Monday, February 13, 2012

Cataclysm Miscues: VI: Forums Creating The Gap

This is the sixth in a series of posts about the little things that cataclysm messed up on this expansion.  These little things are things that mostly go unnoticed or are easily overlooked because they are usually not game breaking but they do leave you having that feeling of something being off.

Past posts:
Cataclysm Miscues: I: Healing & Mana Potions
Cataclysm Miscues: II: Hemet Nesingwary
Cataclysm Miscues: III: Targeting
Cataclysm Miscues: IV: Professions
Cataclysm Miscues: V: Flow

Listening to People on the Forums:

I can not remember where I read it and I can not post any facts in any way to back it up but once I read something about the forums I was left to believe only because, quite honestly, it made sense.

Someone said they had data that stated that out of the entire warcraft playing population that 0.4% of the users have ever posted on the forums more then a dozen times outside of customer, bug or technical support.

Based on purely anecdotal data I would have to say that seems entirely believable.  In my time playing I have met two people in total that have used the forums on even a once a month basis to post and both those people did it in a guild recruitment thread only. 

I have never met anyone in my entire play time that posted on the forums daily or even weekly.  I have never met anyone in my entire play time that ever posted on the forums to seek information or to comment on situations.  Basically, in my entire play time I have never met anyone that used the warcraft forums.

Even if it is only anecdotal data it leads me to believe that the person who once posted that only 0.4% of the wow population use the forums seems like a reasonable deduction.  They said their numbers where based on facts available to them and were accurate to the best of their belief.  I am willing to accept their finding as fact, even if I might put an asterisk next to the word fact.

Now, lets just say, for arguments sake, that those numbers are indeed accurate we need to figure out who those 0.4% are.  From a quick view of the most recent topic you might be lead to believe that 90% of the 0.4% that do post are trolls and the other 10% of the 0.4% percent are the best of the best that play the game, at least they are if you ask them.

Which brings me to another statement that I always like to say here.  No matter how bad a player is, everyone thinks they are good.

When the vocal minority of the game was screaming for more difficulty it was comprised of people that fell into one of three categories.  1) A good player that wanted more challenge.  2) A bad player that thinks they are a good player that wants more challenge.  3) A troll who is more then happy to say they want more challenge so they can insult anyone that can't do it.

The people at blizzard decided to make an expansion that started an end game that catered to these people.  The 0.4% of the vocal minority.  This was one of their biggest miscues because it created a gap between leveling and dungeons.

The meat and potatoes of the game, the real masses, the ones that keep paying for this game so we can play it do not go to the forums, do not post on the forums and most likely if asked they would not even know where the forums where.  They play the game for the sake of playing the game.

The game is no longer the game I started playing, the game is no longer the game you started playing.  Even if we all want a challenge, the basics of the game need to stay simple and you can tell blizzard understands this to some extent by the way they have completely mutilated the leveling process down to something a monkey can do by slapping any key.

This shows you something that blizzard came up on their own.  They noticed, most likely from their own numbers, that new players where not making it to max level to stay around and become continuous dues paying members for the long haul.  They went and adjusted the leveling to a pace and skill level that the modern day gamer can handle.  Remember, this new gamer is not you or I.

Once at max level however, they decided to listen to the forum people and added difficulty back at the starter level of end game, heroics and even normals in some fights.  For these new players that where given the easy route to 85 this was a shock to the system.

I think cataclysm could have been just fine with the difficulty level of the new heroics if it were not for the fact that until people got to them the game was all about casual fun and suddenly turned into an actual game to play instead of just a way to pass the time and have fun.

The divide between the skill needed to level to 85 and the skill needed to complete a heroic was as wide as the grand canyon if not wider.  The mistake they made was letting the 0.4% influence the content the way they had even after they went the completely opposite way with the entire redesign of the game.

If blizzard kept with their redesign concept and kept any of the do it or die mechanics out of heroics the subscription numbers would have not taken the hit they did once people made it to 85 and noticed that they hit the proverbial brick wall.

For the meat and potatoes player the heroics are end game.  For the meat and potatoes player they could no longer do heroics.  For the meat and potatoes player they left to find another game that could fill the hole the player had now because they could not do the heroics and went to find something else where they could just pop on to a game and have some fun for an hour or two a few times a week.

You and I are a horse of a different color.  We might have embraced the changes to heroics.  I know I did.  I loved doing them with my guild at 329 item level.  I loved working my way through them and figuring out who to CC.  I loved single targeting trash while we chain CCed the others.  I loved boss fights with a challenge those first few times while it was actually still a challenge.

I loved all of it until I went into a random with people I didn't know, without people I could count on to have a brain, without people that I knew I could talk to and work strategy with, without people that had a clue.  I was in the world of the meat and potatoes of the game now and they did not like the fact that this content was no longer meant for them.

The difference is that for the older player, anyone that has done dungeons and raiding before, the new heroics where a breath of fresh air, they where fun.  They where nothing of the sort to the lesser skilled players.  To the new players.  To the people that heroics where always end game for.

They got fed up with the game. I got fed up with the game for having to run with them.  It helped no one, no one but the forum people.  No one but the 0.4% of the player base that would all turn around and call anyone that could not do it a baddie.

Blizzard made the mistake of listening to people about content at the end game and never let questers ease their way into it.  The jump in difficulty for a brand new player once they reached 85 was just way to much for someone that never looked up their rotation, class, abilities, skills, and encounters.  It was way to much for the meat and potatoes of the player base.

Try to think of it from a different view, not your own.  Be open minded and look at things from the standpoint of someone that just started the game this expansion.  They would level up with no difficulty, no problems, no real skill needed and then they would be thrown into heroics where one person doing the wrong thing could mean a wipe all thanks to the forum people wanting more difficulty.  

The gap between questing to 85 and dungeons at 85 was insanely huge.  It has never felt right and still doesn't.

So if you are playing cataclysm, like it or not is irrelevant, and you ever felt like some things just did not seem right then perhaps this is one of those things you subconsciously noticed.  While not game breaking the huge change in difficulty between leveling and entry levels dungeons is one of the miscues of cataclysm.


  1. Although I agree with your conclusions, I don't agree with how you got there.

    Are the forums home to just 40,000 players? Probably. Does that make them a "vocal minority?" Not necessarily. Any Statistics course will tell you that a random sample of a few thousand people can extrapolate out to 55% of everyone voting for candidate X over candidate Y. So while a few dozen forum posters are a vocal minority in the sense of them actually posting on the forums to begin with, that does not mean those few dozen do not in fact represent the (similar) opinions of 3+ million US/EU accounts (a majority of all Western accounts).

    Having said that, I think the Cataclysm's difficulty pivot from Wrath had a lot less to do with "listening to forum members" than most people believe. Basically, I believe Ghostcrawler and crew made Cata harder because THEY wanted the game to be harder. The nuance is that while the devs took the forum posters' complaints to heart, I don't believe the devs thought a majority of players wanted the same thing. The devs probably looked at TBC and said "Well, back when heroics were hard, few ran them, but they found other things to do." Players DID find other things to do this time around... namely, unsubbing and playing something else.

  2. I read your latest post with interest, and have to mention this as something of note: the Dunning-Kruger effect:
    whereby the bottom 10 percentile performers will consistently rate themselves as being above average performers. Most of the vocal minority screaming in the forums about how everything is "ez mode" are probably under Dunning-Kruger delusions.

  3. Azuriel, your reasoning would be correct if they were really a random sample of the playing population. But they are not random; they are a self selected group of the kind of people who post in internet message boards. The wow playing population is much broader than that, and is not accurately represented by them. Nor by us, the group of people who read wow blogs.

  4. Keep in mind that BC heroics were never easy until you were raid geared. LK heroics were pretty tough to start with as well, but the massive increases in gear over the expansion and nerfs to the content turned them into the AoE snooze-fests everyone remembers. I don't think Cata heroics were any harder than LK heroics were to start with, it's just at the start of LK, everyone was *not* used to heroics being easy.

    I do hope that the challenge modes coming in MoP aren't just about which classes can do the most AoE damage. Mob health and damage should require the kind of strategy and CC that early Cata, early LK, and BC heroics required.

  5. I started playing about a month before the Shattering, so when I hit 85 and heroics, I just thought they were the way they were.... It wasn't until my tank hit 81 and I tanked my first Cata dungeon that I really SAW the difference between Wrath and Cata.

    Knowing the difference, I LOVE CATA dungeons! I love the difficulty of GB! I love that my first time in SFK I was kicked because I didn't know what an interrupt was (like I said, NEW TO THE GAME). I love that the difficulty was an exponential curve. It made me learn, and learn quick!

    In fact, the HoT dungeons angered me to no end! They aren't quite the AOE-fest that was Wrath, but they're getting close. Closer than anything else Cata offered. I mean, the troll dungeons were a MONSTER to get through! Hell, even in 397 gear, they wouldn't be "easy", but they would obviously be easier. Then the HoT dungeons came and everything went back to Wrath.

    I agree that the .4% may want things to be more difficult, but so do I, just not difficult to the point of "Is this even possible?" I think they achieved that with the 4.0 dungeons, and the MoP challenge modes seem interesting.... Just my 2 cents