Wednesday, December 15, 2010

They did it

So Blizzard did it. They made heroics challenging - and not just a little. I have yet to do a DF-heroic, because I don't consider it possible that it is a pleasing experience. I've done five heroics with my guild (that is not hardcore at all) so far. These 5 heroics were difficult for us, we wiped a lot, but we completed every single one.

Healers can heal almost anything now, but they run out of mana within seconds if they do. Tanks can tank a lot, but only with cooldowns. There are moving patrols! The bosses are actually (even) harder than the trash!

What I don't like so much is that they are as linear as every dungeon since end of classic and that some encounters require very fast reactions. Yesterday we were wiped 6 times in a row by a boss that required us to move out of a instant-death AE. To do that we would need to use his damage reflection shield, to put a DoT on us. Why? Because the boss would stun us before the AE and the only way to get out of the stun was to take damage.
Try to communicate this to a random dungeon finder group .. no, thanks.

Moreover, this is annoying even for us, because you know exactly what to do, but since there are five players who need to do this about 10 times in a row, even a small probability of individual error will make you wipe. Then there's lag and some other mechanics that also needed attention. This kind of boss feels too much like an arcade reaction game. But then .. I am about to accept that WoW really is no MMORPG any more, but a MOG.

For a long time .. 4 years? .. I complained about WoW moving farther and farther away from a virtual world and becoming more and more an arcade game. By now it is so far removed that I start to think of WoW as an arcade game with RPG elements and as such it is rather nice.

I will certainly continue to play this game until a polished AAA fantasy MMORPG comes out (if within my life time ... ).


Sunday evening I was tanking the first 10 man of our guild. We managed to down four .. trash mobs. Four, because those two respawned after 2 hours.

The Omicron Defense System is kinda neat. But these tiny things you need to move out of or need to move the boss out of within half a second are quite annoying. With our rather bad equipment that was hardly enchanted/gemmed and consisted of several greens this boss did not allow any kind of error. We did manage to get a stable 5 minutes boss fight, but eventually somebody made a mistake and we wiped. I don't think we ever got the boss below 50% HP.

Remember that world class guilds have already cleared the entire raid content Cataclysm offers. So it is not technically impossible, just .. difficult.

What I am really looking forward to is rated BGs instead of those scripted predictable boss fights that tend to become boring if you farm them and annoying if you don't manage to farm them. The amount of 'interesting decisions' I am confronted with during a raid encounter as tank is very limited. It is mostly when to use what tanking cooldown. The rest of the things I do are not 'interesting decisions', but things I must do and sometimes fail to do. The healing game seems to incorporate more 'interesting decision', so perhaps I'll try that eventually.
What is fun for a while is theorycrafting about tanking stats, but there are several reasons to consider it a moot point. Raids don't wipe, because the tank is hard to heal: They wipe, because the rest of the party takes too much damage.


It took me exactly two days to get 85, doing and reading every quest in every zone. Then it took me another day until I had done all the (obvious) quests of Cataclysm and got that achievment. Nice story. 100% linear, but I like it. Blizzard doesn't want the players to create the story, so it is only consequential that they do it and to do it well linearity is necessary. Unfortunately, although I forced myself to read every single quest text, the memoriey are already fading. Blizzard are still bad at story telling most of the time.


Not the sound, the items! I don't wear a single epic at the moment and look forward to gain my first one. This is, however, not Cataclysm game design. It is just the first few weeks. With the second tier raids everybody will be full epic again.

I am not certain Blizzard will leave current heroic content unnerfed. There are powerful exspections of entitlement and the hard heroic content doesn't fit the arcade-like game WoW has become. In a virtual fantasy world it makes sense that the evil is hard to beat. In an arcade-like game it doesn't. The daily heroic suggests that you 'should' do that daily heroic dungeon and combined with the WotLK experience this is a deadly mix. Subscriber numbers will drop. And I am not certain they will raise again (at least not due to this feature). Difficult 5-man content, that plays a major role in a 'daily quest', doesn't work. It certainly doesn't work with an anonymous dungeon finder and an arcade-like game with RPG elements.


  1. The world of home computing is split into those who swear by Macintosh, and those who love MS Windows (forget the Linux guys, they only exist in their own imagination).

    Mac users appreciate the ease-of-use of their operating system, and don't understand how Windows users can put up with their clunky user interface.

    Conversely, Windows users who try using a Mac have the exact opposite experience - they can't figure out how anybody finds a Mac easy to use! Nothing works as they expect, they can't find their way around the system, everything frustrates them - even the lack of things they didn't realise they used (like alt-tabbing between programs)! This is because they are being asked to change their paradigm about how software executes within the windowing system.

    So each user sticks with the operating system they started with, convinced it is better than the other - because neither is willing or able to switch paradigm.

    I mentioned this, Nils, because I think this applies to you. I was surprised that after you tried EVE, you gave up because you found the UI clunky. Then I thought that perhaps the problem was that the UI required a paradigm switch that you did not make, or did not want to make.

    Now I wonder, when you say that you are waiting for a "polished AAA fantasy MMORPG", if you aren't just waiting for a WoW clone with tougher PvE. Could you really learn a new UI, and put up with the frustration of your keyboard appearing not to work as it should, for [TAB] not to select the next target, for crafting to work differently, for "C" not to bring up your character frame, for "B" not to open your bags, for all the myriad of frustrations you would suffer until finally the logic of a new UI clicked with you?

    I mentioned Darkfall to you before. I gave it a week's trial in the spring, and I really liked it, but found the UI intensely frustrating. I decided to put it on the long finger until after I'd seen what Cataclysm would bring. Well, now I know, and I'm thinking of going to Darkfall once I've got through the initial fun of Cataclysm - i.e. once the raids become easymode again - I agree with you that Blizzard will nerf the content - possibly by outgearing us rather than reducing the mobs.

    The arcade nature of Blizzard's game has been reinforced by the new storylines, and it's clear that virtual worlds are not in Blizzard's plan for WoW. Both the goblin and worgen starting zones are far from the world of warcraft, and so is the Indiana Jones storyline in Uldum. Of course, they are fun stories to play through, but they don't fit the virtual world, and as I enjoy that side of MMORPGs better than playing arcade games, I hope to spend more time in Agon next year, and less in Azeroth. I know the UI is a hurdle - not because I think it worse than the WoW UI, but simply because it will be alien to me, and I will make allowances for that until it becomes familiar to me. If you can do that too, then perhaps the world you seek already exists?

  2. Thanks for the insightful comment, Dàchéng.

    You are right. This applies to me. As it applies to everyone. Whenever we engange in a new activity there is a fine line between things that we enjoy, because we learn and things that we consider unfun, because we must learn.

    EVE UI was too small to be readable on my screen while I would lean back on my chair. I tried pulling the screen right in front of my eyes and I even got new glasses (no joke). Both helped. But it was still a hassle. I would feel exhausted and had a headache after playing for a few hours.

    Moreover, CCP acknowledged some time ago in a blog post that they, too, consider the UI a problem. It's just a problem they cannot easily solve.

    Getting me into a game is the responsibility of the developer. I can only help. I am willing to help. I played EVE for several weeks. I really tried. I even joined a corp and did a few things with them before I forgot to pay the sub and didn't miss it. (I restarted to pay the sub later without playing, just to support CCP).

    Getting back to the general topic:
    The way we approach activities is an important factor when it comes to the fun. Having said that, activities can be fun and unfun. It is not just about the way we approach them.

    Good animations and technical possibilities of a MMO are still important to me. Size of the world is important to me as is balance (at whatever level is reasonable for the game).

    I openly suggested that companies copy-paste the WoW UI. Which is what they do anyway. That's not just because it is good, but also, because me and others are used to it. But, within reason, I would be willing to learn a new kind of UI, if I can make it. My ability to switch the paradigm, as you put it, is however limited.

    It wouldn't be difficult the make a WoW-UI game that has meaningful trade, very feew teleports, meaningful PvP and unpredictable dungeons. (And no pets and microtransactions). I rote about MMO design guidelines before.

    When looking at the game industry at a whole we don't get anywhere if we blame the consumer. The industry has to enable us to get into their game. That is what tutorials and basic UI design guidelines are there for.

  3. I'm eating my words here from a reply I made on a different post of yours...heroics are not challenging. they are alternately tedious (CC is honestly neither hard nor challenging) and frustratingly unforgiving. more unforgiving then heroic LK sometimes.

    healing? its a lot less interesting then you think. you have less spell choices, because most abilities are too expensive (basically, you are using you small, slow mana efficient heal about 80% of the time) and your major choice comes down to: "do I try to heal this dps and go OOM faster or do I let them die and res afterward, and on most bosses its a catch-22 - let them die and you don't have enough damage going out, keep them alive, and you have no mana to heal the tail end of the fight, and either choice results in a wipe."

  4. Leah,

    that is your opinion and it is legitimate. I think it comes down to this: The gameplay itself is not enough to make such a dungeon fun. We need something else: For example circumstances that give meaning.

    I wrote before:
    I spammed frostbolts for half a year in Molten Core and it was fun. At least enough fun to do it that long.

    Over the years the gameplay has become much better, but the activities themselves have become less meaningfull.

    It is just not an individual dungeon with meaningful lore anymore, but just "a daily heroic". That "daily heroic" needs to fulfill absurd requirements of gameplay fun, because it has lost it meaning it drew from the an immersive virtual environment.

    It is like playing chess against a computer instead of a human. The latter is more fun, although the process itself is identical. That also holds true when you play over the internet.