Thursday, 1 May 2014

Time for a new frontier

WoW's been getting a little old to me as of late, I went from late Vanilla till mid cataclysm with out taking a break, then a took a break mid MoP, now I've taken a bit of a hiatus.  I've always loved the game and they've made big improvements to mechanics and functionality over the year, but the game's showing it's wrinkles.  Though it's still a great game and still has everything that's lead me to have over 440 days played the problem is in the core mechanics.  After playing for 7 years there's not much that they can add without a complete overhaul of the game, voidzones, move to spot x, kill enemy y,  follow strategy z, as many permutations as there is possible for the fights very few new boss battles are exactly ground breaking.  Let's take Garrosh for example, listing a few abilities off Wowpedia:

Desecrate - Altered Lich king desecration, permutation of void zone
Hellscream's Warsong - Same friendly aoe buff that's been around since vanilla
Adds - All have abilities we've seen before

All of intermission - kill adds to cause effect or remove buff

Whirling Corruption - closer/farther damage aoe
.....Well I won't drag this on too long

My point being most mechanics are permutations of old abilities and if you want to make a boss fight you could just assign each fundamental mechanic a letter, throw darts at a dictionary and make the difficulty ramp dependent on the number of letters (with the occasional four letter word getting extra dps for a gear check).

Without changing the games core we're very close to the limit of what WoW can do.  As I said this isn't the end of the world, the game is still great, there's a reason you can sit down for a quick quest and suddenly 12 hours have passed and you're punching a dragon with your 5th completely new set of gear.  The common complaint I'm hearing from the most veteran players is that it's just getting to be a little too same 'ol same 'ol. Personally I've never had problems with any fights, reaching into elitist jerk territory, others have had issues with mechanics or been unable to perform properly, but I've always had little trouble filling any of the 3 positions for any mechanic responsibilities.  Not to say that I'm amazing at everything (I only claim that for tanking) but once I've seen a new fights mechanics 3 times tops I've got it down.  This made the game more about fun, friends, glory and performance rather than difficulty, and with the years the only thing that's remained is the friends.  Unfortunately when the only reason you come on is so that you can talk to all the people you've played with and had fun and adventures over the years with, the game becomes less relevant.

I hopped around on a few different MMO's lately.  EVE looked fun, especially from the economic side, but personally I sided with the "you pay for a second job" perspective of EVE, I can see how the very advanced game would be fun but at the same time it's a game that's both a massive void of a time sink, and something you don't really do much playing of.

Next I joined a Star Wars nut friend of mine, along with another buddy, and tried SWTOR and I must say I absolutely LOVED the leveling, it hit every nerdy nerve just right, but I couldn't help but constantly compare it to Warcraft, and it came up massively lacking.  Many of the games elements are just lacking, such as no addon support and - get this - the inability to reacquire most quests without a GM ticket, that's right, quest log too full but you want to go back and do the storyline later? Too damned bad unless it's a core character storyline critical quest, and even that can be spotty.  As I said the questing was fun but it seemed to me that even though it was still in development the developers didn't want to actually put much more effort into it besides the required updates / periodic expansions, instead just letting it be a cash cow.

Finally I tried ESO as the mere hint of a new Elder Scrolls game causes my wallet to shudder at the thought of how fast I'll tear in to it.  Let's just say I wasn't too impressed.  My summary would be Skyrim with multiplayer elements haphazardly shoehorned in.  Tons of bugs that have been known for months made it in to the final game, and the game plays just like a Scrolls game that reluctantly had the MMO necessities put in, and the mechanics they chose don't bode well for the advanced game.  AOE / personal only heals and more individual performance means end game boss encounters will have to be dumbed down, and the "choose an armor type and a roll and have at it" will either be bullshit (3/4 of the options unviable) or will be horribly hard to balance. Warcraft has 34 basic builds to balance broken into 4 tanks 7 healers and 23 dps specs, they do a pretty good job with the biggest MMO team in the world, as it stands ESO has more than half a hundred options.

What I've set my sights on is Wildstar, I've been in the beta for a while and so far I like what I see, the game still needs polish but is already well refined, has a good tone and lots of mechanics that I like to see / have wanted to see in MMO's.  Other than myself over half a dozen friends have pre-ordered the game for it's June release and if they play their cards right the game has the most potential I've seen yet to replace Warcraft on the MMO throne.  If years of MMO's has taught me anything it's that "GTFO the fire" doesn't click with many people, so Wildstar's telegraphed attack system may be off putting to the majority of..."not the best" players who like to run in plant their feet and hammer em' some buttons.  This would indicate a dumbing down of endgame mechanics but so far only 20 and 40 man instances are planned, and the developers say they intend for the end game to be difficult enough to be something you have to fight tooth and nail to get your new shiny trinket out of.  The game has a lot of potential, and my highest hopes are that they meet that potential.

So for the next while any gold making posts will be from the study of my rocket ship house or slightly singed from the mortars that rain around me while I write from a foxhole in my guild's warplot.  This is something exciting from me for a gold making perspective as it's new items, new markets and a new economy for me to conquer.

Not to step on anyone's toes but Warcraft gold making discussion is another area of stagnation. Gold making isn't something overtly hard, just something that takes time to learn and requires lots of effort and research.
Three to four months in if you're serious about gold making and putting lots of effort in, learned all the addons, got all of your supply chains and common practices set up, you've already learned 80-90% of what there is to gold making, effort, efficiency and scope are ordinarily the only things that will make a big difference beyond that point.

Gold making will always be a thrill to those that are drawn to it, (aka anyone that's never asked "how do I make money quick" but instead "how do I make this sale and eventually take over the world?") but writing about it breaks down to going over methods, professions and tips and tricks, something I'm guilty of myself. Few gold makers will do a tell all of their trade secrets besides the occasional tidbits (at least without making it a guide, opportunity cost people) and there's only so often you can talk about the fine points of alchemy. This means most gold blogs are daily experiences and tricks that we can share without giving away enough information to threat our empires, because when it comes to what you can tell people that they don't need to get through personal experience, the list of original material is almost non existant.  The only ground breaking posts are the discovery of obscure methods or tricks that no one's found before (trade secret problem again) or those brought by new expansions.

On an ending note unless WoD brings a lot more than they're showing so far I think WoW's become to me a favorite food that I've eaten almost every day for the better part of a decade.  I still like it, and long for the days when every bite was delicious and vibrant, but I've grown desensitized to it.  And for anyone preparing to tear into me over any of the game / gold making comments, I say this only as the perspective of someone who's been at it for most of their life.  My first electronic game was at age 3, my first MMO was at when I was 8 (Runescape), hopped on Warcraft at 13 (admittedly I was occasionally one of those little bastards every hates to get in group) and I've been with it into my early 20's.  I've always been a forefront player, and though I've only been a serious about gold making for just over a year, I've always had a not unsubstantial role in the economy and culture of the games I've played.  If this is a farewell to WoW it's not without a second thought, but with melancholy.

(A cookie to anyone who valiantly fought through that wall of text)


  1. After all that you'll still be logging onto WOD after it drops playing and goldmaking!