Oct 10, 2007

[By the way, WoW is not hardcore]

In case you've missed the memo; the consensus about World of Warcraft among 'established' MMORPG players, is that it's cheap fluff, dumbed down, too easy, and lacks any 'real' substance. In an average month on gaming forums, you can often find many topics dedicated to sneering at the game's percieved (and real) flaws. It's basically a hobby for some folks to keep reiterating everything they don't like about WoW -- it's the price of popularity; lots of people will hate you for it because they feel you don't 'deserve' it. With games it's no different.
So I was kind of confused when I read Plaguelands' rant on the upcoming Patch 2.3 changes to the lower level content of the game:
"WoW players can finally stop pressing their stylish red ‘More Ez-Mode’ buttons because leveling between 20 and 60 just got a lot easier come the 2.3 patch.
 * 15% reduction in experience needed per level between 20 and 60
* Overall experience gained by questing between 30 and 60 boosted
* Say goodbye to the difficult to kill elite mobs that chill outdoors in the sunshine, they’ll also have same if not better quality loot drops
* New quests (approx 60 or so) and a new goblin town smack dab in Dustwallow Marsh (levels 30 to 40)
* Dungeons will be retuned to a narrower level range. (example: SFK currently is 18-25, but will be gimped to 18-21)
* Dungeon quests will yield a higher experience reward and dungeons will also see revamped loot tables
Removing the challenge. – Check
Dumbing down the game. – Check
Serving 9 billion. – Check.
...Overall, not bad changes, but some of it feels like, damn, this is for sissies."

This is WoW... the game that personifies, in many people's minds, 'dumb and easy'. Why the streamlining of the lower level game content in accordance to what, in most everyone's mind, is already the case with the game as a whole, is being considered some kind of cheapening of the game, baffles me. The game has always been about 'fun' over difficulty when the choice had to be made. Since day one.
WoW is the game for people who have never played a MMORPG, those who don't have the time/desire to play anything more time consuming, and those who are just a fan of Warcraft's storyline.
But some people don't consider those things legitimate design choices -- they're considered 'cop-outs'.
If you are playing WoW, and feel a twinge of annoyance every time the game makes an adjustment to suit the 'non hardcore', be prepared to be annoyed a whole heck of a lot.
To be honest, I see this as just a rehash of the other million topics ever posted about how WoW is dumb, filled with idiots, and only for people that are lazy, unskilled noobs. It's not saying anything new, and it's frankly getting annoying to the rest of us who play the game and are getting tired of being insulted for doing so by just about everyone, any chance they get. Yes, WoW is not a hardcore MMORPG. We all know that already. 
WoW has plenty of issues that can be discussed on their own merit, and as long as people can't get past simply repeating 'Dumbed-down, too easy, filled with idiots' over and over again as their main point of discourse about the game, it's hard to get any kind of substantive discussion about the game's merits and flaws and gameplay possibilities. I seriously doubt the game it's ever going to change to suit the people who think it's too dumb and easy as it is now -- so I think we can safely move on from that point.
Hopefully, once the '08 crop of new MMOs comes out, we'll have some more quality 'advanced' MMORPGs to choose from, and perhaps some folks will be able to forgive WoW for not being what they wish it was.
Anyway, for people like me, leveling their 6th alt through the Old World content, those patch changes are a godsend. I guess that just makes me a sissy. But hey, since I don't play games in order to prove that I'm not one, I guess I can live with it. =P


Link said...

I agree with you. The changes sound great. When I played WOW, my choices when leveling up a character were to bounce from zone to zone to do level-appropriate quests or to grind mobs for XP so I could get high enough to do the quests in a single zone. I see it as a win-win for the hardcore and the not-so-hardcore. People who prefer end game raids can get their quicker. People who like the journey can explore new characters in zones they haven't been too before.

BTW, I like your drawings and excuse the rambling. :)

Pai said...

30-40ish level range is a pain, too, because at the moment, you get like 2-3 quests for your lvl range in each zone, and have to keep shuttling around the continents to keep within 'yellow' quests. Especially once you get used to how smoothly quest momentum is in Outlands, it's hard to put up with that over again.

Thanks for the comments! =)

Cris said...

I'm pretty ignorant about the whole MMORPG world, but the more I hear self-professed "hardcore" gamers talk, the less attractive their way sounds. I guess that to these guys, if I'm not glued to the screen for 17 straight hours, subsisting solely on Red Bull and pooping in a sock, just to level up, I'm not up to their standards of dedication. And that's just fine.

The current success of the Wii suggests that it's a smart move for game companies to try to appeal to people who don't want to sacrifice sleeping and eating just to have a good time.

>> "The game has always been about 'fun' over difficulty when the choice had to be made. Since day one."
I'm totally on board with that. I do recognize that challenge is a critical factor in making any game (video or otherwise) fun. And I admire the great performers who can overcome the hardest obstacles. But I suspect some of these 'hardcore' gamers have crossed over to where they value difficulty for its own sake.

Pai said...

I think it stems, from the original MMORPGs like UO and EQ, which had stiff death penalities (you pertmanently lose xp, items, etc), lots of time-consuming, repetative tasks like crafting (clicking a recipe 100 times to level the skill), long travel times (takes hours to cross the game map), etc.

Anything less that that is considered 'too easy' because so many MMO players learned that 'monotony = challenge' (to stay awake). People who didn't have the tolerance for those things were labeled as having 'short attention spans', or 'being lazy'. To be honest, grind is part of the MMORPG genre... however, the mechanic was being way over-used as a cop-out instead of having actual game content. I think the balance is swinging the other way now, hopefully it will even out more.

I think the fact that people are expecting more from their game (be it scripted content, like WoW, or tools for more user-created stuff, like Saga of Ryzom) is forcing developers to think about more than just pretty graphics with lots of grind in their MMOs. Overall, that's a good trend.

*vlad* said...

Hello Pai.
I fail to see how reducing the xp to level up makes a game somehow easier. Nothing has changed in actual gameplay mechanics. People will reach level cap quicker, that is all.

As for the elite mobs in Arathi for example, why are they elite in the first place? I have done these quests before, and know what a grind they are; I am not prepared to do them on my alt. Changing them to non-elites is a good thing.

Heck, I don't even want to do 5 player group quests on my main - they aren't fun. Keep 5 player quests to instances, thanks.