Friday, August 7, 2009

Philosophy Change, or "The Customer Is Always Right"

Okay, so customers are not always right. But if you look over recent changes in the game, things like the new druid skins and pending faction transfers, things that don't change core gameplay and aren't "essential" by any means, you might agree that Blizzard has changed its focus away from the purity of the game and into focusing on the customer.

It seems to me, now that we're getting all this stuff, nothing of the game has changed except that it's an overall more pleasant place to be. Yes, class specs and utility and dailies and quests -- they get their regular tweaks, and plenty of folk pick over whether those changes are good or bad.

But the heart of the game, the pure core that so many, even the game's programmers, seemed bent on protecting no matter what -- I think they had it wrong. Not that the game didn't have a core, or that it wasn't important, but what that core was. Refusing to allow transfers from PVE to PVP servers, for example -- things like that maintained a certain purity and control over what the player had the right to do, what the player had earned, and what the game was all about. It defined WoW as something restrictive and elite. The programmers had tailored the game's rules (and features) to reflect their viewpoint of what the game should be. (Something not unlike a hardcore raid guild.)

Lately, the game has become more about fun, options, and just out-and-out enjoying yourself. The hardcores still have their hardcore pursuits (whether you think they've been dumbed down or not), but the moderates and casuals are finally getting some love.

I think the programmers have started to see the game's core as the people instead of the game. So now they give us things we can enjoy just for the sake of enjoyment, and they've made the players the most important thing. And when they do that, no matter what type of playstyle you have, you win.

Please don't argue about what in the game needs to be fixed or how Group A getting what they want means Group B gets shafted. My argument is that Blizzard's focus has changed from narrow to broad and that my game enjoyment has improved because of it. I'll also go as far as saying "No, this change has not and will not destroy WoW." Alarmists are always 100% wrong. This includes me when I get alarmed.


  1. But I want moar! :D

    I've been feeling the same for awhile. It may be silly but I *like* being able to get my hair done in game. I'd love to use my Alchemy to produce worthless things like a Bathbomb (Turn any body of water fizzy and a bright soothing color for 3 minutes) and body butter (adds the buff Silky Smooth - "You feel silky smooth and smell like kiwis and bergamot! Yum!"). Granted that will never happen (drrrrat)... BUT... the fun stuff for the larger portion of their customer base is certainly where Blizz needs to continue to go.

    I spent many of my earlier years in customer service, and yah the customer isn't always right... but a company does have to figure out which customers are shelling out the bucks and what for. And then please them.

    I break it down in my tiny little noggin like this:

    In WoW there are people (including Blizzard's designers, for the most part) that are playing a game to beat it. Then there are people who are playing a game to experience it.

    Kinda like the difference between those wargamer guys and role players. For one it's all about rules, numbers and winning. For the other it's about just playing.

    I think WoW has a lot more of the latter than the former... and I think it kinda startled Blizzard, who was all about war game style playing, that they could do a more open ended kind of game so well.

    I hope they going with it.

  2. Having played WoW off and on since the day after release, I've watched the trends of the game design change over time.

    When first released WoW looked like it would be the new hardcore paradise...challenging 40 man raids, 9 classes, the promise of eventual PvP that would reward playtime and dedication.

    The first few months went by and the game expanded, friends got their friends to play, their friends go their spouses to play...and exploded in popularity. WoW became a game not just of the hardcore MMO players, but a game many different styles can enjoy.

    Personally, I think Blizzard wants to give things to all types of player. In the past they really did cater to the harder-core crowd, but now they also do things for other play styles and I think it's great.

    What bugs me most are these forum posts that start with "now you're ignoring the player base that made WoW work!" which A. They aren't ignoring anyone, and B. They may have started it off, but now there's plenty of people on the bus and it's not fair to ignore the vast majority either.

  3. I totally 100% agree. Much more fun. :D

  4. Being handed a reward, or earning a reward, are different things.

    It's too late for anyone's opinions to do anything about it, but I feel the difficultys of that 'core game' are a large portion of what made the rewards matter. You may mock the 40 people working hours for little reward, however if you've ever been on voice chat with those 40 when Ragnaros fell for the first time, you know what an earned reward is. 35 of them will walk home without an item, and a big repair bill, but glowing at the victory... and do it again the second they are allowed.

    The slow errosion of that mentality neutered the game for me. Now days my old raiding characters walk through the world as ghosts, slowly disabling channels in disgust at what the game is turning into. I don't mean the 'easy mode' of the game, I mean the "world of myspace drama" which has erupted as such casual methods have become the norm. It's either cock-jokes, Pwn talk, or i r girl look'it me. There is no need to be on even civil human behavior, as there is no talent required for content... no rules needed to be followed by a guild capable of doing content, with the threat of being kicked for saying cockburgler 20x in trade. And as the ever degrading quality of people who feel entitled to the same rewards as those who put an effort for them increases, the purpose of having trade chat on dies... then local defence... then looking for group... even general.

    Slowly my characters go deaf, in an attempt to drown out the death of the game. While it's easy to laugh, and say 'oh, they're making it more fun for casual players, you just don't want change', it's harder to stop and think about it. I don't want the game some-what difficult so I have to grind 10 hours to get anything... I want the game to be some-what difficult so that it matters.

    An unearned reward given to an ungrateful child makes a spoiled brat. And such is the modern wow-player. Give me a team of 40, working together like a single machine, and proudly walking away with a single prize over free handouts and PvP content any day.


  5. /comfort

    It sounds to me like you miss the pleasure of a dedicated, honorable, and upstanding team more than just 40-mans. From what you say, and correct me if I'm wrong, it was the pleasure of strong teamwork (and the reward of success) that you valued. I have to agree with that sentiment, but I will also argue that teamwork and upstanding guilds still exist, though it's easy to get discouraged by the "spoiled brats." I won't say the brats don't exist -- they do. But I think they are a smaller percentage of the population than they seem -- they're just louder than everyone else combined.

    Try not to let the morons get you down, and if your current guild is a myspace or drama llama or everyone is playing stupid political games, don't be afraid to get your friends and join (or start) one you can respect.

    We have a family guild, and we raid pretty well even though we're not "hardcore," but you may agree with (or think about) some of our methods if you start your own guild, or perhaps suggest the things you like to your current guild leaders.

    The best descriptions of our guild are through the posts on The Family Business, but if there's something in particular you want to know, I can get the boys to post on specific questions.

  6. quick response, must be the servers being down ;)

    I'm actually all but unguilded for a while now. I had taken a few months to focus on college, and came back to an empty house. They had all taken a free server change to get clear of the overwhelming idiocy of our server. They were a 60% business/40% fun group... silly enough that voice chat was always filled with laughs, but serious enough that you could safely assume everyone would do their job correctly every time. The philosophy that 'the game is more fun if you do it right'. Only three or four of us left, on totally different scheduals.

    Logically, I know I should probably do the same, yet the server has been my home since beta. I have no intrest in forming a guild (I've had that job before in a raiding guild, never again).

    Regardless though, I stray from my point. I miss the thought that was needed in the game. I miss CC... I haven't seen anything sheeped in an instance (other then people dueling eachother) since Wrath. I miss fights where a slight mistake can ruin a fight (even trash), but quick thinking can save it (tree goes bear for emergancy taunt, or evasion tanking rogue when tank goes down, or a warlock using enslave-banish-sudduce to control 3 things at once). I miss the days when I would see ANYONE else use interrupts (kick/silence/ect).

    Short version is this: I want players to know more about their characters then the cast rotation, or suffer for it. I want there to be content that you can't get to if you can't play your class.

    I fully agree that there needs to be a VAST amount of content for the average player. Simple because they are the largest part of the population, and the game is about having fun in everyones own way. In fact, the current situation wouldn't bug me so much if there was even 2-3 instances which were just hard. The kind of hard where a single person AFK kills everyone. The kind of hard which takes 2-3 runs to finish even doing it right. A cold unforgiving hell which is just 'the place we don't go'. Have the gear SLIGHTLY better then what's avaible outside, but barely worth the effort. And for once have Blizz say "No, these are ment to be damn hard. If you're having trouble, try another instance, but these will not be changed." Give me a 25 and 40 man version of that, and I'll be happy. :)

  7. I totally understand needing a challenge. :) Things are more fun when you feel like you've accomplished something.

    That's a shame about your guild transferring. I know if we decided to transfer, we'd have to leave some people who couldn't afford it, and that's why we don't. :/ Plus, we have a lot of bill-paying adults who'd rail against spending frivolous amounts of money even if they have the cash to do it. Several of them have had to leave the game for a few months at a time to manage their financials and whatnot, and I just don't see them explaining to their wives "No, honey, I had to transfer three characters off Zuluhed. Why? I got them to 80, that's why! I'm not gonna leave them behind! *incredulous*"


  8. If I had any sense I'd have left with them when the free transfers were up. I don't know if it's the same on the lower pop servers, but my home server is loaded with farming-bots, spammers, even to the point that every day there are TWO companys which use bots to spell out their websites on the ground in bodies in the capitols of both sides. Trade consists of website spam, lfg, arguments, and people spamming "ANAL [insert link to ability]" (ANAL [SUNDER], oh yeah? ANAL [EVASION] and so on)... After being gone for several months, I log back in to see the same thing going on, and started killing channels. It's quiet now, heh...

    It's probably just a dream, but I imagine lower pop servers as being better. Part of me wants to just leave when transfers are back for mine, but really I don't know if it would be better, and it is my home.

  9. Our server was lower pop until they put us on Recommended status for new players, and now we're medium. There's probably less spam and botting, but general chat channels will draw the immature crowd no matter where you are, I imagine. :/

    I've found, through several rerolls early on, that home can be wherever you're happy. If your old guild would love to have you back and you them, I'd urge you to go for it if you get the chance.


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