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#1 May 10 2013 at 12:29 PM Rating: Decent
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Apparently, down 1.3 million in 3 months and Blizz is expecting to lose more.

The link is a Yahoo news story, by the way.
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#2 May 10 2013 at 12:50 PM Rating: Excellent
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Is this a "WoW is dying" thread yet? Smiley: wink

Saw that around the interwebs a bit yesterday and wasn't wholly surprised, because:

Quote:
That's not entirely shocking considering Warcraft's advanced age. First launched back in 2004, it's one of the longest-running massively-multiplayer games still vying for a slice of the online gaming pie. While the game's quartet of official expansions have done a good job keeping gamers coming back, increased pressure from a wealth of free-to-play online competitors -- not to mention a shaky economy -- have made the game's subscription-based pricing model harder and harder to swallow.


Wonder where they go from here? Should be interesting to see.
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#3 May 10 2013 at 12:58 PM Rating: Good
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someproteinguy wrote:
article wrote:
First launched back in 2004, it's one of the longest-running massively-multiplayer games still vying for a slice of the online gaming pie.
Everquest, Everquest 2 (By a few weeks, point still valid), Final Fantasy XI, Eve. Really, what WoW has done is got so big that it made it next to impossible for new IPs to stay in the game, and while taking numbers from older games didn't really knock them out either.
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#4 May 10 2013 at 1:30 PM Rating: Excellent
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What if we change it to "among the longer running..."? There's so many of the darn things these days.

Still going with the old game is old thingy.

Edited, May 10th 2013 12:30pm by someproteinguy
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#5 May 10 2013 at 1:34 PM Rating: Good
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But then it doesn't sound aaaaaaaaaaaawesome.

Just nitpickin'.
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#6 May 10 2013 at 1:43 PM Rating: Excellent
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Just figure Ben there can't even remember a time before MMOs anyway.

Kids these days... Smiley: disappointed
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#7 May 10 2013 at 2:15 PM Rating: Good
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Of the successful MMOs, the only one I would wager is still growing is EVE.

Part of that is because EVE has consistently been a completely unique experience compared to the rest of the MMOs on the market. I don't think it's hard to understand why. First and foremost is the fact that it realistically doesn't have much competition. There are some games that have come out that are MORE hardcore than EVE (but that's a relatively small audience), and there are some on the horizon. But for now, nada.

TL;DR for spoiler: I doubt any big MMO in the future will follow the current trend of being less "sandboxy", I think the reason EVE has been consistently growing is because content never runs out (being a player-driven sandbox with player-controlled economy), is accessible from the get-go, and is constantly updated so it never feels like a game that has aged.


But beyond that, CCP has managed to keep the game extremely well updated. Graphically, they've been revamping everything nonstop. Compared to WoW, where the old races still look like they did in 2004, where the environments didn't upgrade until 2 years ago (and BC ones still look like 2006, which is... not awesome). I play the game off and on. And everytime I come back, the game looks better. There are no two-year intervals for graphics updates that are only limited to new areas.

It's also gotten even more responsive with time. The original coding of WoW is really showing its wear, as anyone who played a Mage in Cata can attest. EVE doesn't seem to have that problem. I have absolutely no clue why, but everything seems to work better whenever I access the game after a break.

It's also fulfilling for a player of any experience level. Just starting out? That's cool - you'll learn to fly frigates, which are still flown by veteran players, you'll mine ore from the safest areas, which is less profitable but still 100% in demand, etc. Literally no area of the game is barred to you - the only factor is how brazen you are. (I tend to play it safe, so I still only dwell in high-security space, for the most part. There are players in their second week flying around low- or null-security space).

Factor in a 100% player driven economy, constant creation of new types of content (like everything coming with Dust 514, like orbital fleet battles in conjunction with planet-side skirmishes and orbital bombardments), player-driven content like powerful corps taking over areas of space or aggressive market maneuvers, and a substantial skill curve, and there's a lot to experience.

When you play a game like WoW, that's just not possible. Easily 99.9% of the items you loot are completely meaningless, gold barely matters, you have to level through content that's really only there as filler for endgame, etc. Sandbox games don't have those limitations.

Whatever the next truly big fantasy MMO is, I'd be really surprised if it wasn't at least FAR more of a sandbox than anything currently on the market. The current trend has been in the opposite direction, and I just don't see it working. The opposite direction can be great fun (like TOR, or GW2), but it definitely has an expiration date.

I had high hopes for Elder Scrolls Online, but I don't think it's going to make it. That said, I'm deliberately avoiding all information about it until we're way closer to launch and I can, hopefully, try it for myself. I want to try and have no expectations.


Edited, May 10th 2013 4:16pm by idiggory
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#8 May 10 2013 at 3:09 PM Rating: Good
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It's quite a doom and gloom news story. Warcraft can lose 25%-50% of it's subscribers and still have the most subscribers of the current crop of MMO's. Although it's probably in the twilight of it's lifespan, it is still easy to learn, easy to play, and can be run by fairly basic laptops and desktops.

However, the numbers drop seems to be pretty significant, especially given the fact that players seem to be generally happy with the plethora of options of activities and the rate at which content is being released.

In my opinion, Warcraft has graduated a player base who can now look for other MMO which better fit into what the player is looking for. With the number of MMO's on the market, and the number being developed or released, would suggest that there's a market for the genre. I think people are getting a little more picky and Warcraft may be losing, or have lost, its appeal as is it tried/tries to make itself likeable to everyone.

TL:DR, WoW isn't dying nor will it die soon. However, its popularity may be waning slowly.
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#9 May 10 2013 at 3:31 PM Rating: Good
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Honestly, I think part of WoW's problem is that it's no longer targeting a demographic known for being faithful. It's far more of a casual game now than ever before, and so it's going to face the same issue the Wii did. Big boom, rapid loss.

I say "issue," but honestly I think this is just a natural progression. If they had targeted hardcore gamers, they would have lost way more players (and brought in way fewer new ones), and the hardcore gamers weren't going to stay THAT much longer, because they're more likely to migrate once the wear and tear really starts showing.
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#10 May 10 2013 at 4:14 PM Rating: Decent
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lolgaxe wrote:
someproteinguy wrote:
article wrote:
First launched back in 2004, it's one of the longest-running massively-multiplayer games still vying for a slice of the online gaming pie.
Everquest, Everquest 2 (By a few weeks, point still valid), Final Fantasy XI, Eve. Really, what WoW has done is got so big that it made it next to impossible for new IPs to stay in the game, and while taking numbers from older games didn't really knock them out either.

Even older than all of those and still going is Ultima Online which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, it too has a much smaller player base left but as the very first to go online as a MMO the fact that it is still around means there is also hope for Wow If they update both their pricing policy and support their player base when they take the time to point out flawsand patch problems such as the reduced fps and lag issues caused by CRZ's whihc was one of the worst ideals blizzard came up with.
#11 May 10 2013 at 4:15 PM Rating: Excellent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Of the successful MMOs, the only one I would wager is still growing is EVE.
EVE's metagame is interesting. There are people posting in threads on reddit who, if they are to be believed, have never played the game but love to read about it. The intrigue, machinations, double-crosses, the people joining corporations just to gain trust and then either start killing as many corporation members' ships as possible or steal as many corporate assets, or both. The giant alliances breaking up and going at each others' throat with member corporations suddenly flipping to the other side.

And all of this encouraged by the game's developers. Recently, a player posted on the official forum after losing a ship worth nearly 8 billion ISK (which would pay for 16 months of game time). He made the mistake of flying into the main trade hub (Jita) during the "Burn Jita" event. Basically, this is an event "hosted" by one of the big alliances (there's a lot of background to it), during which any freighter flying into or out of Jita gets attacked even though Jita is in High Security space and the game's space police (Concord) will respond and kill the attackers (I've read that CCP has stated that if a player escapes death when attacked by Concord, it is considered an exploit.)

Unfortunately for the poster, he was not aware of the event (he had to be hiding under a rock) and so he lost his ship. He claimed that he was rebuffed by CCP when he opened a ticket, this is from his post (with his quotation marks) and is what he claims he was told: “tough luck – games working fine”. What is surprising is that he opened a ticket at all. CCP encourages this type of behavior. Even outside of the "Burn Jita" event, suicide ganking is a risk in HighSec (one player suicide ganks a ship carrying especially valuable cargo, hopefully killing it before being killed by Concord, and an associate loots the kill).

CCP has said that "EVE isn't designed to just look like a cold, dark and harsh world; it's designed to be a cold, dark and harsh world." The risk is what heightens the fun.

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#12 May 10 2013 at 4:18 PM Rating: Excellent
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RavensLair wrote:
lolgaxe wrote:
someproteinguy wrote:
article wrote:
First launched back in 2004, it's one of the longest-running massively-multiplayer games still vying for a slice of the online gaming pie.
Everquest, Everquest 2 (By a few weeks, point still valid), Final Fantasy XI, Eve. Really, what WoW has done is got so big that it made it next to impossible for new IPs to stay in the game, and while taking numbers from older games didn't really knock them out either.

Even older than all of those and still going is Ultima Online which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, it too has a much smaller player base left but as the very first to go online as a MMO the fact that it is still around means there is also hope for Wow If they update both their pricing policy and support their player base when they take the time to point out flawsand patch problems such as the reduced fps and lag issues caused by CRZ's whihc was one of the worst ideals blizzard came up with.
I uprated your post because you contributed to the discussion. But seriously, add some punctuation next time. I shouldn't have to read your post three times to understand it.

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#13 May 10 2013 at 4:55 PM Rating: Excellent
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cynyck wrote:
There are people posting in threads on reddit who, if they are to be believed, have never played the game but love to read about it.


I believe them since I too never played EVE and am often entertained by stories about it. The Burn Jita event you mentioned just sounds awesome. I read about it a few weeks ago when it was refered to in a comment on WOWInsider. Any game developer that actually supports this kind of event has my deepest respect.
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#14 May 10 2013 at 4:57 PM Rating: Good
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cynyck wrote:
idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Of the successful MMOs, the only one I would wager is still growing is EVE.
EVE's metagame is interesting. There are people posting in threads on reddit who, if they are to be believed, have never played the game but love to read about it. The intrigue, machinations, double-crosses, the people joining corporations just to gain trust and then either start killing as many corporation members' ships as possible or steal as many corporate assets, or both. The giant alliances breaking up and going at each others' throat with member corporations suddenly flipping to the other side.

And all of this encouraged by the game's developers. Recently, a player posted on the official forum after losing a ship worth nearly 8 billion ISK (which would pay for 16 months of game time). He made the mistake of flying into the main trade hub (Jita) during the "Burn Jita" event. Basically, this is an event "hosted" by one of the big alliances (there's a lot of background to it), during which any freighter flying into or out of Jita gets attacked even though Jita is in High Security space and the game's space police (Concord) will respond and kill the attackers (I've read that CCP has stated that if a player escapes death when attacked by Concord, it is considered an exploit.)

Unfortunately for the poster, he was not aware of the event (he had to be hiding under a rock) and so he lost his ship. He claimed that he was rebuffed by CCP when he opened a ticket, this is from his post (with his quotation marks) and is what he claims he was told: “tough luck – games working fine”. What is surprising is that he opened a ticket at all. CCP encourages this type of behavior. Even outside of the "Burn Jita" event, suicide ganking is a risk in HighSec (one player suicide ganks a ship carrying especially valuable cargo, hopefully killing it before being killed by Concord, and an associate loots the kill).

CCP has said that "EVE isn't designed to just look like a cold, dark and harsh world; it's designed to be a cold, dark and harsh world." The risk is what heightens the fun.



And that's not even in the record of most losses. Two days ago a 75 billion ISK Titan was taken out. I don't think the pilot got podded though, so he should probably consider himself lucky. If he's flying around in a 75b ISK ship, chances are he was flying with some very expensive implants, too.

But yeah, CCP's stance on things is: "Do whatever the **** you want. Short of aggressively exploiting something obviously not intended, we don't care."

And that pretty much comes down to: You escaped Concord, you managed to bypass all security-standards (for a period maybe two years ago, one corp had figured out how to engage anyone, anywhere, without concord intervention), hacking, or other obvious ISK exploits.

Minor exploits? "Wow, awesome, look at this thing you figured out! Congrats! We may or may not patch it, what you're doing sounds kind of cool."

The one thing I WILL say, is that I think there should be a point where Concord will pod people. (For anyone confused by my language by this point: Your pod is the part of your ship your character occupies. When your ship explodes, you escape in the pod. If someone kills your pod, that body, and any implants in it, is destroyed. You then wake up in a clone body, and clones are graded by cost to keep a certain amount of skill points. So forgetting to update your clone means you can potentially lose a ton of skill training time-spent).

Yeah, intervention in 1.0 space is really fast. But if they're ganking with something powerful, they're almost certainly going to be able to pod you if they have a warp scrambler fit. And I'm not saying that this shouldn't be possible, I think it should be, but I think Concord should pod them in response in security spaces of at least .9 and above. Maybe .8/.7 depending on their security standing.

That said, I don't think Empire Police should ever be able to pod players. (For our other listeners, CONCORD is the police force that responds if you attack another player in high-security space. Empire Police are far weaker, you can actually engage and fight them off, and will attack anyone with a super low security rating depending on the security status of the area of space you are in. But you have to be LOW for this to occur. Most people balance their aggressive actions with ratting (killing hostile npc ships) to keep their security status up high enough they can go wherever they want.

[EDIT]

One of my favorite EVE-related stories is that bank scheme run a couple of months ago. Essentially, this one player was running a banking corporation. He would accept deposits and meet withdrawals of ISK, and the people investing would earn interest at a pretty decent rate. Not so low to make it pointless, not so high for it to arouse any suspicion that this would be a scam or unsustainable.

One day, after having over 800 billion ISK invested, the user just clears out the entire bank. Just like that. All his. He posted on the official boards that he should be considered EVE's Robin Hood - he stole from the rich and gave to himself.

100% acceptable, 100% working as intended.

Edited, May 10th 2013 7:02pm by idiggory
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#15 May 10 2013 at 6:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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It is interesting to note that most people who talk about the 1.3 Million Subs lost seem to forget the fact that Blizz said most of the lost subs were from China and that Chinese (and Asians in general) tend to Sub up, consume the content, and then desub until new content is released, rinse repeat.

But trying to get people on oboards to understand that.... *rolls eyes* Esp the people who say "oh, sure if you actually believe that"...
#16 May 10 2013 at 8:49 PM Rating: Good
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How do they even calculate that? Chinese players don't sub, they buy blocks of game time. I always figured that, before now, they just defined them as "active players" or something - people they expected wouldn't be quitting or taking long breaks.

Also, considering that this in an analysis of population since last quarter, not the population today, it shouldn't be affected by something like players unsubbing until later content. I mean, the last patch came out in early March. I can't imagine these numbers are dated later than early April, so it should theoretically be during the initial surge.

I'd also wager that they didn't report straight numbers, but rather applied their own stat weights to figure out who is a more permanent sub, and who is just on a short break.
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#17 May 10 2013 at 10:11 PM Rating: Excellent
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I think I recall other calculations including language about accounts having played within a certain period of time. As noted, we don't use a subscription model and can't really be said to sub or unsub. Shortly after these discussions started, I happened to see my old buddy from Guangdong on and asked him about things.

I'd call him a reasonable example of a fairly hardcore player here. He currently splits his gaming time between WoW, Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2. He likes MoP in terms of what it has brought to the game, but notes that non Asian themes are more exciting for his friends and him because they find those more exotic. He felt that it was probably accurate to say there are a lot of people who aren't playing right now because most of the usual group he games with hadn't been on for awhile; however, he was unconcerned about the idea this represented a subscription loss. As he said, we don't subscribe, so when he feels like playing he does and when he is busy he doesn't.

For my part, I'd guess that Q1 figures in China took a hit for a variety of reasons.

Long term, players here are seldom older than college age. As those unfortunate enough to read my various goal and summary posts know, I'm planning on getting married next year. If I were a Chinese guy, that would have a huge impact on my gaming. Adjusted for local conditions, I'm paid fairly well and Pink is amazingly reasonable. I don't have to worry as much about things like bride price or buying an apartment. The Chinese guys are under a lot more pressure for that and their free time is often eaten up chasing extra money, guanxi and even finding a suitable partner for marriage -- something that is way to complicated for this post. It all adds up to make older (as in late 20s) players rare here.

WoW is, itself, an old game. It isn't cool to play old games. That, as much as f2p competition, is going to have an impact on WoW here. Mianzi (face) is important to Chinese and being cool wins you points, not being cool loses points. Being cool isn't just playing what's hot at the moment though, the little emperors compete by buying flashy toys. One of them hit the news for murdering his wife and it came out that aside from driving a Lamborghini LP570 and playing the club scene, he also spent as much as 100,000 RMB per month playing video games. The latter is another problem with WoW's cool/face problem. You can't flash your wealth (or at least your family's) when all you can buy are a few vanity pets and mounts; however, that is definitely an element in many of the Chinese MMOs.

Those are longer term problems, but Q1 would also have included the winter break and Spring Festival. Players in NA/EU would expect to play more during a break, but for Chinese players that means they are at home. They'll be expected to split their time between various family obligations, outings with friends and classmates (part of a culture with guanxi means break is a time for you to get together with schoolmates that may well go back to primary school) and if you've read about the whole "tiger mom" thing it will come as no surprise that there will also be a good dose of cram courses. After Spring Festival, high school players in their fourth year are under the gun for national college entrance exams and while that may seem like a fairly limited segment, China's population is huge and everything adds up.

There you have it, another Wall O'Text by Rhode when he is short on coffee. Smiley: nod
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#18 May 13 2013 at 4:09 PM Rating: Excellent
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Disclaimer: this is my subjective opinion.

I think Blizzard's design philosophy with WoW ultimately limits its continued appeal and/or ability to expand the player base. They went through that phase in BC and Wrath and are unlikely to have that much mass appeal to a new audience again. In part because WoW is an old game by now, but also because their philosophy is to reset the playing field with each new expansion. They expand vertically, but not really horizontally. That is, they make older content obsolete, which forces people to push to max level to get to the new content. But, by doing so, they make old content essentially irrelevant. To be sure, this has a lot of appeal for someone who has been playing the game for a long time. Anyone that ran (insert raid/dungeon name here) umpteen times doesn't really want to do it any more. But, for a prospective new player, they're faced with the daunting task (even with easy leveling) of pushing to max level before they can touch relevant content. The more expansions are added and as max level increases this only gets more daunting.

As for experienced players, the concept of running the same treadmill of gear/reputation/crafting resets ultimately gets old. The carrot is better gear, more shineys, whatever. But, how many times can you repeat the same process, albeit with slight variations (i.e., new zones, classes, races), before that carrot isn't very tasty anymore and you get off the treadmill? Different people reach that saturation point at different times, but ultimately everyone (or most everyone) will reach that point.

Blizzard has done a good job, overall, of introducing new vertical content to the game (sometimes more slowly than people would like, for sure). But, they really have done little to expand the scope of the game. The content that is added (for the most part) is simply replacing older content, not adding anything to how the game is played. Yes things like talents, specs, gear mechanics are tweaked over time, but that's not really what I'm talking about. Those are just window dressing.

It's a formula that works and they've been very successful with it...more power to them. But, if that formula slowly but surely burns veterans out and does little to draw new players in, how long can it last?

All that being said, I don't think the game is dying. It still has tons of subs and will keep going for a long time. Even if it bleeds off subs quarter to quarter, it still has a ways to go.

/end long subjective opinion piece.

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#19 May 14 2013 at 3:42 AM Rating: Excellent
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@azwing: I think they are aware of this and they implemented a few things to help adress that issue. The new pets in old raids, achievements and transmog being the prime examples here. Also their efforts to make every boss soloable by adjusting the mechanics. While this isn't a progression of character power for many players it is a kind of progression. I should know. I ran many old dungeons and raids endlessly for that one pet/mount/achievement/legendary that eluded me. I still do for the ones that I miss. As the years go by soloing old content, at least for me, has become the real endgame content and I mostly do current raids to get gear for better soloing old raids. Smiley: lol

It doesn't completely solve this problem. But there's also the big mystery feature that comes with 5.3 or 5.4 (can't remember) that is somehow linked to old content from the hints they dropped. Some think it will be scaleable old raids.
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#20 May 14 2013 at 5:44 AM Rating: Good
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someproteinguy wrote:
Just figure Ben there can't even remember a time before MMOs anyway.

Kids these days... Smiley: disappointed


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#21 May 14 2013 at 1:46 PM Rating: Excellent
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TherealLogros wrote:
@azwing: I think they are aware of this and they implemented a few things to help adress that issue. The new pets in old raids, achievements and transmog being the prime examples here. Also their efforts to make every boss soloable by adjusting the mechanics. While this isn't a progression of character power for many players it is a kind of progression. I should know. I ran many old dungeons and raids endlessly for that one pet/mount/achievement/legendary that eluded me. I still do for the ones that I miss. As the years go by soloing old content, at least for me, has become the real endgame content and I mostly do current raids to get gear for better soloing old raids. Smiley: lol

It doesn't completely solve this problem. But there's also the big mystery feature that comes with 5.3 or 5.4 (can't remember) that is somehow linked to old content from the hints they dropped. Some think it will be scaleable old raids.


Those things have added a reason for people to revisit old content, but it hasn't really made the content relevant. I'm not knocking pets, achievements, or transmog, though, don't get me wrong. But, pursuing pets, achievements, or whatever is part of the model that makes WoW work. Dangle something in front of the player that keeps them playing (and subbing). The thing is though, all of those aspects of the game are essentially vanity items. They change your appearance (transmog), or give you something to show off around town (pets, mounts, transmog), or flash your e-peen (acheivements). But, really they don't add depth to the game. They are a distraction/time-sink that keep people playing. Again, I'm not knocking them...they're fun, people can play how they want.

I really started thinking about this a lot when I realized most of my playing time was being devoted to pet battles. I'm an addictive, obsessive collector. It's fun and I enjoy the chase. But, what I realized is that pet battles have almost nothing to do with an MMORPG. They're a solo acitivity (with PvP possible) thrown into the world. They're a distraction, a carrot dangling in my face to keep me subbed. Fun, yes, but nevertheless, they're a distraction. I think the world (of Warcraft) would be more vibrant with more immersion (see Idiggory's excellent post [#49] in this thread Teacake's Housing Thread for example). Instead, we just get repetition of the same formula expansion to expansion, with some new shiney's here and there to add gloss. It's fun, but it does grow old.

/end opionated opinion :-)

ps. If I were smarter I'd probably be able to figure out how to link directly to idiggory's post.

Edited, May 14th 2013 1:47pm by azwing

Edited, May 14th 2013 1:48pm by azwing
#22 May 14 2013 at 3:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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One thing about WoW's vertical progression... it works much better than the alternative. For a long, long, LONG time, the level cap in FFXI was stuck at level 75. You know what happened? Some pieces of gear from the first expansions were still relevant much later in the game. Also, there were relatively harsh gating quests, and if you missed out on going through when content was current, good luck getting a group to do it later. At this point, I'm sure it would be extremely difficult to get a group to go back and run, say, HKM and Gruul as at-level content (for the 300th time) because DST is still a relevant melee DPS trinket. That's not to say that FFXI did everything wrong, that WoW has done everything right, or that FFXI didn't have other problems. But of the two games, one still counts subscribers in the millions, and the other doesn't. Blizzard is clearly doing something right.

More than anything, the sheer number of decent no-sub MMOs is doing more to whittle away at the WoW player base than any single WoW-killer big budget release. Economic times being what they are, it's hard for any company to sustain a premium subscription base.
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#23 May 14 2013 at 4:03 PM Rating: Excellent
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I don't think keeping gear of past raids viable for current content is a solution to anything. First, it would be hard to make so many pieces for the same slot differ from each other while still being comparable in power. You can only have so much different stat allocation variations with a certain ilevel. And then procs and on-use effects come into play. But those aren't unlimited in their variability either.

The only route I can think of would be a Path of the Titan -esque approach. Where you can gain character power by completing certain tasks. But even then you'd knock these quests out in the related dungeons and raids and then it becomes obsolete once again. The problem is not solved only delayed.
And what would the rewards be? +50 mainstat? According to Blizzards current philosophy that would be boring. And many agree on that. New spells/abilities? I don't see how that could possibly work. Either they would be completely situational/cosmetic or they'd need to introduce a sh*tload of new things that actually do something while not replacing your already learned skillset. And all the new abilities would need to be fit into existing rotations. How many buttons more to press before you can not perform your rotation/priority system to a satisfying degree anymore?
Any reward that is not cosmetic but gives actual power brings its own problems with it. Maybe I'm missing something but I don't see any solution that's superior to the system we have in place.

Edited for clarity. But I fear this post is still a mess. Smiley: lol

Second edit to add: If they introduce a new system that rewards you for doing the old raids with more character power, can any of you imagine how the forums would explode because Blizzard is FORCING us to do old raids!!!!111eleven

Edited, May 14th 2013 6:09pm by TherealLogros
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#24 May 14 2013 at 4:08 PM Rating: Excellent
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I VASTLY disagree. I've preferred pretty much all systems without WoW-style progression I've played, EVE and FFXI being the most notable.

WoW's popularity has literally nothing to do with its vertical progression philosophy to expansions. It has to do with being polished and accessible, neither of which FFXI were. And I played FFXI for a LONG time.

There's nothing fun about spending two years playing a MMO only to have all of that progress disappear overnight. That's why people have such an easy time leaving - you aren't actually LOSING anything. After an expansion launches, there's no difference between you and some other random newly-capped player. And if you don't bumrush cap, you're just going to fall behind.

To be blunt: I'd say that the vertical progression is easily WoW's absolute worst trait. The Cataclysm revamp was specifically an attempt to fix part of the problem that it had created (Leveling being a horrible chore because everything fun and current about the game happened in a small level span to cap).

The reality is that MMOs just aren't going to be fun if the entirety of the playerbase, and the content, is isolated to one small area.

Now, I'm not saying FFXI did their "horizontal" progression well. It was plagued with balance issues, first of all, and the accessibility of the content varied to such an absurd degree that it automatically invalidated the more ridiculous options (like Dynamis). But you know what? Even with how poorly handled it was, most players I knew had fun accessing content from multiple expansions, and were constantly traveling all around Vana'Diel. And because leveling was actually content, it mattered. You didn't just rush to level cap so you could start playing the game.

Was it implemented well? No. Maat fights/quests should never have existed, leveling should never have been quite as hard as it was, nor should balance have ever come out in favor of chaining IT+++ mobs , etc. But it still did something WoW didn't: make the current activity, whatever you were doing, matter.

I have nearly no interest in ever again playing a game with a WoW-esque model of progression. They aren't fun. If I wanted to play a brand new game every two years, I'd play a brand new game every two years. What I want expansions to do is revamp my game, not make irrelevant any work I've ever put into it.

To be completely honest, there's a reason sub numbers started plummeting with Cataclysm. It's because people were finally just too tired of starting over.
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#25 May 14 2013 at 5:15 PM Rating: Excellent
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But, what I realized is that pet battles have almost nothing to do with an MMORPG.


I don't know what you're on about. Pet PVP is srs bsns.


Edited to add: I am not such a fan of vertical progression either. I find the release of a new expansion very stressful, TBH. And yeah, okay, I find calling for a pizza very stressful, so there's a perspective issue there, but still. That looming feeling of OMG HURRY HURRY LEVEL GEAR UP GO GO GO or else you'll get left behind is awful. I'd much prefer to just chill and explore the new content at a leisurely pace. I suspect one reason I'm enjoying Pandaria is that I came back too late to ride the treadmill, so I'm just kind of hanging out. There's no pressure to spend my playtime doing things I don't want to do just so I can be raid-ready and maxed out in the right places. (That last bit sounds vaguely dirty.)

OTOH purely horizontal progression doesn't seem to work either. I adore Guild Wars 2. It's a beautifully done game, I love the graphics, the art style, the lore. The combat is KICKASS. But I am not playing GW2. Because there is not enough growth once you hit the level cap and not enough to do there (or there wasn't last time I checked). And here's the kicker - none of my characters are even at the level cap! But If you're building a character, you want to feel growth, development, immersion, all that good role-playing jazz. If you know there's a dead end looming, there's a sense of Why Bother that I have a hard time getting past.

I don't love "progression" in its current form, but right now it's the only viable synonym I've seen, from a mechanics perspective, for "growth."

Edited, May 14th 2013 7:31pm by teacake
#26 May 14 2013 at 7:03 PM Rating: Excellent
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Very few things you did leveling in FFXI mattered. With the exception of a few rare items that could be acquired in the 50-60 range, end-game started around level 65 for healers and support and 70+ for DDs and tanks. Same meaningless leveling content, but with the added bonus that you had to be a beastmaster or in a group to make any meaningful progress.

The biennial gear reset is important for WoW; otherwise, one of two things happens. Let's say that there was never a level cap increase, and we still had all the expansion content for BC, LK, Cata, and Mists. The people that were farming Naxx going into BC would find absolutely no challenge in content geared towards people that weren't raiding, and the people that weren't raiding would have no hope of completing content geared towards people that were clearing Naxx. There needs to be some form of character power progression in an RPG. It's pretty much a defining element of the genre, and it keeps people playing when they hit a wall. Can't beat boss X? Go out and gain a few levels/upgrade your gear, then come back to kick *** and chew bubblegum.

An alternate advancement system like path of the Titans lets characters gain more power, but it doesn't address dealing with groups of players with massively different capabilities. A gear reset, as annoying as it can be, puts everyone on more or less equal footing going into the new content.
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#27 May 14 2013 at 7:49 PM Rating: Excellent
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Here's the thing about FFXI: The people who were participating in "endgame" content were, by far, the minority population of players. We aren't even talking 20% here. We're talking a single digit percentage of players. So your dismissal of leveling as content is a serious issue here. I knew a lot of players in FFXI. I knew a lot of players who were not casual in FFXI. Know what they did? They leveled various jobs. They cornered markets. They crafted. They'd occasionally run the... whatever that PVP game was called. They'd do BCNM fights.

Almost no one fought the Gods, or did Dynamis. Most Monks could think of better uses for their time than sitting around and Boosting for 3 minutes to let out their one Chi Blast. Most players were more interested in trying the other jobs than doing the exact same thing on one the whole time.

If that's how you played FFXI, that's fine. But dismissing everything else as meaningless content is just plain absurd. Grinding up to 75, at least before they slashed the time it took to level, was months and months and MONTHS of work for people. Very, VERY few of them were doing that for any reason other than wanting to do it.

See, you're trying to make an argument against horizontal progression by holding up FFXI. The problem there is that your issues with FFXI aren't actually with horizontal progression - they're with the entire system. You considered the game to actually start at 65+, when the vast majority of players never even bothered with the content in that range. And there's just no way to control for that variable.

I liked horizontal progression. Do I think FFXI handled it well? No. It was poorly balanced and poorly implemented. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the concept, it just means that a game should probably have core gameplay that's less in shambles before you bother trying to launch an expansion, unless that expansion is specifically to target the problem that your core gameplay is in shambles.

Quote:
The biennial gear reset is important for WoW; otherwise, one of two things happens. Let's say that there was never a level cap increase, and we still had all the expansion content for BC, LK, Cata, and Mists. The people that were farming Naxx going into BC would find absolutely no challenge in content geared towards people that weren't raiding, and the people that weren't raiding would have no hope of completing content geared towards people that were clearing Naxx. There needs to be some form of character power progression in an RPG. It's pretty much a defining element of the genre, and it keeps people playing when they hit a wall. Can't beat boss X? Go out and gain a few levels/upgrade your gear, then come back to kick *** and chew bubblegum.


The problem with this arguments is that you are taking an aspect of vertical progression and then painting a horizontal picture that hasn't bothered to be adjusted for core design principles. It's a strawman argument, because no one in their right mind would expect you to be able to take WoW's current raid system, and just continue on with it horizontally.

Vertical character progression is fully possible in a horizontal system. One possible answer is to add, where wise, ways for your character to progress. Another is to allow for the creation of more diverse content, so the concept of progression isn't uniform. Right now (well, I assume this is still true), Blizzard made the absurd move to ensure that PvE and PvP progression follow roughly the same system, and they're both using an extremely uninteresting, unexciting ilvl system.

And it makes no sense. Instead of forcing every player to engage with every form of PVP, why not actually develop them into separate entities, so people can play what they want, progress in what they want, and specialize in what they want? If I want to focus on arenas, let me focus on arenas. You can structure progression so that it boosts my performance in BGs, sure. But being king of the arena shouldn't make me the best flag capper of all time.

How? Creating more interesting, more dynamic skill systems in conjunction with gear that is less basic and dumbed down would be part of it. In a PVP setting, skill tiers and a ladder would be another.

And the same thing goes for PVE content. Right now, dungeons are just mini-raids, and raids are the real content. How about they make dungeons one type of content (and see if you can return to the days where there are random aspects besides which boss you fight), make raids another, add a wave-based combat system (something like what you might see now in WvWvW combat in GW2, except with mobs), etc.

Then you have the "casual" content like crafting, home-building, etc. Don't have a pathetic "press okay until it's gray" system. Make it interesting. Yeah, raiders won't be interested in it overall. That's fine - you aren't making it to please the raiders.

Horizontal expansions in this aspect would focus on adding more ways to play for everyone. It would add or change up the existing content (which is how EVE generally handles it), and add more content. Some examples: In a dungeon system with random options, add more of them, add more ways to cross-skill, maybe add new settings that require different skills to succeed in, progress the story in an old one. Similar for raids, but on a more grandiose scale.

Oh, and the other thing, STOP TELLING THE STORY ENTIRELY THROUGH RAIDS.

Did the picture I just paint turn out perfect? **** no. I'm trying not to stray too far from the system WoW has now, which is a decidedly vertical progression system. And that's hard. But I'm not saying WoW should implement one now. It's way too late for that. I'm just saying that they can be amazing if the designers actually create a game to support one.

Edited, May 14th 2013 10:06pm by idiggory
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#28 May 14 2013 at 8:26 PM Rating: Excellent
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@idiggory:

RE: FFXI:

There's something wrong with the game when <10% of the total playerbase ever partakes of an entire facet of the said game. That means something is broken and is not functioning properly. IMO, FFXI Endgame was... very harsh, unforgiving, and it promoted very horrible behavior due to jealousy, the sheer lack of reward for doing events (MAYBE 1 person walks away happy from a god fight, but yet it takes 30+ or did back then, to kill said god). ONE in 40 people walk away from that happy, after a week's work? Eh yeah, bad system.

RE: Crafting: What do you think Sunsong Ranch is? It is hardly "Press OK Until Grey". They are adding NEW stuff. Give them time. Pet Battles. It ain't crafting, but yet it is an entire sub-game in of itself. Give em time, they're adding more awesome stuff to the game.

Edited, May 14th 2013 10:39pm by Lyrailis
#29 May 15 2013 at 4:44 AM Rating: Excellent
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The problem with adding more PvE content without the gear reset is that the content is either trivial to people that completed the last batch of content or inaccessible to the people that didn't. Unless you think people will continue to play without the ability to improve their character. The other thing we've seen in WoW is that, without the reset, crit chance and haste percentage go to obscene levels. While it's certainly fun for the players to crit on almost every hit, it breaks mechanics that proc off crit, and makes it nearly impossible to balance DPS. Upgrades become uninteresting if there is a hard-cap put on crit (say, 35%), and giving bosses ever-increasing crit suppression feels forced and arbitrary.

I go back to FFXI because, besides WoW, it's the MMO with which I have the most experience. For the people interested in the leveling experience, not raising the level cap actually hits them hardest of all because they will literally run out of game at some point. Crafting and gathering weren't level dependent, and so weren't affected by end-game stagnation.

Another game that I tried, briefly, is The Secret World. There's a lot in it to try to explain in a few paragraphs, but basically it was billed as a completely level-less, classless system. It's true, for the most part. They still use a form of trinity with support elements, but with 525 unique skills, there's a lot of room for variety. The problem the game has been running into, though, is what to do once the skill wheel is maxed out. What's left is gear progression or an AA system, but since the game is already essentially AA, adding to that is just a 'level increase' without calling it a level increase. So we're back to gear progression. If the gear upgrades are meaningful and interesting, new content has to be tuned to either people that have gear, excluding the entry level players, or it's trivial in difficulty to people that have completed that last set of content. FFXI (and WoW end-game in BC) showed what happens to players that don't get to do the content when it's current. Either they feel like an anchor to the rest of their team as the team goes back and tries to catch them up, or they struggle to get through the content.

As an aside, TSW has some amazing quests, but once you finish an investigation quest once, there's no mystery, and you have to wait until the next content patch for your next fix.
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#30 May 15 2013 at 7:34 AM Rating: Excellent
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I was never defending FFXI's system. Like I said, it was horribly balanced. That was my whole point - it's a problem when your example for why you dislike a system is a horrible example of said system. FFXI itself is problematic for this discussion, because it actually had extensive progression in both directions. All jobs on one character, and a long road to cap, created a vertical progression system far more intensive than anything WoW has ever had (even if you limit it to ONE job). And then at cap, it tried to transition into a horizontal system.

And that's my point. You design a game for horizontal progression, or you design it for vertical progression. That's the lesson learned from FFXI.

If you're trying to evaluate systems, you HAVE to do it all-things-considered.

The rest is actually a response to the issue of things like rising stats, etc. It's long.

You're discussing growing crit values, sky-rocketing stats, tiered content (the concept of clearing it and then a harder form of the same content type is released). These are issues because you're coming into the horizontal system specifically with the mindset of vertical progression.

That's the fundamental basis of vertical progression - it's a stepping block system.

Horizontal progression has aspects of vertical progression, of course (just as vertical progression has aspects of horizontal progression - that's fine).

But let's imagine you're building a rogue character, and you primarily play dungeon crawling content. To that end, you work to progress in areas that specifically benefit dungeon-crawling, like Stealth, Assassination, Traps, and "Tricks." Yes, at some point, it will be possible for you to catch up to the limits on these specific skills. But that's only an issue if you are ONLY interested in specializing your character into this very limited area of content. You can branch out into more content, new dynamics can be added to existing content, you can further specialize to be more useful in this type of content, etc.

The question here becomes a matter of how fast they can revamp content, and how fast you can progress. There is no realistic reason to consider this any slower than a tiered content system. On the contrary, when developers are being asked to build systems specifically to be edited and altered over time, it allows for a rate of expansion far above a tiered system. They don't need to build massive new zones with each content patch. Maybe one patch adds bomb skills for dungeon and raid content (to both players and mobs), maybe another adds fog of war and pathfinding skills, etc.

At the end of the day, veteran players are always progressing. And new players can still access the content, because even if veteran players have a stronger grasp on the content, they end up with skills that are strongly skewed across content areas (which is great in a horizontal progression system), rather than just the one.

And that's great! When there are tons of content areas, it's FUN to watch yourself progress through all of them.

I keep coming back to EVE, simply because EVE has the strongest horizontal content progression on the market right now. As a new player, it takes about two weeks to get to a point where you can competitively access the game. You can't access the game in TONS of ways, but you can be a solid competitor in the area you've first specialized in. And there are no blocks restricting you from accessing the other areas of content. It's literally nothing but progression, all the time, for both veteran players and newbies alike.

If you've been playing for two weeks, been training combat skills, and have specialized in one ship type (which is heavily suggested by game systems for newbies), you have already reached the point where you can definitely participate in PVP like low-sec roams (meaning, you join a fleet of ships and roam through relatively unsecured space to fight pirates, both NPC and player). It's not like in a vertical system where you'd have to spend two months leveling, then another month or two running dungeons, just to access the "real" content.

Because horizontal progression systems don't place a higher value on any content, like vertical systems do (in which, the highest-tier content is always the "best"). Everything is designed towards constant progression in player experience, rather than character experience. And that's awesome, imo.

That doesn't mean it can't be terribly implemented. The SNAFU of Secret World and FFXIV come to mind. But bad design is bad design - that doesn't come down to the vertical vs. horizontal debate, it comes down to the quality of the development. That's why I oppose FFXI as an example here. FFXI had TERRIBLE design, and it's impossible to objectively separate the content system from that issue, so it should not be used as an example. If you're going to use game examples, use the best each system has to offer.


Edited, May 15th 2013 9:35am by idiggory
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#31 May 15 2013 at 7:45 AM Rating: Excellent
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RE: Crafting: What do you think Sunsong Ranch is? It is hardly "Press OK Until Grey". They are adding NEW stuff. Give them time. Pet Battles. It ain't crafting, but yet it is an entire sub-game in of itself. Give em time, they're adding more awesome stuff to the game.


I wouldn't say the Ranch is awesome. It gets tedious far too soon and many people I know (me included) have stopped doing it entirely because it's so much nofun. At some point a few months past I read about the planned (and needed) oberhaul of FFIV. The part about the new profession system was extremely intriguing. I don't remember enough details and can't find a link, but if I stumble across it I will post it here. (Or maybe someone other than me can expand on this.) It sounded really great. But also it sounded like something that would be almost impossible to implement in WoW.

Edit: Found it.

Edited, May 15th 2013 9:54am by TherealLogros
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#32 May 15 2013 at 9:31 AM Rating: Excellent
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There you have it, another Wall O'Text by Rhode when he is short on coffee. Smiley: nod

Well for what it's worth it made a lot of sense.

Wall-o-text maybe, but it's always refreshing to hear some who's living in China offer perspective on the Chinese marketplace. It's something painfully lacking in most of the other discussions on this topic on other boards.
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#33 May 15 2013 at 7:49 PM Rating: Excellent
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Quote:
I wouldn't say the Ranch is awesome. It gets tedious far too soon and many people I know (me included) have stopped doing it entirely because it's so much nofun. At some point a few months past I read about the planned (and needed) oberhaul of FFIV. The part about the new profession system was extremely intriguing. I don't remember enough details and can't find a link, but if I stumble across it I will post it here. (Or maybe someone other than me can expand on this.) It sounded really great. But also it sounded like something that would be almost impossible to implement in WoW.


To each their own, I still enjoy Sunsong Ranch daily, on multiple characters.

Face it, planting 16x Windshear Cacti (taking 5 minutes to do so) and then logging on the next day to pick&plant is far, far, far better than mindlessly killing humanoid mobs for hours.

Same goes for planting Raptorleaf seeds. I'd rather take 5min to plant Raptorleaf plants and then log on next day to get 50-55 leather and possibly a Mag. Hide than to go out and kill&skin 50 mobs.

Also, the Snakeroot seeds are good too; you always get 16 trillium every day. Try looking for 16 trillium ore the old fashioned way, it'll take you a lot longer than 5 minutes of work.

The farm is a very awesome alternative to mindlessly killing/grabbing nodes.

Also, I very much enjoyed the Tillers questline and becoming a Master of the Ways on my main. That was quite fun.
#34 May 15 2013 at 8:24 PM Rating: Excellent
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It's something painfully lacking in most of the other discussions on this topic on other boards.


Thanks for taking the time to read that. Sadly, it is the sort of thing that I can explain here that would get ignored in the flurry of Cold War rhetoric.
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#35 May 16 2013 at 1:15 AM Rating: Excellent
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It's not so much that WoW is old is that Blizzard isn't doing anything all that new or innovative. Sure, they have a few gems here and there, but much of Blizzard's attempts at updating the game involve watering down things to the point there is no challenge left. I'm not looking for an EVE, I think it's a bit ridiculous, but long gone are the days where you had to actually put any effort into playing. Save for maybe raiding, it takes skill to die now. They've removed much of the risk and as a result watered down rewards. Even after adding cross-realm phasing they refused to bring back the group quests. Some of my fondest memories from WoW involved group quest chains like the ones out in the Plaguelands or BC (BC had some GREAT ones).

Sure, you can get a lot done very quickly, but none of those things feel very rewarding. I let my sub die and handed over my guild of 8 years a few months ago, and for the first time in 8 years, I don't miss it. It's not that I've been playing the same game for 8 years, but that the game I played 8 years ago has been turned into a chore.

As I've said to many of my friends, if I want to sit here doing mindless tasks for hours on end I'll do that with school/work/yardwork. At least I get something from it. I want a game, not a job, and it seems like in the process of satisfying people complaining about how much work went into an MMO, they actually turned a game into a job by making it pointless.
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#36 May 16 2013 at 1:16 AM Rating: Excellent
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You're trying to separate character growth through leveling and character growth through gear, but improving gear goes along with gaining levels. Any increase in raw character power (say, DPS, EF, or HPS) is some form of vertical progression. Your character becomes powerful, fights a tough opponent, and becomes more powerful.

Horizontal progression is learning a new skill, or learning a new way to perform a familiar skill without a noticeable increase in character power. Your character masters fighting with daggers, acquires the best dagger he can make/find, and the decides to learn archery. Archery isn't inherently better than fighting with daggers, it has certain situational advantages (good at medium to long range), but also drawbacks (weak at short range). By learning both, your character is now useful in a variety of situations. On the other hand, after learning archery, there isn't a huge motivation to learn, say, destructive magic. It fills basically the same role as archery, but does it slightly differently. The devs can encourage players to pick up destruction spells by making a host of enemies with high physical resistances, but that feels like a cheap ploy. Introducing an 'elemental arrow' skill to let archers bypass resistances would feel similarly gimicky; instead of being open about vertical progression, the devs are cutting the characters off at the knees and making the players work their way back to just be at the same power level they were already at.

What about skills besides dealing damage? There are a variety of support roles that I'm sure we're all familiar with, but at some point the abilities start to look and feel the same. Similarly, there are only so many ways to come up with new skills to handle infiltration and investigation quests that can't simply be brute-forced. Breaking magical wards, picking a key lock, cracking a safe, and hacking a computer might all be covered by different skills, but they are all really just different flavors of opening doors/containers.

What I'm trying to say is that horizontal progression games have a certain appeal for people that want to be completionists and master every skill in Skyrim or learn to pilot 8 different ships classes in EVE. That kind of approach isn't for everyone, though.
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#37 May 16 2013 at 3:36 AM Rating: Excellent
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@Lyrailis: Of course it is more efficient than grinding mobs. I did not try to dispute that. But it is not any more engaging or fun. It is just as mindless as grinding some enemies. It only takes less time. I'd prefer a system that is actually fun in itself and not because it is faster than the alternative. The one I linked from FFIV at least sounds like it could be entertaining (to me).
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#38 May 16 2013 at 5:17 AM Rating: Excellent
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TherealLogros wrote:
@Lyrailis: Of course it is more efficient than grinding mobs. I did not try to dispute that. But it is not any more engaging or fun. It is just as mindless as grinding some enemies. It only takes less time. I'd prefer a system that is actually fun in itself and not because it is faster than the alternative. The one I linked from FFIV at least sounds like it could be entertaining (to me).


The thing about that though, if I were to attempt to partake of that thing you linked.....

1). I'd have to buy -- and pay subscription fees -- on a whole 'nuther game.

2). I tested XIV back when it was in Open Beta. Much like FFXI (even moreso than XI) it all looked like a confusing mess, you had complicated systems that didn't seem to make sense, crafting looked as "bloated" as ever (you can't just grab some ore, smelt it and make a sword... no you need the ore, smelt it into bars then you need leather to make the wraps for the grip, you probably need a gem for a pommel stone, then you need to get some stone for a grinding stone, blah blah). Now, I realize they could have changed that since Beta, but.....

3). I don't really have TIME for another MMO.

So in light of the 3 points I pointed to above, I don't foresee myself quitting a game that I am already enjoying quite a bit (WoW) to go to a game I might or might not enjoy (given the history of the company making said game) just for a crafting system.

SE has... not performed well in my mind/opinion. Blizzard, on the other hand, has taken WoW to new levels of small-group friendly and/or added very awesome tools (LFR) to find groups for you without the need to sit in town shouting for groups, or throwing a flag up and HOPING someone finds you by a search sometime today. I have very unfond memories of spending hours LFG and logging off without getting anything whatsoever.

FFXIV would have to have the same type of systems (LFD/LFR/Automated LFG Matchmaking) for me to even consider trying it.

So, while WoW might not have an "OMG AWESOME SYSTEM!", I'll take whatever they do throw at us. Sunsong Ranch is still fun IMO. It only takes 5min, and it is better than mindlessly grinding mobs. I'll take it, gladly. Blizz has a good track record for coming up with improvements.

So maybe Sunsong Ranch isn't your ideal 'awesome', but who knows. Maybe the next Expansion might feature something even more kick-***. What did we have in Cataclysm for crafting, again? Right... we didn't have anything like this. They make vast improvements every expansion, and keep adding new things.
#39 May 16 2013 at 7:11 AM Rating: Good
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AstarintheDruid wrote:
You're trying to separate character growth through leveling and character growth through gear, but improving gear goes along with gaining levels. Any increase in raw character power (say, DPS, EF, or HPS) is some form of vertical progression. Your character becomes powerful, fights a tough opponent, and becomes more powerful.

Horizontal progression is learning a new skill, or learning a new way to perform a familiar skill without a noticeable increase in character power. Your character masters fighting with daggers, acquires the best dagger he can make/find, and the decides to learn archery. Archery isn't inherently better than fighting with daggers, it has certain situational advantages (good at medium to long range), but also drawbacks (weak at short range). By learning both, your character is now useful in a variety of situations. On the other hand, after learning archery, there isn't a huge motivation to learn, say, destructive magic. It fills basically the same role as archery, but does it slightly differently. The devs can encourage players to pick up destruction spells by making a host of enemies with high physical resistances, but that feels like a cheap ploy. Introducing an 'elemental arrow' skill to let archers bypass resistances would feel similarly gimicky; instead of being open about vertical progression, the devs are cutting the characters off at the knees and making the players work their way back to just be at the same power level they were already at.

What about skills besides dealing damage? There are a variety of support roles that I'm sure we're all familiar with, but at some point the abilities start to look and feel the same. Similarly, there are only so many ways to come up with new skills to handle infiltration and investigation quests that can't simply be brute-forced. Breaking magical wards, picking a key lock, cracking a safe, and hacking a computer might all be covered by different skills, but they are all really just different flavors of opening doors/containers.

What I'm trying to say is that horizontal progression games have a certain appeal for people that want to be completionists and master every skill in Skyrim or learn to pilot 8 different ships classes in EVE. That kind of approach isn't for everyone, though.


Like I said, no system is going to be 100% vertical or 100% horizontal progression, but rather is going to be primarily one or the other with regards to content.

Your character getting better at one skill is vertical progression, your character expanding into new skills is horizontal progression, yes.

But what you're refusing to do is stop considering all these skills in the context of a vertical progression system.

You are looking at the system and saying, "Well, if I have archery, I don't need destruction magic." And, you know what, that may end up 100% true. I also don't really see a problem there. It's perfectly okay for there to be multiple pathways to the same end; it adds diversity to play style options. This is particularly exciting now that the MMO genre seems to be finally moving away from the action-bar-WoW-style combat, where the actual play is largely the same for every class. So it's fine, when we're talking within the context of a limited content scenario (like, say, Raiding), that we're going to have skills that its unattractive for the same player to have. That said, it doesn't necessarily follow that you wouldn't want both skills in the context of a group setting.

But please, PLEASE, stop thinking about these skills purely within the context fo a WoW-style vertical content system. You're looking at a system that has a very limited scope of content that it releases completely new iterations of, rather than revamping it and releasing new forms of content instead.

Yes, when we are talking about a system so constricted so as to fall into 3 content areas (PVE, PVP-BGs, PVP-Arenas), multiple skills that perform similarly in one situation is a serious issues.

When we're talking about a system that has a large variety of content areas, however, it would be the epitome of bad design for that to always be the case.

Example, let's say we have the following PvE combat systems: WoW-ish style raiding (characterized by high-intensity boss fights), Dungeon-delving (more trash mobs and mini-bosses, but unmapped, randomized, and in groups of maybe 1-3 people), Siege Offense/Defense (you seize NPC-run holds, or defend one of your own factions', against large waves of mobs), etc.

Now, let's say that Archery's most significant strengths were the ability to regulate firing speed to alternate between high output and high crit firing. It has a generally low ability to manage AoE, but when combined with bomb and poison skills, it can do a decent enough job there.

Destruction Magic would be slower-casting and primarily produce high damage AoE attacks or CC. If you're slinging spells, they'll probably be lower damage type castings that you're doing for reasons other than direct damage (firing off a ton of low-cost frost spells for snares or something). Direct-damage options would certainly exist, but they'd take a back seat to the AoE stuff.

So you're probably thinking "But then their DPS might not be equal on raid bosses!" You're right, they wouldn't. And that's not an issue. Why? Because we aren't talking about a vertical content progression system.

A Destruction mage could be extremely helpful in Dungeon crawling, for their ability to help mow down groups of enemies. An archer would be useful for quickly dispatching pack leaders, or taking out something making a B-line for the Mage. Otherwise, they can produce suppressing fire, and there's a very good chance they would have skilled into poisons, bomb-making, traps, pathfinding, etc. that would make them VERY useful, even if they aren't only there for the content.

Likewise, in a raid environment, when looking for damage you're probably going to prefer to bring along archers than Destruction Mages. But maybe your fight has a fair amount of AoE (either in the boss fight, or to reach it), and you still want a Destruction Mage. Or maybe you really want a player with the other skills that a Destruction skill is apt to have, like Thaumaturgy, Enfeebling, or who knows what else.

Or, you know what? Maybe Destruction Mages only end up in raids if Destruction is the subskill they use to damage the boss in between doing other duties like healing, support, enfeebling, etc. And maybe that's fine, because their single-target options could be high-damage casts with high cooldowns, so they get to make the most of their Destruction skill AND their other skills.

But then we still have other types of PVE combat-based content. We have the castle-sieges, which would definitely have big boons for both skills in both situations, and there's probably a lot more content that could be available where you wouldn't necessarily be using those combat skills as the number one feature. Say, if they implemented army-command content. Yes, you'd be using your personal skills, and your personal skills might matter, but the various skills you had expanded into for army-command would be better.

Etc.

And that's not to say anything about other content areas those skills could come into play. Poison-making could be a super effective skill for general game play when you're hanging out in a pirate port. Trap Making would be super useful for people interested in being huntsman. Stealth is useful for Sieges, Dungeons, Crime (a content form where a faction gave you a mission of X with Y parameters, such as you can't be caught... or have to kill anyone who catches you, and rewards you based on performance), PVP, etc.

The philosophy that every skill has to be useful for all content is really a BAD one. That's why every stat and the talents have been so reduced to insignificance. And it's been necessary because there is no diversity in the content available. All their resources go into maintaining their vertical content system, and it leaves very, very little room for horizontal expansion at all. And that's a serious issue with the game.

If you want a world where endgame is extremely limited in scope, then yes--a skill system like this won't make sense. But in reality, skill systems in general just don't make sense, because everything will always come down to the cookie-cutter system. Because everyone is only interested in accessing one narrow form of content.
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#40 May 16 2013 at 2:48 PM Rating: Excellent
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Lyrailis wrote:

2). I tested XIV back when it was in Open Beta. Much like FFXI (even moreso than XI) it all looked like a confusing mess, you had complicated systems that didn't seem to make sense, crafting looked as "bloated" as ever (you can't just grab some ore, smelt it and make a sword... no you need the ore, smelt it into bars then you need leather to make the wraps for the grip, you probably need a gem for a pommel stone, then you need to get some stone for a grinding stone, blah blah). Now, I realize they could have changed that since Beta, but.....
3). I don't really have TIME for another MMO.

So in light of the 3 points I pointed to above, I don't foresee myself quitting a game that I am already enjoying quite a bit (WoW) to go to a game I might or might not enjoy (given the history of the company making said game) just for a crafting system.

SE has... not performed well in my mind/opinion. Blizzard, on the other hand, has taken WoW to new levels of small-group friendly and/or added very awesome tools (LFR) to find groups for you without the need to sit in town shouting for groups, or throwing a flag up and HOPING someone finds you by a search sometime today. I have very unfond memories of spending hours LFG and logging off without getting anything whatsoever.

FFXIV would have to have the same type of systems (LFD/LFR/Automated LFG Matchmaking) for me to even consider trying it.


....damned NDA. The TOTALLY NEW FFXIV-ARR will be going into Phase 3 (PS3 testing) of the closed Beta in a few weeks. Open Beta will commence directly after that. I strongly encourage you to give the Open Beta a shot. Smiley: nod
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#41 May 16 2013 at 5:12 PM Rating: Excellent
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Lyrailis wrote:
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I wouldn't say the Ranch is awesome. It gets tedious far too soon and many people I know (me included) have stopped doing it entirely because it's so much nofun. At some point a few months past I read about the planned (and needed) oberhaul of FFIV. The part about the new profession system was extremely intriguing. I don't remember enough details and can't find a link, but if I stumble across it I will post it here. (Or maybe someone other than me can expand on this.) It sounded really great. But also it sounded like something that would be almost impossible to implement in WoW.


To each their own, I still enjoy Sunsong Ranch daily, on multiple characters.

Face it, planting 16x Windshear Cacti (taking 5 minutes to do so) and then logging on the next day to pick&plant is far, far, far better than mindlessly killing humanoid mobs for hours.

Same goes for planting Raptorleaf seeds. I'd rather take 5min to plant Raptorleaf plants and then log on next day to get 50-55 leather and possibly a Mag. Hide than to go out and kill&skin 50 mobs.

Also, the Snakeroot seeds are good too; you always get 16 trillium every day. Try looking for 16 trillium ore the old fashioned way, it'll take you a lot longer than 5 minutes of work.

The farm is a very awesome alternative to mindlessly killing/grabbing nodes.

Also, I very much enjoyed the Tillers questline and becoming a Master of the Ways on my main. That was quite fun.


As you say, to each their own. But, in my opinion, this is exactly one of the big problems with WoW over the course of its development. Immersion is sacrificed for the sake of convenience.

Yes, I get it. It gets old farming mats in the world. But, to me, farming enchanting mats, or ore, or cloth from a plot of ground in Sunsong Ranch is just not immersive. It's a gimmick to keep people playing that don't want to be bothered with actually, you know, playing the game. If it's really that much of an inconvience to get out in the world and interact with it, perhaps you've outgrown the game.

I don't intend this to be a slam on you Lyrailis, your post just illustrates something I think has been a steady downward trend in the game for a long time. Convience trumps immersion.

As for the farm itself...I got bored with it really quickly. It's not fun. Fighting stupid beasts over and over just when I just want to plant something or clear a plot is totally irritating, in my opinion
#42 May 16 2013 at 5:33 PM Rating: Good
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
...tldr

The philosophy that every skill has to be useful for all content is really a BAD one. That's why every stat and the talents have been so reduced to insignificance. And it's been necessary because there is no diversity in the content available. All their resources go into maintaining their vertical content system, and it leaves very, very little room for horizontal expansion at all. And that's a serious issue with the game.

If you want a world where endgame is extremely limited in scope, then yes--a skill system like this won't make sense. But in reality, skill systems in general just don't make sense, because everything will always come down to the cookie-cutter system. Because everyone is only interested in accessing one narrow form of content.


Just kidding on the tldr part. I read it all. I agree with you and really enjoy a lot of your recent posts in this of discussion. You are able to put into words, quite effectvely, what I think/feel, but can't quite organize into a coherent post.

The homogenization of classes and skills is a good illustration, in my opinion, of exactly what you're talking about. Yes, needing a specific class/spec combo for a fight could be a pain in the ***, but it was also cool to have more unique characters that didn't just feel like everyone else.
#43 May 16 2013 at 6:27 PM Rating: Good
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I think it's important to note that I'm not advocating one system as better than the other. I think I personally prefer horizontal content systems, but I think there's plenty of room in the market for both (and those in between). What's important is that these games are well-balanced, well-designed, well-supported, and well-advertised.

It's fully possible that there is a substantial population of gamers out there that are only interested in the kind of game where you are constantly vertically progressing through a single type of content. And I think that's absolutely fine - the point of a game is for people to have fun, and people who only enjoy one form of content shouldn't be forced to play others. That said, I don't think it's wise game design to try and please everyone.

I also think, due to the increasing popularity of games like Skyrim and EVE, as well as the excitement around FFXIV's and TSW's (and to a lesser extent, RIFT's) skill systems before those games had their atrocious launches, that there's clearly a market for the alternative. There just isn't a solid option in the fantasy rpg mmo genre yet. FFXI is the closest we have, and it's not realistic to label it a competitor.

I feel like both are viable from a game design standpoint. What I don't think is that a vertical progression system is going to work with a horizontal content system (a la FFXI), or that a horizontal progression system is going to work with a vertical combat system (a la some game that uses WoW's approach to gear, stats and leveling but doesn't use level-cap jumps).

Like everything, it just comes down to good design and innovation. And that's something the MMO genre has been desperately lacking the past 5 years or more.
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#44 May 16 2013 at 8:18 PM Rating: Excellent
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Vorkosigan wrote:
Lyrailis wrote:

2). I tested XIV back when it was in Open Beta. Much like FFXI (even moreso than XI) it all looked like a confusing mess, you had complicated systems that didn't seem to make sense, crafting looked as "bloated" as ever (you can't just grab some ore, smelt it and make a sword... no you need the ore, smelt it into bars then you need leather to make the wraps for the grip, you probably need a gem for a pommel stone, then you need to get some stone for a grinding stone, blah blah). Now, I realize they could have changed that since Beta, but.....
3). I don't really have TIME for another MMO.

So in light of the 3 points I pointed to above, I don't foresee myself quitting a game that I am already enjoying quite a bit (WoW) to go to a game I might or might not enjoy (given the history of the company making said game) just for a crafting system.

SE has... not performed well in my mind/opinion. Blizzard, on the other hand, has taken WoW to new levels of small-group friendly and/or added very awesome tools (LFR) to find groups for you without the need to sit in town shouting for groups, or throwing a flag up and HOPING someone finds you by a search sometime today. I have very unfond memories of spending hours LFG and logging off without getting anything whatsoever.

FFXIV would have to have the same type of systems (LFD/LFR/Automated LFG Matchmaking) for me to even consider trying it.


....damned NDA. The TOTALLY NEW FFXIV-ARR will be going into Phase 3 (PS3 testing) of the closed Beta in a few weeks. Open Beta will commence directly after that. I strongly encourage you to give the Open Beta a shot. Smiley: nod



I could try it I suppose.

Hopefully the patcher/installer actually works this time and I don't have to download it via uTorrent this time lol.

One thing I really miss from FFXI is the whole cat-girl thing. Draenei are cool but... I miss my Mithra and the XIV version kinda looked cool too, I forget what they were called. Didn't play it long enough for the name to stick.

Edited, May 16th 2013 10:20pm by Lyrailis
#45 May 17 2013 at 9:15 AM Rating: Decent
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Here's how I look at it. You've played the game since 2004, as I have too, thats 9 years of your life put into a game, of course its going to get old for you, I mean heck, look how far call of duty is, when wow was released they were only on the 2nd call of duty. There is noone who can say that any mmo did it better, look at subscriptions. They do prove that wow is by far the most successful game ever, there has never been a game that has sold as much or made a company as much money as wow.
#46 May 17 2013 at 9:17 AM Rating: Decent
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Heck name any other game thats made over 20 billion dollars in its lifetime
#47 May 17 2013 at 9:19 AM Rating: Excellent
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Streikes wrote:
They do prove that wow is by far the most successful game ever, there has never been a game that has sold as much or made a company as much money as wow.
If you ignore Mario.
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#48 May 17 2013 at 10:27 AM Rating: Decent
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lolgaxe wrote:
Streikes wrote:
They do prove that wow is by far the most successful game ever, there has never been a game that has sold as much or made a company as much money as wow.
If you ignore Mario.


A lot of Mario titles came with the initial purchase of the system. I know that was the case with the NES and SNES, but don't recall if that was the case for the N64.

WoW is a cash cow based on the monthly subscriptions, cash shop, and character services, but I don't think it would rank anywhere near the top 10, maybe not even 20, as far as best selling. Furthermore, would the expansions figure into sales numbers or not, being that they're not stand alone titles. With Mario it was just the cartridge, no expansions.
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#49 May 17 2013 at 10:33 AM Rating: Good
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No one is arguing that WoW wasn't a good game, or that WoW's systems are terrible. I'm arguing it's about time someone developed a game with meaningful horizontal progression, as I believe there's room in the market for one (and that people are burned out on vertical progression systems, as it's all they get nowadays).

But it's also somewhat absurd to imagine that WoW was successful because it was innovative, or because it was intrinsically better by a huge margin than all other games available at the time.

WoW was launched by a developer who already had a lot of notoriety into a relatively new MMO market, relative to the size of the population aware of it, as an expansion onto a game series that was already extremely popular. I mean, WC3 sold over 1 million copies in the first week. WC3 came out in 2002, TFT in 2003, and WoW followed in 2004. It's difficult to imagine a more perfect timeline for a product range, from a marketing perspective.

WoW also launched at a solid point in the MMO timeline. Enough games had already come out that there was a decent awareness of what was generally working or not working, and WoW managed to have slightly more polish than its competitors. It wasn't amazingly polished comparatively - nothing like the difference now. But enough that it was easy to transition into.

And that was its other major feature. It was generally accessible. Not endgame, of course. Endgame wasn't all that much more accessible than FFXI's (and leveling to cap actually was a feat). But the game itself wasn't super deep. It still had plenty of blocking features, like weapon skilling and poor balance, but it was solid.

Overall, WoW was a solid effort launched at the perfect time. And I don't say that to discredit Blizzard's accomplishments at all. WoW was made accessible by very, very wise marketing and development from that point on. But the vast majority of players joined WoW during TBC, and expansion continued into Wrath. Cataclysm reversed that trend, and MoP accelerated it.

And that brings me to the most important point: You REALLY can't argue sales as support for a vertical progression system when discussing WoW, for 3 major reasons:

1. The vast majority of players couldn't access content, period, in vanilla. Raiding required you to reach cap, run dungeons and build a raiding set (fire resist HO!), be a non-useless class (loldruid), get 40 people together, and be able to invest a ton of time in actually raiding. And gold was hard to come by back then, so raiding needed to be supported by a lot of time spent farming. It took a long time to access content, and a long time to progress through it. Most people who raided (distinct from "Raiders") were still on Ragnaros when BC was announced.

2. Because we are talking about the effect of a vertical content system on the perceptions of progression, you can't just look at success and call it a day. If most of the expansion happened in BC, then by the time those players left at the end of Wrath, they had only faced the reset once. We don't have any information on how long current subscribers joined WoW. Has WoW been sustaining high sub numbers by roughly matching the ubsubs with new subs? If they lose a ton of players each expansion just to replace them, it's something we can use for the sake of vertical progression. If, on the other hand, those are all players who joined for BC and have played since, then it's looking a lot better.

Cata makes this even more difficult, as they've had BIG pushes in marketing towards new players with both those expansions, Cata in particular. Who knows how successful those were.

As we don't have that info, we realistically can't use it as proof either way.

3. WoW's dominance still can't count as proof in the vertical vs. horizontal debate, because no horizontal competitor has yet to launch. For all we know, 70% of people playing WoW would REALLY prefer something else, but are settling. Or maybe none of them would.

We have no way of knowing, because we don't have that data.


Statistics are only useful relative to context. WoW's sub numbers can tell us its a successful name, they tell us Blizzard did many things right, they tell us a lot of people, in general, enjoyed the game, they tell us that WoW dominates the competitors from a consumer perspective.

What they don't tell us is anything about game design.
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#50 May 17 2013 at 10:39 AM Rating: Excellent
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lolgaxe wrote:
Streikes wrote:
They do prove that wow is by far the most successful game ever, there has never been a game that has sold as much or made a company as much money as wow.
If you ignore Mario.

I can't find numbers for Mario, I has google fail... Smiley: frown

Best I could do:

Linky

Linky

One doesn't have $$$ amounts, the other isn't adjusted for inflation.


Edited, May 17th 2013 9:40am by someproteinguy
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#51 May 17 2013 at 10:52 AM Rating: Good
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ACLinjury wrote:
A lot of Mario titles came with the initial purchase of the system.
That's misleading. Those titles that came with the initial system purchase also cost roughly $50 more. You weren't getting the game for free in any sense of the word. Second, my argument is simply that Mario has been pulling in money pretty much hand over fist for Nintendo for more than three decades. If you want to argue "WoW is by far the most successful game ever," then you have to take that into account. World of Warcraft has sold merchandise like cards, clothes, toys, and expansion packs. Mario 1 has sold merchandise like cards, clothes, toys, and sequels.

Depends where you draw the line I suppose.
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