Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WoW: Where MOP's Gone Wrong...

... so far.

(to spare you some reading, no, CRZ won't be here)

Incredibly Alt Unfriendly

"Finally... have nothing in LFR I really wanna chase, daily reps are done, there's my last token for the Legendary gem... I can start using more of my downtime between other raids on other toons... Hey Wraithion, here you go little dude..."

"Thanks mortal... here's your starter gem... let's make it a bit more powerful... you've got Revered with me right?"

"Yup yup, easy to knock out while doing Shieldwall..."

"Excellent... now, there's this thing your people call Valour... I'd like you to earn 6000 of it to prove your worth..."

"NP, look, I've got this!"

"... I'm sorry, you seem to be misunderstanding.... I meant 6000 Valour just for me...."

"... so you're saying I need to continue to cap Valour on this toon for the next 6 weeks?


... and here is where I just went "Fuck It" and walked away from the grind to do alts and other stuff anyways because this is an example of the pinnacle of lazy gating methods: "Hey there, please keep doing something becoming increasingly tedious because it's past the point where it provides any other benefit to you. Thanks." Thing is, at the start of a raid tier I probably wouldn't have minded it: in the middle of a raid tier where I want to be settling down to do other things on non-raid nights than slave on my main? Yeah, no.

While we'll get to gating and dailies in a bit, because they're worth discussing on their own, there seems to have been an idea that the only reason people had alts was because there wasn't enough to do on their mains and MOP is the extreme overcompensation for that. There's now way too much to be done for your main and not getting it done - especially if you're trying to even pseudo-progression raid - makes you feel like you're not maximizing your potential.

Meanwhile, the rewards for doing this work have been decreased so it takes you significantly longer to get it done. We've gone from getting 250 VP for each LFR run and 120 VP for each Dungeon run to 90 and 80 respectively and, in the later case, from 120 for each time, to 80 the first run of the day and 40 every run after. While you can do Dailies while sitting around in queue to trickle in 5 VP at a time, and there is a buff to VP for alts once you actually cap your main (or any toon), the significant increase in time it takes to get there gets in the way of being able to work on other toons at anywhere near the rate you were able to work on them in Cataclysm; an expansion pack which, for all it's faults, I'd argue was the most Alt-Friendly expansion they've done.

So, the shift in extremes between the two is glaring. While the patch 5.1 change to rep for alts is welcome, and I get that they need to keep things balanced for the people who don't play alts as well, I'd argue that its the largely the extended VP Grind for your main that needs to be addressed. Most of the people I know who've basically given up on doing things for their alts point to the fact that they're going to take forever to gear when they can frequently only free up a night a week to touch them off their mains.

No, not Raid Gating. Much worse forms of gating.

In Cataclysm (there're examples from the prior expansions as well), there was a zone called Deepholm which was pleasant on the eyes and had a few fun quests... until you had to do roughly 70% it for the nth time in order to get your shoulder enchants. Then, you learnt to fucking hate the zone for its mandatory nature if you didn't roll Inscription as one of your profs.

Golden Lotus is the new Deepholm in that you're going to have to do it over and over again to get access to other things you want (unless you don't want them), and it doesn't mater how you spin it, that kind of gating is tedious. That this has not been learnt yet is kind of shocking because it's been fought against since at least Wraith and Hodir led them to make things like Shoulder/Helm enchants BoA for a while.

The spin that they didn't want people to feel like they had to do everything at once is a nonstarter as well. Because each faction has different items, and people are going to be able to weight those items on degrees of how much they want them, simply cap Dailies again and force them to choose which ones they get done in a day in order to get what they most want.

But permanently gate factions with stuff people want behind a faction with stuff they may not want? Sorry, at this point you guys should know better.

PS: Oh, and seriously guys, how did JP gear with a lower iLvL than Heroic gear and mandatory rep requirements that couldn't be met until long after the gear would be irrelevant ever go live? Do you QA your last minute changes at all?

Motes of Harmony

Likewise, Motes of Harmony have turned into a form of gating for professions as well. People used to maintain a production line of alts they could funnel mats to to make things for their mains or other toons but, now that high end crafting revolves around Spirits of Harmony and these are BoP, this becomes increasingly impractical.

Their dual nature in many cases - for several prof's Spirit's are not just used in Crafting but in buying the pats to craft with as well - makes things just as painful. If you're a crafter for your guild, you feel like you need to maximize spirits so you can be ready to make things for the guild but this means you can't get on your alts to get pats/items made by grinding out motes there (this gets back to the increased pressure to be on your main). So, I'm sitting on 60 of these things at this point while my alts are trickling them in/can't get any to craft with because they're BoP.

Incredibly annoying.

The Daily Issue and Rep
While I touched on a key daily concern in Gating - the mandatory nature of the Golden Lotus - here's the main problem with dailies in Mists:

"Hey, the kids liked those Molten Front Dailies. Let's do a whole lot of those!"

What's that saying about familiarity breeding contempt? Something else about too much of a good thing?

Here's the thing: you can slap a fresh coat of paint on them and you can randomize the dailies all you want but it doesn't change the fact that they're still dailies and dailies as endgame content was tiresome a long time ago. The other big mistake was tying gear and, worse, profession patterns to daily rep in a way that made them feel mandatory for people to do: which leads to the Gating complaint above. It's one thing to make VP your gear purchasing price, it's entirely another to tie daily grinds for VP and Rep to get gear because then people are doing your dailies not to have fun, or as a break from doing other things, but because they feel the have no other choice to get something they want/need.

That's not fun - and despite arguments made elsewhere is not "choice" either - and it gets in the way of other things that might be fun because you can't Brawlers Guild or effectively do Pet Battling while grinding out dailies at the same time.

Suggestion: let your players actually choose which factions they feel are necessary and continue to provide other things to do than dailies instead of trying to tie them into the same old grind to keep them playing.

Removing Flight: 85-90
Some people hate this because it makes things take longer.

My issue with removing flight isn't that it makes things take longer, it's that it requires me to quest to get it back to begin with. I rather liked that in Cataclysm they added experience for gathering professions and archaeology and, when I needed mats, I could jump on an alt and gather things I needed or learn just how much Arch sucked while slow levelling to cap.

MoP takes that flexibility away because doing this on land mounts is far too time consuming. It's greatly missed because the problem with questing isn't that it takes time: the problem is that once you've done it once or twice it's just boring and the reality is that there's really not significantly less linearity to the questing in MoP than there was in Cataclysm. There's really just a choice between doing some side quests in Jade Forest and then which two of Krasarang Wilds, Valley of the Four Winds, and Kun-Lai Summit you want to do.

Once through is ok, twice through, manageable, eleven times through? As I've said before, Tome of Pandaren Flight can't come quick enough...

Next Up: What MoP Did Right.