Which Design Aspects will Fade into the Mists?
Blizzard's initial announcement that it would be removing the cap on dailies for Mists of Pandaria was generally met with applause from World of Warcraft players. Even my fiancé welcomed the change, for he was always one to spend a relaxing evening doing dailies - and still is. But it would seem lead designer Tom Chilton now regrets the decision.
“We shot ourselves in the foot when we removed the limit on the daily quests that you could do,” explained Chilton to PCGamersN. “So there was a pressure to maximize everything… and that really leads [players] to burn out.”
At max level, players currently have several factions to gain reputation with if they want access to the various epic items sold by individual quartermasters and, if players don't like doing dailies, there's always LFR to gear up in, (assuming you have the ilvl to enter and the patience to endure it). All this changes in Patch 5.4 - which is scheduled to hit live servers on Sept 10 - for Valor items will have their rep requirements removed.
Like it or not, there will always be players who feel compelled to take every possible course of action in order to not fall behind in the race to gear up for raiding. Even players who dislike dailies will do them. For some, it can feel like a chore but a 'necessary' time sink despite Blizzard's numerous statements insisting that dailies are optional. Unfortunately, the mere fact that doing dailies is the fastest way to gear up has inevitably led to it becoming the 'only' way for many. An interview with Dave Kosak confirmed that Blizzard has come to understand this.
"The one thing we never quite hit on was that sort of balance that made dailies feel good to do but also feel optional. We wanted it to feel like an alternate way if you weren't getting lucky in raids. Like, it's okay, your daily might give you something."
With that said, I have to wonder what the alternative could, or should, be. In Wrath of the Lich King reputation was acquired through the use of faction tabards and a lot of 5-man dungeon runs, but Blizzard became unhappy at how quickly players consumed 'content,' levelling multiple alts to max and then gearing them in record time. Personally I loved this model, but then group content has always been my focus in the world's number one MMO, World of Warcraft.
Something else Tom Chilton bemoaned is players’ lack of desire to explore Azeroth, following only the quest markings on their mini-maps. “I think we’ve really trained players over the years to say 'If there’s no quest or mark on the map that tells me to go in that cave, I’m wasting my time'."
To be honest, hasn't this always been the case? Before WoW's own in-game quest tracker received substantial upgrades, everyone I know used an add-on. Haven't we always followed arrows to quest objectives and taken the shortest route there?
Clearly Blizzard is exploring possible reasons for the decline in WoW's subscription base, defending its stance on embracing casual players yet acknowledging a lack of "new experiences for the hardcore audience." What conclusions do you think they will come to?
Penny for your thoughts,
Be sure to check out the great new reputation preview for 5.4 by Perculia over at Wowhead.