A follower’s life

I don’t know about you, but I have become very selective about the missions I send my garrison followers on these days. Given the rather mean-spirited nerfs Blizz has put on missions since 6.2, I am actually kind of surprised I am sending them on any missions at all. My goal these days is to maximize currency and resources, and it usually takes me all of about one minute to collect my completed ones and launch the next round.

I have given up on gear missions, because all my followers are maxed on theirs and the player gear stinks now since it is at the level your player already is, not one raid level upgrade gear. So I skip gear. XP missions are worse than useless — my followers are all max level, and Blizz has drastically curtailed the drop rate of salvage  crates. (Remember the old days when the salvage crate drop rate for level 100 missions was 100%?) Follower trait or ability change tokens? Please. That one stupid archmage staff toy? The heirloom token? Bonus roll tokens for old raids? Don’t be silly. All these things are useless, plus they cost garrison resources, which I have better uses for.

Speaking of which, did Blizz also crank up the garrison resource price for missions? I seem to notice a lot of them requiring 60 or 100 GR, never used to see that … ??

So the only missions I do these days are the ones for gold, apexis crystals, garrison resources, oil, legendary quest thingies (if my alt needs them), or augment runes. (My main has the permanent buff stone or whatever it is from T2 rep, but since the runes are not SB you can send them to alts or sell them.) Which means many of my followers just sit around the garrison. I don’t even put them in the mine or herb garden or profession huts any more — got way more mats than I will ever use.

I wonder if they are bored, or maybe on the other hand they are glad for the break. For months they stayed out on missions, got a couple minutes to come back home and maybe change clothes, grab a decent meal, then right back out again. The profession followers didn’t even get that short break. They came off mission, then they worked for a bit in their assigned area, then back out, no break at all for them. But now probably half of them just laze around while a few go out, and sometimes they all stay in garrison for maybe a couple of days. I am not sure how much I am paying them, or if they are still drawing combat and hazardous duty pay, but I may have to consult my garrison accountant about it. It’s not really their fault they are unemployed, they are just victims of this dying expansion. Like all of us.

I used to like to ride with them to the garrison gates when they all started walking out for missions. They always seemed to take their time, ambling out singly or maybe in pairs, not like they were stalling or anything, more like they were relaxed and confident, like they knew they had this and no need to get all excited about it. It was just their job. I always thought it was too bad Blizz never went the extra step of letting you see them when they came back, some way you could complete the missions at your mission table, then go down to the gate and greet them as they filtered back in, looking all tired and dirty but happy.

For that matter, it would have been a nice touch to be able to see your ships leave the harbor when you sent them on missions, and see them come steaming back upon successful completion. They could all have designated mooring places in the harbor, and you could see the crews wandering around the shipyard when their ships were not on mission. Now that would be some fun “immersion”. Might have made the shipyard missions a little more interesting, or at least esthetically pleasing.

Now that I think of it, that may be one of the reasons the shipyard missions seemed like such a dismal chore. There was no follow-through, no attempt to establish any sort of ownership with the ships. They do not feel real, they are just kind of one-dimensional constructs. You see them being built, then you never see them again except in a mission table representation. In fact, they are designed to be throw-aways, it is supposed to be no big deal if they get destroyed in a mission.

Yes, I know the entire game consists of wisps of imagination bound to 1’s and 0’s, but one of the things Blizz has always really excelled at is bringing depth and body to nearly every part of the game. Graphics, art, animation, programming, and dev imagination all come together to give us a wonderful, fun, interactive environment. We have all come to expect whimsical touches to what could be very boring game mechanics. I mean, who didn’t love good old bumbling Brann Bronzebeard, leading you through Halls of Stone, eagerly pushing buttons at random on ancient machines that would proceed to try and kill you?

It seems to me that one of the big failures of WoD has been the way Blizz has treated these fun innovations in this expansion. Some of them just weren’t really very fun to begin with, and some of the ones that were became unfun when Blizz made them mandatory.

I don’t fault Blizz for 6.1 fun concepts like the selfie camera, or a Twitter integration, or the jukebox. I like that they were trying these things. I did not happen to find them especially fun or interesting, and I think their implementation left a lot to be desired — not making the jukebox account-wide, for example — but it showed Blizz was still trying. Of course, that was all there really was to 6.1, which is the main reason it was judged a failure. A major patch needs to have more to it than a couple of side diversions.

Another mark of fun failure in WoD is that most of the fun things are fun maybe one or twice, but after that not so much.  They do not hold your interest at all, and when Blizz tried to artificially string out the fun, it was a dismal failure. The jukebox stuff was passingly fun on one character, but when Blizz tried to stretch it out by making you do it on every alt, it lost all possibility of fun. I thought getting Pepe once was amusing, and having him on my shoulder during one raid had some quirky appeal for me, but after that I was done with it. When they tried to stretch it out with the hats and such, it just seemed too forced to me.

But in general I always like it when they add something delightful, imaginative, and largely “useless” in terms of character progression or gear chasing. I don’t like everything they come up with, but I love that they keep doing it. I liked vanity pets when they were introduced, they were cute and made me smile when I summoned one or saw someone else with one. But when the idea morphed into battle pets and the requirement to engage in that activity at a high level just to finish off your garrison, the whole idea changed from a diversion to mandatory fun. I can think of lots of other examples, and I am sure you can, too — jumping puzzles, being ground-bound, etc.

Fun that is compelled is not fun, and I regret that Blizz has felt the need to make us have fun their way or else.

Well, I have veered completely off my original theme, which was my unemployed followers. Time for me to go hunt up my garrison accountant and figure out what to do with them. Layoffs may be forthcoming.

LFR, Group Finder, and Arrogance

Some observations and thoughts on LFR and Group Finder.

Archimonde and LFR. I see where there are a “few nerfs” in the works for LFR Archimonde. This is a good thing in my opinion, but of course the announcement brought out the forum ragers in force. You know, the arrogant bastards who insist that LFR is dumbing down the game, that it should be much harder than it is, that you should not be queuing for it if you are not a skilled raider, that it is a loot giveaway, that filthy casuals are nothing but whiners, etc.

Not going to rehash the whole LFR-should-be-easy vs LFR-should-be-impossible “debate”, but I will say this one thing: If LFR is going to be so difficult that it consumes hours and hours for one boss, not to mention hundreds in repair costs, and if it requires precise team-level skills for success, then it absolutely must drop way better gear than it currently does, for example actual tier gear. If it is tuned to be as hard as Normal, then it should give similar loot.

OK, I lied, I will say two things. When a regular raid team wipes over and over on a boss, it usually makes both the team and the individual players more skilled. The team as a whole improves. Even though multiple wipes can be frustrating, in the long run the team that sticks with it becomes better and stronger. Leadership and team loyalty make a difference. But multiple wipes with an LFR group just means that there is effectively a different team after every wipe, because people quit and are replaced. The people that stick with it are usually the ones who know — or want to learn — the mechanics, and essentially they are waiting to get lucky with a group that can succeed.

In essence, this is RNG for group composition. You keep rolling the dice until you get the right combination of players.  So anyone who claims that “it should be hard” does not understand that LFR groups are not raid teams, and the rules for raid teams do not apply. Yes, final bosses should be hard for actual raid teams. They should not be hard for a random group of players.

Listen up, arrogant mouth-breathers: If you want to do difficult content, the game still has plenty of it.  Go find a Mythic team that will have you. Commit to a progression team. But stop trying to impose your elitist illusions on a large group of people who just want to have some fun and think they should not have to suffer through hours of frustration in order to do so.

Group Finder. Last night, as usual, we were a few people short for our guild raid team, so the RL went the Group Finder route to fill in the gaps. As we have just started raiding again after a 4-month hiatus and having cleared the first wing of HFC last week on Normal, we were doing our first run through of the second wing on Normal. We wiped twice on Council before we downed them.

The wipes were not terrible ones, we were pretty close both times, mostly a matter of tweaking some timing and positioning. After the first wipe, we lost two of the four pugs. No whispered explanations to the RL, no raid chat announcements — not even so much as a “Screw you losers!” — just quit. One guy, a warrior, had begged and pleaded with the RL to let him in. As soon as he got in, he began to dictate raid strategy to the RL, complain about how long it was taking us to get started, and generally engage in ass-like behavior. He was adequately geared, but he was doing embarrassingly low DPS. At any rate, he quit after the first wipe.

We replaced the quitters, but the same thing happened after the second wipe. (Two of our original pugs stuck with us though, a couple of healers.)

We replaced the second group of quitters and proceeded to down the boss. Immediately one of the pugs quit — again, no explanations, nothing. He had topped the damage meters, so our best guess was that he found our team to be beneath his elite status, but we will never know since he just quit with no explanation.

I have mentioned a few times my frustration with the apparent arrogance of raid leaders who use the Group Finder, but last night I saw a lot of rude, arrogant behavior from those seeking teams as well. It makes me want to don my codger hat and wonder what is becoming of this upstart generation of players with their entitlement attitude.

Maybe the pugs who quit were short on time and had to leave for good reasons. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. But if that is the case, would it have killed them to whisper a quick apology to the RL and thank him for the invite? Or maybe — heaven forbid — they might have mentioned their time constraints when first invited. Our RL always whispers pugs before he invites them, has a short conversation with them mainly to let them feel like they are part of a team and not some random spare part to be used then discarded. We are always considerate of them, and even if they eventually have to be booted because they are not working out, it is only after several gentle whispered suggestions from the RL, and an opportunity for them to drop group on their own. We joke with them, we praise them when they do well, we congratulate them on loot, we give them food. We adopt our pugs into our team for the night. If they tell us they have to leave early, we thank them for helping us out and wish them well.

But, really, how big of an arrogant jackass do you have to be to beg to be taken on to a team, then immediately proceed to bitch about the pace, and argue in raid chat about the strategy with the guy who brought you on?

When we downed the boss, we ended up doing so mainly because we just powered through it without any sort of finesse or teamwork. This was because the pugs simply ignored the RL’s strategy, even though he had explained it in raid chat, marked the targets clearly, and even announced when it was time to switch targets. They just flat out ignored him, assuming they were far superior to all of us and had no need of working as part of a team.

I don’t get it. Group Finder is not LFR. Group Finder is designed to augment real raid teams, and if you are selected as such an augmentee, common courtesy would suggest you listen politely and try your best to fit in with the group. Even if you do not agree with the strategy, the well-mannered way to express that is to whisper the RL, not start an argument in raid chat. And if you feel the need to leave the group, a quick “Sorry guys, gtg” is a lot better than just precipitously quitting.

Arrogance and rudeness all around. It’s depressing. Time for me to go into weekend mode.

LFR and raid creep

(No, “raid creep” is not That Guy, it’s the other meaning of creep, but I see where you could get confused.)

Yesterday the final wing — Archimonde — opened for LFR. It was a mess, there is no other way to characterize it. For several hours, the boss would not even spawn, then an emergency hotfix was applied and at least that problem was solved. Only to give rise to another one. LFR groups were wiping 10-12 or even more times on him. And this was Tuesday not to mention the first time the final boss was available, so probably the groups were the best possible you would ever get in LFR. My theory is that the hotfix was a quick and dirty one, and that the devs either forgot or did not have time to trot out the LFR version of difficulty, so LFR got the Normal version. At least I hope that is what happened, and that there will be yet another hotfix to remedy it.

And not for nothin’ Blizz, but have you heard of the concept of software testing? Just spitballing here, but what if you actually tried out your software roll-outs before they go live? I know it’s a radical thought, but I am guessing that just possibly if you had done so in this case, your crack dev team might have noticed a few minor bugs, such as the fact that there was no boss.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. I am getting to the point in my usual roundabout way.

While wiping over and over (and finally deciding it was too costly to continue), I started to think about the whole idea of LFR.

What is its purpose in the game?

This is not a lets-get-rid-of-LFR post. Although I tend to avoid it if at all possible, I am actually a fan of it in principle. (In practice, especially towards the end of an expansion, the groups get too toxic for me, but that is not really the fault of the genre. I don’t think so, anyway.) I think LFR has been a good addition to the game, but I think Blizz has failed to consistently articulate its purpose to the raid dev staff.

A while back, maybe a year ago or so (I can’t find the dev interview now), Blizz explained that the purpose of LFR was to provide a kind of “tourist mode” version of raid content. It would give players a quick and easy look at raid geography and introduce them to the basic mechanics for each boss. Kind of a kindergarten raid. It would award some gear that could either be the end state for your character if you were not a raider, or be your baseline gear for entry into Normal raiding. According to this explanation, LFR was not intended to be especially challenging, it was supposed to be easy. Blizz recognized that a large pug group just would never be able to defeat difficult mechanics.

I thought this was an excellent approach. And for once Blizz seemed to be following through on its stated goal, because Highmaul — at least the first couple of wings — was ridiculously easy. Of course, there was a good deal of whining about this from the professional whiners and self-defined “elitists” out there, but they were missing the point that it was supposed to be ridiculously easy. It was a guided tour through a nasty wilderness, and the tour guides were there to ensure nothing ate you, to set up your tent for you, and to fix gourmet meals for you. If you wanted to go back later in Survivorman mode, that was up to you — this was just basic terrain familiarization. Highmaul LFR let me practice the mechanics for Normal and Heroic, and both I and a fellow raider spent a few short minutes there each week doing just that. It also let a great many players who would not otherwise have experienced the raid do so in a way that might encourage them to try “real” raiding.

Highmaul LFR was a home run, in my opinion.

But starting with BRF, Blizz quickly lost the bubble on raid difficulty in general and on LFR and Normal in particular. Suddenly LFR got not only more difficult, but much more time consuming even if your group one-shotted everything. At the same time, Normal and Heroic got much harder. It as if Blizz decided to bump all raid levels up one level. In the process, they completely abandoned the whole “tourist mode” concept of LFR.

I don’t know why they did this. Maybe it was an oversight, maybe it became impossible to make the mechanics tourist mode friendly, maybe they just got lazy, maybe the raid snobs at Blizz won out, I don’t know. But I would love to hear an explanation from Blizz. I would love to hear them explain what their current goal is for LFR. I would love to find out why they think what used to be “friends and family” mode Normal should be so difficult. I would love to know why they veered so much from the Highmaul LFR model. What changed to make them do that?

Here’s the thing. If Blizz is going to define its entire end game as raiding, then they owe it to their player base to make that end game accessible to the majority of players. Accessibility does not necessarily mean easy, but it does mean that Blizz has a responsibility to provide a graduated path to the higher raid levels. LFR should be fun and quick as an introduction to higher raid levels, it should not be frustrating, long, and expensive. It should make people want to try the next level, not sour them on the whole experience. Normal should be challenging to the average player, not to highly skilled players, and it should scale as well for 10 as for 15-20. Heroic should be challenging for skilled, cohesive teams. Mythic should be challenging for elite teams.

Such a plan makes the end game accessible to all who want to do it, yet preserves the all-important ability for “133t” players to look down their noses at the great unwashed dirty casuals. Even the ivory tower raid snobs at Blizz should be able to get on board with that.

Ring-knockers of WoW

Unless I have the most stupendous run of bad luck in the history of the world, I should get my final legendary ring on my main today. I have the naval mission quest line completed, and I ended up last week with 32 tomes. I certainly should not have to run more than a couple of LFR bosses today to get that final tome.

I suppose I will be happy to get the ring, although truth be told I am actually kind of meh about it. I think I really only want it in order to be admitted to “the club”, not because I am excited about its potential for damage boosting. Only one other damage dealer on our raid team has the ring, so until now he has pretty much used it whenever he wanted to. Now, of course, we will have to coordinate its use if we want to get the max buff. This could be kind of challenging, since both of us are ranged, and ideally you want to be fairly close to each other when it is invoked, because of the last part of the proc that deals huge damage to all enemies within 20 yards of the initiating player’s location.

In fact, the whole intricate timing and positioning thing seems too complex for any but the most elite raid teams to coordinate optimally. For damage dealers, not only do you have to be very precise in your positioning, but you also should try to ensure most players are at a place in their rotations where they can get the most benefit from the proc. This of course is impossible. Which means the ring by design is poorly optimized. Worse, its impending use may cause some players to change up their normal rotations — thereby losing significant DPS — in anticipation of saving even their minor cool downs for the ring proc.

Group use mechanic aside, the proc seems to me to be poorly designed. Ideally, you would save its use for a boss, probably for when you decide to use Hero/Time Warp/ etc. So for 15 seconds all ring-wearers have their individual damage buffed up, but then after the 15 seconds that 20-yard AoE thing kicks in. It just seems like there will frequently be no one but the boss to hit at that point, or if there are a bunch of adds most likely the off tank will have them positioned away from the boss. I’m sure some of you who have used the ring in raid settings have better insight than I do on this, but it just seems like a lot of the proc will frequently be completely wasted.

The legendary ring seems to line up with the mood of this entire expansion, best summed up for me as “Ugh.” I did like the idea that you got incremental versions of the ring as you progressed through the quest line, but other than that the whole legendary has been extremely lackluster in WoD.

I think maybe another telling point about the boringness of the ring is that I almost never see Raid Finder groups requiring it as a condition of acceptance. High gear levels, previous boss kills, minimum DPS — yes, but ring? No one seems to care. Maybe that will change as more people get it, but I think there is a pretty good chance it won’t.

So, yeah, I will probably get my ring today, but no, I am not especially excited about it.

(And the “ring-knocker” term in the title of this post is a reference to a derogatory characterization of West Point graduates in the Army — that they get good leadership positions solely by ostentatiously knocking their rings on the table, not by being competent. Almost never true, but an enduring stereotype nonetheless.)

Hunters — it’s not easy being green

MMO Champion published a graph today of — well, I am not sure what it is of because it is horribly confusing and seems to violate most of the rules of graph design. But it is supposed to show active player class representation in Patch 6.2. It is also supposed to show data on item level within classes, but the legend does not match the graph, it is not well labeled, and so on. Never mind, what I was interested in is the basic class representation numbers and the responses to them.

No surprise, hunters were the most populous class, followed by druids, then pallies and warriors. After that, the next group was DKs, mages, priests, and shammies. At the bottom were rogues, warlocks, and monks — monks being the lowest. (Weirdly, my two most played classes by time are hunter and monk, which I guess may say something about my tendencies to operate along border areas….)

Predictably, the nutosphere vomited hate on hunters over this graph, pointing out in barely literate terms how easy it is to play a hunter, how boring it is to play a hunter, only bad players choose hunters, hunters are OP no fair no fair no fair, we hates them, we hates them!

Perusing the forum comments, my reaction was oh here we go again, another opportunity to hate hunters, nothing new here, move along. But then I began to think about it. Why is it that hunters are, and have been since the inception of WoW, the class everyone is allowed to hate and to dump on? What is it about the class that inspires cretins everywhere to unleash torrents of vile invective against it, given any slight pretext? No other class has been so consistently and so openly hated as hunters. Yet it remains the most-played class. (Reminds me of the idea that “no one” — certainly no right-thinking individual — reads those trashy “newspapers” at the supermarket checkout, yet mysteriously they stay in business and make a profit.)

Hunters have always been an attractive class for beginners. They are easy to level, taming pets is fun, and — let’s be honest — with the popularity of movies like Hunger Games, the bow as a weapon appeals to adolescent females, who demographically tend to lose interest in the game before reaching level cap. In fact, anyone just wanting to try the game out for awhile has a high probability of selecting a hunter, and many of these beginners stop playing before level cap. This means that there is a high percentage of unskilled hunters in the game, making the same mistakes and social “foopaws” as every other newbie, except hunters are more numerous and thus more visible for these things. So I suppose I kind of understand the genesis of “huntard” (a term I abhor, not for its slur of hunters but for its mean slur of a group of people for whom life is a constant challenge).

What I don’t understand is the stubbornness with which hunter haters cling to their hatred, their vocalness in demanding this or that hunter nerf at every opportunity. Mind you, they don’t want their own class buffed with hunter traits, they want hunter traits to be destroyed, to make it “harder” for hunters.

As Blizz has said for years, their goal is a game that is easy to learn but hard to master. Hunters — along with nearly every other class — adhere to that philosophy. Yes, they are easy to learn. And no, they are not easy to master. And the same can be said of nearly every other class. Yet it seems to be only hunters that vocal morons in forums and trade chat constantly denigrate for being “easy”. Many of them go on to point out — apparently for credibility — that they have a hunter alt, but it is too boring and easy and so their main is one of the “skill” classes. Uh-huh. Almost certainly they never mastered their hunter, so of course it is “easy”.

Not everyone loves the hunter play style. They identify strongly with a different class. Still, they are interested enough to try it out, maybe play it once in a while for variety. That is perfectly understandable. I feel the same way about mages. But I do not seize on every possible opportunity to express spittle-flecked hatred for the class. If mages happen to be at the top of the DPS charts, I do not rant against them as OP, I do not lobby to have them nerfed, I do not stamp my feet and hold my breath until I am blue and scream about it bring unfair. In that situation, if my goal were to do top damage, I would get better at my mage and play it as my main.

Is playing a hunter easy? No, not if you want to do it well, no more so than playing a DK or rogue or druid is easy at skilled levels. Putting out high DPS while mobile is a skill you learn with practice. Cheerfully saying yes to raid duties is a team skill you learn that comes with the territory of being mobile. Managing a pet along with a your own constant rotation is a skill — you don’t have to learn it, but good hunters constantly manage their pet’s threat stance and positioning. Managing your focus to never miss a signature shot — while constantly moving — is an advanced skill.

But here’s the thing. Since most players have tried a hunter at one time or another, they think their experience with them at the “easy” level is all there is. When they see hunters topping the raid damage charts or mopping the floor with them in PvP, they assume these skilled hunters are just mindlessly mashing the same buttons they themselves did at level 5 or 50 or 70 or whatever. Hunters are like belly buttons — everyone has one, but not many are willing to flaunt them in public. If mages were the most popular beginner class and were as easy to level as hunters, I guarantee you the forums would be consistently full of mage hate. It’s a function of popularity.

Still, it gets old. And of course it is a mob mentality that feeds on itself. Players new to WoW quickly learn that hunters are the red-headed stepchild of the game and that no one will ever flame them for hating on hunters. (The cynical me even wonders if the reason Blizz seems to choose hunters to experiment with is because they know no one will object except the hard core hunters, and no one likes them anyway.)

We hunters are tough and independent, though, and truthfully don’t give a crap about the opinion of the lesser classes. In the words of Kris Kristofferson (Jesus Was a Capricorn):

Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on
Prove they can be better than at any time they choose
Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty decent folks can frown on
If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

Still, is it asking too much for you to be witty and grammatical when you hate us?

Hunter hall and other puzzling “news”

MMO-Games recently published a Legion interview they did with Tom Chilton and Ion Hazzikostas. It’s a bit unclear when the interview took place — it seems like it happened at or shortly after Gamescom — but it is just being published now. At any rate, it’s short enough to take a look at if you have a couple of minutes.

The news for hunters is that probably the Hunter Class Hall will be located in the Highmountain zone in the Broken Isles, “because they have a hunters lodge up there”, according to Hazzikostas.

Ummm, okay. But I am a tad confused. What difference should it make whether there is an existing structure or not? The halls will be basically instances, no? Like garrisons? So the player experience should be, you get to the general area, you see the portal to the instance (like you see the garrison gate and structural outlines now), then you enter the instance when you get close enough, assuming you meet the class requirement. It seems like it would be trivial to plunk down a hunter lodge type structure pretty much anywhere?

I don’t really have any strong feelings about where a Hunter Class Hall should be located, but it strikes me that this entire expansion is going to be about traditional lore, and in general will be very heavy on history. The artifact weapons, for example, will be the weapons used by WoW historical heroes. So why would you place a Hunter Class Hall in an area that holds no real player significance, no historical pull, for hunters?

And not for nothin’, Ion, but after the discussions about the great significance of the warlock class hall location, and all the debate back and forth about the appropriateness of locating the rogue class hall in the Dalaran underground, your sole reason for choosing a location for hunters is “because they have a hunters lodge up there”?

That’s like saying the location for the mage class hall will be Theramore “because they have a mage tower there”.

It is hard to escape the notion that Blizz has completely written off the hunter class for the game and is bent on ignoring it as much as possible. Having destroyed the very foundation of hunter play with the Legion spec changes, why bother to put any thought into the class hall location? Just stick them somewhere and move on to important things, like coming up with a few more melee classes or figuring out how long we can delay flying in Legion.

Just before this illuminating disclosure of the hunter class hall location, Chilton was asked to comment on the possibility of the changes to hunter specs playing out across all classes. The exchange:

MMOGames: Demon Hunters have only two specs, and your presentation points to Hunters having one of their specs evolving into a role similar to Amazons in Diablo: is this going to play out across all Class Specs?

Tom Chilton: Almost right but not quite. Just because the survival hunters weapon is a spear, it’s a melee weapon not a bow, that’s because we’re evolving that particular spec to be a melee hunter. It will be the hunter in melee with their pet. The marksmanship hunter will be a ranged hunter with no pet and the beastmaster hunter will be a ranged hunter with a pet. That’s how we’re evolving the distinction between those and that’s why the survival hunters artifact is a spear. that’s different from the Amazon in Diablo III, she was a ranged javelin thrower.

Well, thank you, Tom. In answer to the question, will all class specs get the same treatment hunter class specs are getting, you explained what changes hunters will get. Oh, and apparently the hunter spear cannot be thrown. Very enlightening. And while we are at it, thank you, MMO Games interviewer, for allowing him to skate by deliberately misinterpreting your question as “Will all hunter class specs resemble the Amazon in Diablo III?”

Journalism at its best.

While we are at it, I wonder why exactly Chilton was even in that interview. He contributed nothing of interest, in fact sometimes he contributed nothing even coherent. Example:

MMOGames: What lessons have you learned from Draenor in managing player expectations in terms of lore and storyline?

Tom Chilton: I’m not sure that I agree [with the question] on a fundamental level. It’s the assumption of a statement of fact that there is less story in Draenor than there is previous expansions. When we made the announcement, and right before the announcement we ran the story that has happened so far trailer.

If you take that and combine it with the Lords of War series that we did, you know things that led up to the expansion and all that kind of stuff… and you compare it against any other expansion, except maybe Mists of Pandaria, it comes out overwhelmingly favorable. So I don’t know that it’s something I agree with.

Huh?

It says something about the current state of affairs at Blizz when two of its key game project managers have no clear concept of their message, when they cannot state fundamental goals for an expansion. Blizz would be better off hiring a couple U.S. Presidential candidates as spokespersons — at least they are skilled at giving non-answers to questions, and they are a darned sight more entertaining than the act of Chilton and Hazzikostas.

I need alcohol and a weekend.

Grinding away at fun

Maybe I am just in a slump game-wise, but I have lost all motivation to play, write about, or even take any interest in WoW any more.

Those of you who follow my blog may have noticed I did not post yesterday. I tried, I wrote a few paragraphs, but I just could not work up enough enthusiasm to finish it.

Oddly, the recent flurry of announcements about Patch 6.2.2 and flying in Draenor — which should have been good news — served only to increase my apathy. I should have felt exhilaration and excitement about the prospect of flying, but all I felt was beat down. I think if Blizz had made it available a month ago, which is the time frame they had led us to believe it would happen in, then I would have had some fun with it. But they have strung it out for so long now, I just don’t care. The most reaction I could come up with was, “Oh. Finally. Maybe.”

Thanks, Blizz, for sucking every bit of fun out of flying.

I did log on last night, and I was struck by how run down my garrisons were on all my characters. Again, I just don’t care any more. Garrison resources, herbs and ore, and crafted mats are all piled up in massive stacks, and I cannot be bothered enough to collect them and start new work orders. Who cares? I would be interested in crafting 6/6 level gear for my alts, because I have literally thousands of appropriate cooldown mats, but not only are they limited to 3 pieces, but it takes 270 felblight to upgrade those three pieces. And I have 4 alts that could use such gear, which means 1080 felblight. Grinding out that much by farming it is for all practical purposes impossible, at least in less than 6 months or so of sustained work. Buying it on the AH on my server still costs a bit over 225 gold each, which would be close to a quarter of a million gold even if I could find that many for sale. Not going to happen.

Thanks, Blizz, for sucking every bit of fun out of crafting gear for my alts. 

I have written extensively about the joylessness of getting gear that is not crafted — through drops or T2 upgrades or whatever. It is exhaustingly disappointing, so much so that when you finally do get a useful piece, you experience only a sort of dull relief.

Thanks, Blizz, for sucking every bit of fun out of the entire gear process.

I have paid so little attention to my garrisons that I was surprised to notice a second mailbox was added at some point, down by the profession huts. Not sure when this happened, but I only noticed it last night. I feel like I am at the stage you get to when you are getting ready to move out of an apartment — you know you will be leaving soon, so you stop vacuuming and dusting, waiting for the furniture to be gone and the move-out cleaning so you get your deposit back.

I had such high hopes for garrisons, thought they would be that thing all humans want, whether IRL or in a virtual world  — a place to call their own, a place they could customize and make into a cozy little sanctuary, a place they could bring friends. But garrisons were never that, they were just Blizz’s cheap alternative to making faction cities in Draenor.

Thanks, Blizz, for sucking all the potential fun out of garrisons.

At the start of WoD, Blizz hyped follower missions as a kind of fun side activity, which could give a player very decent rewards if they stuck with it. And it turns out it was kind of fun, more so because the rewards were actually worth it. As soon as Blizz realized this, of course, they determined that they must do something about it, because they could not have players actually enjoying something that was not elite raiding. So they proceeded to nerf the hell out of the rewards, cutting back drastically on gold rewards, changing the calculus for gear rewards, curtailing the number of salvage boxes, and finally implementing the almost-useless naval missions, which pretty much no one thinks are fun.

Thanks, Blizz, for seeking out and eliminating even side pockets of fun in the game.

I like to raid, but I do not like the idea of “elite” raiding — I do it for fun as relaxation from work, I do not want to feel like it is my night job. But WoD has destroyed many guilds while at the same time upping the price of admission for guild raid teams. Normal raiding — which used to be flex in Mists — was supposed to be a level between LFR and what was then “normal”, but the difficulty is far beyond that now. Heroic has similarly gotten harder. And Mythic is pretty much out of the reach of all but the most hard core guilds, not only for the difficulty, but also because of the strict team size.

Thanks, Blizz, for sucking the joy out of casual raiding.

Thanks, Blizz, for removing almost every reason for people to join together in guilds.

The announcement of a new expansion always used to be a cause for excitement and anticipation. I was initially intrigued by the Legion announcement, but more and more I realize that it is likely to be nothing more than a rerun of Draenor. Even if it is not like that — and we have only Blizz’s vague pronouncements that it will be “fun” — we still have months and months more of WoD to endure. Almost certainly, by the time we get to actual launch, it will be less of a fun new thing and more of simple relief just to be moving on. And Blizz’s steadfast determination over the last year to destroy every bit of company trust and goodwill they had built up, makes players eye any Legion announcements very warily.

Thanks, Blizz, for sucking the fun of anticipation out of the next expansion. 

Last — and certainly not least — one of the most enduring and fundamental joys of this game for me has been playing a hunter. It has changed over the years — pets no longer have to be fed, we use focus instead of mana, we no longer need to buy and carry ammunition, we have lost some iconic abilities such as Hunter’s Mark to placate the never-satisfied PvP crowd, and the hunter specs have all had ups and downs — but throughout it all I loved the basic hunter play style of constant movement, the integral role of my pet, and ranged physical damage.

But that is going away in Legion, for all but one spec. Moreover, the class has become so unbalanced that it can only reach a smooth rotational flow with a four-piece set of tier gear awarded randomly.

Thanks most of all, Blizz, for destroying the most basic joy I had in this game. 

Yet, in the most amazing display of hubris, Blizz insists on telling me that all these things are not fun, and that they will tell me when I am having fun and exactly how I must do it. And so, in a postscript:

Thanks, Blizz, for educating me about the true definition of “fun”, and for making me realize where it is not to be found.