Friday, August 23, 2013

What If: Blizzard Gave You Everything You Wanted?

Have you ever heard the expression be careful what you wish for because you just might get it?  Sometimes we want things and do not understand what could happen if we got them.  This means everyone, myself included.  We all say we wish blizzard would do this or we wish blizzard would do that.

Lets have a little fun and scour over the forums and pull out some of the things people ask for and play a game of what if.  What if the person got exactly what they wanted.  What do you see happening?

Case # 1 : What if WoW was made easier?

We often hear people saying that they wish warcraft were easier.  I am guilty to saying that about the LFR.  I always say it is too hard for the masses and it needs to be made much easier.  So let me play with my own little aspect meaning just making the LFR easier before I go into making WoW easier as a whole.

What would happen if the LFR was easier, as in heroic dungeon blow through them nice and quickly with minimal mechanics and the ability for one person (5 in LFR) to carry the rest of the group.  I think it would make the LFR a lot more user friendly.  What I believe upsets people most is waiting in queue for 50 minutes just to wipe 5 or 6 times on a boss you don't even wipe on in normal mode.  If it were made easier to the point were you just run in and kill everything even when with mostly people of extremely limited skill it would be good for the game. 

It would make the LFR fill the role it should fill for people that are looking for an easy stepping stone to gearing up. It would serve the purpose of letting others that are not looking to use it as a stepping stone but as a way to see content and play and feel successful within their own right.

I see making the LFR easier, much much easier, as something that would be good for the game.  But...

I could be very wrong.  Maybe I am not seeing something that others would notice that making it easier would bring along.  And that is where I go to the blanket statement of making wow easier over all.

We hear people all the time ask for things to be made easier.  Leveling, solo scenarios, the legendary quest line fights, the mobs on the island, raids, so forth and so on.  Lets give it to them and see what might happen.

I think if they made things too easy it would destroy the game in various ways that most would never even consider.  Lets look at crafting to start off with.  If letting people kill raid bosses were easier then getting the materials needed for top crafting items would be flooding the market lowering their value and the value of the associated crafted items. 

If the mobs that gave the best skins could be one shot by anyone just standing there slapping their keyboard without thinking the leather market would be shot to all high hell.  And cloth would be too.  When anyone can go through any area and kills mobs like a level 90 going through a level 20 dungeon would by just spamming AoE and one shot everything the amount of cloth gained would be insane decreasing its value and the value of all items made with cloth. 

And lets not forget enchanting materials.  If the game were so easy that anyone could solo the 90 dungeons for enchanting materials it would flood the market with them.  So with leather, cloth, enchanting materials, crafting pieces, and so much more easily farmed by anyone with a pulse the economy would be a shell of what it currently is on some servers and on some servers it is bad already.  It would just be made that much worse.

If raid bosses were that easy those people that want to be raiders and could never cut it would finally become raiders and this would be good right?  But maybe they would clear the tier and get bored and quit instead of sitting on the outside looking in wishing they could do that.  As it stands there are a great many players in the game that would love to raid but they do not because they can't.  Either by being honest with themselves and knowing they can not do it or by people not being willing to take them along.  But even if they are not raiding that motivation to raid will always remain in the minds and will be, at least a tiny bit, a driving force that keeps them playing knowing that some day they too can do that.

If leveling were easier, and I doubt it could really get much easier, people would just do one quest, level up, do another quest, level up, do another quest, level up and in a matter of days, not weeks or months or even years, they would have every class at max level and if that was all they ever really did there would be nothing left in the game for them except the gear grind.  Not everyone wants to do the gear grind, as a matter of fact, the statistics show that most people never even get to it.

Don't discount the number of players that just level and that is all they do.  I read somewhere recently that only 25% of the subscribers have a max level character.  (not sure if that is true so don't hold me to it)  That means the majority of the players are just leveling.  You can read this in two ways.  One might be it is too hard to level and that is why there are only a quarter of their players at max level, or the other, that most people are just having fun playing the game instead of playing the end game. 

Leveling is important and if those 75% were given near instant max level characters, they might not keep playing.  Lets face it.  If they were serious about playing they would not be lower than max level for any extended period of time don't you think? 

What does the game have to offer those people that are not into "serious" game play at max level?  Nothing much.  If leveling were made any easier than it already is I think it would be a huge disaster for the game as subscribers reached max level that never had before and found there was nothing left in the game for them.  Maybe a few would become max level players but would all of them because of quick leveling or would they just say, I made max level, I beat the game, now lets go find something else to do because there is nothing for me to do now.  I think easier leveling would be bad for the game.

There is a lot that could go wrong with making things easier and this is all guess work of course but I believe if the game, as a whole and not just tiny parts of it, was made too easy then the game could very well crumble. 

With raiding a shell of itself and so easy that even the most casual of casual players that has an interest in raiding could get heroic content down in 2 weeks at most they could lose interest and leave.  With the AH and economy destroyed the money making mini game might be boring for many of those that used to get a kick out of. 

Those levelers that just wanted to level would find themselves with nothing left to do once they were done with their leveling unless they wanted to do it over again and even at that you can only do it so much.  People would just start to leave in droves and that would mean less subscribers which means less new content, less good content, and even less reason to stay subscribed.  Eventually leaving the game to the few that decide to stick it out and maybe PvPers and role players.  Too easy could be the end of wow.  Be careful what you wish for.

Case # 2 :  What if WoW were made harder?

Just like some could argue the effects of making warcraft easier has lead to losses already in some aspects, making it harder has done so as well.  Yes, you can make something easier and harder at the same time, just in different aspects.  Remember the droves of people that left the game at the beginning of cataclysm because of the heroic dungeons and the ones that followed with the double Zul hell that came later?

The content was good.  I liked it and I did not really find them hard unless I was in a random group but the majority of the player base was completely turned off by them.  Can you just imagine what it would be like if it took 40 days played to get to max level again?  Could you imagine what it would be like if even the most skilled players took 100 wipes to down the first boss of a new raid on normal mode?

Where would that leave the majority of guilds?  Ones like mine would no longer exist, that is for sure. At least not as a raiding guild, that is for sure, and looking at my server neither would any of the other guilds. 

Lets say they made the LFR harder. Gave it normal mode difficulty with random people.  How many LFR groups have you been in that you said, I think we could down normals in this group?  Not many I am sure.  I know, not counting when I went in near full guild groups, I have only had one LFR run where I actually thought that the group I was in could clear a few bosses on normal.  So with that in mind, would the LFR ever be used if the odds of success where effectively less than that of winning the mega millions lottery in new york?  1 in 179 million.  That is what the odds of success would be if the LFR were normal difficulty.  Just a guess of course, it would probably have worse off of success, I was just being generous.

When people would level slower they would not feel progress in this instant gratification world and they would leave quickly for something else that made them feel as if they could gain some level of success or at least see some level of progress instead of taking forever to get gtom level 42 to level 43.  The world of gaming has changed since warcraft first came out and warcraft has changed with it.  That is why leveling is faster now, even if I hate it, because it has to be.  It has to be to keep people attracted.

If the quest hubs where so hard that you always needed a group to do them it would alienate the vast majority of the player base that usually prefers to do that stuff on their own at their own time.  If the solo scenario to open the island were harder than the legendary quest solo scenarios how would a fresh 90 ever have a prayer of doing it.  If all end quest mobs where so hard it needed at least a 10 man raid group to do them it sure might sound cool, but how many people would ever get the quest line done?

Even gathering would be harder.  No leather would be anywhere to be found on the auction house if leather workers had to spend 3-5 minutes killing one mob for one piece of leather.  If they did decide to sell that one piece of leather you can be sure it would be for more than an entire stack sells for now.  A lot more.  And forget all other craftable things because if stuff was really that hard no one would be out farming for enchanting materials or cloth.  Lets not even consider getting those top level crafting items when even the best of the best guilds in the world were still wiping on normal modes 10 hours a day 2 months after a raid patch was released.  Gold buying would go through the roof because things would be so expensive and so hard to get.  This would mean more bots.  That can't be good for the game.

Make the game too hard and people will start to leave.  We have seen it already more than a few times in the recent years where something comes out that people think is to hard and they leave.  And just like the too easy explanation the too hard one would end up with the same result.  Maybe all that would be left were a few die hards, some PvPers and role players, and anyone new that most likely would not last long in this harder, and empty, world.  Be careful what you wish for.

Case # 3 : What if everyone had a raid of their own skill level?

I made a post shortly after the LFR was first introduced that said I believed there was room for, and a need for, 2 more levels of raiding.  It went something along these lines.  Super easy (an even easier LFR mode), family and friends (LFR style difficulty), casual (normal mode), dedicated (heroic mode), and hard core (harder than heroic).

It seems like, in part, my design I laid out back then is coming true.  The mode I called family and friends ghostcrawler calls beer league and blizzard calls flex.  We only need the harder than heroic mode and what I predicted some time ago will come true.  But be careful what you wish for.  The extra raid levels mean extra tier levels and extra item level and extra stat inflation and that is really bad.

What is happening now with the levels as we have them even before flex has been released is increased item inflation by adding additional levels of gear.  Now with flex it is even more so.  If they add an even harder mode there will be another.  When is enough enough?

The more modes they add the more people will think they need to do them all, even if they don't need to.  We already hear that coming from the forums left and right saying that they feel adding flex, as it has its own lockout, will add another layer to an already hectic feeling raid schedule.

But everyone wants a level all their own.  What if another version was added that was basically a patch work fight on all fights.  And another that was so hard that the worlds first guild might not even be able to get it down before the next patch came out.  Or one that was heavy on mechanics but light on requirements.  Or one that was light on mechanics but heavy on requirements.  Or one that was meant for 40 men and one that was meant for 15 men.

Everyone wants to see raids designed more to fit their needs and what if the game gave everyone an option to do the raid that best suits their needs?  Would that add more tiers of gear?

As it is now you can go back and do content that is not even a year old putting out double and in some cases triple the damage you did then and that is only one tier ago.  All thanks to stat inflation and multiple sets of gear.  The more levels you add the more gear you add and you are that much quicker to trivialize content that isn't really that old because of it.

Why is that a bad thing you might ask?  Well, because everyone will always be in different stages of the gearing cycle anything new that is added needs to consider all the people involved and the larger the gap the harder it is to add new content that is both doable by the lesser geared and compelling enough for the higher geared.  Remember, content is added with the intention of all to see it, at least when it is out in the world, like the isle of thunder or the barrens.

Lets just look at what we have now.  Go do the entry solo scenario for the island on a freshly dinged 90 and unless you know how to play the class and are a decent player, you are not going get it done.  That is because of gear inflation.  They had to make it a tiny bit harder for the people that had some gear but in the process made it too hard for the ones just starting out.

Try doing the barrens on a freshly dinged character or even one with a little gear and then do it with one that has some raid gear or one that is fully raid geared?  I have and it is a world of difference.  My fully raid geared characters can go in there and pull packs of 20 no problem just mowing them down while other characters without gear have to go one mob at a time and even at that every battle takes forever.

They had to make the mobs a little harder or the raid geared characters would make even more of a joke out of it than they already do, but in the process they left newly geared characters, the ones that actually need the stuff from there, screwed unless they are willing to spend 3 or more hours doing it or can find a group.

The more levels of raiding there is, the harder it becomes to add new patches that are meant for everyone.  If you want to make it so someone that is geared and has been playing from the start can get some, even if minimal, challenge from it, you effective screw anyone that is not raid geared into it taking them forever, requiring them to have a group, or them giving up and not doing it at all because it is impossible.

As it is, things have gone too far.  The first tier of raiding this expansion should have dropped 476 gear on normal and 489 on heroic.  The second tier should have dropped 496 on normal and 509 heroic.  And that would still be quite a leap, but much easier to design for everyone with.  The easy fix would have been the have the LFR drop the previous tiers item level.  Like the original this expansion would have dropped 463 and second would have dropped 476 and the third would drop 496.  With the addition of flex, it just makes it worse, much worse, as there is now another entire tier level of gear.

Adding more tiers is actually a bad thing, a very bad thing, because it makes designing anything new in an expansion a problem if you want that something new to be for everyone once there are gaps as huge as the ones we have seen coming. 

So even if one day I said I would like to see those 5 levels of raiding, I was wrong, dead wrong.  It is bad for the game because it adds more levels of gear and that makes things worst as time goes on.  I should have followed my own words of caution here, be careful what you wish for.  But be prepared.  I predicted flex when LFR was first introduced.  So maybe my harder than heroic mode is coming next expansion.  My guess it is.  If you are liking that idea right now, be careful what you wish for.

Case # 4 : I wish my character was OP?

Someone always has to be last.  Lets forget for a moment that if blizzard were to grant your wish and everyone elses that means everyone would be OP and then no one would be OP.  But lets just pretend they are giving you, and only you, everything you wanted by making your class OP.

When your class first became OP you would rule the charts in PvE content, destroy the world in PvP content and all in all be enjoying the every loving shit out of the game because it feels awesome being so over powered.  No one would ever deny that.  Everyone likes being powerful.

For this case we are going to use a druid as the class in question, as a druid is the only class that can fill all four roles.

So you are knocking the ball out of the park on your druid healer in the new raid tier.  The other healers, even if more skilled, are behind you by leaps and bounds.  Oh the joys of being OP.  After a short time, very short if you are in a hard core guild, your healing power will mean that all healers need to switch to druids and get their alts raid ready.  Soon your 25 man is filled with 6 druid healers because they are so OP.

Now I hope you are the best player there because you know what happens to healers that do to good?  The better your healers are, the less of them you use.  They are the only role in the game that one of them can lose their job by doing it too well.  With druids being so OP the need for 6 of them is not really required any longer.  So maybe they go down to 5 or even to 4. 

If you happen to be one of the bottom of the list healers guess who is sitting on the bench because they wanted their class OP.  Be careful what you wish for.  You wanted your druid healer to be OP and now you are sitting on the bench because the raid is filled with druids healers and you were not one of the best.  Perhaps next time you should ask to be better at your class than to ask for your class to be better.  Just think about that line for a minute.

Lets say everyone in your raid group starts to get into the OP nature of the druid and soon your 25 man team has 2 bear tanks, 4 tree healers, 9 cat melee and 10 chicken ranged.  Not exactly a good team to be gearing is it?  So much gear will get disenchanted.  Gearing up would be a nightmare of epic proportions when you have an entire raid to roll against.  Better hope you are an agility user there because there are only 11 of them as opposed to 14 intellect wearers.

Just for humor sake, what happens when you have to fill one spot and that person that comes in is not a druid.  Do you fight over who gets to put symbioses on them?  Really.  Would it be a raid roll for who gets it?

Lets go PvPing instead of raiding with your new OP class because you are now benched from the raid team anyway and you start destroying everything in your path.  Your three druid team is ripping up the arena league and you go from also ran to top team in the world in the matter of 24 hours.  You don't think that will go unnoticed by PvPers do you?  Nope, they will notice that druids are now OP in PvP and within a matter of no time every team in the top 100 is a three druid team and suddenly you are not all that OP any more. 

You now find yourself losing as much as you are winning.  It is, oddly, balanced because all teams are the same.  Better hope you are one of those better players if you want to keep that top rating otherwise you will once again find yourself gravitating to the also ran position just like you did on your druid healer even if the class is OP.  Let me repeat something I said earlier for further consideration.  Perhaps next time you should ask to be better at your class than to ask for your class to be better.

It might seem nice to think your class being OP would be a good thing but it wouldn't be.  It would water down the game to just a bunch of people playing the same exact thing if they are truly that OP.  Like it or not, and while sometimes heroic guilds might stack for a kill, the reason there is so much diversity in raids is because that one class is not OP.  The closer they can keep things to balanced the better the game is, even if they will never reach a perfect balance.

Having your class be OP would be bad for the game over all.  If you are going to wish for your class to be something, wish to have it be as good as everyone else.  Don't ask for it to be over powered because you never know what will happen if it becomes so.  You might be the healer sitting on the bench.  Be careful what you wish for.

Case # 5 : You pick something you want and lets see how we can turn it around.

There are so many things people ask for that can backfire on them if they got it.  I ask for random not to play such a big part in the game any more and I believe it would make the game better if they went with a more earn as you go system with everything and many people have pointed out how sometimes that could be a bad thing even if on paper it does sound good.

No matter what we want in game, there is always something we forget about.  Always something that should make us think, be careful what you wish for.

What is something you see people asking for all the time that you think would backfire if blizzard gave it to them?


  1. /cheer

    THIS post I like. :)

    Yeah, the balance required to make the game successful must be incredibly tough to implement. Things have to be hard enough (and easy enough) for those who want it hard as well as easy enough (and hard enough) for those who want it easy. In the same game, at the same level of overall difficulty.

    I think as long as there remains multiple levels of difficulty/complexity, people can generally find their level, more or less, whether it's heroic raiding, LFR or just leveling. It's only when people want things to be exactly to their personal taste that it becomes an issue... we all fall into that trap occasionally but hopefully only occasionally.

    As I was reading your 3rd part I had a thought... imagine if flex raiding wasn't flexible in terms of numbers but was flexible in terms of difficulty/loot. You'd have a difficulty slider you could tune, from LFR to normal or anywhere in between, that would scale the gear iLvl equivalently (so at LFR level you'd get i502, at normal you'd get i522 and for various levels in between the iLvls that drop would be appropriately scaled). This seems like it could be an interesting idea... but then try to imagine how a raid of 10 players would decide where it should be tuned. It's hard enough to decide whether to do a fresh run vs locking out to increase progression, imagine having 20 increments you can choose from that impact both difficulty (which you might want as easy as possible) and gear (which you'd want as high as possible).

    Ugh. Yeah, I like how they implemented flex more, I think.

    1. I often complain about things, because it is what I do, but they do a very good job of finding that balance. I do then to believe they lean to far one way or the other sometimes. Like I think leveling is a bit too quick and easy right now and I think normal mode raiding is a little to hard for most people. Over all however, it is a balancing act and they do quite well trying to find that sweet spot, even if they never really do.

      I had a post about that sliding scale idea a while back and scaling the gear with it. I think it would be great. But my idea for scaling gear had very similar item levels, and that would be a turn off to most. I can see it now, someone with 522 complaining that someone did it with the 5% buff bar and got 520 gear instead and complain that his gear isn't as "special snowflake" because this guy has almost the same thing as he does but got it easier.

      Really, that is where the difficulty for the design would be. In the players complaining because they all want something special just for them.

  2. add 1)
    Would love it if you could get a source for that 25%, it's lower than the afaik 30% during Cata (from your Is Raiding Really Compelling? post)
    Personally, it wouldn't suprise me if the relatively high amount of Cata Holdouts would be one of the reasons for a possible decrease.

    add 2)

    The issue argueably isn't that levelling isn't harder, it is that the option to do more difficult content whilst levelling has been removed.

    If they lowered the minimum character level you could pick up Quests for example a lot of the criticism that has been heard since esp. Cataclysm would be solved.

    Sadly, looking at eg the whole mess they made of low-level PvP 'because spending time on a charcter shouldn't give much of an advantage' they are still firmly in the camp of catapulting people to cap to get bored and/or frustrated because they never learned CC etc.

    1. From what I hear from many including people in my own guild was that mists leveling too forever.

      Now do not judge by me because I am a leveling machine and I thought mists leveling was the fastest of any expansion so far, but that might be the reason. I know people that had all 10 classes maxed last expansion by the mid point and only have 1 maxed now.

      I loved the red quest lines. If you wanted the challenge you could take it. I too would like to see the return of taking red quests.

      It is sad they do not pay attention to low level PvP and leave it a mess like it is. I loved low level PvP. More than I do max level, that is for sure. It would be nice if they put more effort into designing the game to work at all levels and not just max level.

  3. -Making LFR easier
    I don't see a problem. We used to get new dungeons every tier which dropped gear of the same iLvL as the previous raid tier. Now, we have LFR instead (with slightly elevated iLvL as you mentioned). It should be the same difficulty as the new set of 5 mans we used to get (and probably the same iLvL).

    -Making WoW easier or harder
    Overall, I don't think that's needed. I think it needs to continue to be more accessible, but that does not imply a change in difficulty.

    -A difficulty for every raider
    I think that if they increase the number of raid difficulties, they need to decrease the iLvL gaps between the difficulties. A tier should span X iLvLs; so if you have Y difficulties, they need to be spread within those X iLvLs.

    for example, X=21 and we have 4 difficulty levels, so the gap is X/(Y-1) = 7
    LFR = 0
    Flex = 7
    Normal = 14
    Heroic = 21

    If they changed it to 5 levels, X would still be 21, so the gap would now be 5.25:
    LFR = 0
    Flex = 5
    Normal = 10
    Heroic = 15
    Insane = 21

    Instead, they keep the gap as 13 and just keep increasing the span of the tier, causing insane iLvL increases.

    It could be done to a certain extent, but there's a point where it'd get to be too much; regardless of how you managed the iLvLs. I think 4 is almost too much already, so I wouldn't want them to go beyond that.

    -Something that I would want where we can weight the pros and cons:

    There are so many things...

    1. The ability to learn all professions on one character.

    2. Gearing progression that is not based on RNG.

    3. Player/Guild housing.

    4. Make all classes into hybrids.

    And so many more things... but I'll stop there.

    I think each can be done appropriately, but each could also be done horribly wrong.

    1. You make a good point. Being accessible does not mean being easier.

      Like making the 522 valor items not require shado pan assault rep would have made it more accessible. Or the old gear going to justice when ToT came out, would have made it more accessible. Not easier, accessible. The game can use a lot more of that. I agree.

      Maybe I should tackle each of those one day in a what if and let my imagination run away with what could happen.

  4. I've only been awake for a short while, so my brain might not be fully functional just yet...but, what if they were to have the ilvl of gear drops in LFR adjust to what you need?

    Say I'm new to the game and just dinged 90 (or I leveled a new toon to 90) during the current tier. Why not have the game see my ilvl and give me drops of an ilvl in LFR appropriate to get me geared for Flex or Normal raiding?

    The way it is now I'd have to take that new 90 through last tier's content to get me ready for the new content. By adjusting the ilvl to what I need for current tier could help with new players/new alts for getting caught up. That way there I could run current stuff with friends/guild instead of last tier's stuff while they all run the current tier stuff.

    With the new loot system this could be something that is possible. They already give us drops appropriate for our spec, why not appropriate ilvl for current stuff? Not sure what kind of coding would be needed to implement it, but it might be able to be done.

    1. That would be a nice catch up mechanic but I am sure they would say that would allow people to gear up too fast. I personally would like it.

      I think they want people going through all the old stuff to catch up. It was done by design that way. The one bad part is that all that gear is tied to the LFR, the single worst addition ever to the game and a place where the community sinks to all time lows that not even I would have thought this community can sink to.

      The gearing process would be so much better if it did not involve the LFR, at all.

      With that said, I still would support and idea of dropping upgrades appropriate for the current tier in anything you do, to speed up the catch up mechanic.

  5. I'd like to have tripple specc - 25k gold

    now please rip my wish apart :)

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

    1. I can not see how that one would hurt the game but for the sake of finding something I will come at it from a developers point of view.

      It would ruin the choices people need to make when they have everything at just the switch of a button. The last thing we would ever want to do it make spec choice no longer a choice but just another "collect them all" thing in game. And what about poor druids? They would get left in the cold.

      So while I could not see how it would hurt the game, I played the role of a blizzard employee and shot it down.

      Good enough? ;)

  6. And now I have to go listen to 'When I grow up' for the rest of the day...

    1. Oddly the be careful what you wish for saying is probably older than anyone in the pussycat dolls. So it was surely not a reference to them at all.

    2. Of course it wasn't, don't be silly. That doesn't change the fact that the song is now stuck in my head, though.

    3. It does make me wonder where that saying came from to begin with. Off to goggle I go.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. I figured if there were anyone that reads here that would know where the quote came from it would have been you.