Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Makes Something Replayable?

The top complaint from people this expansion is that the game is not very alt friendly.  Most people seem to think the expansion if fantastic, or at least very good, but the replay value of doing it on an alt is very low.  Over the last few weeks I've been rewatching a TV series I used to like and it got me to thinking about doing / watching the same thing over again.  What makes something replayable more precisely.

This weekend I finished the last of season 6, the final season, of the TV show Lost.  I had not watched it since it originally aired so it was a nice throwback to see it again.  I actually think I enjoyed it more the second time around even.  The thing is, if I would have watched it all over again when season 6 came out on DVD I might not have had the same opinion I just did because it was all still fresh and new to me.

Waiting as long as I did to watch it again, even if I had all the DVD from the moment they were first released, did a world of good for the replayability of the series in my opinion.  While I still think the series took a turn for the worst in season three when they seemed to become more interested in being a love story and less a mystery, I did not feel it played out as badly as it did the first time around.  Probably because I knew this was just a rough patch of bad writing and it would pass.

When the series was over I came to a conclusion that I seemed to have missed my first time watching it.  If you had watched it originally you might remember the take on the final episode online and what most viewers thought about it.  Spoiler ahead, if you ever plan to watch it and do not know.  The opinions were that the passengers were dead the whole time and their time on the island was some sort of purgatory.  I never quite agreed with that, but could not fight it as it seemed to be the consensus. The thing is after watching it this second time around I realized that while that seems to have made sense it was wrong.  They were not dead.  Most definitely not.

The flash sideways images we see in the last season was, for lack of a better word, purgatory.  The time on the island was real.  It actually happened, they were actually there, left, went back, everything we saw was their real life and they were alive for it.   I would go into it deeper but that is not what this post is about.  It is about something being replayable.

You see, the reason I enjoyed watching it so much the second time around is because I waited long enough and it did not feel like more of the same.  Sometimes, if you really like something, you can watch it over and over again but other times, even if you really like it, there needs to be a space of time before you can fully enjoy it again.

As for what makes something replayable it falls into one simple category that will be different for everyone based on their opinions.  If you can get something out of it, it has replayability.  I doubt I would have got as much out of watching lost a second time if I had done so right away but waiting long enough I did.  So much so that even if I saw it all before it felt all new to me again.

And this is where mists faults itself this expansion and while most might really think it is an excellent expansion they are not feeling it when making alts.  The replayability is just not there because doing everything again, which seems required, is too soon.  Which makes there be little or no replayability.

This was the key to wrath and why I oft times call it the rise of the alts.  Wrath had excellent replayability.  Catching up never felt like a task, it always felt like you could do it if you want to or not.  Gearing up to catch up was about time investment that could be done all in one day or over time.  The head and shoulder enchants would not kill you if you did not have them because skill was more of a factor than a numbers game.  Sure, you would be looked at more seriously with them and you could do better with them, but you could also do just fine without them, there was not such a huge emphasis on stats and gear like their is now.

The reason it became the rise of the alts was because there was something people could get out of it.  They did not feel as if they had to press on through something they did not want to if they did not want to.  Kind of like that season three lull that I did not like in lost.  If I had watched it right away it would have had a feeling of more of the same and I probably would have said, I do not like this, screw it, and stopped watching it the second time around.  But waiting made me think it was okay again.  When there is something people really dislike, having to do said thing again can really turn them off.

And that is why I believe there is the alt issue with mists.  Raising alts in Mists is Lost's season three.  Something what while it is part of a much bigger and better picture, doing it too soon again will ruin the experience as a whole.  Just like if I had watched lost again right away I would have stopped watching at season three, but waiting long enough made it something that even if I was not so fond of it I could bear with again because I knew there was a much greater good, enjoyment, after it was over.

Bringing up an alt right now and having to do the gearing up process through dailies and such is like that season three.  You know it won't take long, it is part of a much bigger picture, but you just do not enjoy it and do not want to do / watch it.  Unlike with a TV series, where if I wanted to I could have just skipped it, there is no option to do that in game, so it would be like being forced to watch season three right after I had just finished it, over and over again for each alt I wanted to level.

That would really turn me off on the series if I need to watch the worst season of what was an otherwise excellent series over and over.  So I would not do it.  But like I said, with a TV show you have that option to skip it, in a game you do not.  If you need to grind reputations you need to grind reputations.  Without it you can not go on to season four.

So what makes something replayable?

If you can do it, even with the parts you do not like to do, and still enjoy it fully, it is replayable.  For some things there needs to be a time break to make it repalyable while others, no matter how much time passes, are just not worth doing again.

The key with me enjoying watching lost again, all of it, was that I knew I did not really need to watch the part of the series I did not like.  I knew that at any moment if I really got bored with it I could skip it any move along to the parts of the show I wanted to see, the stuff I liked more.  Even if I did watch it all, it was knowing I did not have to watch it that made me want to see it again.

This is what is missing in mists for most people.  No matter what there is no skipping because there is no quick pass options.  You need to go through the boring stuff, even if you know it will not take long.  It is enough to turn you off and that is why there is the alt rebellion.  Unlike the rise of the alts in wrath were the only thing that could ever happen was not having a head and shoulder enchant and neither of those were capable of making or breaking you game play wise, it goes to show you, for most, what warcrafts replayability is.

When you do not need to go through the gear up process on alts, when there is a quick and easy catch up, people love it.  When there is a more involved process and you forced, or for those people that refuse to think people are forced, feel forced to do it then it becomes a game breaker.

If season three got to me and I could not skip it I would have never watched lost again.  I would have never found new things I did not see the first time through.  I would have never came away with feeling differently then the first time I saw the end.  I would have never noticed that the series was actually a lot better than I remembered it even if I did like it the first time through.

That rough patch, and all things have a rough patch, is what dictates somethings replayability.  There are only two ways to get past that rough patch in most things.  One is time, let it pass until you do not mind going though that rough patch again or press on through it hoping for something better at the end.  The problem with pushing through it is that you start to resent having to have pushed through it.  So much so that you start to dislike the exact thing you liked and pushed through to experience.

I think mists would do itself well if it tried to remove its season three.  Take away the reputation wall.  The valor wall to slow people down is more than enough now that the expansion is under way.  Either that, or people will have to keep watching season three and sooner or later they are going to realize that it is just not worth putting yourself through that horrible season without the option to hit fast forward.

It comes down to what people like and what they are willing to put up with.  I am sure there are a fair deal of people that liked Kate and Sawyers caged loved and Jack and Juliet exchanging shy smiles but for me it left me thinking, stop with the filler content just to take up time and get on with the much better story I know you have to offer.  That is the same exact thing I feel about doing reputation on alts, stop with the filler content just to give me something to do and let me get on with the much better game I know you have to offer.  For me, it kills the replayability.

What makes something replayable for you?  Or more importantly, what kills the replayability for you? 


  1. Season 3, if memory serves, took place during the writer's strikes. They were running on creative fumes for weeks on that one.

    I agree, though. Wrath was the time I brought my alts up. Cata made it easier to bring them from 80 to 85, just because they were already there and the dungeons weren't too bad. With MoP, however, I've found that the amount of effort it took to actually get one character through all the quest content and get to 90 made it less appealing to have to do it again.

    1. And even less appealing to do the rep grind again the 4th and 5th and 6th time.

      Wrath was when I became an altaholic and I actually like it. It felt nice being able to play anything at any time and them all being geared correctly. Now it is looking at the grind at anyone I bring up and my desire to even worry about alts is all lost.

  2. Never watched Lost. I don't watch much tv since the middle 70's because I was over seas from the 75 to 86. The off on TDY's and short tours till 93. So, when I got back, Welcome back Kotter was no longer on. And I only caught Miami Vice as re-runs, the same for X-Files. :( But I understand your analogy. :)

    TBC and Cata are the two places I hate. I really did wish that Blizz would remove the restrictions on leveling that forces one to go to TBC (once you make 60, no matter how much rest you have, your exp is cut down tremendously).

    But roo did something different - I made a monk. A humie monk. And did another different thing - I joined a lvl 25 guild. I know, not my own. But once I made "honor", I bought heirloom leather hood and leather pants. Tonight I am going to buy the mail pants too for my other hunter. And I went DPS for the monk. I am not a healer. I will never heal in real life. Heck I can't even puck a splinter out of a finger without it turning into major surgery. But kill, I can and kill is what I do.

    So with heirloom gear (all except weapons, but ehhh), last night I went from lvl 15 to lvl 22 in 2 hours. And I wasn't even trying. WOW, having 45% more exp points really works nice. So, maybe TBC and LK won't be so bad. :D then Cata will only have 15% more, so maybe that won't be bad either.

    Have you any news on heirloom gear for 80 to 90?

    1. I think all the heirlooms will be raised to go to 85 with the patch. 85-90 will not happen until next expansion most likely.

      I did 74-78 in less than one hour on my monk the other day. Yeap, not kidding.

      If you like mystery with a touch of sci/fi type supernatural stuff lost might be right up your alley. Just ignore all that crap love story stuff at the start of season 3, it goes away. The show always had love stories, but that is the only time it went to that being the full focus and almost completely destroyed the series in my opinion.

    2. Nah, you told me the ending.... >..>

      LOL, kidding.

      So what are you on the monk - mistwalker or kickass "Hi, it's me, Chuck Norris" walker?

      But anyway, if it is this much fun playing a monk, I think I will be back into WOW. I guess i was getting burned out doing "Mists of Grindaria", lost my focus on what to do and where.But starting a monk back in human land (I could have been a gnome, I love gnomes, especially female gnomes - sick-o that I am) was strange. I actually started two. The first one, some yahoo came up to me and wanted oral sex- stood real close and started the male human dance with the pelvis thrusts right at my head.In real life I would have knocked his teeth out. Then there were toons going around with names like "allisqueer", etc, so I reported them. I hope it worked. For I deleted that toon and made another and did not see them anymore. Got thru the questing just fine, but guess what - no herbs or ore nodes, I repicked skinning and kept herbs.

      About the only bad thing is lvl 90's farming the essence of air - just running all over my lvl 74 rogue. And they had the audicity to say, I only need a few more and I was here first. LOL, I wondered what happen to sharing.

      But you know, the heirlooms going to 85 will be nice, because 85 to 90 is fast as long as one doesnt get side tracked into dailies. :D

      have a good one GE! And hi Jaeger, Ananmoose and everyone else.

      I'mmmmm bbbaaaaaacccccckkkkkk.

      -roo the mentally challenge dwarf

      ok, ok, why was the Night ELf in the tree?

      Because she was raking up the leaves!

    3. I guess you needed to find your new grove. Something you did enjoy. Monks are kind of fun. Mine will be a tank when the time comes but leveling as melee and it is nice and easy with only a few buttons. A definite change from the pressures of being a hunter. Enjoy it while you can.

  3. I don't really find MoP too alt-unfriendly. The rep grinds are bad, true, but they always were even when they were easy in past expansions. Reps to me are fine to do on my rep-grinding character--i even enjoy them then--but they really feel like 'unlockables' that I should only have to do once.

    Of my three 90s, one (paladin) is my main, the second (rogue) is basically a farmer alt with crap gear, and the third (priest) has ok gear but I don't make any strenuous effort there, I just do an lfr or so when the mood strikes me. That's much better than on my main when i was trying to do all 5 lfrs a week.

    I did do the GL and Klaxxi grinds on my priest, but with commendation even GL didn't seem that bad. Klaxxi was practically effortless. Now I'm doing August Celestials for the bag pattern at exalted, and it is slow but not too bad. I guess it helps that I don't really do the dailies religiously, but only when I think about them. I'm not really in any hurry there.

    Well after all that rambling I guess I could make an attempt at topicality. Distance does make things replayable/rewatchable, because you do sort of forget the details and it then falls into that half-remembered nostalgia zone. Also, some things just have that spark that hits you. I've probably read the Lord of the Rings 6 or 7 times, and I still can pull it out and reread it without getting bored.

    1. Reputation grinds where an "if you wanted to do them" in past expansions which I did on my mains only. When tabards came out, I put them on the alts because I would be doing dungeons anyway. The alts never needed to do reputation.

      You must like them more than I do. Like I would not want to watch season three just after I finished it. I would not want to grind golden lotus on a character when I just did it. It is not the time factor, it is that I did not like doing them. Nothing more, nothing less. If you do not like something it has no replayability.

      Can't say I am anti daily either. I have one character that has over 10,000 dailies and had 4 others that had over 1,000 before this daily happy expansion came out.

      The dailies were never a problem in my opinion. The time it took was never a problem in my opinion. The fact you had no choice but to max out golden lotus to do the others was and remains the problem. There are too many of them, they are mostly annoying, they are too crowded because everyone is funneled into them and they act like a wall that keeps you away, even if only for a week or two, from what your real objective is, like the shado-pan enchanting recipes.

      So it is not the daily thing that bugs me or makes in feel as if it is not replayable, it how it was designed.

      That would be like telling me I needed to watch season 3 not only before watching season 4 but again before watching season 5 and once more before watching season 6. If I do not like something I do not like something. I should be able to skip it. And that is why for many this expansion is alt unfriendly and with little replayability. The funnel that is the golden lotus and no option to skip that season.

    2. I think I entirely agree with you on the design question...reps really feel like something where the "important" benefits should just be account wide. Perhaps the rep itself should be. Doing a daily grind, or honestly even a tabard grind more than once is just...redundant. And I still give Blizzard a big WTF on the GL gating thing. It astonishes me that this is not being removed in 5.2 (unless it is one of the stealth changes). Rep should be something to do if you want to, not a required thing, which hasn't been true since Wrath and head/shoulder enchants (maybe even BC and heroic keys).

    3. I too am amazed that it is not being removed in 5.2. Originally they did it to keep people from burning out the second they hit 90. Lets face facts here. Anyone that would have burnt themselves out trying to get every rep maxed ASAP has been 90 since september. it is no longer needed to gate people from burning themselves out.

      From the get go I kept saying, I just wish my enchanter could do the two I want for the enchanting recipes. I did not want to do GL to get to do them. I just wanted to do them. I really don't see the reason for the double gate. Isn't gating me to be revered to get the patterns enough?

  4. I tend to agree here. I have a dislike of repeating content. I do everything on my paladin because it's my main, it gets the best stuff, and even in this era of account wide achievements I prefer to do them on the class I have the most fun with. I have 4 level 90's right now and a level 89. Levelling the current 89 and my 3rd 90 felt like such a chore, which is why the 89 hasn't made it to 90. However my last 90, which was my monk, went quite well purely I believe because of the xp buff they get.

    I'm just fed up of levelling. Congratulations Mists I think I got to about my 8th alt in Cara before I could barely bother to level it. If levelling went a little faster then I wouldn't mind repeating it over and over, quite so much. 89-90 especially feels like it takes forever, like you are making zero progress, it's such a chore.

    That's just levelling. I've recently been getting an alt, my monk, ready to raid. I had just dropped all my alts on dinging 90 but I want to play this one. So I've had to dive back into daily quests and I'm sick of it. However, my monks also my enchanter and by bad luck I guess no-ones main in the guild is an enchanter. So it's past time someone got the reps for the formulas anyway. I keep picking up the quests, staring at the screen, and having to give myself a pep talk to do them.

    Now perhaps I'm just spoiled from how it was in Cata but gear vendors behind reputation, then making that reputation an effort to achieve, and making none of the fear BoE, not boots not bracers nothing. Where's the leg up for alts? Answer there really isn't one. The grand commendations, the valor of the ancients buff, make it quicker on alts but it still requires the same activity. Plus alts could catch up in previous expansions as valor downgraded to justice and justice is easier to get. Now everything's on the same level as the main it feels.

    What am I supposed to do in 5.2 with the new area? If I want to ever play my monk I should take it there, but logging in on my main for dailies, then logging in on my monk to do the same ones I just can't do it. For some reason I don't mind running the same dungeons, I guess it's practicing my role, but I really find daily quests quite unrepeatable. This is from somone who has never really complained about the daily quest system. The problem is I don't mind working for it once. I have 68 exalted reputations. I do mind repeating it. Psychologically I've already got to exalted so what's the point?

    My friend is different. He has 8 90's I think and never seems to tire of levelling. He caps 4-5 of them I think with valor every week. Every single one of his alts can get into at least MSV LFR. He laughs and says he doesn't recommend doing the dailies repeatedly in the same day but he has done it. Nothing seems to phase him, he just does it and never seems fed up about it. I don't know how he manages, where his fortitude comes from. I think he's lucky with drops on alts, he linked 4 items he won in LFR the other day. Even so gearing that many alts is impressive. So maybe it's a question of perspective? If I've stamped done on my main I find it hard to repeat. For others it's just the path that needs to be taken and they don 't really feel anything about it.

    1. Odd how you say 89-90 takes forever. I guess to each their own. It takes me longer to do 85-86 than it does to go from 88-90. Once you hit 88 you can sneeze and be 90. At least for my it is like speed leveling like you have never seen it before. Every character I level I say the same thing, it seems they messed it up, that first level takes twice as long as the last 2 combined, shouldn't it be the other way around.

      I did the grind again on my DK for the enchanting patterns being I did not want to grind it on my priest. Got everyone exalted in less than 3 weeks of only doing dailies on it two to four times a week believe it or not. It was not hard but it still made me feel as if I was forced into doing something I did not want to. That is the third class that has capped everything.

      My hunter and my tanks are the only ones that daily. I hate doing them on my healers, cloth wearers and melee otherwise. If you can not tank and are not a hunter, I do not daily with you. Simple enough in my opinion.

      I cap one a week, my main, and dabble a little on the others each week. As a matter of fact, that DK has capped 3 weeks in a row. It is the first time this expansion I capped more than one character 3 weeks in a row. It is not that I do not want to cap them, it is just that this game is unplayable on alts.

    2. Ok 85-86 is a snap for me. I can do it in one sitting easy as you like. Breeze through a few quests and boom 86 then it's off to the valley. I've done that on 7-8 characters easy as you like. It's once I hit 87 and Kun-Lai that I start to slow down, start to hate levelling and really ask myself "why I am doing this again?" No that first level, for me, is no trouble at all, it feels like hardly any time at all. I've not timed myself of course but it certainly doesn't seem long.

      89-90 I'm questing in Dread Wastes and it feels like hardly making a dent on that bar. Just feels like forever. The only 2 chars I'm doing dailies on are both tanks. I attempted to gear up a healer and I just don't have any interest in that anymore. I love tanking, and I just don't want to heal. I don't enjoy it, I don't think I've got a healers mindset anymore.

      The fact that we need healers, and that I'm probably being selfish, is offset slightly by the fact that we don't have a tank who could replace me. Fact is, at least among the people I know tanks and healers are scarce in equal measure. In fact now I'm not raiding with my guild (I called a time out as there's only 5 of us showing up every week and pugging 5 is an exercise in frustration) I get asked by 3 guilds each week to help them. If only the lockouts were loot lockouts rather than pure lock, then I would be able to if the timings didn't clash. I like to tank, everything that can tank does tank. My 4 90's are all tanking classes.

      Anyway that's off topic. I think now in 5.2 they should relax restrictions. Remove reputation requirements for valor gear, or lower it to honored. Remove the Golden Lotus gate from Shado-Pan and August Celestials so people can choose which one they start with. Those I think are reasonable requests. An unreasonable request (but not completely unreason) would be maybe make grand commendations stack, so each successive alt at revered makes it faster for the next alt. Having the new 5.2 vendors have a BoE piece of gear, boots/bracers would be a nice gesture too.

      They've had 2 expansions where alts were encouraged, and people grew to love them. They brought in account wide achievements which supported alt play, and then they locked everything for a main. I'm not saying make it so easy that everyone has 5-6 raiding characters, but a little easier would be appreciated. As it is the sheer chore of gearing alts, is enough to make me play less not more, which is surely the opposite of what blizz would like.

    3. That is so weird. As soon as I hit 87 it seems to speed up for me. I actually timed it on alt #8 to hit 90 and I did 87-90 in half the time it took to do 85-87.

      Not only did it actually take less time for me it felt like it too because once I hit 87 I have a predetermined path with a quest line I enjoy from that point to 90 directly which makes it more enjoyable.

      I would be willing to guess that you do not like the quest, which in turn makes it feel as if it is taking longer. Just like it feels faster for me because I do like them.

      I agree with your end assessment, they endorsed, encouraged and supported the idea of alts for two expansions. It was amazing in wrath, the rise of the alt, and I would love to get back to that alt recipe, and then they do this about face thing. Doesn't make sense.

      I think removing the reputation requirements and the GL lock on the others is more than enough. No need for stacking more reputation buffs or anything if rep no longer matters. Heck, just remove the GL lock on the others and I would be happy, even if they kept the reputation requirements.

      I just do not like doing the GL ones and that effectively means there are 3 factions I can not get gear with and that is wrong. Very wrong. In my opinion at least.

    4. BTW:

      I'll let you in a an ultra top secret way to level from 89-90 in less than an hour of actual questing.

      Don't tell anyone or some of my secrets for the worlds fastest leveler will be gone. :P

      When you hit 89 find a friend with a 2 person mount. A DK or hunter would be best as they can solo all rare mobs.

      Have them do one full pass of the continent and stop to pick up all the grey items because they give insane experience, all the blue/purple ones that you are lucky enough to see, insane experience as well, and kill every single rare that gets in your way, also insane experience.

      I took a shaman from my guild on one full pass and got lucky with a lot of rares being up and a lot of blue/purples being there. She was 92% into 89 just from one pass. I landed at the start of the dread wastes, she was 90 just after opening the klaxxi a few quests later.

      All those kills and finds and exploring experience basically allowed her to completely skip the 89-90 process.

      I do not do that when I level personally because I like to level and I want to get the rep anyway but I know where all the find items are and they do boost me HUGELY to level faster. Dread wastes is flooded with them, just pick them up and you will speed level through it.

  5. LOL, it's 1 to 85 that is so slow, folks! But like GE, I do find 85 to 86 to be slower than 86 to 90. And then again, like T.N. I can find 87 to 90 being slow. I think it depends on which class I am on. Hunters (you can't be German without being a HUNter)(dwarf hunter joke, just nod your head and move as fast out of the area as possible), it is fast, Druids and Rogues slow slow slow getting to 88.

    Anyway, has any of you experience doing an area (say West Falls) and going away with a patch day in between, then coming back to the area and you can get all the quests again? I know I did them when I was lvl 12 to 14, but I saw I had a low level quest this morning and went back and they were all available again!

    1. You bring up a great point. The class.

      88-90 was a lot slower on my mage and priest but went by like lightning and each of my hunters and my two tanks and shaman. Other classes seem about average.

      But I would think a good mage or a good priest would blow through it as fast as I do on a hunter or DK.