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Posts with tag Casual

What Blizzard needs to keep casuals playing in Warlords

Being called a casual in World of Warcraft is sometimes -- okay, often -- tossed out as an insult, but let's face it: a lot of the gamers fall under the casual banner. They have jobs, they have families, they have kids, and they can't necessarily afford to spend countless hours a week focused on a single game. It's not that casuals want free epics or need to learn to play, it's that MMOs can demand a lot more time than the average adult has available for gaming. No matter how much we love Warcraft, spending time with family and working enough to pay the bills has to come first. (After all, if we can't pay the bills, we can't play in the first place.)

This is especially true in World of Warcraft which is approaching its 10-year anniversary. Players who started playing in their early teens are now college graduates working for a living, while players who started playing during college may be starting (or growing) their own families. Demands like that just don't leave a lot of time to game -- and they definitely don't leave time for a game that forces you to sink a lot of hours in before you can start having fun. Even those of us who enjoyed doing 40-man raids back in the vanilla days -- complete with the grinding for repair money, resist gear, potions, flasks, and everything else you were expected to do to be part of a raiding guild -- might have trouble making the time these days.

World of Warcraft is more casual-friendly than it used to be, and by necessity: many of the playerbase are more casual than they used to be. But while it's more friendly to casual players, there are still plenty of things the game could do to keep the casuals around from level 90 and beyond -- so let's talk about what Warlords of Draenor needs to keep new and casual players in the game.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie, Warlords of Draenor

PvP and the barrier to entry

I was very disappointed when the Trial of the Gladiator ended up not making it as a PvP mode. I get all the objections to it (Olivia raises a handful of them here) but for my money, the biggest reason I stopped PvPing seriously way back in The Burning Crusade and never started up again is twofold - the introduction of Arenas and the rise of PvP gear.

For me, PvP (especially back when I ran the ladder) was all about going into a battleground, solo, and seeing what happened. Many times I got stomped so hard that I barely knew what my name was, other times we'd have a great game. After the ladder went away, I PvP'd even more because I was using the gear in PvE content - this was back before resilience even existed - and I wore some of that gear all the way to 70, as you can see in my mismatched set above. Even in BC, when resilience first took off and arenas were introduced, I often PvP'd to supplement my PvE gearing, or even to replace it on alts that didn't raid. But the more stratified PvP and PvE became, and the more gearing intensive PvP became, the harder it became to even do things like random BG's without first acquiring a full set of PvP gear. The barriers got taller and taller, and I was less and less interested in jumping over them.

I understand why this all happened - dedicated PvPers wanted a separate experience, free from the need to PvE at all. PvE players didn't like that sometimes the best route to getting gear was to run battlegrounds. Even now, with some 550 PvP items dropping from the Celestials, people are upset that there are PvP items that are better for them than PvE items. But for me, the solo PvPer, arenas and the stratification of WoW's PvP and PvE games became too great for me to keep participating. Even now that I'm PvPing more often, I'm only doing so at the end of the expansion, when I could buy a set of good PvP gear for justice points so I don't have to go into BG's without any PvP power and get steamrolled.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Warlords of Draenor

7 things casual players need to know about Warlords of Draenor

The dust has finally settled from the BlizzCon newstravaganza, which means it's time for us more casual players to figure out just what's going on with World of Warcraft's upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Here's the basics:
  • Where's the expansion set? Draenor, before it became Outland. Yep, we're heading back in time for this expansion.
  • What's the new level cap? 100. But don't panic if you haven't even reached the Mists level cap yet, because Blizzard is going to boost one of your characters to level 90 so you can play in Draenor.
  • What can I do in Draenor? In addition to the standard leveling, questing, dungeoning, and raiding, the expansion will have garrisons for you to build. Think of them as a seriously amped up version of the farms in Mists, letting build your own in-game city.
  • What new classes or races are coming? None -- however, all of the current classes are getting new models. It may not sound like much, but it makes the original WoW races look brand new.
  • When will I be able to play? We don't know yet. But as with most Blizzard games, we suspect it will be out "when it's ready."

So that's what the next expansion has in store for us. But there are some upcoming gameplay changes that will definitely help low-level or more casual players find their footing and get through the game -- if that means you, read on for 7 things you'll want to know about the next expansion.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie, BlizzCon

Former WoW developer Mark Kern wonders if WoW is too easy

Former WoW developer Mark Kern wonders if WoW is too easy
Mark Kern, who left Blizzard way back in 2005 to found Red 5 Studios, is working on a new free to play, sci-fi MMO called Firefall -- and has some less than flattering things to say about the game WoW has become. His top complaint: that MMOs are now too easy. "When was the last time you died in a starter zone?" Kern muses. "Sometimes I look at WoW and think 'what have we done?' I think I know. I think we killed a genre."

The easier content, he argues, means both developers and players focus less on the content in the middle of the game and more on racing to get to the end game -- and by rushing through the game from level 1 to level 90, you miss out on a lot of the game itself. Of course Kern notes that his upcoming MMO has the mix just right -- and that by focusing on the journey instead of the destination, Firefall is a lot more fun.

While we are fans of new games -- and love the art style Firefall has going -- we're less convinced about dying in newbie zones as a gameplay necessity. Time will tell if Kern has the right of things -- Firefall's open beta is starting soon.

Filed under: News items

The useless distinction between casual and hardcore

The useless distinction between casual and hardcore
If the words 'casual' and 'hardcore' ever had a useful role in determining the differences between players in World of Warcraft, and I am not convinced they ever did, they no longer do. A player who wants to have an alt of every single class at max level and makes that happen is not playing the game casually even if she never raids. A player who collects several hundred pets and levels many of them through pet battles, or has a similarly high number of mounts, or determines to go out and get every cooking recipe in the game (including Dirge's Kickin' Chimeraok Chops which you can't even get anymore but somehow he finds a way) is playing the game very seriously indeed.

Quite frankly, despite the fact that I raid a set schedule, I often feel like I'm significantly more 'casual' than many players who never raid at all. I know I play a lot less - I definitely do not log on every day, I don't run LFR unless I missed a boss in normal (because I want a shot at my Secrets of the Empire off of that boss) and I don't do pet battles, farm, or even do daily quests anymore. So with my roughly fifteen hours of WoW a week, 12 of it spent inside a raid and the other three futzing about older raids for transmog gear, am I casual or hardcore? And does it matter?

Ordinarily I'd explore the answer in the paragraphs to come. But frankly, the answer is no. It doesn't matter. It is so far from mattering that the light from it mattering won't reach us for fifty thousand years. What matters is finding out what players want to do with their time and letting them do it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria

Blizzard clarifies the raid finder's role in gearing progression

Blizzard clarify LFR's role in gearing progression
Blizzard blue Taepsilum posted today on the EU forums regarding the role of the raid finder as a key part of the gearing ladder. It has been regularly mentioned how the raid finder in Cataclysm became a vital part of gear progression, offering items that were an upgrade from Firelands normal gear and -- with procs and set bonuses accounted for, as well as the half-tier increase in item level for drops from Spine and Madness -- upgrades from Firelands heroic gear.

I posted a while back about the purpose of the raid finder and how while it was intended as a means for folks who didn't have access to a raid team to see content, it became a rung on the gearing ladder. Well, it seems that Blizzard is taking steps to change that. Matt Rossi posted earlier with more information on the loot changes, and Taepsilum's post only serves to add weight to the notion that the raid finder will be adapted to serve its intended purpose.

This shift was mentioned yesterday on the Q&A with the Devs at Gamescom, but it bears repeating for all the raid finder naysayers out there. When Blizzard knows millions of players will see content, it makes it easier for them to justify allocating resources to it. It's really hard for Blizzard to justify putting the huge resources to design a raid into something a fraction of players will experience. WoW Insider had a message direct from Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas in which he restated this point:

The existence of LFR justifies the creation of more raid content for casual and hardcore players alike.

See Taepsilum's post after the break.

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Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

The danger of assuming personal experiences to be universal

The danger of making personal experience universal
Whether or not you can believe it, there are players right now who have not finished regular Dragon Soul. Some of them raid less often, some of them started later, some of them lost players, and some of them just raid more slowly than you.

And yes, you may be a better raider or have a better raid group than they do, a more skilled collection of people. You also might have a better class comp or have gotten lucky on a few occasions when they didn't. Some groups lost key players at the worst possible time, had real-life issues to contend with, or simply started later than everyone else.

Why do I bring this up? This forum thread on the EU forums, where Draztal ( who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite CMs) is constantly forced to deal with a mindset that does not seem to understand that each raiding group's experience is personal to that group and cannot always be extended to the game or all its players as a whole. Now, not every poster in that thread has that issue; there are some good ones in there, and you should read it. But it's a mindset I see over and over again.

The game is large, and no two raid groups have the same experience playing it. Some raid groups loved tier 11; others were bored or hated the fights. Some raids had fun in Firelands; others found it repetitive or disliked the zone's tendency to be all one color. (I still say Bastion of Twilight had exactly the same problem, but that was alleviated by its being one of three raids at launch.) Some folks have enjoyed Dragon Soul; others dislike the mechanics or the use of Wyrmrest art assets.

Having these differences of opinion is a fine thing and can be good for the game and its community -- when you acknowledge that they exist, and when you realize that your own strongly held opinion about the raid finder, heroic modes in raiding, or the superiority of this fight or that fight is rooted in personal experience to some extent and that experience will never be shared with everyone. That goes for things you love and things you hate equally.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Cataclysm

The hardcore game is dead

The Hardcore is Dead
It is a concept long familiar to World of Warcraft players: the hardcore raider. The women and men who were on the cutting edge of raiding content, who had the absolutely best gear, who played the most and knew the most about the game. Back in classic WoW, I was absolutely this person. I raided. It was all I did, really. My tanking gear was so good that players would stop me in Ironforge to comment on it. We killed everything first up until a new guild came to our server, then we traded kills with them until the end of the original game and the launch of The Burning Crusade.

Cut to the hunt for BC kills. A lot of people I knew were burning out. Some of the encounters were seen as having been tuned too high, while others lamented the loss of 40-man raiding and the shift to 25s, especially with Karazhan as the 10-man raid having caused a lot of guild drama. "Raiding is too easy now. You can go with 10 people to some raids. It's lost the epic feeling of 40-man raiding. Look at how much faster raiding goes now than it did. We used to struggle to learn each boss; now the only real challenge is in end bosses like Kael and Vashj. Gimmicks like legendary weapons and orbs have replaced knowing your role and class."

What am I getting at?

Nostalgia is poisonous. The people who bemoan how easy raiding is now are the same people who defended BC raiding from the old curmudgeon MC/BWL raiders who felt like the BC raid game had dumbed down raiding. It's always better in the past, because the past has passed and become perfected by memory. At the time no one would have said it was the pinnacle of raiding -- far from it. People were still going back to Naxx-40 at level 70 and still having a hard time running it. People sang its praises as the ultimate raid right up until it was removed from the game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Lichborne: Grab some new patch 4.2 pre-raid gear for your death knight

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

With patch 4.2 live, raiders have the Firelands raid to get through, but casual players and non-raiders need not despair. You have your own little patch of Firelands to tackle, with a robust set of dailies that have the potential to unlock new gear upgrades. This week, we're going to take a look at those gear upgrades, as well as some other stuff you can do to get your gear upgraded without killing a single boss in the new Firelands raid. Most of the stuff we'll be discussing is ilevel 365, which means it's only barely an upgrade (or possibly even a sidegrade) from ilevel 359 stuff -- but if you're still wearing ilevel 333 or 346 stuff, this should mean a pretty big leap in power for you.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Dev Watercooler: Content for the casual 85

The newest Dev Watercooler column gives King Crab a break and instead lets us peek into the mind of Dave "Fargo" Kosak, lead quest designer for World of Warcraft. You might remember Fargo from Flintlocke's Guide to Azeroth and GameSpy days. Fargo's Dev Watercooler is all about experiencing World of Warcraft as a non-raider and what Blizzard's expectations are for level 85s who aren't bashing down Ragnaros' door.

One of the weirdest statements that I have to make to many people who are new to the MMO genre is that "the game begins at 85." While we know that isn't factually correct, since there are 85 levels of content previous to hitting the magic number, it still makes sense from a "never-ending world" point of view. There is no end, so the game begins at the "current" end.

Fargo makes the case that all players are entitled to an epic storyline, engaging content, and a feeling of continual power growth. The new patch 4.2 Firelands daily quest hubs in the Molten Front and the Regrowth are tailor-made to hit these points and provide a personal, continuing experience for players who don't participate in the raid game. With dailies being randomized and your personal tree growing at your own pace, players are rewarded based on their efforts alone.

Personally, I like this direction for solo questing experiences. The Molten Front and the Regrowth seem like better, more advanced, and more evolved versions of the reputation grinds we were previously chugging away at to open up gear and other rewards, but with less of a "watch a bar go up" mentality. Here, we have engaging choices and rotating sets of random tasks that keep us coming back for more, all the while physically changing the world around us. Now we just need to care about the cause. I think Firelands is going to push us a good way forward in that regard.

Check out Fargo's first contribution to the Dev Watercooler series, after the jump.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Drama Mamas: Family or fun?

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

The family that plays together, stays together ... or do they? Family playstyles are not always compatible, as The Groom discovers.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I have been engaged to my fiancée for more than a year now. Since last June or July, we have been playing WoW together. I have been an experienced Warcraft player since Warcraft 3 -- knowing the ins and outs of lore, the game, etc. Her only experience was being powerleveled previously by friends who just needed an extra person -- so not much experience sitting down and learning the game. We decided to level up fresh characters together, and it was wonderful teaming up together, with her being a female draenei warrior and I a human paladin. It seemed like a good teamwork-building exercise for us as a couple.

Going on in the background, my two brothers took over and began maintaining a serious raiding guild. They've been doing serious raiding with their level 80s and gearing up for ICC and Ruby Sanctum. Obviously, my fiancée and I were not high enough level to participate but we were invited to the guild as their loving brother and his soon-to-be wife -- who is cool enough to play WoW with (many guys cannot seem to find a girl who will willingly participate in their leisure activities, fantasy sports or what-not).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

Officers' Quarters: Scorched by raider burnout


Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

It's been more than 10 months since Blizzard introduced major endgame content to World of Warcraft, and raider burnout is at an all-time high. In times like this, hardcore players often look to casual guilds as a refuge from the demands of more serious organizations. It's not always a bad thing, as I'll discuss, but sometimes taking in these hardcore refugees can lead to major problems. This week, an anonymous officer tells his tale:
Hi Scott,
I'm currently an officer in a guild that started as a social/leveling guild, but toward the beginning of this past summer, we had some level-capped players who decided to take on raiding content. We were having a lot of fun at first whether or not we successfully downed bosses because we were finding a way to stay socially active in our social guild.

During this period, one guildie and I became de facto raid leaders because we were always there on raid night and always the two who got the groups organized. This was when I also got promoted to an officer position. The problem I'm facing now is that we ended up recruiting a couple of new members who had burned out on hardcore progression raiding and wanted to take a more casual approach to raiding.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Defining Playstyles: Beyond casual vs. hardcore

In a recent Totem Talk post, I made a loot list for enhancement shamans that have access to ICC but are not progression raiders, because they are either alts or they are -- drum roll, please -- casual. That's right: I used the c-word without context. Casual. There, I said it again without context. Excuse me while I duck from the rotten vegetables being thrown in my direction.

The use of that c-word in relation to an Icecrown Citadel loot list sparked a very interesting comment thread. Most comments were well thought-out, added value and furthered the discussion. Some were, to borrow Adam Savage's favorite term, vitriolic, because of my heinous misuse of the term "casual." I said it again without context. I'm just casually throwing around "casuals" here.

Given the reaction that post received, I started doing some research into what exactly "casual" and "hardcore" actually mean. What I found was not surprising at all: They mean completely different things to absolutely everyone. The MMO population of players, across all games, is estimated at over 61 million people. There are as many variations on play time and playstyle as there are players in the game. Do you really think we can divide this many people simply into two groups of just casuals and hardcores?

I think it's time we move beyond the polarizing definitions of casual and hardcore and come up with some definitions of our own.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Officers' Quarters: Emotionally invested

Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available this spring from No Starch Press.

When you're frustrated with your guild, it's tempting to jump ship. But sometimes it's also difficult to let go. This week, one officer asks, can you be an officer in one guild and a regular member in another?

Dear Scott,

I am Raid Officer in a casual raiding guild. I attend the most raids and am one of the highest output players on each raid on all my characters. I am one of the most active, hardest working Officers in the guild.

We have always been lenient with who is allowed to raid -- we have some healers who do less than 50% output of other healers who are similarly geared, we have DPS that do less than half of what they should be doing (with "casual" expectations, I don't expect everyone to do 10k DPS but 4-5k is low for a well geared player in ICC with the buff). Even members of our A-team have been slacking a bit. Many players don't pay attention to the leaders in Vent, don't react well to constructive criticism of their gear, spec etc. PUGs are further progressed than our guild is.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Officers' Quarters: Private channels


Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available this spring from No Starch Press.

We've all been there: Someone makes a dumb mistake in a raid -- let's call that person Murbu -- and another player says, "Everyone /join ihatemurbu." A few people do exactly that, a few jokes are exchanged, Murbu shows up in the channel to joke around, too, and then people unjoin or simply forget that channel exists. Private channels like that can be fun for some good-natured ribbing. Other private channels can help two allied guilds communicate or allow a group of friends to stay in touch when they splinter off to different guilds. However, private channels can also have a more sinister purpose. This week, one guild leader is concerned about a channel some of his members are using.

Hello Scott,

I'd like to think I'm relatively new to leading a guild, but as my guild has recently passed our one-year anniversary I'm beginning to question that logic. Despite this, I have an issue that completely stumps me and the only reason I can think of why is inexperience. My question is, when does venting your frustration about issues cross the line from harmless venting to serious problems?

Several months back shortly after the holiday break it came to my attention that a few of the more veteran members of the guild were using a private channel to discuss primarily their dissatisfaction with how I ran things. At the time I also led a majority of our raids, and one major point of contention for the group was the way that I lead the raids and their frustration at our overall progression. This might not have been a huge issue, but several of the people who talked about me in the channel were people I considered close friends, people I've known for years throughout many different guilds.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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