Nov 23rd 2008 10:49AM Your article provides a strong defense of the hardcore and their current dilemma. I have two counters:
1) You make the point that the hardcore are able to smear content so fast because they provide the necessary testing (and learning) of said content on the Beta/PTR months in advance. You forget (or neglect to mention) that during this time they are experiencing and enjoying that raid content at a slower pace. So for the folks who say "they cleared it in 2 days and are all done!", that's not true. It took them months to learn the content in preparation for live, and that is when they enjoy the content most.
2) As a casual-hardcore raid leader who took a guild alliance all the way up to Reliquary pre-3.0, I don't have any problem with the hardcore who cleared "all of Wrath" in 4 days. I do have a problem when they complain to Blizzard "ez mode button", "cater to noobs much?", "now I have nothing to do."
They knew what they were doing, they knew they were burning through it fast (their intention, not mine). Don't whine about it. Say "Great job guys, we did it. Let's farm it for a few months and wait eagerly for the next raid patch."
Sep 4th 2008 7:46PM The negative effects from Recruit-a-Friend are minimal. Your concern that players will not be familiar with their abilities at 70 is legitimate at first blush; however, you forget that the first-time users to WoW are not the users leveling at lightspeed. These users are the ones that are still snail speeding, learning at a moderately decent rate. Besides, everyone I know constantly claims they learned more about their class's abilities (specifically from a more advanced angle) at level 60 or 70 while raiding. Your average leveler, before Recruit-a-Friend or now, doesn't have a clue about half the abilities they have (Divine Intervention is one that most Paladins, for example, really did not understand until 60+).
Are quests being skipped? Entire zones? Instances galore? You bet they are... but that's okay. From a completely new user's perspective, Blizzard is trying to provide a window to a game these users missed out on for years, while not forcing them to dedicate months upon months of work in the process (meanwhile their friends, if they have any in-game, are already 70).
Most of the people using the Recruit-a-Friend program, at least the ones I know, are all using it to powerlevel alts (either by dualboxing or by doing it with a friend for fun). In this case, the program is working as intended as well.
Thus, I feel that Blizzard has not only achieved what they wanted from a business perspective, but also from a game design perspective (this coming, by the way, from a professional game designer/programmer).