Friday, January 21, 2011

What's wrong with Heroics

Answer: The daily quest.

The daily quest creates a terrible expectation in the player! An expectation regarding himself! And a lot of players thus disappoint themselves.

Somebody who used to do his daily heroic after work before eating with his family is unable to do his Cataclysm heroic, but feels like he is expected to do it. Moreover, he feels like losing 70 valor points whenever he doesn't do his daily heroic. When doing something else in WoW before eating with the family he feels like wasting his time.

As so often in MMORPGs, the problem is rarely the thing itself. It is the environment that is incompatible with it. Heroics would be great if they felt optional; like I could do them voluntarily, like dungeons in classic. They don't feel like that. The fact that we come from late WotLK heroics adds to the problem.

What Blizzard needs to learn is that fun is not an inherent property of an isolated activity. Heroics are great right now. As are raids. But the environment they are embedded in (the rest of the game + player base) is important, too. And right now this environment pulls players into a direction many players don't want to go: Doing a heroic of significant difficulty and potential time requirement every day.

The fact that the leveling game feels extra easy doesn't help either.


  1. What's wrong with heroics?

    Nothing. What's wrong is the players' sense of entitlement: Many players feel that they are entitled to 70 Valor points a day. It just isn't so.

    During WotLK, at least in its last year, it was indeed possible to complete a "heroic" per day. There came to be a culture of expectation that you could be guaranteed to complete it. But of course it isn't truly heroic, if you can be guaranteed to kill the boss.

    Now we have, for a short time at least, heroic instances which are truly heroic - at least I feel like a hero when I complete them. I would rather have this feeling than a million valor points.

    Like everyone else, I fail more days than I succeed, but that makes the successes all the sweeter. And because valor points are so difficult to collect, they really do indicate that you've been valorous. I love running heroic instances and collecting valor points when I succeed. I don't want to go back to the bad old days of Wrath, running "heroic" instances and collecting "valor" points.

    Needy, narcissistic, entitled players should get over themselves and understand that valor points aren't theirs by right. They have to be won. And the winning of them is far more fun than the gear they can purchase with them could ever be.

  2. Dàchéng, I agree with your analysis, but not with the conclusion. Sure, if the players treated heroics like they should be treated, the problem were solved.

    But the question for the developer is: How do we make players treat heroics the way they should be treated?

    This is exactly the point Blizzard has so many problems to understand. The attitude of the player towards the game plays an enormous role in how fun the game is for him. It is not just the game itself. I wrote about that before.

    Player attitude towards a game can be shaped by the developer, too. Blizzard failed at that during WotLK and the transition to Cataclysm.

  3. This is, yet another, issue of Blizzard not considering the social and long term consequences of a feature they added.

    Blizzard gave their gaming community a treat, very easy Heroics at the end of Wrath. Alot of factors lead to that happening, but happen it did. Once something is given, you can not take it away without it feeling like a punishment.

    Heroics are no more difficult than when TBC came out or when Wrath first launched. However the community has lived in happy fairy land for the last year of easily conquering Heroics. They don't want that to change.

    Blizzard allowed everyone to reach all of their content. Now everyone expects to reach it again without waiting.

    Blizzard created this problem by feeding the wild animals. If they had never acheived their rewards so easily before they wouldn't exect them now.