Friday, June 27, 2014

Why Warlords is Late Reason #6: Wasted Art Assignments

There are many reasons we can guess about what has been the delay with warlords, and I know I did not post about the first five but those are actually quite obvious.  So I will start at reason number six which was just announced.

They are moving the horde and alliance hubs from their places in the starting zones to points near ashran.  Now I am not in beta so I can not see exactly how they are moving them, but unless they move the actual cities there, which I know they will not do because you can not exactly move karabor because it is not some generic city but a city with a history of being exactly where it is, all the art work put into making these places into hubs to begin with is now wasted time.  If they just happen to turn into quest hubs we spend a little time in and then move along to forget about they would not need the amazing level of detail blizzard is well known for including in their hub cities of the past like the shrines, dalaran or shat, which essentially means any of that extra time spent on them was wasted art assignments.

So no only did they spend time developing the art for these two cities, one for the horde and one for the alliance, that is now all wasted time, they need to develop two new cities at the level of hub design late in the development process wasting even more time.  I am sure they will steal a lot from the cities they already made as that would be the smart thing to do, but it is still all just wasted time.

While I am against the idea of moving our hubs for the reasons of time we all must realize that in a way this is a good move for the expansion and this is where the hub cities should have been to begin with but blizzard, if anything, has shown throughout history they are not a very forward thinking company.

It would have been nice to have my horde hub city close to my horde garrison and my alliance hub city close to my alliance garrison but if they make a way, as in a portal, for us to get from our city to our garrison and back then where our garrison is really should not matter much.  This remains to be seen.  Don't count on blizzard to do the right thing here, they want us to spend a lot of time traveling, it is how they intend to make their content last longer and why they are removing flight.

As for why this is a good change I will play devils advocate here.

Putting our hub cities close to the new world PvP zone means both hub cities are close to each other and close to the PvP zone.  This is a good thing because as it was there were no two places in the world we could have been further away from each other than the horde and alliance main cities were.  Personally I would not have even minded a single city once again like shat or dal.

Also, they figure and quite possibly rightfully so, that more people will join in ashran if the hub cities were closer to it and we did not need to fly, or make that not fly, all the way across the world to get to it if we wanted to participate like we would if the hub cities remained where they current were.

However, and this is bad news for the people that are hoping flying will be added in 6.1, this is also a sign that they are very seriously considering not adding flying at all.  Because they know that people would have hated the travel to and from the new world PvP zone they had to move the hub cities closer.  So having the hub cities right there on the border means there is one less reason people can say they wish there was the ability to fly.  This will be a real shot to the heart of the people that were holding out hope that flying would be added to warlords sooner or later.  Sorry to break it to you, but this move is a huge sign pointing to the fact they are thinking of not adding it at all.

In the end I just have one question for blizzard.

Why put in all this effort, and give the alliance some moment of excitement thinking we would spend an entire expansion as what becomes the black temple being our home, and then move it like that?

This has to be a blow to the alliance player base that constantly gets shit on to begin with and it has to be an even bigger blow to the development process time wise.  Could you have not just put portals in the new cities that were far away from the PvP zone that took you there and then ones there that took you back to try and get more interest in the zone instead of moving the hubs there?  Just let the alliance have their one moment in the sun in a beautiful city with a storied history.

I understand the change blizzard, I even support the reasoning behind the change, I just do not understand why it was not handled a better way but I guess I should have known better because blizzards track record is really spotty when it comes to things like this.

What do you think?

Are you going to miss (even if most of us never saw them in use) those beautiful cities in frostfire and shadowmoon that were originally intended to be our homes that they spent so much time on, or will you just forget about it and stay in whatever hub they give us and not even think about why some huge city is so well done and so under used?

As an alliance player, how do you feel about the only decent thing the alliance has received in the last 5 years, talabor, being taken away before we even get a chance to see it?

As a pro flier, how do you feel that this could quite possibly be another sign pointing toward an expansion where we never see flying?


  1. I got my beta test invite, you didn't? But, I wil not be using it. As you stated so obivious in the last 8 or so blots (I'm calling the pages written "blots", as they are part of a blog. Could be my warped sense of humor or the tell tale signs of the medicine taken hold of my brain cells. Don't forget your tinfoil hat!), unless one is a true player getting into the nitty gritty of the LFG, raiding etc, then one is not a true player and therefore, an invite to the beta means nothing as I don't have any useful information to share back with the developers.

    1. They sent them out to veteran players, most likely ones that have been playing since vanilla or prior with limited interrupted pay time, sort of as a thank you which is awesome of them. That is why I did not, and will not, get one. I did not start playing until BC and then quit shortly after. However, I have been subscribed since wrath non stop.

      You could still test quests and other content which most raiders would not care to check and it is often why that stuff comes out broken. So you could be a vital part of making sure things are fixed. As long as you give feedback to them that is.

      Remember, it takes all types. You do not need to be a raider to contribute to the community. Heck, the vast majority of the players in the game are not raiders, so in that sense the other stuff, the stuff you would look at, is really more important.

    2. Roo, actually you can get a lot of useful info for the devs, raids aren't nearly where it's at during the beta (and they will be tested by others). I personally don't do betas even though I sometimes get invites, because I am a dev, and beta testing resembles parts of my day work too much, which immediately means I am not doing that for free. But if you are curious about what's inside and are fine with things sometimes not working as they should, why not. If you want to be helpful to the devs, just try to write down anything that you think is unusual or unexpected, plus try to catch a couple of general feelings ("the zone looks good" or "the zone looks strange, huge yellow mushrooms are way overused" or "I got blacksmithing to 620 and then I hit a brick wall because the materials are nowhere to be found"), that's it.

  2. I think they changed their plans because they realized they can't afford doing real capitals.

    The shrines in MoP aren't real capitals like Ironforge or Stormwind, they are small, generic, and largely uninteresting bits of architecture, that's all. The original plan wrt Karabor and, by extension, Bladespire, was to make them real capitals. That's what was at Blizzcon, and that's what people applauded to with big enthusiasm.

    Well, whatever is there in Karabor and Bladespire now is a good start, but it's a far cry from a capital. Look at Orgrimmar, you'll see how much work went into multi-level architecture, pathways that can sustain player traffic, buildings that form an ensemble when standing next to each other, etc. Neither Karabor nor Bladespire are like that now, Karabor is a huge area with sparse NPCs and some buildings, Bladespire is more dense, but it is too small. Neither look like capitals at all. There's a lot of work to do to make them into capitals.

    So, someone at Blizzard finally woke up, looked at the calendar and saw that they are late and that they have to cut things to even make it to 2014. This is one of the cuts. It's a fairly big one, generic shrine-like outposts that the two factions will get in Ashran are pretty cheap compared to what was required to make Karabor and Bladespire into real capitals.

    As a side note, they also recently renamed 'alpha' into 'beta', and this fits into this picture pretty well - it does look like they woke up / got sober and saw that they are awfully late, then decided to make 2014 no matter what, and are doing everything they can to make it.

    We should expect more cuts. I think they will cut something in Ashran, too, ironically enough, it's too easy, because Ashran wasn't tested much and wasn't shown much compared to other things.

    There's both good and bad in this. Good: it's about time someone woke up or we could have had WoD in 2017. Bad: we are going to have even less content than we anticipated.

    That's what I am thinking, anyway.

    1. I just read the blue post and the tweets on Karabor. They are saying people were expecting too much. Well. It can be that, but, first, whose fault is it that people were expecting too much? You wanted the hype, you got it, end of story. And, second, how many times do we have to hear that people were expecting too much? Garrisons locked to one race and not being able to be moved are the first two things that spring to mind, and there are others... Plus, of course, what else are they going to say.

    2. Tbh I really think the players are to blame, and they just think that what they heard whas what they wanted to hear.

      As far as I'm concerned the only reason I'm a little (and I insist on the little) bothered about this move is taht ashran is in the middle of nowhere.

      When they announced krabor/bladespire as capitals at blizzcon I immediately though about shrine-like cities not huge things like Orgrimmar and Stormwind, and I always called the shrines the capitals in pandaria.

      Look, even Dalaran that is often praised as the best capital is not really that much bigger than the 2 shrines put together, it just thay it have more lore behind it.

  3. Anon, Grumpy's former Guild Leader:

    I want to fly everywhere, not just in the older content. The sooner the better for me. The business of it is easier to create immersive play without flight sounds oh so bogus to me. Playing with air defenses, wandering flying monsters with vertical as well as horizontal aggro ranges, weather such as thunderstorms and duststorms and snowstorms and many other potential problems could be used to make individual air travel a very relevant and immersive experience.

    If the speed of the flight is the problem, then adjust the movement rates. Don't ban the whole thing simply because it is more work. Bluntly speaking, they are not mindful of their paying customers, the majority of which I think will be unhappy with no flight going forward. Oh sure, the first week will be fine and the second one also, but sooner or later, folks are going to get itchy to use their flying mounts again. When they realize that Blizzard really does not want to ever again implement flight, I think a slowly rising shitstorm is going to hit the company.

    The failure of the blizzard content developers to see this shows a serious lack of imagination on their part. The slowness of the release (God yes, it should have been released early in 2014, instead of very late or even 2015 which is when I suspect) is indicative of very poor leadership on the company's part. Combined, these two things indicate to me that Blizzard as a company is in trouble and may well see some very serious shakeups in the not so distant future.

    I suspect though do not know, that the company's basic problem is that gamers no longer run the company. They haven't in a good while (since the big shakeup in personel a few years ago*) although Ghostcrawler was effective at disguising that fact. With him gone, the company's lack of gamer guidance seems ever more apparent to me. I know they say that about everyone at Blizzard plays WoW but how accurate is that statement? How many are players on their own with their own private accounts like any other gamer and how many are playing on company subscriptions free of cost and likely I think, free of interest in the overall game's health and instead play to make sure that their particular baliwick looks good? For some reason, I find it hard to swallow that everyone actually plays the game like a normal gamer, especially including the top executives and the accountants.

    So far the only content I am seeing that matters to me at all enough to make me buy a new expansion is the magical number 100. Long ago, I set my mind (in Vanilla) on having a level 100 character, and I intend to do that at least once, no matter how badly done the expansion is. As far as every single thing else I have heard mentioned, it ranks from meh, maybe to an outright no, bad. Garrisons being meh, maybe it will turn out okay but I have my doubts even if I am willing to suspend them, and no flight being an outright no, bad results.

    * I could provide a link on this I suppose, but anyone interested in Blizzard already likely knows about this, so if interested in more details, Google/Yahoo/Bing is your friend.

    # Please note I have tried throughout to state things as my opinions and not fall back on bogus stats.