Friday, May 9, 2014

An Answer For Muffinus

Someone asked a question on twitter that I am sure many of us have wondered about and muffins replied, as blizzard employees always seem to, but completely ignoring the question and asking their own question.  Remember, completely ignoring the questions asked is blizzards modus operandi.

I liked the question muffinus asked and felt I could offer up what I believe to be a good answer to it so I figured I would make a post about it.  I mean, how could I ever reply on twitter.  140 characters my ass.  I can't even say hello in 140 character nevertheless answer a question of that depth in 140 characters.  Any answer you could squeeze into 140 characters would not serve you or the person asking the question any good.

So what was the question and the answer?

Can I skip the opening hour long intro and hare off into Draenor?
Here's a Q for you, what's the right amount of time for an intro experience before you're left to explore on your own (Muffinus)
The 140 character answer would be this.

No amount of time, just let me get into the action at my own pace.

But if you were to ask me that makes my answer sound selfish and in a small way even a little rude.  This is why twitter can never work for holding a real conversations or getting real idea.  What did muffinus expect from people, for them to give him actual times?  Even if they did give actual times it would never delve into why they think those amounts of times are good.  So any answer, even honest ones, are completely and totally useless.  Unless of course you wanted to waste some time making a blog post, a real venue where you can express your opinion, your reasons for those opinions and have a back and forth that might lead to more than just saying "no amount of time." would because that would never lead to any meaningful conversation other then "suck it up buttercup, it is only an hour".

Now to a full answer.

I like the idea of an introduction area.  I do not like the idea of a death knight starting zone sort of introduction area.  They have this technology that has been used all throughout mists for solo scenarios and that is exactly what the intro should be.  A solo scenario, not some different quest area, not some sent in stone timer that is "and hour long intro".  But a play it out all on your own, at your own pace, mini adventure to lead you into the new expansion.  You have the technology, it would be criminal not to use it for the betterment of the game.

By betterment I mean that having a solo scenario, one with a nice chuck that needs to be done, each person will progress through it at their own pace.  No fighting for mobs or dealing with the frustration of  1000 people trying to do the same thing that apparently was designed so only one person could do it at a time or having to deal with people asking stupid questions in general, which you know will happen.  I bet you hear "how come I can't fly" and other stupid questions like that 100 times before you finish your first quest.  Be it trolls or ignorant people, it makes no difference, the starting zone of a new expansion is always a nightmare, and will be a bigger nightmare than ever for millions of players thanks to connected realms.

When people complained before and they were all on small and medium realms, what do you think it will be like when they are all on full realms on release day?  The expansion is not even in beta yet and its release day is already a complete failure based on that outlook.  I would rather quit then play expansion day on a full realm, it is one of the reasons I played on a small realm to begin with, but blizzard already screwed me out of that.  They decided for me that I was not smart enough to choose where I want to play so they would tell me where to play and that is on a full realm with wait times to log in sometimes.  Gee, thanks blizzard, you are just too good to me giving me things I didn't want and didn't ask for.  Release day will be a nightmare with all servers being full servers and everyone funneled into a death knight starting experience.  No, just no.

But I do believe that an introduction story is the perfect way to ease the flow.  By making it a solo scenario however instead of a starting area you will be leaving it up to the individual to work their way through it.  If I can get through it in 15 minutes, I will be out in the world questing in 15 minutes.  If it takes Bob an hour, bob will be out playing in an hour.  Each person would move through the introduction at their own pace, just like a solo scenario.

Even thinking back to the thunder island ones.  I had characters that it took 6 minutes to do on one character, 13 on another, 25 on yet another and 40 on yet another.  The reason being is different classes all handle things differently and as such will move through at a different pace and my skill level in those characters also effects how quickly I move through them.

So an introduction with a few cut scenes, as it may be, that is a solo scenario, would allow for everyone to move at their own pace and not be bound by an hour long introduction and/or an over stuffed starting area.  They could move fast and skip scenes, move fast but watch scenes, move slow and watch, move slow and skip, move anywhere in between and watch, or skip or watch some and skip some.  They would set their own pace.

Basically, if 1000 people go to enter an area you get an area filled with 1000 people and trust me, I know that no one at blizzard actually players these games so you will have to trust me on this, no one at all likes 1000 people all fighting for the same mobs, or in the case of this expansion, bombing the same power keg on a skip so there were a thousands choppers all hung up in the same place moving along nowhere.

Trust me blizzard, there is no one that enjoys that mayhem, except maybe a troll and you really need to stop catering to trolls, you already let them run rampant in LFR with no consequences to their actions while they poison the community with their toxic behavior.  No need to give them a trapped audience of 1000 people in the starting area.  For once think about what is good for the players and that is a introduction solo scenario.

An introduction solo scenario would allow people to understand what is going on, move at their own pace, not be bogged down by others, and then get out in the world with a few people instead of 1000 all at the same time.

You see, with a solo scenario system and everyone moving at their own pace that means the 1000 people enter the scenario at the same time, not a zone at the same time.  Some will finish is fast, some slow, and everyone else in between.  So people would then be entering the questing area in little groups, not everyone at once.

The 10 people that blew through it in 5 minutes would come out, then the 15 that it took 6 minutes would come out, then the 8 that it took 7 minutes would come out, then the 3 it took 9 minutes would come out, then the 11 it took 10 minutes would come out, you get the idea.  People would enter the area a bit at time, leading to fewer bottle necks for quest mobs, and power kegs.  It would make for a much smoother release and much more player friendly one.

All that, and the solo scenario works as the perfect answer to your question and what I said in 140 characters to begin with.  "No amount of time, just let me get into the action at my own pace."

A few mobs to kills, a video or two to watch (or skip) and a end scenario boss and then let me get on my way.  Don't tell me I have to do an hour long lead in, if I can do it in 5 minutes on my hunter, let me, if it takes me an hour on my mage, so be it.  But it would be me moving at my pace and not being told to wait until the next group gets let out after some timed scripted event like in the death knight starting area.  Just do a cinematic of that for the solo person in the solo scenario and let them skip that if they so choose to.

So what is the right amount of time, no amount of time is right.  Just make the content and let us play it.  Stop trying to make things take a certain amount of time.  We are all different, we all play different, we all have our own skills, abilities, and attention span.  Let us move into the new expansion when we want to, not when you tell us too.

So 5 minutes or 1 hour, any time you tell us, this is how long we need to wait, is too long.  Let us play the game, we pay for it.  Don't tell us we have to do "a one hour introduction".  Give it too us in a solo scenario and let us decide how long it takes to do it.

Now muffinus, your question was answered.  So answer his.  Can we skip it?

I know it is hard for you, you work for blizzard and they must have something in your contract that says every time you give a direct and honest answer you get docked pay, but try being a decent person for once and answer a simple yes or no question with a simple yes or no instead of being a smart ass and answering a question with a question.

For the person that asked, the answer is, No, you can not skip it. 

Blizzard should make it a solo scenario that we play at our own pace.  Anything else would show blizzards contempt for its player base and let everyone know how little they care about their enjoyment of the game.  The technology is there, use it.  It lets us all move at our own pace.  That is your answer muffinus.  Real answers, ones that need details, can not be answered in 140 characters.  So with details, not only did you get your answer but you got my reasoning behind it.  Stop taking how long it will take and start talking about how enjoyable it will be to play.  Hint, playing at your own pace is more fun.


  1. I agree with concept of a starter scenario, but I am a little concerned about the technology. Each scenario is like a mini instance, and as far as I am aware each Realm can only have so many instances open at any one time. This would leave us with the chopper situation again, with everybody waiting for a scenario finish before they can use the next available instance.

    WotLK and Cata had two starter areas but I am not sure that they want to go down the route of setting up 2 zones again.

    Something needs to be done, I am just not sure what the answer is.

    1. I was always under the impression that instance servers where their own servers. If that is the case all they would need to do is transfer some additional "space" for launch day and be just fine. In theory anyway, if that is how it is done.

      Funny part with wrath is that I think I had 3 80s before I ever even noticed there was another starter zone. My chars were based in SW so I went to the tundra. Did not even know there was an option until later.

  2. I'm not sure if there really is an answer to the question...or both questions for that matter.

    Like Bob states, even the scenarios could be bottle-necked due to only a certain amount of instances being able to be open at one time. Also, in your answer you mention the time frames people would be completing those scenarios. To me those numbers are a little low...not the times, but the amount of people. It would be more like hundreds of people finish in 5 minutes, hundreds of people finish in 6 minutes and so on.

    Now, that first clump of hundreds that finished in 5 minutes would all be starting the same quest at once. Let's say they have to go kill 10 things. We now have hundreds of people trying to kill 10 things all at once in a world where there are only 15-30 of those things around that need to be killed. That first clump of hundreds of people that finished the scenario in 5 minutes won't even be done killing their 10 things before the clump of hundreds of people that finished the scenario in 6 minutes are released into the world who now have to try to kill those same 10 things.

    If Blizz initiates "anyone can tag it for the kill credit" to quest mobs it would help move people along faster. But, with the amount of people that play this game, I don't think there really is a way to ease the "OMG this place is so crowded" woes of any starting area in a new expansion. We all have to start somewhere to learn the story of why we are now in the area we are.

    The 2 starter zones (minus the DK one) for WotLK and Cata did help with that in the past. But even back then it could be a little slow going waiting to find stuff to kill/collect for your first 5 or so quests. Thankfully the respawn rate of mobs in the starter areas had been shortened. That helped some as well. But I remember still having to wait for stuff to kill/collect.

    1. Even if my numbers were low, you are still talking 50 people per minute coming in instead of 1000 all at once.

      Not sure if you did alliance on launch or not this expansion but there was a bottleneck when you had to bomb the ship. There had to be 1000 if not more people flying around not being able to see anything or hit anything and only one person could get credit for the quest. I was hung up there for 40 minutes if I remember correctly.

      Now, if that was part of a scenario, which would have been better, doing those starting bombing runs in a scenario, that would have never happened.

      As for separate starting zones people seem to forget we did have two starting zones in mists, horde and alliance, and we had WAY fewer players on each server. So while it was better to have to completely different zones of each faction, it is not like both sides where thrown into the same place.

      Wrath was good with 2 zones and 2 different bases, but mists was exactly the same as cata was. Cata had 2 zones yes, but horde and alliance were together in each, so it was the exact same as mists, just the 2 zones were one alliance and one horde instead of both shared. Wrath, and only wrath, had a decent option and even that was not perfect, but much better.

      My server was marked as medium, sometimes low, when mists was released, and it was impossible to do it. Now I am on a high, sometimes full server. I do not even want to think about the hell it will be if blizzard just says "fuck 'em" and throws us all together again.

      I like the shared tag thing, but I think there are better ways around it. Like with the scenario. Let us do that, and then have three or four different hubs we can start at when we come out. So it will be be 100 people all in one place it will be 25 in each of the four, if people choose evenly. Everyone might eventually do all four hubs, but you let people choose which one to start at.

      Lets use AB battle ground as an example for this concept. It is an area both factions have full access to so everyone knows it, and it has 5 zones, perfect for what I want to explain.

      We all do a solo scenario, when it ends we head out and the game asks us to choose "where would you like to explore first." We are given the choices, the farm, the stables, the lumber mill, the mines or the blacksmith.

      So even if a bunch of people come out of the scenario at the same time we would be split into groups. Sure after I do the farm I could do the stables, or I could head into the world deeper, when things are less hectic. People like me would move deeper and come back for loremaster later when things are not so crowed.

      That is the idea, hope I explained it well enough.

      From my experience leveling the last three expansions, it is only the starting zone that is a bitch. Once I get out of there I am usually ahead of the pack and have the world all to myself. So it is just those starting zones that need a lot of work from my perspective.

      Maybe just letting us all start wherever we want, hub wise, be it the stables, the blacksmith, the lumber mill, the mine or the farm, is the true right answer. Why do we all need to start at the blacksmith>

  3. Agree on maximum freedom for everyone.

    I can't help but think about how great it would be if they did a complete reverse of cross-realm zones and set things up so that everyone would have their own instance of the world unless they party with someone (share the world with the party) or explicitly ask to join a common instance of the world (share the world with everyone who asked the same). Cities would be shared, the world outside of cities would be instanced for everybody.

    The world outside of cities is supposed to be big. Random contacts are supposed to be rare. Otherwise the exploration bit and the grouping bit don't really work. But the current size of the zones only allows it to feel kinda OK if there's maybe 5 guys in a zone. That means something like 50 guys per continent, excluding cities. Well, cross-realm zones aren't happy until they fit many more guys into the same world, making it feel overcrowded. Think about how it would have been if you had a choice to escape from this overcrowded world into your instance of the world, where there's serenity and wilderness! In that world, rares could truly be rares - not something that spawns every several hours at fixed location X, but spawns in a random location in the zone, then runs, shreeks and wrecks havoc for 10-15 minutes and *despawns* back. Etc, etc, etc.

    I don't think it's too difficult to do code-wise either. The issue of "no available instances", which boils down to having to expend additional memory per player could very likely be solved convincingly, given some effort - that's not the first time a problem like that comes up in the industry. It'd certainly be easier to solve that doing cross-realm zones, that's for sure.

    And that would do so many good. Ah, well...

    1. I would love an instanced world. Time lost proto drake would be mine. No more hunting for nodes and dealing with bots. No quest competition. And even more importantly, they can then build a world, a full world, where what we do actually matters.

      We could destroy something and it would be gone, we could build something and it could be there. There is so much that would be fantastic about having a solo world.

      However, it is against what they would want. They want interaction, they want competition, they want world conflict.

      So I would say we compromise. You can enter a solo world, just like a solo instance or be in the open world.

      I don't think they would ever allow that option however because it goes to that old expression. Don't ask a question you do not want to hear the answer to. Don't offer an option to have a solo world if you are afraid the majority would choose it. And that is why we will never get the option. They are afraid that the world would then be empty as everyone opts for their own world instead of the open world.

      Perhaps, like garrisons, things will expansion and soon we will have one whole zone we interact with and make things change. But that is the extent of how far I can see them going with it.

      I like the 50 (or 5) people per area and would love to see them implement it. But as far as I see they never have and they never will, even if they say they have. Bull shit. I have been in area where I have counted hundreds of people. Heck, just those first days of Oondasta when it took over 400 people to down him. No 50 limit there apparently. But blizzard says it is there.

      BTW, on mists beta the Sha used to move through kunlai, not just spawn at those locations, he would move from one to the other and everything he passed along the way would become tainted and elite.

      Could you imagine what it would be like if it were still like that. No one ever kills him now so the entire zone would be flooded by elite mobs. I feel bad for the poor soul that had to quest there.

      I wish they would have kept him moving, but I can understand if they removed the make everything in his path elite part. For the times like now, when no one kills him any longer.