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Pandora’s Box May 10, 2011

Posted by Stormy in General Whinging, Moar Ranting, Personal, Tank Girl.

Yesterday the lovely and talented Beru of Falling Leaves and Wings put up a post entitled “Is WoW Entering Its Twilight?“, and although I must admit that  seeing this topic bandied about on every other blog is starting to grow tiresome, she did indeed get me thinking about the topic that seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. Then, as I logged in to my newly-85 paladin last night to attempt a heroic, I ran smack into the thing that, at least for me, is sucking all the joy out of my time in the game.

What killed WoW? (Well, that’s not really a fair question since it’s not dead, but I’m good at predicting these things *wink*.) What killed WoW was a spectacular failure of expectations that Blizzard created in the last year of Wrath. When the Dungeon Finder first launched I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I thought it would go down in WoW history as the best innovation the game has ever had. And the truth is that with the ridiculously inflated gear levels and the months of experience most players had with the Wrath dungeons, the Dungeon Finder was pretty awesome. On a Monday night after work I could log in, wait ten or fifteen minutes in a queue (or two, if I was on my resto druid) and bust out an Old Kingdom run in less than a half hour, collect my badges and go to bed. There was no danger of failure; every heroic was successful every time, unless someone did something spectacularly stupid. I grew accustomed to letting the game interface find four other people to perform roles I wasn’t able to perform myself, and we won every single time. I got used to it. It was awesome. And with the triumph and frost emblem rewards, I was able to hit 80 on my druid one weekend, spam heroic runs all week, then heal an ICC10 run the following weekend in 4T9…which guaranteed more success.

And we got used to it. I could grab a group of guildies on a Saturday afternoon and chain ten heroics in the space of a few hours, collect 50 triumph emblems, and then go do something else. But somewhere along the way, we came to expect this as the Way Things Should Be. Well, for the most part. In fairness, though there was a large and vocal contingent who hated this system and demanded that dungeons get harder, epic drops become rarer, raids become more prestigious, etc. Then Wrath ended, Cataclysm launched, and Blizzard listened to these folks. My first run in H Deadmines took four hours and I don’t even remember how many wipes. Now, almost every heroic run I jump into (especially the Zul’Agains) is going to include at least a couple of wipes.

But the player base has grown so accustomed to guaranteed success that they’re generally not willing to endure difficulty, wipes, and failure. I got kicked from a random heroic group last night because we wiped once on the third boss of Lost City, a boss that I’d never tanked before on a toon that hit 85 last week. One wipe, and the group had declared our run a failure and kicked me. I logged out demoralized, angry, nearly crying. I spent weeks leveling a paladin from 1 to 85, spent thousands of gold leveling inscription and engineering, spent hundreds of gold on gear, gems, enchants and the like, and now I don’t ever want to log into that character ever again because I’m so disgusted with the state of gameplay. I know I’ll never see the inside of a raid instance on this paladin ever. I know I’ve spoken about this before, but the raiders who left the guild I’m currently GM left because they wanted what they couldn’t get with Sane Asylum’s “everyone can raid” philosophy: guaranteed success all the time. No one wants to take the time to let anyone learn a fight, to put up with less than perfect execution of mechanics on even the first try of a fight, to entertain just for a moment the idea that not everyone is perfect and infallible, and that failure may happen.

The question for me now is this: I have a druid at 85 who needs gear, a warlock at 73, a shadow priest on another server at 72, a mage at 46 and I wanted to level a shaman. But why bother? Why go back and level those characters and get them geared? Why bother beating my priest’s head up against the Zul’Agains for the gear? At least for me, there is no endgame anymore, so why is there an early game?

Pandora’s Box has been opened. Can we put the monster back in the box? I hope so, because it’s that monster that’s killing WoW.



1. Matt - May 10, 2011

The comment about the end of Wrath, easy heroics, etc. is exactly why I quit playing and paying for WoW… I used to raid, used to be in the best guild on my server, clearing TK and SSC in a couple hours when no one else was. I then had to get back into the workforce, and had less time to play, and was forced into raiding retirement.

Wrath came along, and I was able to do the dungeons, even with slightly noobish groups, and got to know a lot of folks on my server. Important factoid here – Even in a fairly bad group, wiping on trash a bit and bosses 2-5 times each while learning, after about an hour, I was done, and successful. Then LFD came about, and as you mentioned, we outgeared the instances, and it was all good.

Now, I join as a tank or healer, because anymore that’s about all I play, get into a group (with 100% durability), wipe on each trash pack due to some stupid mistake, even my own while learning, finally get to a boss, wipe on that because someone is below the “smartness” threshold for the encounter, someone kicks them, do it again with someone else, same issue, someone kicks them, get some a-hole who can’t do it and bitches about the tank, healer, or other dps, and now even I want to kick them, but I can’t because the group has gone through too many already…

1 hour after logging in, I now have 50ish gold in repairs, a tremendous loss of faith in the human race, nothing to show for it, and didn’t have fun for more than a couple minutes. So, I farm some ore or herbs instead, or level alts, or some profession. But why level alts, when they are just going to die at 85? Why level professions, just to die alongside a stagnated alt?

The solution? A guild. But then again, I play at random, and have been through a few guilds, and never make it to more than 1-2 group runs, before people (and I don’t blame them) realize that other people have more consistent play times, and I get left out. So, I then realize LFD was made for me, and people who play like me.

So why does it make me want to quit? I just wanted to see the cool designs, fight the bosses, learn what my toons can do, maybe get some nicer gear and see what old nostalgic stuff I can solo.

Meh, I don’t know why WoW has been in decline. I just know why I stopped.

Stormy - May 10, 2011

“The solution? A guild.”

Yeah. Except that if you’re not at exactly the same spot progression-wise as your guild, forget it. You said it in your comment: if you’re not able to be online with your guild from the get-go and do all the things they’ve done at the times they’ve done them, you get left behind and abandoned. And don’t even think of trying to join a raiding guild if you’re not at exactly the same progression spot as them.

Matt - May 10, 2011

Such truth… I swear, the 4.2 changes to CC as well as the advancement to gear that will happen (by proxy making dungeons more forgiving) might make me rethink playing again… But for now, I can just go see my mother in law if I want to be miserable for an hour, and that’s free!

2. Zinn - May 10, 2011

I completely agree with your conclusion. In a game, you can never work backwards. You can never make the game less accessible. If you make heroics and gear easy to obtain, the next step can’t be to wrench it from our hands and suddenly have us work for it. It doesn’t really matter that we’d enjoy it more if we just stopped to think about it – once we’ve had the easy way, there really is no turning back. It’s like when I just recently switched apartments. I didn’t think there was much wrong with my old one, until I got my new one. Suddenly I realized that my old really had been missing loads of things, and now I would never like to return, eventhough that apartment was cheaper. Odd comparison perhaps, but I hope you get my idea ^^

3. Fuzzy_Magicz - May 10, 2011

Ach… must resist… criticism…

Ok, Stormy. This time you’ve gone too far.
Keep an eye on the parlour.

4. The Pink Pally - May 10, 2011

I feel your pain. Which is why I avoid PuGs. I GL a small rp guild and will therefore never see the inside of a raid either. Endgame is something of a catch-22 for nonraiders. But I wouldn’t trade my guild for anything. Whether I’m lvl 85 or lvl 5, they’re the people I wanna hang out with in my free time. And that, IMO, is the purpose of a guild.

Hang in there.

5. Vinz - May 12, 2011

I think the box was opened before the Dungeon Finder.

The premise that most people need to be able to experience most of the content is the concept that killed WoW.

I don’t say that to be elitist, either. It’s not that I think some people are less deserving of content/loot/whatever than others.

The issue is that the thing keeping you coming back to a game like this is that there’s something out of reach to work towards.

The introduction of normal/heroic modes in raids at the flip of a switch, for example, was a big problem. Sure, “normal” modes mean more people can see the content. But they also mean that lots of people feel “done” with the content and don’t bother with heroic modes. For these people, Cataclysm content has been long stale.

There needs to be super-crazy-hard content with no easy mode, and lots of it. Not for the hardcore players; but for the regular players. Not to conquer immediately, but to look ahead to as a near-impossible goal.

Sadly, I don’t see how you can possibly put the entitlement genie back in the bottle. They’ve already lost many of the people who are motivated by the neigh unobtainable, and they’re in the process of losing the people they attracted with shiny objects that have lost their luster.

Matt - May 12, 2011

I completely disagree. I pay(paid) for the same game you, Ensidia, etc. do, and I believe that the heroic modes were a great idea, to allow me to see what the design team came up with, which has typically been beautiful and enjoyable, and the heroic modes can still provide a challenge (and even more developer awesomeness) for those who would like it.

I really think that the difficulty level is not the issue here. I used to do Shattered Halls Heroic, in greens and blues, back when just a few folks were 70, hell, I was the only one keyed for it out of the 12 people I typically ran it with. That was hard, my normal tanking friend was a Warrior, and we typically had a sheep, a “Fear yoyo”, and LOS pulls galore. It required coordination, situational awareness, and attention to detail.

The problem (imho) is that Blizzard has made it so easy to semi-afk level to the cap, using a single ability the whole time, with little to no penalties, then allow random people to join random groups, where they HAVE TO use certain arguably fundamental skills to consistently succeed. Combine that with not the leet, but the ones who THINK they’re leet, just because they steamrolled to 85, or got trained in dungeon skills by Wrath, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Imagine this, if you will.

A grandmother. A very sweet lady, but old. Let’s say 85. Never touched anything more high tech than a bicycle. Her grandson, a lawyer, wanting to be nice, gets her a laptop for Christmas.

Problems will ensue.

Now imagine that grandma was full of hormones, slightly anti-social, and not used to things being so tough. Problems that ensue will be of a different variety, rather than confused, angry, unwilling to assume blame.

Now, that person has every right to enjoy the game as they please, just like me, but their way of enjoying the game infringes on everyone around them. Not due to incompetence, I can deal with that, and I have helped many folks become better at whatever they do. The way they screw the game up for others is through ignorance, anger, not being willing to accept that maybe they could do better, etc.

Vinz - May 12, 2011

I didn’t say difficulty was the issue. I said lack of content to look forward to is the issue.

You can’t make a game that pleases everybody. You just can’t. But what they had before was a game that pleased LOTS of people. Including you, it seems. And what they have now is a game that is on its way to pleasing nobody. Including you.

The “You pay to see the same game as…” comment means that you missed my point. I think that more people are interested in paying to have something left to look ahead to, and not to have done everything already. It doesn’t matter if Ensidia or whoever have been there and done that. It matters that YOU HAVEN’T. And the content you haven’t done is worth more – in the present – than the content you already have. Once you decide you’re entitled to the same experiences the super-hard-core people have had, you’ve decided that you can NEVER have that value. In fact, if there’s content that only Ensidia can clear, and they manage to clear it right away, and you never manage to clear it… I’d argue that you’re getting MORE value out of your monthly fees than they are.

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