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. 

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.

10 Responses to Grinding away at fun

  1. Casually Odd says:

    This explains some…I figured that I wasn’t the first person to see the news on flying and expected you and grumpy (among others) to have something up on it. And that you had a pretty similar reaction to me says a lot.

    We might need to be careful we aren’t creating some negativity feedback loop (sounds like a Goblin thing to me) but I think the bigger thing is that we just all kind of feel the same thing. Like you sum up – we’ve been “enlightened” to what real fun is and “saved” from the unenjoyable things we used to love. Or thought we loved but were wrong.

    Whew! Thanks Blizzard!

    Unrelated I love this tag: Blizz Screw With the Players Department

    I’m thinking Blizzard should not have made that Department. Seems like someone needs to look at their Org Chart. Could be the source of a lot of their problems.

    • Fiannor says:

      Ya, I don’t think we are in a negative feedback loop. I think we have just reached a tipping point where even Blizz’s diehard fans are fed up and just plain tired of their antics. If we could see a continuing stream of outreach like Lore posted today, it might help to turn around Blizz’s downward spiral, but I suspect that was a one-off unfortunately.

      • Casually Odd says:

        Sorry, I hope that didn’t sound like I was criticizing you, it was more a note to me, so my apologies if it came across wrong. I just haven’t been reading anyone very happy lately, some but not a lot, and I was probably voicing my own concern that I was in too much of an echo chamber.

        But as to the rest of your statement, full on agreement

  2. Thuggs says:

    I respect the point about negative feedback loop, though I disagree. A lot has been said over the last few months, laying criticisms as well as rationales as to why those criticisms are valid and why each persons emotional reaction is justified. I suspect that a lot of us feel the same, and as each blogger and commenter articulates those perceptions, a certain amount of resonance takes hold, particularly, when the commentary is accurate and sharply defined.

    So we are faced with this situation: stick with the relationship and take what you can from it or pack up and move out. I don’t like this choice as I’m sure many of you feel similarly; however, just because we don’t like the road that logical analysis of our feelings and perspectives leads us down, does not mean it’s not valuable data blizzard needs to correctly course correct.

    I’m not holding my breath that they can recognize the true failings and adjust; I do however, hope they can. Recognize the truth is the situation, and hope tomorrow will be better as I keep an eye out for signs it will get better.

    • Casually Odd says:

      You are probably right and I was being overly cautious about the loop. I do think we’ve laid out logical and reasonable reasons for frustrations. And even some purely emotional ones that are just as valid.

      I also hope they can adjust but I’m not really confident of that either.

      • Fiannor says:

        I don’t think you were being overly cautious. It was a valid point that we have a responsibility to consider. Just because I don’t think that is the situation here does not mean it is not something to think about.

    • Fiannor says:

      @Thuggs

      A good point about it being a binary decision for many of us — quit the game or stick with it in hopes of better experiences.

      Part of our (at least my) angst over this is that games tend to allow us to cater to our simpler inner child, and sometimes that inner child — when presented with an either/or decision — just stamps its feet and gives the angry toddler response of “No!” An adult recognizes the facts, makes a decision, and moves on, but the child stubbornly wishes the facts to be different.

      I am guilty of wishing the facts to be different, yet in reality I have already selected option 2 — wait it out and hope the experience gets better one way or another. (But I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna!)

      I do think Blizz has ample data from a variety of sources about player perceptions of the state of the game, but they seem incapable of changing the fundamental problems. I am not talking about individual game mechanisms, but about core approaches such as perceived lack of player choice, perceived disdain for their customers, and so forth. Some time over the last year the company made a huge wide super tanker turn away from their previous approach to development, and in the opinion of many players it was a wrong turn.

      Unfortunately, I think the course correction was engineered by the new management staff that came in after last year’s pre-WoD exodus, and thus I do not see things changing. It is not a matter of new guys learning the ropes, making mistakes, and then correcting the mistakes. It is a matter of new guys coming in to clean house and implement a different agenda.

      • Thuggs says:

        @Fiannor

        I am definitely in the same toddler zone you are. I want the facts to change. And I’m in the old relationship mode as well. I’ve invested so much and had such great times. They can’t all be gone, but as I search and don’t find them, I feel resentful of Blizzard and its management, that they aren’t what they were. Its an interesting and very powerful dynamic going on, and definitely influences how I react to the game.

        So, I’m logging on less frequently, and when feel bad moments occur (like two nights ago when I logged on to do LFR for the tomes and had an hour queue, I expressed my dissatisfaction with an hour wait to get to play what I want to play in guild chat. The reply was, “Oh Thuggs, are you quitting again?” I felt very angry and wanted to retort, but just typed /exit.) I am leaving the game.

        The result has been pretty telling. Where once I could HAPPILY put 40-60hrs into the game in a week raiding 6 nights a week, I haven’t stayed online and in game more than 10 minutes but once over the last 3 weeks. Guess it is time for me, I should quit, but I don’t want to let go. I want to actually feel what the 4 piece MM bonus feels like. I want to get gear that never drops coin or in group loot. I want to play a fun game again.

        So yeah, I guess Aspect of the Toddler is my thing for now. 😛

  3. Grumsta says:

    How you describe yourself now is exactly how I felt during 6.0 and up to the point where BRF was released just after 6.1 came out. I came back to try BRF and enjoyed it, I’ve been back since.

    If our guild wasn’t raiding in HFC I would have quit the game long ago. It’s the only thing that makes the current grind bearable for me: there HAS to be some point to it.

    I loved making gear with my Blacksmith in MoP; getting the mats, going to Isle of Thunder to forge the weapons, and then selling them for a decent amount on the AH. Then professions were an end in themselves: I wasn’t using the gear I was making at all.

    “Crafting” in 6.2 is a RNG-fest to get the right stats, then it’s pretty easy to get to 4/6. To finish off, I simply take my 5 level 100s over to Kazzak and play the Felblight lottery every week until I have enough to go to 6/6. I fish for the shortfall. It is abysmal. I don’t know what to call it, but it is not crafting by any reasonable definition. But it’s worth doing because you get your weapon to 705 and armour to 715, and that really matters for raiding with useful gear drops as frugal as they are.

    Raiding is hard for a guild like ours. We’ve only recently started logging, and our guild rating hovers between *snigger* and “pfffft”. Last night we took some new recruits into Kilrogg, and at the start one of them said “Can we take a break before Iskar because I haven’t downloaded the add-on yet”. There was an embarrassed silence on Mumble because we knew we wouldn’t get that far….. Sure enough we spent all night wiping on Kilrogg, and miraculously we downed him on the last pull before the poor souls in earlier timezones had to call it a night.

    We have had way too many nights like this on Kilrogg and Gorefiend. Last night we had 11 to 13 players, and the simple truth is these fights don’t scale well for small groups like ours. We’re trying to recruit new folks from other raiding guilds who have hit the same wall and not recovered. We’ve been losing our best players to other guilds because they’re sick of wiping on Normal, and they’re now in bigger raid teams and getting Heroic kills. Or so they tell us anyway.

    So we’re a small loyal bunch of friends who want to progress together, and this used to work for us in Flex in SoO. Yes we had wipes, yes we struggled with some bosses, but NOTHING like this. I do worry about how long people can put up with killing the same four bosses easily every week, only to then wipe repeatedly on the next three and get little if any gear because we’re all around 695-700 due to Baleful gear and earlier runs. Maybe with a few more Gorefiend kills we can drop some second T18 tier pieces and make some progress.

    We did try the first “boss” on Heroic with 11 players on Wednesday and it was a disaster. We got totally overwhelmed. Numbers matter.

    I’m hoping we can get a Raiding team of around 20 players together because then we might make some headway. If raiding stalls that really will be the end of this xpac and probably the game for me.

    “Grinding away for fun” is okay until you’re not having fun anymore. Then it’s an unpaid second job and it’s time to walk away again.

    • Fiannor says:

      I completely agree with you on the raiding problems. The bare truth is that Blizz played a bait and switch on us with difficulty. When flex raiding was introduced in Mists it was hyped as a “friends and family” difficulty level, harder than LFR but easier than normal mode, with the added benefit of scaling to accommodate variably sized groups. When “flex” became a group mechanism rather than a raid level, Blizz told us that normal mode would be the previous flex level, and heroic would be the previous normal. Mythic would remain Mythic.

      They stayed true to this pattern for Highmaul, but then they abandoned it — in my opinion — starting with BRF. Where many casual raid guilds had done well in heroic Highmaul, suddenly they were struggling with normal BRF. And HFC is worse.

      Your guild is by no means alone in its struggles to raid. Blizz has completely abandoned such guilds, which by the way represent the majority of guild raiders in WoW. This is especially heinous in light of their growing “raid or die” game philosophy. If they are going to stick with that, then they owe it to their players — the regular players, not the “eSport” self-proclaimed elitists — to make raiding more accessible and therefore more fun for them. But they are stubbornly trying to push an approach that both requires raiding as the end game activity and makes it nearly unattainable for the majority of players.

      This is terrible game design.

%d bloggers like this: