Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is Life Required?

While exploring the world the other day and thinking about all the cool and interesting things I have found over the years I started to wonder if having a zone filled with life was really required in the game.  As in the reason they created the cross realm zone was to breathe life into areas that seemed desolate.  Is it really necessary?

For the most part I believe that the leveling experience, and most things related to it, is a solo experience now and it is best experienced that way.  There is no joy in waiting for quest mobs to respawn, quest items to respawn, or the escort quest NPCs to come back from someone else walking them 100 yards that they could not walk themselves for some odd reason.

There was a time when the world needed life.  It took a long time to level and it was better to do that leveling with other people so obviously having other people around helped in the endeavor to find other people to level with.  There were a great deal of quests that even a hunter could not solo so grouping was a requirement if you wanted to get them done.  To group up you needed other people around.

Those days are long gone and the mobs that you need a group for are now few and far between.  While there might still be a few mobs that you would beg out for help killing, the speed of leveling made it more of a choice to just not do that quest instead of the choice of finding a group.  No longer do you need to do that quest because leveling took a lot of time and quests offered a lot of experience.  You can skip it now and still be well done with the zone long before you run out of things to do there.  Life in a zone is no longer required for group quests because the game no longer has them.

Another change since when leveling took a much longer time is that the idea of crafting items to wear made sense.  If you had a leatherworker and could craft yourself a new pair of pants it was a good idea to do so.  If you were not a leatherworker you would ask if there were leatherworkers around.  It was worth spending the time to find someone that could make them for you and doing so in the area you were in was the best place to do it.  The person in the area would most likely be around your level and that means their leatherworking should be around the level to make you gear you needed.

It was also a good way to meet people that perhaps you could end up grouping with for those group quests I mentioned previously.  People would be glad to help you out for little or no coins really because they got a skill up as well and being it took so long to level they surely had mass quantities of leather, more than enough to make leveling easier unlike now where you will usually level faster than you could keep up with your skills if you had taken leatherworking and skinning.  I remember someone crafting me some shoulders after we did a group quest together, because I did not have any yet and they had so much leather anyway.  Ah, the old days, you have to love them.

That pair of pants that you had someone make for you by asking in the zone would last you a while.  Even if you got a better pair 20 quests later, that 20 quests later would be hours if not a day of play time later.  Not 15 minutes later like it is now.  So your need to make something for yourself or seek someone else to make something while out leveling has basically been removed from the game that is now designed to be a solo endeavor where crafting is all but useless while leveling.  Just like your character your crafting abilities do not really mean anything until you reach max level.  So life is no longer needed to seek out people to craft things for you or for people you can craft things for.

And what about those dungeons.  You would collect a few quests here and there that would lead you to a dungeon and most assuredly, unless you are stupid like I was when I started and tired to do them solo, you would not enter a dungeon alone.  You would create a group. 

To most effectively create a group you would ask in general and there were surely people in that zone that had picked up quests for that dungeon and just like yourself they needed others to do it.  A little general spamming and some time later to meet up at an area and you were now with four other people you most likely had never met and you were ready to adventure into a new world, a dungeon, perhaps even for the first time.  This was an instanced group quest basically and it was the absolutely number one best reason for areas being filled with life, because you were not going to be getting these instanced group quests done without the help of others.

Enter the looking for dungeon finder and the need for the zone being full of life was completely removed.  No longer did you need to assemble a group and meet new people, which was excellent for community and the first place I met someone that invited me to a guild because of.  You just queue up and you are in the dungeon you want to be in.  There was also the added effect that there was no longer a need to travel to said dungeon, queue up and you are instantly there and when it is done you are instantly back where you started from before you went in. 

Further down the line they even removed most of the quests from the outside world that lead into them.  Now, all those quests you used to go around collecting doing all the quest lines in an area to basically earn those special quests are given to you right at the entrance meaning you did not even need to quest in that area to get the quests for the dungeon.  They are sitting there waiting for you.

With the absence of need to assemble a group or even quest to open the the special dungeon quests there is no need to even be in the zone, nevertheless make a group through posting in general to get into the dungeon to get it done.  That massive loss for the community was replaced by the instant gratification system of queue and kill.  So does the world really need life for dungeons any longer?  No.

Lets look at the simple aspects of competition.  From player vs player to gathering nodes to achievement hunting and see if life is really needed for them.

At first glance, even someone like myself that was against the cross realm zone, the idea of player vs player with zones being filled with life was the only true winner.  In concept it seemed like a good idea but it did not work out as planned, at least not from the people you hear talking about it and there are reasons for that.

The game has become so streamlined to level you as fast as possible that the quest to get there is about getting there as fast as possible because the end game is all that matters.  The journey to the end game is better played alone, as it has been designed to be done thanks to the lack of need for any communication or connection with another person, as mentioned above.

This translated the same to player vs player with the one down side that there are so many levels with such insane gear inflation that higher level characters can pass by and spam a low powered AoE spell and take you and everyone else around you out before you even notice they are there.

If you ever did a study on human nature and used the players of wow as the subjects you would be scared to death for the future of humanity because it would seem as if the entire world lives to make the lives of others hell. 

In a lifeless world you might run across a jerk killing your quest givers once in a while and killing you with a sneeze here and there but in a life filled world that happens all to often.  You are killed every step you take, your quest givers are killed every step you take, your mobs are killed every quest you take, everything anyone can do to make your life hell is done every step you take.  Not in an effort of competition but because some people live to make the lives of others hell.  And you wonder why I say watching wow would make you have little faith in the future of humanity.  This is it.  If these people are our future leaders, we are in for trouble.  More life in a zone did not create more PvP, it created more ways for those people to ruin the game play of others. 

Not for competition sake like two 35s fighting over a gold node, but for the fun someone gets ruining someone elses fun.  Like killing them as they try to mine the node and taking it from them.  Then mounting and flying behind them waiting for them to find another node only to kill them just as they are about to get it and then taking it and doing this over and over again.  It has happened to me.  I gave up after having three nodes stolen from me by a guy that was just taking them for no reason other then to screw with me.  More life in the zone when it comes to PvP is not good, not at all, not when it is used by the type of people that play this game.  At least I did not cry to him about it, I played it how it should be played.  I logged out and did something else.  But what of the poor guy that does not have alts?  Would he just get fed up and quit the game because of this more life version of the world?

Speaking of nodes and the competition for them, with the speed of leveling now, it is quite possible you can out level gathering professions and I've had it happen as have many others.  It is just a matter of luck, or lack thereof, on when you play and who else is around.  When leveling took longer, even if there were copious amounts of competition you would not really fall behind because you would be in an area for a much longer time and you would get your fair share of herbs and ore along the way because of it.  Now with the speed of leveling, each node is like a lifeline to moving on.  Without it, your professions get left behind.  Add to that flying mounts and a massively filled area.  Lets not even consider bots in the equation or things would really start to seem bleak, even more than they already can be. 

Filling a zone with life and people higher level flying all over grabbing things you need is not about competition any more.  It is not you and another person racing to a node and seeing who can get there first.  It is some flying max level character landing on it as you are walking to it and just fought three mobs, that were not one shot battles like they would be for him, to get to it.  That is not competition.  It is not fun.  And it is not the type of life servers need.  Is life required?  Surely not this type of life. 

If anything it takes away from the fun of the game to constantly fight your way to a resource only to see people from many different zones constantly land on it just as you are finally making your hard fought way to it.  I am not sure what some people consider fun, but this is not fun and this is not required, thus the life CRZ brings to a zone that creates this is not required either.

Lets look at people going back in content now for achievements or hunter pets or battle pets.  Does competition make this more fun or less?  Most people do things like achievement hunting or pet battles to pass the time and just have some fun.  Filling zones takes out a great deal of the fun factor from this.

Try getting frostbitten now with 12 realms all together or the time lost proto drake.  I've been hunting this guy for years now.  Back in wrath I would constantly be the only person in the zone.  Maybe on rare occasion there might be another person or two there and I never saw it.  Never even saw its dead body.  I flew around, picked herbs, killed a few things here and there to pass the time and gather some meat.  You name it, I kept myself busy there in an effort to find it for what has to be more hours then I care to even hazard to guess at.  Now, with more life in the zone, I can go and fly to the spawn spots and there are usually 6-8 people at each one.  If I could not get it in years and years of trying when I had little to no competition how am I supposed to have a chance of getting it now?  How is having less of a chance to get something supposed to be more enjoyable?

While camping the minfernal with dozens of other people flying around one spawned and I was quick enough to get it before anyone else.  Partly by luck and partly by being a lot smarter than the rest of the pet hunters there.  While they were all high up in the air I was hovering just over the ground and when it spawned I was on it before anyone else moved.  So yes, I know the excitement of getting a rare spawn among many  people camping for it.  It does make it that much sweeter to be the one that got it but that should have never been required.  There is no need for there to be that type of competition there.  There had to be at least 8 different servers there, all hovering over the area, all looking for one to spawn.  All probably curing the other people there yelling things like get off my server.

Does it really bring anything to the game to make more people compete for things like that?  Things that are supposed to be for fun or cosmetic purposes only.  I do not believe so and I do not believe that artificially creating additional rarity by making more people wait for the same thing is a good idea as it brings nothing to the game but hard feelings. 

Like the one time I entered storm peaks a few weeks ago and saw a shit storm in general because someone had downed time lost and everyone was fighting that it should have been theirs and this was bull crap and everything.  Reading the talk, the time lost in question was downed nearly two hours prior.  These people were all angry, a little to much for a game if you ask me but to each their own, over something that should have never been.  Losing the time lost to someone on a different server.

It really comes down to something as simple as that.  People will lose it to people they should be competing against and deal with it but losing it to someone that is not even on your server seems to bring people to a whole new level of anger.  So is having more life in these zones required?  No.  As a matter of fact, it is bad for the game.  If there were eight servers worth of players there and each of them where on their own server one on each server would have just gotten the mount instead of just one person leaving all the others to think, you stole my kill.  Even if they have no basis for thinking that, as a grouped server means that kill belongs to everyone on it, people will still feel the way they feel.

Is life required in a zone?

I don't think so and as a matter of fact with the way the game is now I think it would be better to have less life in zones instead of more.  The leveling process is meant to be quick now.  It is meant to be solo now.  So why is there this sudden desire from blizzard to make the world seem full?  Perhaps it is just so they can say, look how great the game is doing, there are people everywhere and all zones are full. 

Hey, blizzard, let me let you in on a little secret.  The guys that spent two hours complaining about losing the time lost proto drake to someone that didn't deserve to get it because they are not on their server does not give a shit if the game looks like it is dying.  They only care about playing the game and having fun.

There are at least 7 other guys that would be praising the game for being great because they just for the time lost but they didn't, so now they are saying how much the game sucks.  There are dozens more that would have been upset they lost it, but not as upset because someone from a different server got it.  It is not good design to upset people, so much so that they go on about how horrible the game is for hours in general, just so you can make it appear the zones are full.  Do you honestly think the person that got it cares if there were 2 or 200 people in the zone.  They don't.  They just care that they got it because for the majority of players that is all that matters, getting it, not how many people you beat to it.

Happy players make for good vibes and good vibes are good for the game.  Angry and upset customers can spread this disgust with the game to others and quit and maybe bring others with them.

Making the cross realm zones when the old zones really did not need any life just made many angry people so they could save face and make it appear as if the game were not dying. 

The game is dying, face it.  It was at 12M and it will never be there again.  But it is not going anywhere soon.  Saying wow is dying because it only has 10M subscribers is like me saying I am dying because I got a cold.  Sure, I am dying, some day, just not any time soon and neither is wow.  So stop trying to fill the old world with life to make it seem like it is doing better than it really is, because it is not necessary.

Do you want to know how to make the world seem more alive?  
1) Remove flying mounts. 
- Pretty hard for the roads and cities to seem alive when everyone in the game is hovering over them and out of sight.
2) Give people a reason to be out in the world. 
- Random drops that are cool or sell well can be a great motivator among other things. 
3) Offer 1 free server transfer a month. 
- So if people do not like their dead or packed server, they can switch and not complain they do not have the money. 

There is really no need to mash up people on to some mega server.  Never has been, never will be.  It is bad design, badly thought out, with bad results.  Nothing more.  Life is not required in the old zones, why try to bring it there?


  1. ok, good post. I had 20 paragraphs that I had wrote and I lost them when the computer bleeped on me. Prob too much cussing.


    1. That happens to me when I try to write from home using firefox. Perhaps it is a browser / system issue. Sucks really bad to lose what you have written. I hate when that happens to me. :(

  2. i have said before they either need to dynamically scale the node spawns based on zone population or phase them - problem solved! Getting fel iron is now a complete farce: 3 laps and not ONE freaking node???

    1. Having them spawn based on the number of people there and farming would make it a lot easier. Simply horrible for some things with the CRZ now.

    2. Something happened with fel iron ore in the last few months of Cata. I was leveling a miner around March, 2012, and fel iron ore nodes were abundant (heck, there're comments on wowhead that praise Hellfire Peninsula for having so many fel iron ore nodes since 4.0, it distracts from leveling). In August, 2012 I had to level another miner and the number of fel iron nodes was like 1/3 or 1/4 of what it used to be. :-(

    3. They might have stealth nerfed it. Which makes no sense, with CRZ they should have kept it high, not lowered it.

  3. Cross realm skinning! Paradise! Crossrealm mining: frustrating not to mention seeing a node disappear in a phased zone with no one visible standing there! Imagine starting Windwaker and crossing the beach for the first time and bumping into another Link wearing silver armor, dual wielding master swords and riding Ganon as a mount only to hear him laugh at you before instantly cutting every blade of grass on the island and absorbing all the rupees before flying away... Yeah, sometime MMOS suck.

    1. Skinning is the one gathering profession that actually gets better as there are more people killing things and leaving them behind. But don't you hate when you see a huge pile of bear and the person did not loot them? Makes me want to scream sometimes.

  4. Life is not required.

    Hell, I didn't think it was required back in Vanilla. I just didn't do dungeons or group quests very often. The leveling guides would say things like: do all these quests, then grind mobs in this area until you leveled up. Of course, I quit shortly after getting my first mount because I was sick of the super long grinds and it just got slower with each level. The grind to 60 just didn't sound like fun.

    The game has changed a lot since then. You can very happily play the game without even being in a guild now. Granted, you won't be a top end raider or a ranked pvper but you still have tons of things you can do solo.

    There is no reason to pack people into zones. Desolace is supposed to be "desolate"...

    Also, the game promotes that we are elite heroes. That means it's "ME" against an insurmountable number of enemies, not "me and a bunch of other people" against a now moderately divided number of enemies, so few in fact that we have to fight each other to have a chance to kill the enemies. We're supposed to be special forces, the elite of the elite...

    One of the recent "what if" scenarios that was being discussed in the gold making community was the idea of cross-realm auction houses. The odds of Blizz doing it are extremely unlikely but no one ever thought about CRZ before Blizz announced it either... Needless to say, everyone agreed that it would be catastrophic for gold making and professions; the only ones posting things on the AH would be bots because no real person could afford to waste their time gathering/crafting/farming to lose gold.

    1. Cross realm auction houses will come, with the real money auction house. Give it time. As soon as they mentioned diablos real money auction house I said to start counting the days before it was in wow and that is the auction house that would be cross realm.

      For people willing to spend real cash this would actually be a boon. Instead of paying 50 bucks for the new BoE you want you would pay 5.

      But like you said, for the regular auction house it would be horrible. Instead of getting 50K for that BoE that just dropped and no one needed you will be lucky to get 3K. From a gold making standpoint that is horrible, from a gold spending standpoint it seems good. As long as you buy your gold from the gold farmers because without the AH it would be harder for you to make gold to afford things. Catch 22 anyone?

      You make a good point. We are supposed to be the heroes, not us and a million other random people. Full areas actually take away from the design that we are supposed to be important to the world when you look around and there are 100s of other people that can take our place of importance in a heartbeat.

  5. I largely agree.

    The only reason for CRZs I think might be good is world PVP. But as time has shown, that only works for PVP servers. Moreover, that only works for PVP servers which care about world PVP. And there are exactly 3 such servers in the whole EU region.

    I am not sure I can come up with even one good reason to have CRZs for all other servers. Like you say, this seems to be an excercise in frustration. Taken in the name of the big idea that "people want to see other people around them while playing" which sounds normal, but has so many implementation nuances, it's not funny. They failed to think these nuances through, as usual.

    1. That is the key, they failed to think things through.

      Like the new blacksmith changes, that you can use ghost iron to catch up all the way, excuse me? Is this the last expansion ever? Why do you need a catch up and what does this do to the market for all other materials? They did not think that through at all. A catch up is nice, but it should use the ore that is close to the current level you are, not just one ore tied to one expansion as if that is the be all end all. They never think things through, they design everything as this will be the final design. They do not think about the future and for a game this big that knows it will have a future that is horrible. How they release CRZ without even considering all the issues that will come with it is beyond me. No business this successful should have ever made a mistake like that.

    2. BTW, true, now that I think about it, I am not sure why they had to do the catch up for blacksmithing the new way, through ghost iron.

      Back in Cata they allowed recipes to have multiple skillups. This works great for both Cata and MOP spans of nearly all professions. This works great for leveling cooking from zero during Pilgrim holidays. They said earlier they will probably extend this concept to other professions. What happened to that idea? Did they think this doesn't work? Why the new way? Why they think adding new recipes for items (items, which literally almost noone will ever actually use, by design) with ghost iron is better? Ah, I know. They *forgot* they have already solved the catch up issue in Cata, and created a new, worse, solution. And I am not joking here, I think this is exactly what happened.

      What a mess. :-)

    3. (The solution with multiple skillups would be, obviously, to pick several recipes that use small amounts of easily available materials - eg, no pearls, just regular ore / stone - and make these recipes award 2, 3 or 5 skillups. This dramatically reduces the amount of "old" mats you have to use to level a profession, does not require having max-level mats, and is future-proof.)

    4. I think they did it for the very small population that switches specs to min/max and being BSing is the #1 thing for that, they made it easier for them.

      So damn logic, damn common sense, damn good design. We need to go out of our way to cater to the less then one half of one percent of max level characters that want to keep switching profession.

      They really make no sense some times. Most times actually.

  6. I have yet to figure out why Blizz is so bullheaded on the whole CRZ thing...as well as figure out why they implemented it in the first place.

    If you pay attention to your game and its players, like Blizz claims to do, you would have seen long ago the ill-effects of what CRZ would bring. After making Battlegrounds cross server you could see the Battleground community start to transform into a cesspool of jerks.

    It became more pronounced when Blizz gave us LFD...and then LFR.

    How could they not see how much this would amplify with CRZ?????

    I would be sooooo happy to see our next patch (after 5.2) be one where they completely get rid of all things CRZ. Or, if Blizz is hell-bent on keeping CRZ, they do nothing but fix all the problems that CRZ has brought to the game that its player base is complaining about.

    1. Just a guess, but I think they did it to make the world "appear" more vibrant and thus give people the feeling of there being so many people playing it must be awesome. I know that sounds weird, but I think that is their reasoning.

      How about it if they look at people like me that PAID to move to a low pop server? Shouldn't I have a say in where I am being I paid for the right to be where I am?

      They should have seen what would happen but they have way to much faith in their community. They keep putting too much faith in their community. Like the original LFR loot system. It was fine as is, but their community abused it. Rogues needing on a hunters bow because they can, a hunter needing on a strength sword because it looks cool, a ret paladin needing on a spirit shield even if he has never healed because some day he might, people needing on things just to keep others from getting it, so forth and so on. The original loot system was fine, the players are not, blizzard should know by now but they keep putting their faith in people to do the right thing and this player base will never do the right thing, at least not enough of them would.

      They are hell bent on keeping it. They paid so much to make it that they would never abandon it now and they would never admit they were wrong making it.