Warcraft Designers Reflect on Mists of Pandaria

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,

Qelric

Be sure to check out the great new reputation preview for 5.4 by Perculia over at Wowhead.

 

 

Comments

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Pandas
# Aug 29 2013 at 8:39 AM Rating: Decent
2 posts
I don't really understand why so many people "can't stand" pandas... Unless it's because they're constantly telling you to "slow downnnnn" while you continue to speed through the game only to get bored at the end because "there's nothing else to do". LOL
Not dying
# Aug 27 2013 at 8:42 AM Rating: Decent
15 posts
No it's not dying. It's stable. Yeah subs have dropped, but they'll go up again. Then drop again. Then even out again. It's what happens. You're going to have people leaving, then coming back, leaving, coming back. rinse and repeat. It's going to die any time soon at all. Like when ESO comes out. Once more subs will drop as people want to try it. people want to try out other games-it's a naturally occuring cycle that I've seen happen. Then when the expansion comes out next year subs will undoubtedly increase.

Another excellently (is that a word?) written topic
# Aug 24 2013 at 9:10 AM Rating: Decent
15 posts
I think the conclusions they'll come to are:

1) QQers leaving because the ingame store is going to make WoW P2W. When it blatantly won't.
2) It is far too easy now. It's just impossible to have a challenge now because there's so many addons. There's just so many that when it comes to raids, it's pointless learning the mechanics of some bosses because the addons do the work for you-all you have to do is move out the way. Some like GTFO can be handy though-there are times during a 25 man that there's so much happening at once, you can't see what's beneath you. By the time you do notice-"Somebody rez me please". I'd like a challenge. Yes the newer raids will be far more of a challenge on normal/HC difficulty, but the levelling process is far too quick.
3) There are too many dailies. Even I acknowledge this. I have no problem doing 4 or 5 a day-perfectly fine with that. But when there's an endless line of them just to grind rep to get a piece of gear it's just.....bleh! Removing the need to grind them for rep is an absolute god send. And I would like to kiss Blizz in a manly way for doing so.
4) People want to finish the game too fast and as a result get bored when there's "nothing else to do". When there is other stuff to do. Once they "finish" the game (which you can't do anyway as it's always evolving expansion wise anyway) they start QQing on the forums saying the game is dying or whatever. And it sort of ties into point 2-players do fly through it because of the lack of a real challenge. Though at the same time, many fail to realise there is absolutely no rush to get everything done. They should take a chill pill and do other stuff. Pet battles, explore, dungeons with friends, even RP aswell. There is a long list. Once they THINK they're done-they'll unsub and go elsewhere sadly. They expect to be given new content on a platter just because they finish quickly.
5) New games coming out.
6) Change in the community. People who started playing a while back will more than likely have less time due to new committments like job, family etc. so they may see it as no longer being feasible to stay subbed. Plus the newer generation could be so used to high quality graphics on consoles they may be put off by WoW's graphics. The new generation of gameplayer is less tolerant of poor graphics these days. You get shouted down on forums because you're computer isn't as good as there's for example.
7) There's more people complaining about the cost of subs-which is just ridiculous. Works out at roughly about 30p a day to play it. That 30p from millions of players is basically keeping the game going. Take it away and it's bye bye WoW. It should never go F2P imo.

And I'm stopping there. To be honest Blizz could come up with an endless list of reasons. Some will be valid some will be....facepalmish. It's all subjective really.
Another excellently (is that a word?) written topic
# Aug 26 2013 at 11:33 AM Rating: Good
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Threnden wrote:
I think the conclusions they'll come to are:

...snip...


Most of what you listed has been said for years about Everquest. I would suggest it is the natural progression of an old game. WoW is old, and has retained a huge playerbase all things considered.

The popularity of Minecraft amongst younger gamers has poked a huge hole in the "graphics must be bleeding-edge amazing" notion. Gameplay trumps all.

I played EQ when the WoW beta stole the uber guilds, and the WoW launch (combined with EQ2 launch, combined with the worst expac launch in EQ history) resulting in the game population seeming to half in less than a year. WoW is not falling off that kind of cliff.

They'd probably see a big spike up if they added a 2nd race to MoP... personally I can't stand the pandas but love the monk class. While true the world seemed somewhat panda heavy at times, I also know a lot of people that felt the same way (refuse to play panda).
Another excellently (is that a word?) written topic
# Aug 26 2013 at 10:44 PM Rating: Good
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Threnden wrote:
I think the conclusions they'll come to are:

...snip...



I think Blizzard is smarter than that.


WoW is dying, Every game (especially MMOs) has a life cycle they go through. The more you understand that cycle the better you can prolong the game and even ease it into the next phase instead of being jolted into it by surprise. Blizzard has been good with some of the life cycle but it will end and WoW will never be what it was in its prime, ever.
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