WoW: couldn’t have said it better

There were two separate blog posts yesterday that hit the mark for me. They encapsulated two very core frustrations I have with the game and why I’m not keen to re-subscribe in a hurry.

Rohan talks about ammo and reagents, now largely removed from the game. I think these little items and the choices attached to them *were* important. It’s like the off the cuff list I gave in the comments of my post linked above – things like spell ranks and weapon skills. As Rohan says in his conclusion:

Fewer decisions make for a less interesting game. You can see this in WoW leveling. All those small decisions that you used to make while leveling have been smoothed away.

Milady has an excellent post on world simplification, which is another more pernicious type of ‘nerfing’ that came in with the Cataclysm revamp of Azeroth. I’ve tried to state this in blog posts and comments before but this one clear example of the Tower of Azora in Elwynn Forest neatly sums up the problem. It’s not that the quality of the storytelling in post Cataclysm Azeroth is necessarily bad, but that it’s all very obvious and direct.

So what is the use of the Tower of Azora to the traveler? It sparks her imagination. And, at level 21, she can get a quest from there. But she must have had to be directed there by some mishap or by another player.

I can’t really add anything to these two excellent posts – I’d recommend reading both of them and then answer the question for yourself; has all the streamlining of the game really made it better?

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8 Responses to WoW: couldn’t have said it better

  1. bhagpuss says:

    Back in 2004 I was mainly playing a max-level cleric in Everquest, doing full group content most days. One of my responsibilities was to keep everyone buffed with the big Hit Point increasing line, which by that point ended at Hand of Virtue, which would buff the full group on a single cast. It used two Peridots for the reagent. Peridots cost around 10 plat each, a non-trivial sum especially if you ended up casting HoV several times in a session.

    There was a whole etiquette built up around this. Some people would trade me Peridots, some would give me coin, some skinflints gave me nothing. In the absence of donations I used my own peridots from the stack I carried with more or less good grace. If any Peridots dropped off mobs during the session it was understood I would get them. Similar arrangements existed for many classes using many spells that required reagents.

    Not too long before I moved to EQ2 SOE removed the need for reagents for the Aegeolism line. Most clerics rejoiced. I was fuming. By making things more “convenient” they had, at a stroke, destroyed a whole layer of social play that I valued. Now I just cast my buff from my own mana pool and no-one noticed or cared.

    These things are important. They’re the grain of the wood, the thread in the tapestry. Without these details the surface is flat and featureless. I hope we’ll see a return to at least a modicum of inconvenience in MMOs now WoW’s star is finally fading.

    • Telwyn says:

      Indeed. I’m biased on this clearly but I even miss the casting mats for spells in WoW – there were little choices and some planning involved. I liked having the single target and group buff spells on my priest and having two different materials. The group buff materials were a lot more expensive so you might choose to use the single target if the longer duation of the group buff wasn’t needed.

      I edited out a part of the blog about the need to return to base, the need to prepare for an adventure. I think that experience has been entirely removed from WoW now. It’s just teleport here, smack things, scoop up the loot. There’s definitely something missing in the experience.

  2. acbarberi says:

    Some simplification is good, I think (I hated ammo, haha). But I also think WoW is way to simple and repetitive for my tastes now. I’m giving RIFT a try.

    • Telwyn says:

      Ammo just as an annoyance I’d agree with removing. But if there are different types or grades of ammos with varying costs involved then that’s a meaningful choice to make. I liked the cheap vendor ammo vs better crafted ammo choice.

  3. R says:

    100% yes in terms of removing reagents, it made the game better, those types of necessary evils were a carry-over from older games, they brought absolutely nothing useful to the table. Knowing that the druid in your group would never have reagents didn’t teach anything useful about that person, if they were good enough to play with, being a reagent dork had no impact on that. I’ve never liked the idea of consumabled being required for core gameplay (reagents for buffs, ammo, poisons, etc). I’d also never want to give up AoE looting, or currency being in a tab vs in my bags, or pets and mount being tabbed vs bag items. Spell ranks and weapon skills were a major pain in the ass to deal with. I dealt with them but I was more than glad to get rid of them. Minimum range for hunters. Not auto-shooting on the move for hunters.

    Sure, it’s possible that a few simplications have been unnecessary but I can’t think of any off-hand, the only ones that come to mind are positive.

    • Telwyn says:

      What about the simplification of the world then? Milady’s post linked in mine illustrates this nicely. The reimagined world is incredibly obvious. There’s no reason to explore beyond where you’re sent for the next quest hub. There aren’t long involved quest chains spanning the continents that involve actual travel (if you need to go somewhere there’ll be a teleport ready). That’s a loss I’d say.

  4. Jonny 5iVe says:

    For me I lost faith in WoW when they changed the talent system to; “You pick a talent tree. You can’t put points anywhere else until you max that tree. You only get a talent point every 3 levels instead of 1. The talents you take are straight forward. Builds require absolutely no forethought to create, and therefore lack any kind of diversity and no longer allows you to experiment.”

    Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan.

    Since that update (I forget which one it was), the game forever changed for me, and it was the beginning of the end. I realised Blizzard had finally cracked and started pandering to the lowest common denominator.

    It’s sad, because I look back with fond memories of my little guild, all of us reaching level 70, one by one. Saving up to get a flying mount, then heading to Tempest Keep to run the dungeons there. Eventually, once we’d all geared up a bit, working our way through – http://www.wowwiki.com/The_Master's_Key – until we all had a key and could run Karazhan. Then dying a lot as most of us were too pissed by the end to finish successfully.

    Then, slowly but surely, attunements were removed, LFD was introduced (which I don’t think is entirely a bad thing), summoning stones became a thing of the past, the sense of achievement became less and less, and eventually, inevitably, it became simply about how much gear you had grinded. Not whether you’d taken the extra effort to learn to fly, or had a key to open a door, or had done all the pre-requisites (the adventure). No. You simply click a button, then tap some buttons for an hour, roll on your loot, and repeat… That’s nowhere near as exciting, and doesn’t seem like an adventure to me.

    So, when a game feels more like a chore than an adventure, you know it’s time to move on.

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