Manaflask Article

Where's the MMO in My MMO?

Hello peons! I am Sunkisttuna, and I will be writing here at Manaflask, verbally vomiting my superior knowledge about Wow, Blizzard, and video games in general. I raid over in <Big Crits> on US-Sen'jin (summer sabbatical notwithstanding), and I play a s**tload of DayZ and other interesting vidya gaemes. I can also deadlift over 440 pounds. That is almost 200 kilograms for those on the metric system. So buckle-up dudes, follow along with me as I explore the latest developments in the World of Warcraft and other video games.

The end of Cataclysm was a dark time indeed for the world of Warcraft. A mediocre raid, the death of PUGs, and the sense that “there isn’t anything to do!” put a serious damper on both the overall enjoyability of the game and subscriber numbers. To some degree, this same problem has also been evident in Mists, even with the various enticements blizzard puts to force people out into the world. But why? Why does the game seem less… compelling, than it did before? In a patch and expansion filled with convenience and accessibility, why then did the game seem LESS fun, and LESS enjoyable.

I can barely breath with this crowd!

The essence and core of World of Warcraft from a gameplay perspective is the interaction with other human beings. Not the pvp, not the leveling, not even the raids. People logging in and saying to themselves “I want to have adventures with my friends” is the ethos that brought Wow from ridicule as an “Everquest Clone” all the way to its peak during Wrath. I still remember the explanation of WoW that got me started in the game. My 6’6” 260 pound roommate, a redneck from Texas (I was a city boy from Boston), put it best in his deep southern drawl. “Mang, you can do ANYTHING in this game!” “Well, what are you doing right now,” I asked. “Oh this guy killed a paladin that was just trying to level so I’ve been camping him for the last… (looks at his watch)… shit, 45 minutes.” “You can do that?” I asked.
Interacting with other people, having that social connection, is what makes WoW a great game. Without that, that core “let's play and talk with others,” Wow turns into a mediocre third person rpg, and a weak one at that. Without player interaction and emphasis on socialization, World of Warcraft loses its defining luster. Perhaps most visibly in the mess of Cata, this concept was placed on the wayside in favor of “accessibility.” Attempting to make the game easier for new players harmed the game. How often is it now that there is that one guy on your server that everyone hates? How often do you see Pick-up groups forming for current raids? The interaction between experienced players and new players no longer exists, and new players have no incentive to learn or play with others (more on this in a later article). Wow has changed its focus from facilitating player interaction to spoon-feeding content to an eternally hungry populace.

This doomguard ritual killed a random person out of the 5 required to summon it.
If that person was the only warlock, your butthole puckered to the size of a pin.

So how do we fix that? We can’t very well go back and remove LFR or Dungeon Finder. And we cant force players to go out into the world by enticing them with the same type of content. “Insert Rare Mob Here” doesn't exactly compel people to explore and discover, it just takes the idea of “Content Consumption” and moves it out into the world. What Wow needs is Content Creation. And I don’t mean player-created raids or dungeons, I mean the creation of stories and adventures without the direct intervention or coaxing of Blizzard.

One of my favorite stories about WoW is from an old Buzzkill article where he talks about the leveling rush at the opening of Wrath of the Lich King. As Ensidia rushed to get to 80, the true drama and compelling content wasn’t the dungeons or the quests, it was the hilarious interactions between people slacking behind, falling asleep, and generally doing something as a group. Different players interacting, bickering, fighting, and complaining IS the compelling content that made World of Warcraft so great. I feel like as of late we have lost that. Everything is about “complete this, kill this, deliver this” and there is a serious lack of just going out and having adventures.
World of Warcraft was originally designed as a gigantic sandbox for players to interact and socialize with each other. In the last few expansions, that focus has gone by the wayside in favor of more content, more tasks to be completed, more things to be done. That’s not the answer! Perhaps in the upcoming patches and expansions, WoW can focus more on facilitating fun player interactions rather than continually feeding players content that they will complete and discard in a matter of weeks.

Peace out homies

  1. Tripping's avatar
    Tripping 2013-06-06 12:35:11 UTC — I blame LFR for the fall of WoW. You lose the sense of epicness of raids when you are just facerolling. I know they want people to see the content, and I know they want people to gear up for current content, but the LFR tool doesn't work.
    Running 5-mans to get gear for your shitty alts works well, you run them until you don't need to anymore. With guildies, its quick and fun. With pugs, its less quick and less fun, but it still works. I had the problem recently of trying to get my warlock raid ready, and I got 0 loot in LFR and only 1000 valor to spend. Trying to go into ToT with 5man heroic blues wouldn't have been good.
    Then the argument is: Go into the previous tiers to get loot. But with ToT LFR giving higher item level stuff, nobody has any need to run old content.

    As for wanting players to see old content, I see more OpenRaid events for old raids than I do for MoP stuff. People will run the raids, just not as soon as they come out.
  2. RollingBones's avatar
    RollingBones 2013-06-06 06:35:07 UTC — Well duh! I think every person that's got at least a single living brain cell, in his brain, understands it all.
    But there is no easy solution to this problem. Facilitating fun player interactions? Like what ? There are raids, bgs, arenas, pokemons, dungeons, scenarios. To socialize, or not to socialize? The player decides. And most players are plain batshit idiots, or just don't give a f@ck. How do you socialize with them ?
    The community is dying, so is the game.
    P.S. : sometimes, after clicking some links on the web site, i get redirected to /streams/online and all i see on that page is a line of JSON.
  3. Milhouse's avatar
    Milhouse 2013-06-06 06:11:15 UTC —
    I think how Blizz made the content more accessible is the problem, in that it just forces good players to spend hours running easy content and carrying less skilled players. It's just annoying. What I think they should aim for is to try to make content more accessible but not less challenging.

    OQ effectively works this way for RBGs. It's cross realm, bg leaders create groups specifying the minimum characteristics of players they will accept (rating/ilvl/pvp power), then wait for others to apply, choose who they want and create a group. And the groups are challenging and fun - you have to get on vent with a bunch of random players and work stuff out, you gradually make friends and improve your standing. You don't get too many ragers - if the leader doesn't like someone they kick and replace so that keeps people relatively under control. And if you are undergeared/skilled, there are yolo groups who take anyone and just go for conquest.

    At its best this allows people like me, who can't play on a normal schedule but want to be challenged, to quickly get into content any time I want. And I don't have to sit in Stormwind trolling trade chat to get in a group, I can farm/quest/duel/world pvp and check the queue as I go.

    Something similar for raids seems plausible. Maybe allow raid leaders to specify a minimum progression as a proxy for rating or something. I never wanted LFR - I want to be challenged but I don't want to sit in Stormwind for 3 hours trying to find a pug or quit my job so I can raid the same time every week. You lose the idea of a realm community, but that's gone anyway these days, and you still get the social aspect of it chatting with random people in vent. LFR is awful because you are forced to play with people you don't want to play with, you can't chat with them in vent, and they have little incentive to actually try and a lot of incentive to just get carried. In an OQ RBG group, one guy afk or not accepting the queue is devastating.

    Separately, most servers are ridiculously unbalanced now which has eliminated much of the ganking. I recently joined the only relatively balanced high pop server I could find in the US - Bleeding Hollow. It is so much better than my old server which was 99-1 Alliance. I recommend trying to find a similar server to anyone looking for a better experience.
  4. smfe's avatar
    smfe 2013-06-05 22:26:10 UTC — I agree, what made/makes wow so much fun is the whole social aspect from my side, the sandbox and what used to be big server communities of known guilds on your server. All these things like players waiting outside booty bay to gank. The game has become more or less single player'ish to a degree and very anonymous. It's a list of choices now, no more a, lets gather a raid group in orgrimmar and invade IF or stormwind and kill the boss togehter, where people would together teleport, provide a vent, etc. social interaction is everything in MMO
  5. dethkrik's avatar
    dethkrik 2013-06-05 21:55:10 UTC — Oh yeah, I completely agree that LFR is hurting raiding overall. My point was that shared lockouts all but destroyed pugging. 25 mans no longer put together 10 man runs on offnights, and 10 mans no longer looked for 25 man pugs on their offnights. At least that is how it used to be on my server. And yes, people had reputations they either boosted or damaged on pug runs and people were sure to bash assholes and ninjas in trade to the point they couldn't get runs (and would end up name changing or transferring). LFR is a solution to give people a chance to raid, but like you said has the side effect of further diminishing community and accountability.

    The issue is, there is a portion (non horrible asshole portion) of the community that needs LFR or a pug of some kind to experience the raids. With shared lockouts and an assumed removal of the LFR tool there has to be some solution available so these player, whether it is separating lockouts again or some new sort of incentive for forming LFR/LFD groups on server. Or, maybe LFR becomes just about the story and you just get a bag of loot at the end like a scenario with a chance to drop an item (rather than each boss dropping items). That way if people actually want to raid and get loot they need to join a real raid group.
  6. Lestuniem's avatar
    Lestuniem 2013-06-05 20:57:22 UTC — Starym@ Pretty much, what some people don't grasp that the complete psychological sense of loot changes A LOT when the color changes from blue to purple. It's just a brain thing.
    LFD is a great tool, but only problem is that it puts you with people outside your realm. That is the big "aha" which gives people the keys to be assholes and not give a damn of what they do. When you did shit pre-LFD in 5-mans your realm was sure to know of it, and if you did it enough you just (in most cases) weren't invited anymore.
  7. Starym's avatar
    Starym 2013-06-05 20:51:14 UTC — I'm very conflicted over the LFD tool myself. I loved playing 5 mans before it but I was always in a big guild then so my experience isn't really valid. On the other hand when I played The Old Republic and got to max level I literally couldn't get a group and that basically made me stop playing because there was no LFD tool. I thought it was the dumbest decision they could ever have made (and still do).

    LFR, on the other hand is definitely a problem. I mean sure it's good that more people get to SEE the bosses, but it's also VERY bad that they only see the retarded versions of bosses. I mean I can see it right now, what C'thun or 4 horsemen would have been like in LFR, just another trash boss, why would you ever remember it being special.
    One thing I think is a HUGE mistake is making LFR drops epic. They can still have the same stats but you CAN NOT award epics for that shit "difficulty". And yes I know nowdays epics don't mean anything but I guarantee you that it would make a difference and make more people want to play Normals if that's where the first raid epics were at.
  8. Lestuniem's avatar
    Lestuniem 2013-06-05 20:29:15 UTC — dethkrik: LFR drains player from the actual raiding which hurts the raiding community even more.
    - It offers no incentives for players to get better
    - It offers no motivation to communicate with other people
    - It creates an awful first experience for people. Do I really want to play with assholes like these who only boost their dick by badmouthing other people when their deeps ain't as good as it should? Maybe they're new to the game and just don't know how to pull more.

    Stated earlier, fixing realms is the first priority for healthier community (in overall, not just raiding). You could even have LFR in that utopic future and have it be realm-only so people from their own realm get to know each others better. Make it more of a social experience than what it is atm.
  9. dethkrik's avatar
    dethkrik 2013-06-05 19:40:08 UTC — Unfortunately, I've experienced the necessity for the LFD and LFR tools. I began my WoW carear on a VERY low pop server and had a horrid time finding groups for 5 mans, let alone pugging alts into raids. The addition of the LFD tool was a very welcome one. I eventually moved to a different server, but I can definitely see how this is almost a necessity for low pop servers (or even those playing very late at night or early in the mornings when not many other people are online).

    Additionally, during the end of Cata, my guild decided to stop raiding, and rather than look for another guild I decided to just play casually, level some alts, and take them into LFR. I managed to finish with 9 toons at 85 and run them all through LFR and experience DPSing on each toon. I would often look for pugs, but outside of using Openraid on occasion, wasn't able to pug anything on server. This would have been very different back in ICC when there were constantly groups forming for 10/25man runs. I think that, as much as the ability to queue hurt, the sharing of lockouts between 10/25s was a much bigger step in crippling pug groups as it essentially created the void that LFR ended up filling. Namely, a way for people to raid outside of an organized weekly schedule, whether due to time constraints on there main or with alts.

    The trick is creating a system that builds community, and more importantly accountability, without destroying the benefits of LFD and LFR for those that need them.
  10. DarnnREM's avatar
    DarnnREM 2013-06-05 19:14:16 UTC — Exaltus I already made discussion about it on Manaflask yesterday, sadly people either missed/dont care