Thursday, May 26, 2016

World of Warcraft: A 2016 Beginner's Guide

So everyone who goes to see Warcraft: The Beginning is getting a free copy of WoW. I don't know how many people are out there will take advantage of this deal, but I think it is safe to say we may be seeing some brand new players on our servers. This could be great for the game. It could also just reinforce gamer stereotypes, as new players are pummeled with, "Ur gear blows kill yursef noob lol"

So first, a call to WoW veterans. This is an opportunity to give a little back to the community. When the film releases, keep an eye out for folks asking questions, struggling with quests, or being abused by other players. I plan on turning trade chat on for the first time in years. Maybe even general if I can stand it long enough. With little else to do in game, I may just hang out in low level areas trying to be friendly and helpful while I play another game on my phone. Think about doing the same, even if it cuts into your Overwatch time.

And for new players, some unsolicited advice and a few affirmations:

  • You have found an amazing community. Most of the people you will eventually interact with will be awesome. But like any large group of humans, we have to put up with some very vocal assholes.
  • You are not bad. You are new. Regardless of whispers you may have already gotten, we know you aren't bad.
  • Turn off general and trade chat. There is an awesome database called Wowhead that can help you with quests and stuff. The comments page can be particularly helpful with quests.
  • If you're struggling with Wowhead, feel free to tweet me for help.
  • Stay out of battlegrounds for a while. People are really mean in there. Same with Looking For Raid. Also, the official forums.
  • Don't accept an invitation to a guild that nobody has chatted with you about. It's just a spam add on.
  • Do try to find a guild. The right group of friends can elevate WoW from a video game to an alternative lifestyle choice. Finding the right guild is probably the most important thing you can do as a new player. My guild, Convert to Raid on the Aerie Peak server, always has room for more people.
  • Leveling is pretty broken right now. Don't judge a class too harshly based on the leveling experience. It's a serious problem, but there isn't anything to be done about it until August. Don't even try to level as a healer right now.
  • Every single class will change significantly at the end of August. You picked a great game, but a bad time to start it. The bright side is come September, people who have been playing for 12 years will be learning the same stuff you are. The playing field will be somewhat leveled.
  • Abuse is very much against the Terms of Service. If someone is abusing you, you can report them. It's usually a ton easier to just /ignore them and go about your business.
  • If you're a woman, you may want to keep that information to yourself. It's shitty and unfair, but that is unfortunately life on the Internet right now.
  • Did I mention that you aren't bad and most of us are really nice?
So welcome to WoW! We are truly glad you are here. Readers, let's get all the advice I forgot in the comments.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Puzzle Solved..I Think

I have been confused for a while now. After saying at Blizzcon that players will have access to all their classes' specs in Legion, various barriers to spec switching have rotated in and out of the alpha/beta. We have artifact weapons that restrict switching specs. Then, for a suspiciously short time, there was the old-school gold cost for spec switching. About an hour later Blizzard had a post ready to go that removed the gold cost, but added a required reagent to switching individual talents. Think, Tome of the Clear Mind, but much more expensive and not available from a vendor mount.
I have been baffled. As a BM hunter who primarily raids, I make 1 or 2 talent changes in a night of raiding. I couldn't figure out why Blizzard thought this change was necessary. I never find myself waiting on people to change talents. Looking at twitter and the bolgosphere, it seems I'm not alone. This seems, according to the overall voice of the community, like Blizzard "fixing" a non-problem. It was perplexing. Then Fiannor at Misdirections commented on one of their posts about Mythic+ dungeons, and it all became clear to me. Swapping may be a non-issue NOW, but in Legion ..
I speculate swapping could become a problem in Mythic+ dungeons (if you are unaware, dungeons in Legion will behave like Diablo rifts). I would absolutely switch between BM and MM when going from trash to bosses, for example. Got the debuff that puts out constant damage? No problem, throw on Spirit Bond! Movement increase between packs? Heck yeah! I finally understand why Blizzard has been trying so hard to lock us into one spec via the artifacts.
I can't prove it, but I absolutely convinced Fiannor was right. And this is crazy. Blizzard is going to break the best version of the talent system they have ever had over one small aspect of the game that frankly nobody asked for. When I want to run a Diablo rift, guess which game I launch? Diablo. Anybody who wants that style of play can get it. Hell, most of us WoW players got it for free from the Annual Pass! If the current spec and talent system really will break these Mythic+ dungeons, they should just make talents locked WHEN YOU ARE IN THE DUNGEON! I imagine that is what they would really prefer, but technical issues compounded by a release date forced them to create this convoluted "reason" why we shouldn't really change specs and talents. Well guys, figure it out. This proposed system is ridiculous. Here is MMO Champion's data on how many people did endless proving grounds (the closest thing we have to Mythic+). Maybe we don't need them at all..

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Going Free to Play

I'm going to start this post off with a story:

The same summer that I got my driver's license, the most important bridge in my hometown needed to be rebuilt. It was the kind of construction project that had everyone talking. Literally a half million people would be required to drastically alter their daily routines. A friend of mine even quit his job in lieu of tripling his commute time. This major transport artery was so close to my father's business, we had even more serious concerns at home about how traffic would be affected. Anyone who knows much about public construction projects, especially in areas that get ice and snow, will tell you to double the time they are supposed to take for a conservative estimate. I was 16 when the project started, and my father half-jokingly told me we would be lucky to use the new bridge to take me off to college. We did use it to take me to college. And to visit the college my senior year. We were using that bridge six months after construction began. Six months ahead of schedule. When the announcement was made that the project was completed, everyone in the community was surprised. Except my father. He told me about how this project had a contract that was unique at the time. For every month that the project was late, the contractor had to take $1 million off of the price. And for every month that the project was done early, they got to charge an additional $1 mil. The government agreed to this deal in a heartbeat because no one thought the project was even possible in a year. I'm sure someone literally laughed out loud when they heard about the clause for finishing early. And yet, we all got our bridge back early, and under budget even with those bonuses. Your econ teacher was right: people respond to incentives in a market economy.

You probably already figured out what this has to do with World of Warcraft. I'm honestly surprised that we are in yet another huge content drought, and I shouldn't be at this point. But, our community has been told a number of times that expansions will be roughly annual. They have publicly lamented content deserts (we're beyond drought at this point). Even worse, the last two expansions were horribly front-loaded. We got more content than most could handle in the first 6 months, and then, not much. And then nothing. And here we are.

So it is time for Blizzard to put their money where their mouth has been for years. While I would like to propose WoW going free to play any time a year goes by between expansions, that isn't likely. What may be more feasible is any time a year goes by without new content of some kind, we all stop paying a subscription until the content goes live. It still probably won't happen, but I think it should. Keeping players playing during these content deserts is very much in Blizzard's interest. As it has gone, tons of players unsub during these times. Then a new xpac is released and some of them come back. But not all of them. I don't know how many of my friends have left promising to return and are never heard from again. At least not in WoW. They are still gaming, many in Battle Net. But they don't come back to WoW or it's subscription. And at this point it's hard to blame them. If there were no subscription, I bet at least half of them would still be showing up to raid, if not playing the entire game more.

At the very least, this kind of arrangement would compel Blizzard to space the content they do have for us more judiciously. WoD would still be rather thin, but imagine if MoP or Cata had been under this arrangement. We could have gotten new raid tiers, or new troll dungeons, spaced out evenly over the course of the expansions. We wouldn't have had year-long periods with nothing other than Dragon Soul or Siege.

Ok, that last paragraph is what my history professor would call "counterfactualism." That aside, if you are Mike Morheim and Hazzikostas tells you, "We could make some new dungeons for them or give up $45 million in revenue each month for a while, what would your decision be?