Hope springs eternal

Just when I was about to despair that WoW would ever emerge from the sucking morass that is Warlords of Draenor, along comes a Mamytwink interview with Lead Designer Cory Stockton (Mumper) that restored a bit of my optimism for the game. I was tipped off to this very recent interview by The Godmother over at alt:ernative chat, so thanks for that. Watching the interview is in my opinion a good use of 30 minutes. (The interview is conducted in English. There is also a transcript of it on the Mamytwink web page, but it is in French, sadly not the French dialect I learned, known as “High School French”.)

I watched the interview but unfortunately did not take notes. (I am slipping, I know.) But I was struck by a couple of things:

Overall tone. First, the interviewers seemed to really cut to the chase with their questions. They were not in Mumper’s face, but they also did not let him off the hook. They asked pretty much the same questions I would ask if I were given such an opportunity. Second, Mumper actually answered every question, and the only subject he waffled on was details on post-Draenor expansions.

Hellfire Citadel. This is in fact the last raid tier for the expansion. I don’t think that is news to most of us, but Mumper did confirm it.

Patch schedule. Although he did not come right out and say it, Mumper strongly indicated that 6.2 is the last major patch in this expansion. About the only situation that would lead to another patch is if there is an unforeseen delay in the next expansion.

Flying. I found his comments about flying to be both reassuring and at the same time disheartening. He confirmed that the huge outpouring of player response to Watcher’s “No flying, no more” announcement was in fact the reason they decided to reinstate it. So it was reassuring to know that even Blizz cannot ignore such a response. But he went on to say that the eventual compromise — the Pathfinder achievement — was good because it allows players to fly, but only after they have experienced the game “in the way intended.” He hinted that this is a good model going forward.

When you combine this statement with the idea that we are now in the last patch of this expansion, it seems clear that Blizz intends to never again let us fly in current content. No more Mists model of flying once you have leveled. No more quests designed for flight. By making us wait until well into the last patch of an expansion, we can now look forward each expansion to months of long annoying trips to a quest location, to getting dismounted by every little pissant of a wild weed we come across, to the scream-level frustration of “fun” jumping puzzles, to more commercial flying via scenic routes, to seeing everything in a zone except us able to fly freely, to once again guiding our big ole fatass flying mounts along the ground. Then, at the very end of an expansion, after jumping through lots of hoops, we will be “granted” the “privilege” of flying.

Garrisons. Mumper said they had learned some lessons about garrisons, and that many of the subsequent hotfixes had addressed most of these. (This was not encouraging to my mind, since none of the hotfixes did anything to alleviate what I believe to be the fundamental problems with them, but never mind.) He did say that Blizz is aware that the current mission lengths for shipyard missions are too long, especially given what seems like poor rewards in return, and that the mission lengths will very soon be shortened, possibly in a hotfix. (I would have preferred better rewards instead of shorter missions, but that’s just me.)

Mythic instances. He admitted that they tend to be tuned for well-geared mains but give rewards more suitable for alts. He said that soon they will give gear that can have up to two war forged upgrades, so hopefully that will encourage people to take their mains into them.

“Shards”. I don’t pretend to understand the technical explanation for these — I think it involves dynamic mega-servers — but basically shards is what provides the mini-phasing we are experiencing in Tanaan. This is what causes you to go galloping over to that rare someone just called out, only to find nothing there, because you have to be in the caller’s group in order to see it. Shards is what has twice caused me to die a horrible death as soon as I leave a group doing a world boss or grinding rep, because as soon as I leave the group I am once again in my own phase, where no one has yet killed all those mobs I find myself standing in the middle of.

Anyway, Mumper talked about some glitches with shards and how they are planning to fix them. No great revelations, I just found it interesting to listen to the way the technical problems manifest themselves.

Overall impression. In spite of some of the bad news I described above, I found the interview to be positive. For one thing, it gives me hope that the end is soon to be in sight for WoD, and the sooner I can get this expansion in the rear view mirror, the better. For another, this interview shows a continuing Blizz trend of trying to communicate better and more often with the player base. Mumper gave thoughtful, well-reasoned answers to all the questions, and even if I don’t agree with some of the Blizz logic, it is refreshing to be treated like an educated, thinking adult rather than like a truculent toddler.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

7 Responses to Hope springs eternal

  1. Lurking reader says:

    “even if I don’t agree with some of the Blizz logic, it is refreshing to be treated like an educated, thinking adult rather than like a truculent toddler.”

    +100↑↑100 (how’s that for nerd)

    I haven’t watched the interview yet, but from your summary it sounds like much of the speculation that was going around is correct.

    I am pretty disappointed in the new standard for flying. Not surprised but more or less resigned to it. I do think it will impact my purchasing of future expansions. I’ll likely wait until sales to get it, if I do get it. And I think a lot of the reason for that is the taste it leaves in my mouth.

    It isn’t that they like this “earn-your-flying” idea and want flying in…it’s that they now realize: “We can’t take it out but, by Crom, you’re going to do things our way. Fine, you can have your smelly old flying but not until you bring me a shrubbery.”

    It isn’t even that I’m against the idea of a Pathfinder-like achievement, it’s their attitude about it. Playing the right way. The way it is intended. They really seem stuck on this proper way to play and that bothers me.

    Despite how this may read, I’m not meaning to be negative. At least, not unduly so. Just recognizing where the game and I seem to be diverging and figuring out how to adapt.

    And as far as my grammarian status, I would say i was a fan, a groupie if you will. Unable to perform well myself, but able to enjoy a nicely turned phrase 🙂

    • Fiannor says:

      Yeah, they do seem intent on forcing one game style on everyone.What I don’t understand is why they care how anyone plays — apart from true cheating like botting — as long as people are subscribing and playing and telling others how much fun it is.

  2. Grumsta says:

    If Blizz really want to stop us flying, then the area it’s banned in should have a believeable reason that flying is impossible.

    Timeless annoyed me because flying was supposedly “not possible”, because of, err, time. And things. Yes, that’s it, time things. Aside from the dragons, which can fly. Oh, except the one that you have, that can’t. Sorry. *mutters something about immersive*

    Panda land I didn’t mind so much, because I knew that when I hit level 90 I would whoosh through the skies again. Nothing motivates quite like a real incentive, eh?

    So WoD came along, and no surprise that flying is “initially” verboten. No problem, we’ll all fly at level 100 right? Hmmm. Eventually and begrudgingly. [Never have I worked so hard and so fast to get an achievement than I am doing with Pathfinder. Yeah, stick it to the man.]

    If the intention in WoD was to ban flying outright then a more believable mechanic would be to have the skies populated with such dire, implacable nasties that no-one in their right mind would try it. Scrap flight points, and have other quick, safe transport means available such as portals (which could be paid for in gold with a discount for rep, as was done in Morrowind for example).

    Another alternative would be to put more conent underground. I used to play D&D, I expect anything with half-decent loot to be several levels down in the dirt, I’m happy with that. And I don’t expect to fly down there either. I bet it’d make stuff like shards and instances and other such things easier to handle too.

    Sadly it just looks as if they came up with the puzzles, decided if people could fly it would make them too easy, so they banned flying. Meh. Lazy.

    Fantasy works best when it has a believable framework, and it’s this area that Blizz falls flat on its huge Panda-esque butt. Their decisions look arbitrary and, frankly, petty. I hope they get the next expansion right.

    • Fiannor says:

      As you point out, the whole “immersion” thing never made any sense when pretty much everything but players could fly. They could at least have put some creative thought into the reasoning, but instead did the lazy “time things” hand wave.

      I stand by my previous assessment that prohibiting flying saves the company significant development resources, and I think that is one of the trade offs they are making in order to meet their goal of a new expansion every 12-18 months. Of course, they could increase the size of their dev staff and build for flying on the Mists model, but WoW is a ten year old franchise on its last legs, and corporate is not going to put any more money into it than they absolutely have to.

      If from now on they only let us fly after the last patch of an expansion, that buys them some time — they can push the xpac out on schedule, then more or less at their leisure tidy up the things to allow flying for a couple months before the next xpac, when the cycle begins again.

      Like you, I loved the Mists model for flying when you hit level. I loved that there were dailies that required flying. I leveled more alts in Mists than I ever did before, or for that matter, since, because flying at level was such a powerful motivator. But I do not expect to see the Mists model again — sadly, WoD is the model going forward.

  3. My best guess is that flying will be unlocked this coming Tuesday; rarely is there such a long advance notice on a rolling restart.
    And that is when we can truly judge what flying means in an expansion designed to be ground bound. I’ve really enjoyed questing (doing dailies, really) in the Tanaan Jungle; fighting to get to rares, farming Felblight and simply getting around. Will I enjoy it more when I can fly?
    I yearn to fly, the wellspring of freedom is incredible — and if I am cherry-picking mobs, rares and treasures with little effort, then it will be a shame, really.

    • Fiannor says:

      I hope you are right about Tuesday, since I just finished up my Pathfinder achieve last night. I have had some fun in Tanaan as well, but I think the fun would rapidly diminish after the second, third, fourth times, and I will be unashamedly happy to do some cherry-picking with alts.

      • Grumsta says:

        I’ve not finished Pathfinder yet, but our guild had some superb hours of fun in Tanaan Jungle over the weekend. We put together groups of 4-5 players and ran riot in there, it’s been a real hoot. Finally some enjoyable social action in WoD aside from trapping.

        They even built a useful extra fly point that you have to earn so you can get up to Kazzak. I wish they’d done more of this stuff earlier in the xpac.

        It’s so nice to be enjoying WoD content again after the genuine thrill of levelling up to 100 (especially on the Horde side).

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