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.

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.

4 Responses to A follower’s life

  1. Lovely post, Misdirections.
    Sometimes I am absolutely appalled at my mercenary selfish ways. I had no problem bringing in the corps to cut down massive trees or putting up an giant oil rig so I could exploit the resources of the planet for my own profit.
    One step farther would have been a bank back in Azeroth for my holdings: stacks of ore, leather, oil, herbs, lumber and most of all: gold. It is a creep idea but returning with a lot of plunder is not the noble mission of my promoted Commander — yet, here I am.
    I’ll take any follower, no matter how shifty, as long as they have the Treasure Hunter trait. I even have achievements for plundering treasure.
    Creepy game, no?

    • Fiannor says:

      LOL! Yes, it does have its creepy aspects. I have similar thoughts when I run across a new woodland creature. First I /love them and then I kill them. Hard to reconcile those two ideas, but it does not stop me from acting that way.

  2. Casually Odd says:

    As mentioned above, good post 🙂

    I generally send followers out for any mission that will bring back anything I can sell. Even if it is only a few gold, I don’t always have better things for their resources to go towards, so anything helps. If I have a better use for the resources then my list is pretty similar to your list.

    You do capture what Blizzard is missing this expansion. That lived-in-world feeling. The followers and the story you created for them seems close to that feeling but you had to give it details and life. And as you said about the shipyard, there really isn’t anything there. Just a thin veneer of story and purpose covering a game mechanic.

    • Fiannor says:

      Sadly, some of that whimsical detail is what gets cut when Blizz tries to push out patches and expansions at an accelerated pace. But as you point out, that is often what gives the game depth and interest, it is what really constitutes “immersion” for me.

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