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Posts with tag dumbing-down

Ol' Grumpy and the dumbing down debate

Ol' Grumpy and the dumbing down debate
Hey, boys and girls, it's your old pal Ol' Grumpy. I haven't been around that often lately, partially because I haven't really found all that much to complain about lately. Luckily (or unluckily) there are always other people, who will do that kind of thing for you. Recently, I've seen the dread beast rear its ugly head again.

What am I talking about? Well, I'm talking about the old canard "Why did you dumb the game down" that pops up on the forums from time to time. It is almost always incredibly subjective and drags out 'examples' that are, at best, arguable. It usually shows more about the person making it than the game itself, and it always makes all the hair (and I have a lot of hair) stand up in irritation. I really dislike this argument. Every single time I've seen or heard it, it's been used not to actually protest a decline in game complexity but to argue 'the game was better/harder/more fun when we had to do X" in some kind of demented paean to nostalgia and obstructionism.

Frankly, I don't understand this mindset. "Back when I started the game, we had weapon skill, but then you dumbed it down" seems insane to me. How did weapon skill require any thought, exactly?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Exploring Azeroth with quest icons on the map

We've heard this argument before, and every time Blizzard makes a change to help players complete quests more quickly, it comes up again. And with the recent announcement that Blizzard will actually be adding quest targets to the ingame maps (again replicating another function of the popular Questhelper addon), players have again brought up the old argument: is the game too dumbed-down? Originally, when the game began (though I don't know anyone that didn't still use Wowhead to find quest coordinates even back then), you were sent "east" to find a tiny little brown backpack to click on, and in the next patch, not only will you see that brown backpack sparkling with flares as you get close, but you'll have it marked on your map the entire time.

Larisa waxes nostalgic over at the Pink Pigtail Inn, and says that this is just farther down a sliding slope that leads to a ravine where we all just have two spells and need to kill three boars to level to 100. Kinless Chronicles straight out says "Patch 3.2 will play for you" with some funny tongue-in-cheek analysis. But since I do it so much anyway, I'll play the Devil's advocate here: let's face it, we all used the addons and coordinates while leveling up alts, if not even while leveling mains. It's easy to be nostalgic, but I never did like hunting around for that little pixel of brown you had to click on to finish a quest, and if you really do want to stumble around in the dark the old way, just don't look at your map and/or close the minimap down. I've recently played two other console games, Fable 2 and Dead Space, that also offer glowing line navigation straight to your quest targets, and I did feel a sense of exploration in both -- if I wanted to wander off the path, I was welcome to (and usually rewarded for it), while if I just wanted to get to where I was going, I could do that, too.

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Filed under: Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Blizzard, Quests

Quests added to mob tooltips on the PTR

The Godmother over at ALT:ernative ducked into the PTR recently, and noticed something new: Blizzard is apparently testing adding Questhelper-style notes to tooltips of the quest-related mobs you come across. This looks so familiar that I thought it was an addon, but no, apparently Blizzard really is planning to tell you when a mob you're looking at happens to be the target of a quest.

It shocked me for a second -- not only is this dumbing down the questing game even further (maybe someday we will have a large red arrow pointing out a quest target from zones away), but it seems to be an awfully big break in immersion. Blizzard is basically telling you that "this is the mob you need, right here," and actually reading the quest text becomes even less necessary.

But then I realized that tooltips themselves aren't exactly paragons of game immersion -- it's already a little jump in the reality of the game to see a box with a mob's name and level whenever you mouse over it. Tooltips are already where the UI meets the road, so to speak. And as for the "dumbing down" of the game, most experienced players already had this functionality through addons like Questhelper and MonkeyQuest anyway (and if you do plan to complain that this makes things way too easy, make sure Questhelper is out of your Addon directory before you start typing). But if the tips stay in the game when the patch goes live, questing will be that much easier for people who stick to the basic UI.

Filed under: Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Quests, Leveling, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: Is the game being dumbed down?

We worried about this way back before patch 2.3, but now that almost everyone has gotten a chance to experience all the changes to the UI, we'll check in on what you think: did putting a glow around interactive items -- and in some cases, actual exclamation points above inanimate objects -- dumb the game down?

Makabriel thinks so -- a quest in Dustwallow that used to revolve around the player finding hidden clues now has all the clues glowing with exclamation points above them. And I've seen some pretty nutty examples ingame, too -- while, yes, before it was annoying to have to re-search an instance for a little thing to click on, nowadays it seems almost so obvious that there's no game in it at all. Of course, I still do use the various resources online to find out-of-the-way mobs (those still don't glow), but item-finding isn't even a challenge any more.

Of course, this isn't World of Findcraft -- the real game is in fighting creatures and increasing your character's stats and abilities. No one raved about finding little clickable objects in the first reviews, so why shouldn't Blizzard take that part out of the challenge? What do you think: is the game dumbed down too much, or do the glowing clickable items let you focus on finding the real fun in Azeroth?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Walkthroughs, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Quests, NPCs

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