Saturday, October 22, 2011

This is the real Cataclysm

I had a feint hope this morning that it had been a dream. But, apparently Blizzard/Activision decided that completely changing their target audience to Kung Fu Panda and Pokemon fans is what is best for a 6 year old game. Oh - have fun selling a game in China that includes killing Pandas ...

Anyway. There's so much stuff to comment on that I can't possibly put it in one post. That's why I decided to list all the things I like first. Yeah, I didn't lose my ability to differentiate - yet. There are a few pieces I'd actually like, if I played this game. Which is about as probable as the sun going supernova tomorrow at noon (and not in the evening).

The next posts will then focus on why I think the rest of the changes are a mistake or at least problematic.

”We’re also looking to address some of the issues that came with how the zones and locations were spread out in Cataclysm. While that’s largely addressed with Pandaria simply being one continent, it also includes giving dungeons and raids more of a presence in the world. All of the dungeons and raids in Pandaria exist as actual locations you can walk up to and fly over, and aren’t just encapsulated experiences hidden behind a portal.”

I like that. Of course, you will still teleport 99% of the time. But it's a start.

”Make encounters understandable and do not set up groups to fail. The dungeon journal has been added to the game to make sure that people don't die and wonder what the hell happened.
Fights will be made clearer and more understandable, the Dungeon Journal was a first step and the goal is to make fights even clearer. It also means that you shouldn't be able to just tank and spank and wonder what happened but still win.“

Within the context of this game this is a good change.

”You can queue with a group, there are no lockouts, and normal/heroic raids do not share any lockout with Raid Finder difficulty. (You only get loot once from Raid Finder)”

Not much, but good. Doesn't make sense to keep players locked out of content. The only reason to do this were hardcore raiders who would use this change to study a boss. But they already gamed the system by wiping on purpose. Not that designing for hardcore raiders should have such an effect on the rest of the community, anyway.

“The goal is to have you sit to another next to another combat rogue, and this combat rogue will actually have different talents than you do!”

A worthwhile goal. You won't succeed, as I will show in my next posts, but a worthwhile goal.

“The plan is to get people back into the world, instead of having players roam around Stormwind and Orgrimmar all the time once they reach max level.“

So you admit past mistakes? No? Yeah, of course not. Anyway. This is like listening to a bad politician. The focus groups told you that they want to do more in the open world. So you promise just that. And you omit any details.

“The level 10 specs were really nice and gave you a role early in the game, definitely a keeper. “

I agree. Just keep in mind that original talent trees were never supposed to offer three completely different roles. This was some kind of 'not a bug but a feature'-approach Blizzard took over the years when they turned the individual talent trees into independent roles.

New talent “tree” system looks good. Of course, the past ones also all looked good. The new one will be just as flawed as any talent tree since TBC, and these flaws won't diminish anyone's fun while playing. This is what happens when developers are allowed to develop for their own fun of developing.

PvE Scenarios. Now, I welcome the attempt to add different PvE content to the game. I don't know enough yet to determine whether this PvE content will be any good, though. Sounds like a straight forward approach that could have been implemented anytime during the last six years. I can think of several reasons why it wasn't.

Pet Battle System. Now, originally I loved pets in WoW. When they were rare and made sense. I learned to hate them when players were swamped and when they were used for all kinds of cheap incentives, RMT and started to break my immersion (Star Craft pets, omg). This basic idea isn't bad. But do you remember Path of Titans or the Dance Studio?

”World raid bosses will return!”

So you admit that removing them was a mistake? Oh, of course not. Anyway. How am I supposed to beat those bosses without a cross server lfd queue? And how do I teleport to them? Do you know what kind of pain in the ass the organizing of the group is going to be? Let alone PvP flagged players who are going to annoy me when I try to beat the boss! Please make them instanced and only accessible via lfd! Irony ftw.

”More quest choices, and a lot less linear”

Did your focus groups tell you this as well?

”No flying until max level, it's much easier to keep people on the ground and create interesting quests when you know people won't just fly away and drop on the boss.”

I am telling you this for five years now and suddenly you agree? But I am under no illusions! Six months into the expansion this will be changed. 100% it will be changed for twinks. I feel like Blizzard is throwing dice when making design decisions...

Four new battlegrounds? I always thought that's impossible. So much work and the queue and stuff? Did you finally take a look at this part of the metrics, too?

Resilience will become a base stat, and will increase a little every time you level.“

I'm telling you this for five years now. If you are unable to balance the game without resilience, this is the way.

”Spells will be automatically learned, you won't have to go to your trainer anymore.”

This has always been ridiculous in a game like WoW.

That's all the good stuff I could find. The next few days will be about the bad stuff. By the way, “mist” means “dung” in German. It is colloquially used to refer to bullshit, rubbish or crap.


  1. I predict Nils' "bad stuff" post will have more than 15 points. =)

  2. There's more god stuff:

    - Challenge mode heroics which can't be cheated with raid gear. (Which shows that raiding is not the only real end game)
    - Challenge mode which rewards no gear, hence is optional.
    - Removal of the insane gear inflation! (If done right it will be the best change ever)
    - VP for playing the game, not for participating in the action the devs prefer.
    - The pokemon system adds somethign else. Everything else besides raiding is a gain for WoW at this point. (There's nothing wrong with adding some flash game elements to WoW as long as the core game doesn't suffer and they are optional. e.g. I enjoyed the PvZ quest.)
    - Removal of range weapons for all but hunters. Wands become main hand weapons. Finally!
    - Account wide achievements.
    - You can change talents as easy as glyphs. (Everythign else doesn't make sense since dual spec and nearly free reskill (50g was a lot of money once upon a time))

    But I found it most impressing that they are willing to "sacrifice" D3 to save WoW. I guess Titan doesn't come along as fast as planned.