less fun. This suggestion/bugfix request is the latter. Please Blizzard, I’m begging here. Remember, we play games for fun?
However, I have to say that 6.2 remains “The Patch That Ate World of Warcraft” Aside from flight, I hate the content of this patch. It simply adds insult to the injury that is Warlords of Dreanor, as I’ve gone into here, here and here.
It has ships, but they are ships that I can’t ride on. This is the sailing equivalent of a cock-tease if you are a sailing geek like I am. Not only that, but these ships require oil even though they are sailing ships. And the oil? I have to quest for that instead of accruing it at a set rate like garrison resources, the other currency (one of several introduced this patch) specifically tied to the garrison. Can’t drill for the oil as in the Real Time Strategy game this version of WoW is attempting to emulate. Well, you can, it just requires you to grind out reputations in the new content area, Tanaan Jungle.
This should have been your first clue, Blizzard. If you have to force players to work in an area, you really haven’t made the game fun enough to warrant play in the first place.
I should be able to sail my ships directly. Should be able to go with garrison quests to assist. Should be able to accrue oil without having to kill unrelated NPC’s that give access to oil that my ships shouldn’t need. This expansion, aside from Ashran, is a waste of time.
Here’s hoping that Legion will prove to be worth playing.
There is an active poll over on the WoW forums called The Friendly Skies. While I question the adjective friendly applied to almost anything MMO, I found the choices available on the poll amusing, even if the associated text is patronizing in tone.
Patch 6.2.2 is scheduled for release this week, allowing those of you who have unlocked Draenor Pathfinder to take to the skies on your most trusted of winged beasts, floating steeds, and flying machines. With this comes the added opportunity for you to handle your affairs with greater convenience and timeliness.
Our friends over at Wowhead have put together a guide of Draenor Content Made Easier by Flying. We suggest you give it a look to glean the myriad activities made more accessible by flight, and let us know what you’ll be swooping down from sky to do first.
Travel by flying mount on Draenor will be most handy for:
1. Accessing Archaeology dig sites
2. Collecting more battle pets
3. Exploration and sightseeing
4. Leveling alts to 100
5. Gathering herbs, mining, or fishing
6. Seeking out rare spawns
7. Adventuring further in Tanaan Jungle
8. Locating the remaining treasures
9. Barrel rolls, duh
As I’ve said in chat a million times (at least) easy is a four letter word. I have an idea of what an easy fight would be, but I’ve never seen it in any game,
Nothing that requires a group effort to achieve is easy. The troll who taunts with “come on, this is easy” deludes himself. Just because he finds his role lacks challenge doesn’t mean that getting 5 to 25 players together to do anything lacks challenge. If you doubt this, see if you can get just 4 people together to play a game of cards at home; without bribing them with free beer, of course.
If you didn’t have a guild in earlier versions of WoW (Original & Burning Crusade specifically) you stood around outside the instance you needed to run and hoped that 4 other people would show up and want to run with you. You could (and did) spend hours standing around hoping for a group. Nine times out of 10 you would give up in frustration. The tenth time you would manage to get a group together only to discover that the tank couldn’t tank, the healer couldn’t heal, and DPS was a joke. About every third group you managed to get into an instance with would actually finish the dungeon.
Forget about ever raiding. Raiding was for guilds; I mean, you could try your hand at assembling a raiding group yourself. I tried it several times, never successfully, because of the next problem on the list.
Then came Looking For Raid/Group and suddenly the impasse of just getting a group together was bypassed; allowing for an automated assembly process as part of the game design. However, finding a group of people who knows what they are doing still remains a challenge. Being able to select the role you want to queue for has no bearing on your knowledge of what the role requires, what your classes gear spec should be, what the best spell rotation is, what to interrupt and when, etc; a near bottomless pit of knowledge that is required just to complete a raid with a moderate level of success.
So Looking For Raid/Group didn’t make the game easier, it made playing the game possible for the average player, which just adds to the frustration of the elitist jerks who think the games should be designed for them.
In much the same fashion as LFR making group efforts possible in game, so too flight makes certain kinds of gameplay possible, not just easier. Dismissing the constraints of time and frustration with the word easy is patronizing. Some people have real lives to live, they don’t have all day to spend grinding their way through repetitive content just to get to the thing they want to do today.
I am enjoying flight being added back into WoW. Not enjoying it so much I have forgotten the threat on the horizon, though. When it comes to Legion, I am still in the #NoFlyNoBuy camp. I really do hope that Blizzard game developers are taking us seriously.
Once again the moderators have struck. I had a pretty decent thread going over on the forums. This morning at 4am or thereabouts it was 7 pages long. I had managed to avoid blatantly violating any rules by directly discussing bannings that the moderators have inflicted on me in the past. Managed not to talk blatantly about any of the rules which govern the boards. Managed to keep myself from fucking cursing every other fucking word, so they couldn’t pretend that bitching was something vulgar this time. I thought this attempt at feedback was going swimmingly until I logged on this afternoon to see if anything else had posted.
Not only had nothing else posted, but the entire thread had disappeared into a black hole, like every other thread I’ve started on Blizzard’s forums. No matter how many times Blizzard’s customer service representatives in-game assure me that the developers want to hear from you, go post on the forums I know from experience that the opposite is true. They really don’t want to hear from me.
I’m generally well-school in dancing around the sensitivities of others. Just last week I managed to piss of the acting Guild Master of my now-former Horde raiding guild (Crimson Retribution – Terenas) because I dared to suggest that not only was he wrong about flight always being a perk in World of Warcraft, but that if his training as a systems administrator instructed him that all hackers are criminals (right after he had called me a criminal for rooting my cellphone) I didn’t think much of the value of his education.
Funny part of that was that he stopped talking to me because I insulted his education. The dust-up wasn’t over his accusation that I was a criminal. No, that insult to me was completely overlooked. His tender feelings were hurt. So I left the guild, because that is what happens when those with lesser authority have a disagreement with higher authorities. You move on. It is not a threat, it is what reasonable people do.
Similarly, there is no winning when the entire structure of a company wants to silence what you have to say, when the only place you can say it is on their forums and have it reach an audience. If you read over the Blizzard forum guidelines it should become painfully clear that any subject that isn’t praise for Blizzard and World of Warcraft generically will not live very long on their forums. They have (like so many other forums on the internet) created an echo-chamber for self-congratulation.
…and why not? I mean, Blizzard has created what is inarguably the most popular game in all the history of electronic gaming. World of Warcraft (or WoW) still boasts subscriptions that are North of five million, which is a number that nearly any other gaming company would give their firstborn children to have access to. Never mind that at its peak WoW boasted a subscriber base of over twelve million people, or that the release of Warlords of Draenor did not lift subscriber numbers from their slow downward slide for longer than a month or two.
They have a certified hit, a cash cow. But how to keep milking that cow without killing it? That really is a tricky question, the multi-million dollar question that speaks to the future of the company. I mean, Blizzard isn’t alone out there. Some would say that they aren’t even at the forefront of gaming any longer.
My children only play Blizzard games because I play them. Left to their own devices, they like their Steam games, playing any number of them for pretty much as long as we allow them to play (him anyway, and only for a few years more) when the daughter heard that Legion would be the next expansion for World of Warcraft her only request was that I get her one of the art books. The game? Well, if you are playing dad, sure.
Steam has tapped into something that only Facebook is doing better at; and that because it doesn’t require any real talent to be on Facebook. You just have to have the connection and you can share memes till the end of time, play flash games till you die of repetition. Facebook is to the internet was TV was to broadcast. Radio was informative and entertaining, TV had pictures!
I can’t explain what it is that Steam offers. I haven’t been impressed with many of the games. I’m certainly not impressed with their business tactics involving the children that make up a majority of their player base (I’ve mentioned this before) But they have a loyal following, and Blizzard has noticed this, which is why they introduced Battle.net and its launcher.
Battle.net is a pale comparison to Steam and it’s myriad of indepedent developers, though. Blizzard is now facing the same kind of broad-based competition that Microsoft laughed at when Linux was introduced. Microsoft is no longer laughing now that Android (also Linux/Unix) runs on more systems than their software; similarly, Blizzard (or more accurately Activision/Blizzard) cannot long outpace a group which can essentially grow to incorporate all programmers who don’t work for them.
I had several players insist to me that Blizzard would stop WoW at level 100 for in-game characters, back in the days when I was writing about Cataclysm and its failings. I knew then just as I know now that there won’t be an end to World of Warcraft so long as Blizzard continues to see a profit. With the announcement of Legion and its 110 level cap, the notion that World of Warcraft might stop anytime soon has been left in the dust.
With new content needed, and the demands of the players for more and more challenging content to master, WoW programmers have a serious problem on their hands. How to keep the players challenged? How to make programming goals achievable in the foreshortened time that Activision was allowing for game development? The developers, after seeing the new subscriptions and interest in WoD declared that they would exclude flight in all future expansions of WoW, reneging on their promise to introduce flight to the new content as this blue post goes into.
There’s a lot of discussion about flying/not-flying and I’d like to try to sum things up and maybe realign the discussion a bit. Some of the other threads are near-cap, some have really gone down tangents, so I’m just picking this one to throw a reply into. Apologies to the other threads.
Flying trivializes combat. A lot of people like to say we’re trying to force world PvP, or that we just really want people to look at the pretty trees we made, but those really aren’t the reasons that drive this same decision we’ve made every expansion. Flying allows you to escape or enter combat at-will. There’s a reason why flying isn’t allowed in dungeons and raids, or battlegrounds and arenas, and that’s because it would trivialize the core mechanic of the game in those areas – combat. For much the same reason it trivializes how content is approached in the outdoor world based on the simple fact that you can lift off and set down wherever you like.
So that’s the main reason. But sure there are a lot of other problems it can cause for content design such as zones having to get a lot bigger because flying mounts can travel so quickly (and thus making ground travel in them take much longer), it reduces the impact of elevation within zones, it completely removes the ability for us to pace or present content in any structured way, and in general removes our ability to determine how and when players approach a situation, see a vista or location, or charge into/out-of a combat situation. It just greatly reduces any gameplay we want to create by allowing infinite choice in how content is approached to best suit a player’s intention to (usually) avoid that content.
I totally sympathize with people’s desire to do that, they want to be efficient and have it be their choice, but we have to balance our intent to create a game against creating a sandbox where anything goes. There’s a happy medium there somewhere, but flying mounts in most cases just do too much to undermine too many of our core intentions with the game world, the basis of the game: combat, or guiding players through a game experience, and for those reasons we have continually chosen (when we could) to disallow flying mounts in the ‘current’ outdoor content. In the past that’s meant only while leveling, but in our experiences with the Isle of Thunder and Timeless Isle we feel like we can extend that for a bit longer in the new content, and have it be kind of a big deal again once you’re able to earn flying in the first big content patch, and in the meantime putting focus on flight paths as well as having some more interesting travel options for players to use.
I liked Timeless Isle, despite the lack of flight. On the other hand I despised the Isle of Thunder and the clearly contrived lack of flight in that area. Why not allow players to attempt to fly? Perhaps the more clever could have figured out how to make it work, that’s why (more on that in a bit) given the success of Pandaria, the increased subs for WoD, the developers thought that they had a solution to their problem of too little time/too much programming.
Not so fast, though.
The player base is now abandoning WoD in droves. It is boring, being limited to ground travel. Being restricted to a very limited quest chain (which is allowed by making sure that players go where you want them) Once again the developers reverse direction and work in a gated introduction of flight into WoD. Players who got a secret pleasure out of denying flight to players who wanted to fly were outraged. The developers have to recalculate programming requirements for content that will now have to include flight. Things are not looking good for Blizzard.
The sad part of all this is that the same developers are still beating the same dead horse that was the established lore for Warcraft more than a decade ago, and trying to draw out the final few dollars they can milk from this story before it stops being profitable. They could re-invent parts of the game as they did with professions in the current expansion (much to their detriment in this player’s opinion) but that carries risk, and large companies are nothing if not risk-averse. (I offer Overwatch as an example of this; a pretty game but essentially a rehash of Team Fortress 2. Not that there isn’t room for more of the same kinds of games)
Risk adverse developers throttle player content, rather than expand playability. Warlords delivered this in spades, extending the amount of work and time spent in the game to achieve even less than you could do in previous versions of WoW. Only now, after the announcement of the next expansion, do they finally grudgingly give players the last piece of playability we had in previous versions of the game. The next patch will finally give the players the ability to fly in Draenor, the ability to use the mounts all of us have paid for with time, effort and real money. Finally fulfilling the implied contract when they sold us flying mounts a year and more ago. Those mounts will finally fly.
But is it too little too late? Speaking for myself, it might be. I’m thoroughly burned out now. Try as I might, there just isn’t enough content in the game to keep me interested; or rather, there doesn’t appear to be any one type of play that the current game encourages aside from the narrow channel of developer intent to progress through the garrisons and outposts. Without flight, exploration, pet battling, archeology, etc all become tedious slogs through NPC’s you’ve already killed repeatedly. Giving me flight now just reminds me how much of the game I liked in Pandaria that I’m already too far behind on to catch up now.
Which is why this article starts and ends with a hashtag. I’m not even going to contemplate playing WoW after the next expansion releases unless the developers include flight in the game from the beginning. Not just flight, but flight for all levels (as it was in Wrath of the Lich King at least) available at the time the expansion releases.
I’m done with being throttled, of playing Activision‘s version of a Blizzard game that reminds me more of Facebook games than it does of the MMO’s and RTS’ of previous years. Most of all, give me the sky to fly in, or I’ll find some other game to play in the future. #NOFLYNOBUY
I don’t care, I’m still free, you can’t take the sky from me
Was browsing the forums today and noticed a thread titled Can’t Do It Anymore. What is this it that someone can’t do? Against my better judgement, I clicked on the link;
I ran 20 instances yesterday, 17 of them had DPS pulling ahead of me and dying regularly. I managed to get a number of them removed from group but in 2 groups they removed me instead, once during the final boss fight. I simply can’t tank anymore. One less tank in your queues. I won’t do it, it’s not fun, it’s an exercise in total frustration. Good luck to those that weren’t complete morons. I feel sorry for you on the queue times but I can’t be a part of this anymore.
The first responses were predictable troll responses to hurry up and pull then and so forth, the kinds of things the worst of the worst players might say. However the thread goes on for 17 pages and there are some real gems in there.
None of them really addressing the point I felt needed to be made.
I don’t queue as DPS (Damage Per Second. In a 25 man raid there are usually 17 of these spots, 2 tanks and 6 healers) DPS queues are astronomically long, a half-hour or more. I won’t wait to get into anything (Hearthstone has started popping up queue times and I’m going to quit that too if that keeps happening) one of the reasons I despise amusement parks and shopping centers.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not into instant gratification. I just despise the false scarcity forced on things which could be readily available if people were just more sensible. Amusement parks and shopping centers aside, most scarcity is engineered into the framework of the world outside; either by reality itself in the form of temperate zones on the surface of our planet that limits arable land, and through that, food and space to live in, or by the systems we humans create.
Group efforts in World of Warcraft are a hallmark of this. The reason that queues for DPS are so long is because DPS is relatively easy, whereas tanking and healing have specific duties which must be performed if the battle is going to be successful. DPS’ers will argue that DPS is anything but easy, but the proof is in the structure that Blizzard has been forced to craft to cope with the relatively few people willing to heal or tank. DPS queues are long specifically because DPS is relatively easy. If it were hard, the structure would reflect that in tanking queues.
Tanks do not queue, and healers rarely queue. If you tank (and I do) you will be placed in a group almost immediately upon placing your name in the list as a tank. Be prepared though. No role is kicked more often (as represented numerically in raids) than tanks are. I mercifully am almost never kicked. I rarely let DPS die no matter how stupid they act. I try to pull as soon as the group is ready, try to keep damage off of my healers, who in turn try to keep me alive.
All DPS has to do is deal damage and move out of bad (if it’s on the floor, it is likely hurting your character, GET OUT OF IT!) the amazing part of this equation is how few of them can seem to do even that much.
So the queue structure in World of Warcraft accurately reflects your talent as a player. If you don’t want to wait in queues, tank or heal. DPS is where slackers and bots go to hide. Don’t pull if your tank is slow, you will get nothing but grief from it. Patience is a virtue (my most typed phrase while tanking) learn to meditate, you’ll live longer.
Meditating is essential when caught in systems of engineered scarcity. Peace and serenity far more rewarding than being consigned to the prison queue when you finally snap after waiting half your life to get on whatever ride that is popular this year. Enjoy your summer.