Minipost – Why is different bad?

Apologies for the long absence, there was Christmas and moving house. Even though I had the time to write a blog post, I didn’t have the concentration or the focus on a topic. I also haven’t quite decided what to do with this place. When I created this blog it was because I wanted to talk about games, TV, movies etc. without being constrained to 140 characters. I still want to do that but whether that’s compatible with my ambitions to indie publish fiction I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.

Anyway, today’s topic is courtesy of a reply I got to a comment I made on The Grumpy Elf’s blog. I basically said that I missed the way things had worked in Mists. I’d understood the stats, the process, professions, the gear grind etc. back then and I didn’t really understand why they had changed it all. In other words I didn’t like the changes that had been made and thought them unnecessary.

The reply from another commenter was that the problem wasn’t the new system – that it was me. I’m not raiding anymore, therefore I’m not putting in the same level of effort, that it wasn’t the system confusing me, it was that I clearly missed raiding and that’s why I was so lost. What is a tank without a raid?

My instinctive thought was to agree with him, as it’s true I don’t put in the same level of effort that I used to. However, I then thought about it some more and realised how wrong that was. The system shouldn’t be so complicated or confusing that it requires a lot of research, that it can’t just be figured out. What about the average player? Surely the game should be friendly to them as well, not just the raiders?

My complaint with Warcraft since Mists was released has been how it’s become very “raid or die”. In Mists that meant that I couldn’t play my alts, now in Warlords it makes any progression difficult and confusing. At least in Mists there wasn’t the element of randomness that Warlords has embraced with bells on. That I think is probably my biggest complaint about Warlords, that there’s too much randomness. The crafted gear is all random stat, you get random upgrades, it’s random if there’s a gem slot etc. I hate random, I really do, it makes it so hard to see the target and aim for it.

I know Cataclysm gets a lot of flack and I agree there was a lot that wasn’t great about it. However, in terms of casual play it was my favourite time in Warcraft. I loved being able to queue for dungeons, get a drop if I was lucky, collect points to buy gear otherwise. It made sense, it had targets I could aim at, the progress was slow but incremental and consistent, it was fun and meant that I could dip in and out of alts whenever I pleased with ease. I’ve always played my alts the way I imagined people who played casually (who didn’t raid), played their mains. Now I’m not raiding I’ve been proven right in regards to myself at least. The only problem is what game is there now for me to play?

The game for me in Warlords content is doing the weekly garrison mission, doing the daily apexis quest if I can be bothered, running through the mine and the herb garden and sending followers out on missions. The rest of my playtime is running through the list of old raids I have on farm, hunting for the pet or mount drop. I am making no new progress in what I can solo, as my gear progression is completely stuck.

The system I understood is gone, the gems, enchants and reforging process is gone. The stats have all been changed and even worse new ones have been added. Now I used to understand the game. What about the average player that never understood it or just understood it a little? Clearly this hasn’t hurt the games popularity as it’s enjoying a massive sub increase. Perhaps I’m just being very selfish in wishing things could be how I liked them, probably no perhaps about it. However, even if it is selfish I’m still entitled to how I feel. The blues said that the old system required people to go outside the game to find out what to do. How is this new one any better?

The point I’m trying to make is that a game like Warcraft should really support more than one playstyle. Someone shouldn’t have to raid in order to be able to progress and understand the game. There should be a more casual method that still allows people to feel like they accomplished something. I said in my comment that the game had removed any control I felt I had, I stand by that. The randomness, the lack of points gear and the complete change of profession and stat system, it’s not a good mix.

I guess I should go put in some research and try and figure it all out. There has to be some way I can play without having to raid.