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Dec 4th 2011 9:28AM Old Alterac Valley was incredible. So much depth and strategy in a battleground, and each one could be vasty different from the last. I always wished Blizzard had kept AV in the old style, and either opened up Azshara Crater or implemented Isle of Conquest in the same fashion.
Having quick mini-game battlegrounds is good for those who don't have lots of time, and I've got no problem with them (although Strand of the Ancients is just absurdly bad design). But it would have been a huge plus for the game to keep a couple of the deeper, more immersive battlegrounds in the game as the sort of PvP counterparts to PvE raids.
Nov 13th 2011 10:53PM Part of the problem is that players expect new spells/abilities at each new level cap, and expect to be able to use them. Thus, classes have to be rebalanced and rotations revamped. Plus in circumstances like the Burning Crusade destruction spec, the developers absolutely despised the "shadow mage" play style that became the default PvE rotation, but didn't want to upset the apple cart too much while progression was still going on…
Nov 13th 2011 10:48PM I definitely agree that the leveling system for specs of all classes is much improved over what it was when I leveled my warlock in 2006-2007, and it is definitely viable to level as any of the three specs.
I don't play any more, so I cannot offer an opinion of how warlocks are today, beyond noting the drastic difference with what they used to be. Affliction in the glory days (Wrath pre-Ulduar) was my favorite spec/rotation, and Destruction never seemed "right" after two years of Demonic Sacrifice/SB spam.
Nov 13th 2011 9:33PM I think one of the bigger flaws in WoW going forward is the sometimes radical redesign of how classes work. Warlocks are a case study in this - the class bears very little resemblance to what it was when I raided regularly (Burning Crusade). Yes, BC warlock mechanics were, shall we say, not what the developers intended, with demonic sacrifice and shadowbolt spam. But if you were to show someone who wasn't immersed in the game the class then and the class now, I don't think they'd even be recognizable as the same class (except perhaps for the demon summoning).
I don't mind them adding abilities and rebalancing as needed to keep classes and specs comparable. But it does stretch credulity for a class and spec to morph so dramatically within the game world.
Oct 25th 2011 10:54AM Was a good interview, but that pull quotes: that Metzen and colleagues regret the "visually and thematically challenging" Burning Crusade expansion, just infuriated me. WHAT do they regret? The Illidan story? The garish outfits? The PvE model? Adding arena? You know that there had to be more in the interview to have inspired the use of THAT quote, but there's no elaboration. Seeing that answer could have explained a lot about the direction WoW is taking now…
Oct 23rd 2011 3:57PM My personal opinions on the Mists of Pandaria features, from the point of view of someone who started playing late in vanilla WoW:
1. Pandaren: Mildly negative. I don't find them to be offensive, but they're not appealing to me in any way. Beyond being a gift to the designer who created them as an easter egg so long ago, it doesn't seem like a panda race was really NECESSARY - could just as easily have been a branch of humans living on the lost continent. I like the unified starting experience, with the choice of faction at level 10.
2. Monk class: Mildly positive. So far the design of the class looks reasonably unique, as Death Knights were in Wrath. Not so sure about the tank/healer/melee hybridism - feels very much like a druid in many ways.
3. Lvl cap to 90: Neutral - expected for shorter expansion cycles.
4. New Zones: Mildly positive. Blizzard excels at art and zone design, and their ability to create compelling quest chains has gotten stronger every expansion. I expect the leveling experience from 85-90 to be at least as good as Cataclysm and Wrath's leveling were. Very disappointed in the mantis-enemies - we're getting to the point where the number of sentient races on one planet is WAY outstripping my suspension of disbelief.
5. Scenarios: Strongly positive. Done well, and implemented not just in Pandaria but all zones during leveling, this could be a huge step forward for the PvE experience.
6. Dungeon "challenge" modes. Strongly negative. Call me old school or elitist, but I cut my teeth when normal mode dungeons were good for quick or under geared runs, and heroics were a HUGE challenge, no matter what your gear level. I hated Wrath heroics with a passion, and loved feeling like defeating the first Cataclysm heroics was an achievement. "Challenge" modes, with the associated leader boards and such, feels fake and contrived and another way in which Blizzard is trying to please too many people with too many different agendas at once. When arena ratings and such were introduced to the game, it was done under the auspices of Goblin promoters, which integrated the meta-game in to the game itself. "Dungeon leader boards" seems absurd within the context of the game.
7. Pet battles. Neutral. Amusing thing to introduce, but not something I would have ever indulged in. Points docked for shameless copying of Pokemon.
8. New talent system. Mildly negative. I am willing to be persuaded of the benefits of this, but I thought the Cataclysm talent system was a plus, and dislike any further streamlining/homogenization of classes.
Sep 15th 2011 12:25AM Definitely have to agree with you, Dawn, that server communities have collapsed. When I was leveling on Akama back in late vanilla and early BC I met a lot of people, some who have stuck around past my departure from the game. I met people doing dungeons, getting items crafted, and from time to time doing group quests.
Of course, back then, server transfers simply didn't exist, so you could count on seeing the same people every day, for the most part. Server transfers and faction switching solved a lot of other problems, but they definitely aggravated the decline in server community.
(and yes. Akama. that guy. :) )
Sep 12th 2011 11:34PM Statement of disclosure first: I haven't played WoW in almost three months and don't intend to come back, for a variety of reasons.
That said, I do have friends who still play, and contacts in my old guild, which although 6/7H, is a shadow of its former self due to players burning out, departing due to boredom, etc, and can only do 1, sometimes 2 10m groups where it used to be a world top 100 25m guild going back to Vanilla. Other friends are in a more casual guild that is 7/7 normal.
Not one of them is in favor of the heroic portion of this nerf, even if it means the progression guild downs Ragnaros or the casual guild gets one or more heroic kills. To them the heroic modes being nerfed renders them meaningless, and both guilds expect their attendance problems to increase pre-4.3.
Guilds are dying, hell the entire concept of a meaningful endgame is dying, and Blizzard just shot the patient again. Nerfs to normal modes are fine - no one expects normal modes to always be difficult, even for the most casual of guilds. But taking the incentive away for guilds that really only function on the pride of accomplishment, when there is precious little of that pride left, only serves to hasten the demise of WoW's endgame as anything meaningful.
Sep 8th 2011 11:19PM To nopunin10did:
I understand your desire to want to be able to see all the content that the game has to offer, and support it. But I do think that the current model is killing the endgame for just about everyone. Even though I no longer play, I have friends in highly-ranked progression guilds and more casual normal-mode guilds, and they're all having trouble with attendance, drop-outs and recruiting. Every week that goes by with failed raids or missing players just makes it that much harder for the guild to keep going. It's NOT just a matter of hardcore vs. casual, but a problem of everyone feeling like something isn't right for the play style they prefer.
I don't have an answer - maybe there needs to be only one difficulty mode but with a progressive buff as in ICC. If so they really need to get away from the "raid seasons" model of current/old content and make tiers available/relevant for longer periods of time so that more casual players can get enough of a helping hand to see the content. Maybe they need to separate normal and heroic modes more distinctly (i.e. have heroic mode fully designed as such, and not just a scaled up normal mode). And who knows what they will do about raid size. But if they don't do something, there will be more collateral damage to the game's ecosystem from departing players and dissolved guilds, and once that spiral starts, it's hard to ever stop it.
Sep 8th 2011 10:49PM Heather, I re-read your comments on the previous article and agree with you whole-heartedly. Burning Crusade encounter design was mostly amazing (with the exception of Tempest Keep, which was mostly awful), largely because it wasn't encumbered by concerns about raid sizes and varying difficulties. The boss was the boss was the boss - and you felt a real sense of accomplishment even for defeating the easier bosses like Void Reaver or Lurker Below.
AND. Importantly, the instances were very well integrated into the surrounding quests and zones. There was a definite story linking you to Magtheridon, Gruul, Vashj, Kael'thas and Illidan that you saw all through your questing time in Outland, and it made you want to "finish the job" by doing the raids. In Northrend, the only clear example of that was, you guessed it, Ulduar (and even there they kinda dropped the ball by giving you a long, informative quest chain that took you to two 5m instances, but didn't lead you to Ulduar itself. And once inside, you kinda had to know what to look for in order to see the story pointers leading you to Algalon, which was an epic encounter and epic final chapter to that story).
Some aspects of the game are much improved over where they were five years ago. Some are much worse. But I feel that Blizzard has tied themselves in so many knots with the current endgame model trying to please everyone that, as we're seeing now, they're pleasing no one, and paying the price with diminishing player counts and dying guilds.