Chasing the carrot

I am not what anyone would call an achievement hog (or the other terminology where you leave off the “g”). I do not really go out of my way to check off unfinished tasks in my WoW log. Most of my achievements are there as a by-product of my normal play style, and in any guild ranking by achievement points I am pretty far down the list. I am happy to participate in guild achievement nights, and I am always ready to help others get special achievements, but left to my own devices I generally do not directly pursue them unless they lead to something else I really want. (Achievements to unlock flying would be an example.)

But that does not mean I am not goal-driven. It’s just that I prefer to set my own goals rather than have Blizz list them out for me. As I have explained before in this blog, I set pretty much the same goals for myself at the start of every expansion, roughly:

  • Progress through every raid tier at whatever level of play my raid team is doing.
  • Gear my main to approximately whatever the “max” level is for the level of raids I run.
  • Max out all my professions on all my characters.
  • Level all my alts, at least to LFR minimums.
  • Spend enough play time with my alts to be minimally proficient with them.
  • Develop one or two alts to be able to do normal raid mode.

I get a real feeling of satisfaction when I judge that I have reached these goals.

My frustration with Legion is that, for many of these goals, Blizz has either vastly increased the time necessary to do them, or they keep moving the line to where I can never really feel I have completed them. Both factors tend to make most of these personal goals unattainable. I only have so much play time available, for example, and if gearing up an alt (mainly artifact AP) takes twice as long as in a previous expansion, then I will only be able to gear up half as many alts. (That’s not the actual ratio, but you get the idea.)

But the most frustrating part of all this has been that it is not possible to “finish” my main’s artifact (and thus gear) leveling because Blizz keeps introducing more and more levels of power to it. Consider:

  • They initially told us once we got all the basic traits done and got to the final gold trait, anything beyond that would be minimal and we should not feel we had to diligently pursue it.
  • Then along came a patch and lo and behold they added a whole new set of traits we had to build until we got to “Convergence” on our weapons.
  • But after that, said Blizz, no worries, anything beyond that would be minimal and we should not feel we had to diligently pursue it.
  • Then of course along came patch 7.3, and Blizz once again yanked the football away and pushed us to chase billions and billions of AP every week to fill in — yes, you guessed it — another trait table, this one based on relic slots!

As usual, now they are reassuring us that once we get all relic levels unlocked, any further increases to artifact power are minimal and we should not feel we have to bust our sweet little asses pursuing AP after that.

Mmmmmmm-hmmm. Sure.

This is all old news, of course. We should no longer be surprised when Blizz lies to us time after time. (Remember their progressive lies about the role of garrisons in WoD.) “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” We have all rightly complained a lot about the endless AP grind in Legion, and even Mr. Game Director Hazzikostas seemed to realize it in a couple of oblique comments in yesterday’s dev Q&A.

The thing is, this will not change in Battle for Azeroth. We will not have an artifact weapon, but instead we will have at least 4 pieces of artifact-type gear. The mechanics will be different, but these things will not:

  • We will be required to have one certain piece of gear (the neck piece) in order to even function in the expansion. This is like our being required to have an artifact weapon in Legion. It is not possible to participate in the expansion without it.
  • The neck piece will in effect control the trait tables for at least 3 other pieces of gear. We will have to “progress” the neck piece in order to unlock various traits capabilities for other gear slots. Sound familiar?
  • Our artifact weapon special gear will gain power by our accumulation of massive amounts of artifact power azerite. We will get this by participating in the MAU-enhancing activities Blizz designates. For the entire expansion.

No matter what Blizz says about powering up the new gear, you can take it to the bank that the enhancement process will be never-ending. For anyone wishing to raid or even to do Mythic+ (Blizz’s new stealth raiding activity), there will be no logical stopping points. As soon as there starts to be a slight dip in MAU, Blizz will introduce an entirely new set of powers to be unlocked by diligently chasing more azerite. Count on it.

And so, finally, here is my point: I do not know how much longer I can continue chasing something I can never catch in this game. I am not sure I can reset my brain to give up a set of personal goals that have served me well ever since I began playing WoW. There is a slow burning anger in me that Blizz so cavalierly devalues my goals and my play style, and a growing nugget of rage that not only do they tell me what my goals will be but that they keep moving those goals further down the field. 

No, I am not going to rage quit. I will wait and see what BfA brings. In the big picture, when I engage my logic rather than my emotions, I know it is still an amazing game. I must certainly be having fun with it, because otherwise I would have quit long ago.

But I cannot shake the feeling that each time I log on I am being backed into a smaller and smaller corner, being forced into a play style and set of game activities set not by me but by Blizz. If I may shift metaphors here, I am sick of having a carrot tied to my head so that no matter how fast I run I can never catch it, and I am sick of Blizz telling me a continuous stream of lies about my chances of doing it.

I want the damn carrot, Blizz!

Next week is American Thanksgiving week, and I will be taking a blog vacation during that time to tend to relatives and cooking and football. Look for me back here on November 27th. For those of you who celebrate turkey day, enjoy!

9 thoughts on “Chasing the carrot

  1. Wow. This hit me right in the feels. I have never raced to the end. I have gotten there in my own time. Held off participating in raids until I have grown comfortable with class changes, gotten decent enough gear to feel like I’m contributing, felt that I could survive a fight and not be a burden on the group. This entire expansion. Having the line moved over and over. It’s made me question why bother. I will never catch up, I’m only at 68 now with hundreds of billions of AP to go to 75, or will it jump to 90, 100, they have not said it will not happen. Which says to me it will. There will be a new MAU sink. But what has it done to me, an average player. I find myself taking days off of WoW every week. Last week I didn’t play for 6 days. Why should I? Grind rep to waste gold on a few mounts I won’t use? Another exalted? I have 70-80 now. The number doesn’t mean anything any more. To me what they have done is added a new gap in the player base. Those that have hours a day to play and sacrifice everything to keep at the top. And those they consider afterthoughts. Those players that won’t play the game the way they designed it, so we get what ever crumbs they want to toss us to keep us partially satisfied.

    I hope they realize what they are doing is driving people away. Or I dread the thought that it’s what they want to do to push the game into the next decade of eSports competitive playing.

    1. Yeah, I agree that the current design decisions — mainly raid, dungeon, and class design around the desires of professional players, combined in no small way with the absolute supremacy of MAU as the defining metric — are driving non-pro players away. I don’t know how fast it is happening, but it is hard to not think WoW will be a pro-gamer-only endeavor within a few years. If it still exists at all. Maybe, as you say, this is what Blizz wants, but I consider it to be a heinous betrayal of the very roots of the game.

      I really do think what we see in BfA will tell us the shape of the game for the foreseeable future, and possibly the manner of its demise. (We may have already seen that in Legion, but one exemplar is not enough on which to base a prediction.)

      1. Here’s an interesting thought. What if they plan on taking it full out competitive, keep up or go play Classic.

      2. That has been my exact thoughts too. They slowly remove everything from the past from the current game, and hope that those who liked those things just turn to Classic instead. That is a very risky move to make.

        But part of me also wonders, if the game is just a reflection of how the real world is changing. That really makes me sad. And would explain why I wish they wouldn’t make the decisions they do.

      3. @Marathal Talk about a great basis for a rip-roaring tinfoil hat theory! You could even add in the suspicious “toggle” PvP mode coming for every server. The Pro servers are for competitive M+ teams, world-first and server-first raid guilds, and high-rated PvP players. The BfA Islands and Warfront scenarios would also have server competitive ladders. And The Great Unwashed can go mark time on a “classic” server with no real esports potential.

        🤯

      4. Future patches unlock additional islands to battle on. Yeah. I think it’s highly likely. And they could roll out Classic WoW with an expansion every 18-24 months. That would be another 10-15 years of Casual WoW

      5. Carried the thought over to a blog post. When I have a chance I will link this blog post in. It’s a crazy idea. But maybe.

  2. I hear you so loud and clear. Even as casual as I am, I can certainly see a change in my playing style too. I used to have two alts. Now I have none.

    But I keep trying to remind myself. Some things in the game are not for me anymore. But I still fail at being content. I want to unlock those traits on that crucible thing too…

    I do wonder though. What would you do if you were Blizzard and somehow, you must come up with an activity that can keep people, with all day to play, stay subscribed?

    That seems to be the sole reason for the endless grinds.

    Such an enormous shame. I miss looking forward to an expansion, that wouldn’t make me go “Azeri…What? Huh, so what does that do? Errr…”

    Why must things be disguised in complexity, in hopes that we accept it with a smile? Puzzling.

    Press on, heroes!

  3. Sometimes I wonder if we’re playing the same game. 🙂 I really don’t mind if they change their minds/plans on occasion like they did on the relics/traits for our weapons. It’s another way of them nerfing the content. Instead of them putting a nerf aura on the raid, they make the player base work/grind a bit to up their power.

    To me, WoW has always been a grind. From grinding out resist gear, raid attunements, or gold for mounts in the early years to reputation and AP now. I don’t see things as much different apart from them measuring the grind a bit more effectively now.

    Personally, I view artifact level 75 as the “final” level. I just got Titanstrike there and I’m happy to focus a bit more on my other artifacts. It was fairly easy to do so. I haven’t been focusing too much on grinding AP out apart from raiding, a few world quests, and running the follower missions that grant AP. Do you use the Legion Companion ap? It does make things much easier.

    I’ve got 11 toons at max level as I just finished leveling my goblin DK and tauren monk (’cause seeing a big cow kick someone amuses me greatly) to 110. With the armor tokens that drop when you’re questing through Krokuun and the Antoran Wastes, and a couple of the 970 crafted pieces I had them geared at 890-900 fairly quick too.

    I did change my playstyle somewhat this expansion. I certainly delayed levelling a number of alts until they could fly. All of my toons used to have crafting professions. Now I’ve only got one of each and the rest of my alt are just gatherers.

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