Thursday, November 3, 2011

When WoW became Hardcore

Since WotLK, and especially with Cataclysm, WoW did not become more casual. Instead, it became more hardcore. I know this runs contrary to what most players believe. So, please hear me out.

Five-player content became content for those who grinded for the external reward, not content for players who played for casual fun. Grinding for epics is not casual.

The leveling game was not changed to appeal to casuals. It is too boring to be able do that. It was changed to appeal to hardcore players who wanted another twink and didn't care about how boring it is as long as it is fast. Ask any casual you know whether he likes the changes to WoW's leveling game.

Some starting zones are pretty damn hardcore. As an undead you can't win against even two mobs of your level during level 4-6. Accidental pulling of two mobs might look improbable to you, but it's certainly not improbable for a new player who still has to learn about aggro ranges and how to move his char. The leveling becomes trivial only after lvl10.

The open world, which used to be a fun game full of instant action and the chance to get a useful random drop, was turned into a dailies-only minigame, which was so repetitive that only the hardcore, who grinded for the external reward, engaged in it. Logging in daily to grind for external rewards is not casual.

The entire leveling experience is unpolished. Have a look at professions or many quests. Or low-lvl battlegrounds. Let alone the transition 60-61.

Heirlooms were very effective at catering to hardcore players. New players or casual players aren't exactly enthused that they now have to play a lot at the endgame and be part of a max-rank guild to be able to buy the heirlooms. And without heirlooms you often cannot participate in low-lvl PvP and are in many respects disadvantaged compared to hardcore players leveling a new twink. Ask a new player whether he thinks it is fair that other players run around with great looking very powerful weapons while they have to rely on drops.

Forced anonymous grouping severely diminished WoW's capability to draw new players into communities. Only the players already part of existing communities could ignore the forced anonymous grouping and group with other players they already know. Casual players, who are not part of a guild, have to group anonymously in order to progress their toon.

Raids use loot rules (badges/points) that are useful for hardcore raids to equip twinks for raiding. But most casuals never finish a raid tier in time. They can't raid at their own pace anymore since WotLK.

Guild perks give established players a serious advantage. To enjoy the same advantages, new and casual players need to join guilds they don't know. But since they don't know the players in these guilds prior to joining, they often end up in communities that don't work for them. There is no content (left) which makes players get to know other players before joining their guild.

Concluding, if Blizzard has indeed tried to make WoW more 'casual', they failed. Since the start of WotLK, the two-mio-subs-per-year growth has suddenly dropped to zero. Playing WoW today you will not find more casuals - you will find more hardcore. Make a new toon if you want to see yourself.


  1. I considered myself to be a somewhat hardcore player. None of the changes you mentioned (except for, maybe, guild perks) appeal to me in the slightest. Things look similar for a variety of other "hardcore" players I know. You must be talking about a completely different set of hardcore players that this was done for.

    All I know is that I used to have fun doing "hard" content and that less invested (casual) players complained about not getting access to it. So they changed it accordingly.

  2. Scrusi,

    1) Casual players never complain. They don't even know that there is a forum.

    2) I know that a lot of players think that WoW was dumbed down. And it was. And if you were 'somewhat harcore' this was bad, because you liked to sometimes have fun leveling a toon or just log in and kill some mobs. But if you were really hardcore the only things you cared about was the next boss kill and the gladiator title. These things became ever more harcore over the years.

    3) Leveling was never hard content. To dumb it down doesn't appeal to anybody, but to those who wanted to get to maxlvl as soon as possible.

    4) If you know somebody who has a casually-playing partner, ask him/her what his/her partner thinks about the current leveling game.

  3. I made posts about this back in WLK on the official forums. WoW has never been as hardcore as it is now. It was way, way more casual friendly back in Vanilla, and it's gone "downward" from there.

    I can add another point;

    - Gear. Many years ago, gear was overall pretty lousy. Plate gear would have spirit on it, cloth agility etc. Bad gear also meant gear was less important. If only but a few had good gear, what did it matter if you had cloth with agi or not? You were not at all as likely to get cut from a group because of your gear.

    I still remember applying to different raid guilds with my priest in Vanilla. Not once, in any of the three guilds I was a part of, did they ask to see my gear. One of them wanted to know my resistances, but that was it.

  4. Cataclysm was never marketed as being for the casuals. Cataclysm was made with the intention to cater to the "hardcore" players.

    After so many people cried about wrath being so easy they wanted to make content harder.

    The only thing that they say was aimed at the casual player was the linear questing which makes no sense.

    Boring questing is for the casual? The causal player gets their joy out of a game by things like questing. Making it boring is not exactly catering to the casual.


    So less people raiding and finishing content now then ever before means it is more inclusive?

    Not sure how you figure less is more.

    Many realms still have not seen realm firsts for T11 heroic content. That alone should tell you something.

    The only end game raid that was finished by less of the game population within 3 months of release was the original Naxx.

    So having less people finish the content means it is more inclusive?

    Maybe you (and the people you play with) are just getting better at the game and it is not the game getting easier.

  5. "So less people raiding and finishing content now then ever before means it is more inclusive?"
    Why is raiding always the benchmark for casualness? That's completely backward! Raiding is a strange activity, based on inconvenient group sizes, high levels of coordination, and generally a lot of time. Reducing those doesn't just make it "casual", it also makes it not raiding.

    Casual raiding is like abstinent sex. It just doesn't make sense.

    Casual comes from not needing to raid and not being shoved into raiding. Vanilla did that well. It gave sets and challenges outside of raiding, both of which serve to 'legitimize' non-raiding activities.

  6. Professions and PvP are silly. They could be great, but the grindiness and pacing of production professions makes them more annoying than useful, and PvP is far too imbalanced to be much fun. Perhaps they are both good at max level, but down here in the leveling curve, they are just a missed opportunity.

  7. Not sure I understand everything you write:

    Casual players, who are not part of a guild, have to group anonymously in order to progress their toon.

    What is your definition of "progress"? In WoW this is taken as a synonym of "gear upgrades", since neither abilities nor level can evolve.
    But at point one you wrote:

    Grinding for epics is not casual.

    So, do casual players must/want progress their toons (and thus are forced to group)? Or grinding for epics is not for them (so they don't group)?

    I think you should clearly define casual/hardcore, since there are a million different definitions floating around and it's not clear which one you're using.

  8. I'm with Helistar on this, I think you need to define what you mean by hardcore/casual because WoW does not fall within my definition of hardcore at all. I'd say the vast majority of it, with the exception of hard mode raiding is casual.

    I completely disagree that the leveling game is not casual. Getting any character to max level is trivial. It can be done by anyone in short bursts without any challenge. To me that is completely casual. Level 10 is attainable in no time at all. Even if you do die the penalties are virtually non existent.

    I'm not sure why grinding is considered hardcore either. I've never played any Zynga games but from what I hear there is a lot of grinding - boring repetitive tasks - associated with them. Grinding may be a part of hardcore games, but unless Farmville and the like are also considered hardcore, I don't see it as a defining feature at all.

  9. The term 'casual' exists so that we don't always have to use its various definitions. There are obviously a lot of different playing-style which can be considered casual. There are people who consider themselves hardcore casuals.
    I use the term not although, but because its meaning is fuzzy.

    You can construct counter-examples to my point. For example, the player who never has more than 30 min time in his life but really, really wants to do content with other people. So, yes, some 'casuals' are served well by anonymous 20min heroics. And yet others aren't.

    Take my post for it is: A lot of examples why several groups of players that can be considered casual aren't served well since WotLK and especially Cataclysm

    The only group of people who was continuously served very well by WoW was hardmode raiders. Blizzard even employs people who balance content just for them and designs items just for them. And this despite the fact that they are a tiny minority.

  10. > For example, the player who never has more than 30 min
    > time in his life but really, really wants to do content
    > with other people. So, yes, some 'casuals' are served
    > well by anonymous 20min heroics. And yet others aren't.

    Those anonymous heroics aren't playing with other people, it's playing with biological bots.

    I doubt anyone who would like to play with other PEOPLE is served well with the LFD. LFD is the way to reward, not the way to play with people.

  11. I completely disagree that the leveling game is not casual. Getting any character to max level is trivial. It can be done by anyone in short bursts without any challenge. To me that is completely casual.

    While there are a lot of different conceptions of what is hardcore and what is casual, I think this one is particularly skewed.

    Casual can mean a lot of things, but I do believe that most players that consider themselves to be casual do not ask for easy content, but rather more available content. That's not the same thing.

    Making questing faster and easier should not be considered catering to casuals. For many casual players, the questing is a major part of the game. Making it less interesting would be like making raiding less interesting for the hardcore. I doubt many would say that making the most recent raid easier and faster would be catering to the hardcore.

  12. Making questing faster and easier should not be considered catering to casuals. For many casual players, the questing is a major part of the game. Making it less interesting would be like making raiding less interesting for the hardcore. I doubt many would say that making the most recent raid easier and faster would be catering to the hardcore.

    A wonderful point, Novead! I haven't managed to put it that clearly yet - but I should have!

    Catering to players who like to quest and level in the open world would mean to add stuff to this part of the game. More divers mobs would be a start, more desirable treasure in the open world that is not de-valued by LFD-blues would be great.

    There are many things that would cater to these people, but making questing easier and less interesting across the board is not one of them. Raiders wouldn't welcome easier and less interesting raids, either.

  13. @Novead

    I guess our definitions of casual differ. To me, the two defining features of casual games is that they require very little time to play and practically no skill to progress through them.

    Making questing faster and easier, is in my opinion, making the game more casual. If you don't agree that a game that becomes easier and quicker to progress through is more casual, then we disagree on the meaning of casual. What casual players want or not makes no difference to what the game is.

  14. I think the biggest difference is that my definition only describes World of Warcraft players, while yours describes players overall.

    Playing World of Warcraft casually, rather than hardcore, is to me not being able to or wanting to put in the same effort.

    While a hardcore player might spend four hours wiping to reach that next part of progression, whether it's fun or not, a casual player would stop as soon as it stopped being fun.

    Therefore, according to my conception, a casual player can spend months leveling as long as it's fun, while a hardcore would want to speed up that process so he would reach the end game action as fast as possible.

  15. @Gabbastorm: What casual players want or not makes no difference to what the game is.

    I think that's what is key here. There's a dissonance between what the casuals want and what makes a game casual.

    A casual game would make the game simple to play through. What casuals want is something simple to occupy their time. The oversimplification of the levelling game reduces the amount of time that the levelling game can possibly occupy them, making it a worse experience for the casual, even though it was made simpler.

    Oddly, it also works with hardcore players: A hardcore game would make the game tougher to play, or at least make it quicker to get to the hardcore parts of the game. Yet the levelling game was simplified to make it quicker, resulting in hardcores calling it casual.

  16. We should probably define various kinds of players and then judge how much they would like the current game. We could later call them casual or hardcore.


    - player who likes to wander around in the open world, do a few quests and explore. No more than 30 minutes time per day at workdays. Every once in a while he has 6 hours time on a sunday.

    - player who tries to kill heroics ragnaros. If the raid group 'requires' a different class setup he wants to be able to lvl up a toon and equip him ASAP.

    - ...

  17. Those anonymous heroics aren't playing with other people, it's playing with biological bots.

    I doubt anyone who would like to play with other PEOPLE is served well with the LFD. LFD is the way to reward, not the way to play with people.

    Kring, I love you :)

  18. "The entire leveling experience is unpolished."

    I disagree. The quest mechanics in 1-60 are improved significantly eg. Hilsbrad Hills. I'm interacting with a meta-parody of different WoW players, farm-turned-illicit-Forsaken-experiment, a mini-game based off Plants vs. Zombies, and nuking Alliance battle emplacements while disguised as an SI:7 operative.

    You know what I did before Cata in Hilsbrad Hills? I collected bear pelts and cat pelts. When I ventured north to Alterac? Yeti pelts. You know the drop rate on a bear/cat/yeti pelt? I'll give a hint: the number of skinless monsters in WoW was greater than 0%.

    You're right, I'm blowing through mobs like a tauren with chainsaws for horns. But frankly, mobs aren't the goal of WoW like they were in Vanilla. Mobs are now barriers between me and my nuke-sabotage target.

  19. casual vs hardcore

    I think there's two parts

    1. Dumb people. Making individual tasks in the game e.g. solo combat, easier for dummies. This is separate from casual vs hardcore imo but gets lumped in with it.

    2. casual vs hardcore exists in two parts.
    a) casual vs hardcore in terms of attitude
    b) casual vs hardcore in terms of time

    So you have four groups in attitude-time terms:
    1) casual-casual, not in a hurry, no time
    2) casual-hardcore, not in a hurry, lots of time
    3) hardcore-casual, in a hurry and want the best gear but no time
    4) hardcore-hardcore, in a hurry and want the best gear and lots of time

    The first two groups are quite happy, like the levelling game and don't want it messed about with.

    The third group complains the most and are who hardcore-hardcores think of as casual but they're not really, they're hardcore players who don't have enough time to be hardcore. They want levelling speeded up as much as possible. It would be a lot better for everyone if they could just buy a max level toon.

    The fourth group want levelling speeded up because they see it as a pointless timesink for their twinks. It would be a lot better for everyone if max level players could just create a new max level toon.

    That way the levelling game could be left alone for the people who like it.

  20. Nils, I think you can't talk about "casual" and "hardcore" without defining your personal definitions of them. The terms are too fuzzy and too over-used to have a distinct meaning. You see it in the comments too.

    Your post, in effect, gave a lengthy definition of what casual gamers are to you, by defining what they like or don't like.

    On the other hand, defining various kinds of players sounds right. Mr Bartle might want to have a word with you. ;)

  21. I consider myself a pretty hardcore player, only really interessted in hardmodes and clearing them every tier before their big nerf.
    Wasn't always like that but that's a fault in WoW making other parts of the game non enjoyable...

    Five player content? I don't know any other hardcore who is enjoying those.

    Same with dailies or other grinds. I do them when I "have to" but I guess no one would enjoy it. We would be better served if they removed those grinds all together. On a side note, in most cases hardmode loot is better anyway, so those grinds probably aren't really designed for us

    The fcked up leveling game and heirlooms go hand in hand, as both are made to get to the endgame faster. But it can't be fast enough hardcores are still complaining that it's too slow. And the reason for that is because it's just so god damn boring that we just want to put it to an end. It's a vicious circle...

    Forced anonymous grouping? How could that be made for hardcores? They already are in some kind of community and can't care less for that. Those were really designed with casuals in mind who sometimes could have had a hard time finding groups. And it backfired. Big time.

    And your raid changes are the death to any sense of real progression, so that doesn't really appeal to me either. Were is the ladder you can climb? Were is the reason to play another char when you just snip with a finger and are at the same place as your main?

    Any of those changes have only one goal in mind: bring the player to the level cap and get them into the last raidtier as fast as possible. Everything else be damned. And that is only intereting for hardcores who want to switch their main chars, which probably is a very tiny part of the playerbase.
    As I said, I used to enjoy more of WoW then hardmodes. And probably most other hardcores too, they would have quit WoW long before they reached raiding otherwise. Hardcores are usually also defined as players who play way more then the average. I log in for raid, playing two hours and log out for the rest of the week. Go figure...

  22. Flosch, we all know the Bartle types. But I don't think they are particularly helpful here. There are casual achievers (one pet every week, yeah!) and hardcore achievers (if Rag doesn't fall today we'll go to 5/7 raids the week, guys!!)

    I said before: The term casual is useful because it is fuzzy. If I hadn't used the term, this post had become much, much longer; maybe TL;DR.

    But I might define various stereotypical players in the future. I don't even need bartle types to do that ;)

    Lancore, thanks for your perspective.

    Grey, thanks for an interesting suggestion.

  23. I assumed you knew Bartle types. What you brought up in your comment just sounded like you went full circle and ended up at them again.

    Looking at "casual" and "hardcore", though:
    I think what _would_ be interesting is defining the two terms along certain axes, a bit like the 3-dimensional Bartle types. Things that pop into my mind are "time spent in game", "serious <-> easy-going/flippant" etc. It's not easy finding the right antonyms, but that in itself is an interesting question.

    In effect, we might end up with certain combinations, places in the n-dimensional space, that we could assign identifiers. That would render "casual" and "hardcore" redundant, which are useless terms anyway, because they lack concrete definitions.

  24. For someone who quit wow, you sure do talk a lot about wow :)

  25. My interest didn't vanish overnight, nor did what I know about the game, Sembiance.

  26. I know you guys tried to avoid defining what casual, hardcore etc mean but without a clear definition you are argueing past each other. The key IS to define what casual and hardcore means.

    And the problem with that is it's relative. Like saying it's hot or cold outside. Without a celar definition and a scale to measure it against you NEVER get to an answer.

    To some casual is fully equated to how easy it is. To others it's how much time spent and to others it is going solo vs. doing a guild thing. Or a combination.

    here is a simple example. The game of tic-tac-toe. Its super simple but I can spend hours doing it. Is it casual?

    Now let's take a crossword puzzle. It might take hours but is it hardcore? So time and ease are NOT the sole defining traits for casual/hardcore here. And WOW is no different.

    So until a clear measurable definition of casual is agreed upon you are just wasting pixels. You first need to argue what the definition is.

  27. @Goodmongo

    There are a few things I would also say are considerations for how "casual friendly" an activity is:

    1) Organizational hassle. Anything requiring more than 4 or 5 other people will never be casual. Never. A big part of this is the rigidity of the holy trinity, and how you have to bring an EXACT distribution of roles.

    2) Repetitiveness. Doing the same thing over and over long after it could ever be considered fun is not casual. This especially applies to daily quests and the LFD grind.

    3) Homework. This should be self evident. Doing a few hours of research just for one raid boss, only to have NONE of that knowledge transfer to any other raid boss, is NOT casual.

    4) Commitment. Casuals have this crazy idea that this is a game and should be fun, not some job full of annoying responsibilities. Things like a required raiding schedule, and all the other responsibilities around raiding and the preparation for raiding are not casual.

    Please note that how easy something is has nothing to do with it. It is obviously not hard to watch a YouTube video on a raid boss.

    So if your only thought is "how can that not be casual, it's easy," you should give up now. You are mentally incapable of understanding what casual means.

  28. Yes, hardcore and casual need definitions before any meaningful points can be pulled out of any of this. The terms can't be used without being defined: we have no basis for any of the suggestions coming out of it.

    Casual, in any game or genre, is used to define the amounts of time a player gives to the game in any one session. It's true in WoW, it's true in Farmville. Casual, in it's most objective definition, is always used to describe the time accessibility factor of a game.

    WoW has definitely been more interested in catering to casual styles for hardcore players. For example, requiring less time to level in order to get to the raiding. Truly casual players just don't raid outside the occasional pug or weekend WoW binge. It requires too much time.

    I was once part of a casual raiding guild. As far as raiding goes, this was the closest it ever got to being truly casual. We raided 4 hours a week: 2 days for 2 hours. Few of us were interested in farming long hours, raiding long hours, or doing anything else for long hours. That guild was wonderful, but unsustainable: raiding simply isn't casual.

    Casual has *nothing* to do with the amount of challenge players prefer. Nothing whatsoever. Anyone who thinks otherwise, share with us how casual translates into wanting "simple" or "easier" things.

    It is strictly, in all games and genres, a term used to describe time accessibility of the game.

  29. @Doone I wouldn't be quite as absolute and narrow with the definition. I won't discuss the point of challenge here, because that's a totally different can of worms. But I also wouldn't narrow down the term to time commitment only.

    There are people who specifically refuse to do raids on grounds of their preplanned fashion. That might be because they got burned before (raided too much for their own good, bad experiences with group dynamics and expectations, etc.), but for whatever reason, they don't want to do regular, preplanned events, even though they might spend many hours in-game.

    So I would at least not narrow it down to time commitment, but look at commitment more generally. Defining "casual" as "little investment in/commitment to a certain social group/virtual world" might be a definition that could work for certain scenarios.

  30. I'm curious as to how you would categorize me.

    I could spend 5+ hours playing each day, up to a possible 12+ hours. I study, but I have most of the days free to do what I want.

    I do however not utilize my spare time for gaming. I don't see myself as a serious gamer, and I only play when I feel like it.

    I could never be a part of a raiding guild, simply because I can't sign up for raid nights. An hour before the raid begins a friend might call me asking me to come meet him. I'd then skip the raid. Or perhaps an interesting documentary starts on the TV? I skip the raid. Or I might just feel like taking a walk instead? I skip the raid.

    Sometimes I don't log in even once for two weeks, and other times I spend 7 hours straight wiping on a boss with my friends doing our level 70 niche-gaming, or grinds Aldor reputation for two straght weeks because I found it fun to gain exalted with them.

    Am I casual or hardcore?

  31. Casuals wouldn't understand that the leveling game was dumbed down or even notice. Therefore much of this is moot.

    Hey, this vague definition thing makes rebuttals easy!

  32. @Doone
    "Casual, in any game or genre, is used to define the amounts of time a player gives to the game in any one session."

    I think that's true but i don't think that distinction alone nails the problem.

    The key problem is casual hardcores, players who want to be hardcore but don't have the time. They can never be happy in a mmorpg for logical reasons.

    1) They want to get to max level as fast as possible but don't have the time to hardcore-grind. Speeding the levelling game up to suit them spoils the levelling game for the actual casuals.

    2) However this doesn't make the casual hardcores happy because now they're at max level they want the best gear so they switch to complaining about the time it takes to raid.

    3) So the game makes it easier to raid and get the best gear making the hardcore raiders unhappy because it's trivializing their thing.

    4) Last but by no means least the casual hardcores still aren't happy because now levelling and raiding are both trivialized *everyone* is max level with the best gear so all that competitiveness got them (almost) back to square one (except now no-one is better than them).

    This happens every game. Basically their personality and the time investment of an mmorpg are logically incompatible and it can't be fixed.

    1. Very competitive people with no time.
    2. Game which requires a lot of time to be competitive.
    Catch 22.

    (I'm not saying the games haven't been dumbed down to lower barriers to entry, made more casual for casuals and made more casual for raider twinks as well but i think the aspect i just described is the most critical because there's no solution to it.)

  33. @Novead
    "I'm curious as to how you would categorize me."

    To me you'd be a hardcore casual i.e. you invest a lot of time but in a casual way.

    To make the distinctions clearer i guess the definitions might be
    1. Very dumb (or very young) casuals.
    2. Casuals.
    3. Hardcore Casuals.
    4. Timepoor Hardcores
    5. Hardcores.

  34. this vague definition thing makes rebuttals easy!

    Maybe, just maybe, Azuriel, the point was not to write a rebuttal-proof post, but a tought-provoking post with less than 600 words.

  35. @Novead: I can’t categorize you personally, but it sounds like you’re casual. You prefer not to spend inordinate amounts of time gaming even though, as you said, you can spend 5+ hours daily if you chose. But since you usually don’t choose to do so, you seem casual to me. You have to tell me what you are.

    All people who play games only play “when they feel like it.” Some like to play more, some like to play less. What defines casual is the amount of time you like to spend in any given session of playing a game.

    For all others, just go browse some game store sites and go to the Casual section of games. I think most, if not all, of you will find that these are games enjoyed traditionally in bite-sized play sessions and they are designed to facilitate that. It doesn’t mean you can’t play them for 10 consecutive hours. It means they are designed to be enjoyed in bite-sized session.

    Challenge in a game is not defined by how much time you need to spend to overcome it. Sure, some games have difficulties in which time is a requirement of the challenge, but that does not make it the case for every kind of challenge. Not at all. Keep in mind that there are games which present challenges which must be solved in short amounts of time – say, Tetris, or any other puzzle game for that matter.

    @Grey: You are right, there’s more to explore in the term casual. But I wanted to give us a basis or definition to start from which is widely used and accepted by the medium itself. It seemed like the best place to start this discussion or else everyone will invent their own definition of the term. The term has been defined. Let’s now talk about what the connotations the term has now acquired and why.

    I think a lot of us are falling into the trap in thinking of casual in the sense of daily life instead of how video gaming as an art medium has defined it. For example, I casually throw clothes into a hamper. I casually travel to Starbucks. I casually watch House. Yes, there’s some merit there, but it doesn’t speak to how video games as a medium defines the term. Not completely. As I said, it has been used up until now to describe time accessibility in games. Not challenge.

    Can hardcore players be casual? Absolutely. But now we have to define hardcore, which I think is well accepted as meaning gamers who like to play competitively.

    Competitive *does not* strictly mean PvP. It means players like to really immerse themselves in getting good at their games. These are gamers who play “to win”, as we say. They may not want to spend 3 hours a week doing it, but they are still hardcore.

    So we are full circle now and hopefully someone out here can see how “casual v. hardcore” doesn’t work on even a general level as a comparison of gamer types. One can be casual and hardcore at once, and rarely do they occur exclusively. I like casual games as much as I love my RPGs. Gamers who prefer casual games can certainly be hardcore and hardcore gamers can certainly be casual. These terms do the conversation no justice. What players really want to talk about is difficulty level in games, but they resort to casual v. hardcore to describe. It doesn’t work.

    I see Azur has tried to carry this discussion over to his blog. I think we are having a fine one here and I don't see a reason to have the same talk in 2 different places. So please, let's keep hearing each others sides on this right here.

  36. I couldn't tell you what I am, since I don't know. In a way I'm hardcore - I put much more effort into my play time than many others do. I spend time out of game reading up on my class and boss encounters so that I can perform well. I don't mind wiping for hours on a single boss. On the other hand, I don't raid regularly and I prioritize WoW far too little to be able to play often enough to attempt hardcore content such as end game raiding.

    On another note, I think there needs to be a distinction between casual/hardcore in gaming overall and in WoW. I'd say most people who play a MMORPG that forces you to pay monthly and requires much more effort than most games are kinda hardcore by default. But if we only measure different WoW-players the scale would change. Whether Farmville is casual or not would then have no significance.

  37. Your post seems to me to be obviously written not by a casual but by a person who burned out on the game and doesn't find the things he used to find fun.

    Ad five player content, I assume you're talking about the level 85 heroics because it really doesn't make sense if you consider the low-level dungeons. Then again, were the max-level dungeons not the content to grind for external reward? Ever?

    Regarding the leveling game, what is boring about it? While it is simpler, the quests are more varied than "kill ten rats, then kill ten big rats that live in a cave in the middle of the area where the rats were and then kill rat leader who is in the middle of big rat cave". The "simple" bit is a bit tricky because of the long questlines that might block people who aren't able to finish one of the quests; the questlines were much shorter in the original game.

    Starting zones were quite hardcore even in the original game (e. g. shimmerweed trolls or the troll cave south of Gnomer in dwarf starting area).

    Grind is no less grindy just because it's unrestricted. If WoW started with dailies and progressed into Vanilla-like grind, people would think dailies were fun.

    Leveling is unpolished compared to what?

    (I have no comment to the heirloom part so I'm skipping it.)

    Regarding "forced" anonymous grouping, I believe the word you're looking for is "available". Before LFD, the leveling instance groups were rare and hard to get. That's the reason why everybody queues up instead of making group the old way - because they have a chance to get into the dungeon that way. However, I admit that it would be even better if you could guild the players you played with even if they were from a different realm.

    I don't think that raiding has even been really casual, not even in Wrath. Remember how the "being saved to raid" worked, you could either learn the bosses (with all your guild) to finish the raid quickly, play until late night to finish the raid in one session or schedule your raiding time if you wanted to get a shot at the last boss - neither of which I find casual.

    The question is, did WoW become hardcore? (There's another question, whether WoW should become more casual, more hardcore or just stay the way it is to defend from its old age.)

  38. @Novead: This is why I made the statement I did in my last reply:

    Casual v. hardcore doesn't even begin, on any level, to define what players are trying to pinpoint in WoW. What players are debating in WoW is difficulty. But I said as much in my last reply.

  39. The leveling quests for 1-60 are vastly improved over previous expansions.

    However, the 5-man dungeons at 1-60 are mind-numbingly boring. If you have 1-2 people in the group with heirlooms, you barely even notice when you're fighting a boss. Everything just melts in front of you. The saving grace is that, in leveling dungeons, I find that people actually talk to each other.

    At max level, the dailies have gotten better, too.

    In raids, the boss mechanics have never been more complicated. Furthermore, the heroic raids have a punishing upramp in difficulty. Lots of guilds have a few herioc bosses down but are nowhere near to defeating heroic Ragnaros. As a result, raiding nowadays has a good progression point for you for a wide spectrum of raiding guilds.

    Overall, for questing, dailies, and instancing, I think Blizzard has done nothing but improve things in Cataclysm.

    The one big minus point I'd give Warcraft's development is on exploration. In a lot of games, and in Vanilla Warcraft, it is possible to strike out to an interesting-looking zone and expect to learn something interesting about the game world. You'll see interesting people that have a life story you can ask them about. You'll see interesting items that you can click on and combine together in interesting ways. That's not true in Warcraft, and I dare say it's gotten worse. Big minus points on exploratory gaming.