World Of Warcraft Dev Address Pacing Problems

If you’re still holding your breath for Blizzard to make a firm ruling on official servers running older (legacy) versions of World of Warcraft [official site], jeez, you must be tired. A month of holding until you pass out, over and over? Rough. Well, a Blizzard livestream today deftly stepped around that, but one dev get nicely into one of the problems fuelling interest in legacy servers: modern WoW’s bad pacing at lower levels.

Oh, and Blizzard also mentioned that closed beta testing for Legion, WoW’s next expansion, should start on Thursday to begin the run-up to its August launch.

That’s the plan for Legion’s beta, anyway. Excluding unexpected last-minute badness. Remember to check your Battle.net beta opt-in settings if you want a chance. The livestream was mostly about Legion, full of details about things it’s adding, so get stuck in if that’s what you want. What interested me far more was the talk about legacy servers, or around them – about modern WoW’s rubbish pacing.

Assistant game director Ion ‘Watcher’ Hazzikostas spoke surrounded by disclaimers that this isn’t the authoritative word and that Blizzard’s official stance hasn’t changed since that statement. However, he did talk a lot of sense. He said that negative feedback to Blizzard’s proposed ‘pristine’ servers “sheds some light on something that I think is a problem with the game in general right now, that I think we can address outside of the context of legacy servers, pristine servers.”

Which is that the levelling-up experience through older zones at lower levels is “pretty broken right now. It’s not really very well tuned.” He added, “It’s not even about difficulty; it’s about pacing.”

Basically, low-level players now plough the game, killing everything easily in unsatisfying combat so they spend comparatively far more time simply running between objectives. Some of this is down to changes made with the end-game in mind.

“There have been a lot of trickle-down effects from balances changes made to the max-level game. Things that used to be talents we now bake in as passives, we buff abilities, we move things that used to be high-level abilities down to make them available at level 10…”

Some of it is down to intentional speeding-up of lower levels, especially with the Cataclysm expansion’s arcing story missions pushing people along far quicker. Hazzikostas said that was partly down to wanting to remove barriers to entry. Blizzard were concerned about new players who’d joined to play with their pals but were so far behind, and about returning players not wanting to grind through zones they’d seen. So they sped it all up.

“With every new expansion that came out – and this is a process that started really as early as Burning Crusade and continued on through Wrath, through Cataclysm… – we made levelling through the prior expansions a bit faster, and a bit faster, and a bit faster, because we didn’t want levelling to be such a barrier to entry.”

He would like to change this. “The point isn’t to make the game brutally hard”, he explained, it’s to ease back on the pace. Besides, the barrier he spoke of is already partially solved. WoW offers instant boosts to max-level, including one redeemable boost with each new expansion and selling them separately too.

“There isn’t this need for us to try to rush people through the level-up experience any more. If you’re levelling a character from 1 to 100, we should make that a satisfying, well-paced experience. The goal isn’t to go back to the ‘it takes 13 days played and hundreds of hours of, y’know, you’re spending a week in Stranglethorn Vale’ but you shouldn’t be out-levelling zones before you’ve finished their story. You shouldn’t be doing one dungeon and finding that the zone you’re in is no longer relevant to you at all.”

Which, yeah, I agree with that. I first played WoW before the first expansion then returned shortly after Cataclysm and sure, it had a lot of cooler moments and the story wrapping of lower levels was good stuff, but the rush ruined the feel of the world.

So Blizzard are thinking about solutions, and something made for the next expansion might potentially help.

“There’s some promise for the ‘flexible zone‘ scaling tech that we’re using in Legion and how that could be applied to other parts of the world, to solve the pacing problem. Imagine if a zone like Hillsbrad or Silverpine had a broader level range that it could apply to, you could level through that zone at your own pace without running out of story or getting ahead of where you’re supposed to be in the plot.”

That’s just an idea, of course. But it’s good Blizzard are finally thinking about this.

“It’s something that we haven’t paid enough attention to recently, and that we need to pay more attention to. From a company-wide perspective, the discussion of legacy servers, pristine servers, what we want to do with that – that’s above my pay grade, that’s a different organisational level. But as the Warcraft development team focused on the live game of World of Warcraft, it definitely has shone a light on some deficiencies and areas where the game has been lacking recently, and that’s something we want to do something about.”

I’ve trimmed out a lot Hazzikostas said, for brevity, so do watch the full stream if you want to know everything. You can watch the whole stream archived on Twitch (skip to 29 minutes for the legacy chat). I’d embed the video for your convenience but Twitch often misbehaves and autoplays even when told not to. Naughty Twitch.

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78 Comments

  1. mpk says:

    I first played WoW in vanilla, many, many moons ago. I think I played for a good six months or so, possibly longer. I never joined a guild, as I was still heavily playing EVE at the time, so that was my main focus, but I do remember being really, really annoyed at how long it was taking me to level and to get anywhere in the game. I reached level 40, got my free horsey (OG Paladins 4tw) the quit the game and deleted my account.

    I’ve been back in WoW for just under eight weeks. I’m currently playing a level 88 Panda hunter and I heartily agree with quite a lot of what was said above – without being in any groups or guilds, I’ve boosted through classic, covered two zones of BC, two of Wrath and less than one of Cataclysm before hitting level 85 and going to Pandaria. I’m very aware of how much of the game I’ve missed because I’ve levelled so quickly, but I wonder if new players would even notice – I can at least remember how slow the game used to be.

    I’ve seen a lot of discussion about Nostalruss, and a lot of rose-tinted remembrances from players wanting a return to vanilla, but I’ve also seen a lot of more-realistic arguments against that from people wearing clearer specs.

    I’d have quite liked to have been able to properly play through all of the zones I’ve missed on my way to my current level, without one-shotting dungeon bosses and solo-ing raids because I’ve overlevelled. I think it’d be to the benefit of the game experience to find a compromise between the current much slicker and quicker game, and the older vanilla style. There have been too many good improvements to roll them all back, just to please a minority of loud forum goers.

    • Ivan says:

      Meanwhile, I also first played WoW many moons ago, in vanilla, and absolutely loved the sense of place — I didn’t have that much time to play, and I remember my first experience with any MMO as I had no idea what I was doing and was overwhelmed by the sheer size of Teldrassil, punched in the noggin by the business of Darnassus (which was a relative wasteland to Ironforge, which overloaded my brain), and got really involved in the in-retrospect-really-crappy-filler-content in Darkshore.

      Even after that, as I got familiarity, I still look fondly back on “the two weeks I spent leveling in the Barrens” or “Hey it’s time to go to Desolace and grind centaurs again.” I know this isn’t an experience everyone relishes, and Blizzard’s research likely suggested people just wanted to mess around at max level (whereas I found endgame dungeons tedious and “raid or die” just led me to immediately quit the game).

      I popped back during BC, where I found the Outland zones a nice refresher of that immersive leveling/grinding while listening to music/mildly pleasing storyline experience, but again, max level and “hey you need to raid to progress” and I quit. And then in WotLK, I started leveling so fast and flying through content so I got bored and quit immediately rather than feeling fulfilled.

      It’s not that I want a vanilla server, or anything, but WoW’s new breakneck leveling pace has pretty much guaranteed I’ll never go back. Maybe if they make a single-player version where you have to experience all content to level.

      • SomeDuder says:

        I think the problem is that Blizzard wanted to ease the experience a bit more than the original game started off with, but ended up massively overshooting the goal.

        In order for something to feel rewarding, like reaching a milestone like the level cap or beating a certain dungeon, it has to be actually be difficult to achieve said milestone. You can’t expect to rush to the level cap within a week (?I have no idea) and then think the player will feel any sort of accomplishment (Or worse, they DO feel accomplished and then wonder why they are getting laughed at).

        I’m not sure whether it’s nostalgia or those nefarious glasses that keep appearing on people’s heads, but I honestly enjoyed leveling up in the World. Of… Warcraft. I read about the stories, got to know the zones, recognised elements from the RTS games and when I finally got involved with raiding after reaching the cap, I felt like I had earned those armortokens and whatnot.

        • Distec says:

          Attunement processes for endgame raids were also something I missed.

          Don’t get me wrong – It got right fuckin’ silly with BC (I’m sure one can still look up the chart). But I fondly remember going through the process for Molten Core and Blackwing Lair, and each step felt momentous. There was something special about prep time you’d need to get attuned, have flasks made, have dungeon consumables farmed, and then get just enough people on the same page for your guild leader to say “BWL tonight, boys”. And unless you were a guild with 40-man Naxx on farm, there were always bigger goals to pursue.

          Time and place are factors, of course. I would really have to make time for this in my current life, and it certainly helped that I started playing in Vanilla where everybody started on the ground floor. Y’know, back when server “firsts” and guild progression charts were a big deal.

          But I kinda wish Blizzard didn’t update their game with my convenience in mind.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      No offense, but you played until level 40, you are in no position to criticise people who want vanilla servers as “wearing rose tinted spectacles”. I don’t understand the clearly biased opinion on something you know very little about.

      • Asurmen says:

        That’s right, completely dismiss their levelling experience because they didn’t get those last twenty levels.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          That’s not what I said, a small amount of reading comprehension would have told you that.

          I’m saying, the people who want vanilla servers, did not stop at level 40. He has zero idea of their experiences with the game to be able to dismiss it as “rose tinted glasses”.

          • Asurmen says:

            That is precisely what you said. Whether or not they didn’t stop at 40 doesn’t stop them from seeing it through rose tinted glasses. There is more to the game than those last 20 levels. You’re completely dismissing his experience of those 40 levels countering their nostalgia.

            But yeah, keep being condescending.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            The game does not stop at lvl 60 you moron, the people who want vanilla played for months and years at max level, he has zero idea of those experiences, yet he’s apparently fine to dismiss it ALL as “rose tinted glasses”. Yes I will be condescending about someone who is happy to generalise the opinions of a large amount of others when he has very little experience of what those people are talking about, because its an idiotic thing to do.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Not to mention that someone who stopped at lvl 40 clearly didn’t like the game that much to begin with.
            When people talk about old games as being great, if I didn’t like that game, can I dismiss their opinions as “nothing but nostalgia”? Or would that be a really dumb thing to do?
            I never played that much Nintendo as a kid, I guess all those people that love Mario are just completely misguided by their rose tinted glasses, because according to you knowing very little about a game and having no fondness for it means I can be an expert on it and tell other people their opinions on those games aren’t real, its all nostalgia. “you think you do but you don’t”.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Please realise what you are saying is completely backwards. He is entitled to his opinion, however HE is the one dismissing the opinions of others based on his limited experience of the game. He didn’t like it, therefore he thinks that all of those people who say they want it again, clearly must be misguided, seeing through rose tinted glasses. He’s treating his opinion as objective fact and dismissing thousands of people who don’t think the same as him as not having legitimate opinions.

          • Asurmen says:

            I never said it stopped at 60 did I? You, however, are ignoring the whole point of vanilla servers, which is to bring back ALL of the experience, not just the 60 game play.

            So you dismissing his opinion just because he didn’t get to 60, as if that’s the only thing that’s important and the only thing people want from vanilla, well, that makes you an ass.

          • Asurmen says:

            Saying someone is viewing things through rose tinted glasses isn’t dismissing their opinion, it’s saying they’re probably not being objective about it.

            The only person dismissing an opinion is you by saying his experience up to level 40 doesn’t matter.

          • Distec says:

            To be fair, “rose-tinted glasses” comes up often enough to feel dismissive; as if I don’t actually understand what I liked or why I liked it. I’m not singling out any specific comment here, just noting that this is pretty pervasive in any discussion regarding old MMOs.

            By all means, be unimpressed with WoW pre-60. Or post-60. Or fuck the whole game. But that’s your experience, and the implication that people of a different opinion are just some seasoned ol’ coots reminiscing about their youth has gotten a tad tiresome.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Again, I did not dismiss his opinion. I dismissed this stupid idea that he voiced, which is that everyone who wants Vanilla servers is looking through rose tinted glasses. He and the others doing the same, are telling thousands of people that their opinions aren’t valid, that they must somehow be confused. That’s the only thing I reacted too and did so by telling him he has no right to say that because he has no idea of the experiences lots of those people had, because he only got to level 40.

            If in 10 years time people are talking about how great dark souls was, after spending hundreds of thousands of hours playing the game, I, having played less than half of the first game, told people “Nah it wasn’t that great, all you people are just being nostalgic”, would that be a valid point? You can apply this to ANY game, it still comes out the same way. You don’t get to tell people what their own personal opinions are on a game they loved.

      • mpk says:

        Well that’s demonstrably not true, but as I can see from the conversation you’ve had with Asurmen that you’ve missed the point of that sentence entirely.

        Regardless of my own experience, or perceived lack thereof, with early-days WoW, it doesn’t take an intimate knowledge of pre-BC live-at-60 to detect when someone’s decade-old memories are leaning slightly pinkish. It only takes reading comprehension, as I believe you mentioned.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          You have absolutely no proof of this other than once again, dismissing others opinions and considering your own as “right”. The game clearly didn’t hook you the same way that it did others, because you stopped playing before even hitting max level.
          People still play legacy Runescape servers. People still play lots of very old MMOs, that’s FACT. I’ll take facts that people who love those games still play them over your opinions about a game you didn’t exactly get hooked by tbh.

    • Barberetti says:

      Oh look, the rose tinted glasses bullshit right in the first post. What a fucking surprise.

      • ludde says:

        This happened while Nostalrius was still up as well. Even though people actively playing there said it was a better overall experience, they’d get slapped with rose tinted glasses.

    • Arkayjiya says:

      I think the levelling now is better in term of flow and storytelling (there are some glorious moments, like that whole Rambo area…) but it lost a sense of scale and adventure. I liked Vanilla because it immersed me in a world that seemed so great it made my character and my journey tiny in comparison.

      The same was true for dungeons and raid. I think that’s why people value Vanilla and difficulty so much (because if it was just for difficulty’s sake, it’s still here, mythic raid and stuff like that are a hell on Azeroth for the overwhelming majority of the playerbase).

      No I think what people liked was not the option of difficulty or leveling, but the necessity of it, the need for an incredibly vast journey, an adventure in which you’re nothing followed by the need to overcome the worst odds.

      The mechanics of “new wow” are vastly superior, the storytelling environmental or not, is vastly superior, but we kind of lost something along the way, something that I think they’ve tried to recreate in the previous expansion with the focus on exploration, I loved it all until I got to the “quick mode” for raid at which point I lost all interest immediately.

      The game did lose something and it’s more than just nostalgia talking (and it gained something in exchange, that’s entirely true, but what the overall balance is different for everyone, for me it makes it a little less compelling beyond the levelling part which is mostly better albeit not quite as immersive, for other the game is probably just straight up better now.

  2. Quite So says:

    Last time I played WoW I was 3-boxing a group of hunters using an xbox controller. I expected to blow through the areas, but ran into some issues I didn’t expect.

    I knew the game well enough to seek out the appropriate area for my level, but travel was more difficult and some major quest lines were not available due to skipping lower level content. Sure, I was effectively “cheating”, according to the hundreds of people who angrily /w me, but I don’t think the experience (leveling-wise) would be much different from 3 friends who want to level their characters together.

    Glad to hear they are looking at solutions. A lot people actually enjoy leveling characters, particularly when there’s a good story with pacing and a world that feels carefully crafted.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Logged in solely to say “MULTIBOXER SCUM!” :D How I enjoyed casting AoE fear on multiboxers in PvP, watching as their many characters went running in myriad directions, then picking them off one by one.

      FYI, I really didn’t mind multiboxers much if they only did PvE content (even though it seemed like a glorious waste of money) – but I almost exclusively ever saw them in PvP. I believe that’s where most of the ire comes from, as mirroring your strength multiple times and spamming abilities at a single player in a PvP environment is hardly fair. Saw my fair share of multiboxer gankers, too…

      • Quite So says:

        I was mostly just leveling them up. I ended up with a couple free accounts and figured it would be fun to level 3 hunters while using a controller, and it was honestly a blast while it lasted.

        I did a little PVP just to test it out, and the AoE Fear was definitely an issue. The way the multi-boxing software works, once your characters get out of formation you can only control one of them effectively. I’ve seen videos of people who were amazing PVP multi-boxers, but I was mostly frustrated by the experience.

        Oddly enough, most of the hate came while doing quests on a PVE server. I would get /w of “cheater! /reported” almost every time I played. Multi-boxing doesn’t appear to be against the TOS though, since none of my accounts were ever banned.

        • apocraphyn says:

          It’s sketchy, far as I remember. It’s one of those things that Blizzard would never really clamp down on anyway, since people who are fully into multiboxing multiple characters at once are also paying multiple subscriptions, meaning that losing them would be akin to losing 2+ subscribers.

          Never been a fan of multiboxers due to the aforementioned reasons, but reporting people who’re minding their own business on PvE servers seems a little absurd, I have to say. Reminds me of all the recent furore over people getting their knickers in a twist about easy modes being included in games…

  3. Romeric says:

    I started playing shortly after watching the titular South Park episode and thinking it looked cool. Burning Crusade was out but I can’t remember if Wrath was.

    I’ll probably be labelled a sadist, but I think WoW’s biggest mistake has been cutting the leveling time by as much as they have.

    I’d argue cutting the amount of time a player spends in every area in the game is a dreadful mistake. Spending measurably less time at every character level or merely in the world itself essentially reduces the experience to a whistle-stop tour. This isn’t helped by the optimisations they’ve made to the core experience, such as super-accurate quest markers, the removal racial quests and super-streamlined objectives. It just feels as if player agency is more important than player experience.

    For me, it used to feel absolutely immersive. Hitting max level simply no longer feels like an achievement. Getting my first epic mount was one of my best gaming experiences. It’s just all so quick and insignificant now. The whole point of leveling is to learn your character class by playing it in many varied scenarios for a very long time. You live your character and learn to love it. Not so much if you’re constantly jumping from unfinished areas in the hunt for more XP.

    I would love (and possibly later regret) to play it through from vanilla to current with the original experience rates. But then, I am a sadist and I’ve always returned to play every expansion. I quickly lose interest at the level cap.

    • Rizlar says:

      Yarp (also yeah, pretty sure that was TBC era).

      Reading this article it strikes me that a good compromise would be to allow character creation at various levels, like the death knights. And they basically offer this service already with free character boosts when you buy expansions. Then keep the original pacing for everything, so you can experience the painstakingly crafted and polished worlds as intended.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yep, the whole game is a guided tour now, quickly moving from one thing to the next with very little resistance. Once Max level is hit, everything including the raid dungeons can be seen within a couple of days.

      Nothing is special when it doesn’t take any time to achieve, there is no build up and hence you don’t look forwards to anything, hence no excitement about anything you are doing.
      Taking months to level and having poked your head briefly into higher level zones, realising you couldn’t survive there, then flying over the place again and again, made stepping in there finally, a fantastic experience.
      Compare WoD with TBC, WoD raid dungeon, you ding 100, get a bit of gear, sign up to LFR, boom, you’ve seen everything, *sarcasm* what an epic journey /*sarcasm*.
      TBC raiding, you see the Eye or BT looming in front of you as you travel around the world, you think to yourself “one day I’m gonna do that place”, after months of working on your character and clearing previous raids, the feeling of stepping through the doors for the first time was incredible. Its that sense of adventure and achievement that the game has lost in Blizzards crusade to cater to all the whining pissbabys who think they are entitled to do everything in the game just by showing up. Its “participation trophy” mentality, yet they fail to realise this is what’s slowly killing the game because by ensuring everyone can see everything easily they leave people nothing to aim for, hence nothing to do, so they quit.

      Statements they’ve made in the past were along the lines of “only 1% of people finished all of the raid content, this is bad”, instead they should have been saying “99% of people never ran out of things to do, this is good”.

      • malkav11 says:

        Something you are never reasonably going to have any access to or ability to do (i.e. old raid content) does not constitute “a thing to do”. I guarantee that people ran out of stuff that they were both interested in and capable of accessing quite regularly in those days. I myself quit more than once because there simply wasn’t enough to keep my interest. I’ve subscribed for much longer periods since they made raiding accessible and gave me other carrots to chase that I can pursue on my own time and pace.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Well sub numbers would show you are in the minority there I’m afraid. I mean, as a semi serious raider back in TBC, we waited months to get into a dungeon and raid it, why must casual a have access to it so quickly that it trivialises the dungeon. There’s nothing wrong with going back a patch or two later, or even next expansion, to see that content. Being given a token walk through the content, without challenge or effort because “people need to see the content” is what’s causing them to bleed subs.

          Now I’ll agree things like achievements have made the game more varied and given players lots to do, why must this extend to current level 5 man dungeons (need for dungeon finder friendliness means they are all pathetically easy) and current tier raids. Why must everyone be able to see EVERYTHING, what’s wrong with holding some stuff back in order to give people something to work towards and a greater sense of achievement upon reaching those goals, rather than face rolling everything, then quitting, which is what happens now.

          • Asurmen says:

            That’s why the difficulty levels were introduced. Those casuals get to see the content up to their effort/ability level. More hardcore people get to test their skills, see the content sooner and with adjustments to boss skills and abilities massively changing the encounters making it completely different than the lower difficulties.

            Everybody wins.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            No, you don’t “win” as a proper raider. You are forced into doing the dungeon on lower difficulties for gear (this also has effects on the progression curve but that’s another argument). You’ve already cleared the dungeon multiple times before you fight the truce last boss, you’ve seen the mechanics, done most of the fight already. There is no sense of adventure in raising because of this. When you killed a new boss in the past, as a group that meant you got to go and see a completely new area, fight trash and a boss you’d never fought before. Now you are just moving on to a boss you’ve already fought several times before.
            The build up is gone, the anticipation is gone, the excitement is gone. Because the game makes you run the content over and over in order to cater to the casuals.
            They should hold off on casual mode for the dungeons until the raiders are done with it (ie the next tier comes out), why must everyone see it RIGHT NOW! When its pretty much proven at this point that allowing players to instantly breeze through everything just causes them to unsub anyway.

          • Asurmen says:

            Sorry, but what? The casuals have the lowest level of difficulty which more hardcore people can skip entirely. That was my point about the difficulty levels being introduced.

            Also there’s a far bigger difference between the difficulty levels than you think. There’s entire aspects missing from lower difficulty bosses making the higher difficulties on the same boss almost an entirely different encounter, and that’s ignoring the usually higher healing/DPS requirements. It’s basically a new encounter for those that try that level if they did the lower difficulty.

            All I’m seeing here is a sense of entitlement and elitism for what makes up a minority of players. That the lower difficulties exist does NOT affect the more hardcore players. You have no unique claim over content above anyone else, but you are still catered to anyway with the difficulty levels.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            You don’t skip lower difficulty tiers as a raider, not the way blizzard have designed it. Even world first mythic guilds are clearing in heroic every week for tier pieces, trinkets etc. You are humped of you don’t do that. By the time you’ve finished your progression curve you’ve done it 2 or 3 times already. Seeing a new mechanic or two and bigger number is not remotely the same as killing a boss and moving onto an unseen area where you are exploring new things, not even close.
            What’s wrong with hard content that takes effort to see? Again?, you don’t answer the question, “why must everyone be entitled to see everything the instant it is released?”, they can see and do this content later once gear levels increase and it becomes puggable. The way they do it now just cheapens the experience for everyone, to cater to the extremely lazy who aren’t willing to put in any effort into the game. What do they get out of seeing it, did anybody get a good feeling from clearing LFR? Of course not, its just turned what should be big and epic into throwaway content that you achieve in a couple of hours.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            You are also thinking about this purely from a technical standpoint. That is only half of the argument. Raiding used to feel like a huge journey, a proper adventure, seeing a high level dungeon from the outside for months and then finally reaching the point where you could step into it and fight those bosses was epic. That is gone now, the dungeon is seen and completed as soon as it comes out on some form of difficulty. It removes the sense of scale from everything you do and makes it a technical “by the numbers” exercise.

          • Asurmen says:

            Of course they skipped difficulty levels. They didn’t do LFR level.

            I answered that question. Do the normal difficulty content and leave LFR to the casuals.

            All I’m reading is elitism here “Me! Me! Me! I must get that content first because I’m a special snowflake and not a dirty casual”. There’s a difference between the difficulty levels (again I mention that). You get your epeen on by doing the harder difficulty. A hardcore raider still gets the satisfaction of doing that content before anyone else. LFR content doesn’t hurt you at all.

          • Asurmen says:

            Well, I’m arguing for a system that I think improved the game for those not overflowing with friends, guilds or mounds of spare time to make PUGs. If that makes me a contrarian, well, sue me :)

            Well, PvP was hardly the bastion of community building, seeing as you can’t communicate, at least in my experience. I did BGs back in the day, and I can’t say I cared for whose name tag was over the target. Each to their own I guess.

            In terms of trade skill, well, there’s still nothing stopping you doing that still. Also your counter argument there seems to more revolve around the changes to auction house rather than the cross realm. On that specific point though, again being able to sell your wares on AH rather than again, stood around in IF or Stormwind spamming macros to make money trumps any desire for community.

            In terms of LFR, I thought you meant the raid group treating the players like shit, not the LFR itself. If you mean the LFR itself, well, I honestly don’t understand your point. In what way does it treat people like shit? More casual people get to see raid content. As for what I meant by the raid leader, the raid can still kick problem people.

            As for LFD, my point still stands. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you can still group for dungeons with cross realm friends? So if you find people you like who work well with you, friend them. Create a group with those 5 friends and do LFD. Problem solved.

            As for the randoms, you miss my point. Every person you meet outside of guild and added to your friends list was at some point, a random person you knew nothing about. How did you meet them? If you met them through a dungeon, how did you do that before you met them? You did a PUG. In order to do that, you had to stand around spamming or watching for spam. Every time you do this, you’re not playing the game. So not only can you still have your community spirit because you can still find people to friend, but in terms of gameplay being able to get a dungeon, without having a massive list of contacts, trumps your community spirit.

            Not everyone did do this and not everyone did join a guild. Cross realm stuff actually makes the game possible for these people. I think you overestimate how much interaction to the point of friending a random actually happened. PUGs happened on a regular basis. They needed something to actually help form them.

          • Asurmen says:

            Sigh. Reply fail.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            It’s not elitism to want a gameplay experience that suits me personally, one that is not as good as it used to be. I explained why, you ignored it. Yes you skip LFR, however if you are a heroic raider, you still have to run the dungeon through on normal for gear, if you are a mythic raider, same with heroic. This means everything has been seen within a few weeks, save for a couple of new mechanics on each boss.
            Again, as I said, and you ignored, IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY, it’s about the journey and adventure of raiding, the working for months to finally be able to see this dungeon that you’d been thinking about doing for ages. It felt epic, raiding now does not feel the same way.
            What’s wrong with people who want that experience having content tailored for them? What do others gain from just easliy running through a dungeon. If they could find a way to make it the best of both worlds and suit everyone, then fine, I’d have no problem, but they haven’t, they’ve reduced the raiding experience to cater to everyone else by making it necessary to repeat the content over and over.
            Maybe I’m being selfish, sure, but the experience is not as good now and I’m allowed to give my opinion stating that. I’m not a game dev, to me delaying the more casual versions of dungeons would be a way I can think of that gives raiders what they want and still allowing others to see the content as well. As I said, there is no reason why everyone needs to get through it the instant it is released. People waited for months to see raid dungeons in the past, it’s not a problem, it’s something to look forward to and work towards.

  4. Rizlar says:

    Basically, low-level players now plough the game, killing everything easily in unsatisfying combat so they spend comparatively far more time simply running between objectives.

    Haha, and my imagined response from Blizzard was ‘so we make players able to instantly teleport between fights, problem solved!’. And the real response is ‘so we let players level up entirely in a couple of zones!’, which really isn’t a lot better.

    It’s just not the same game it used to be, in so many ways. And so many of the changes coming from wanting to make it more accessible. Not making a value judgement on it, just saying that anything they add to the game at this point is unlikely to satisfy people who just want to play vanilla WoW.

  5. ZippyLemon says:

    MMO development is fascinatingly hamstrung by the movement of players through the experience levels isn’t it? The complex system of the interaction of the players themselves makes up so much of the game that it’s hard to control. You can’t freeze an MMO in time – the gear, the abilities, even the value of your cash all becomes meaningless when cut off from what the game was and what it will be. The best weapon in the game goes from being an exotic and unprecedentedly powerful thing to a staple, its mundanity sealed by its now eternal dominance. Where before it was the preserve of the successful, to be replaced by something better soon, it becomes a tick box on everyone’s journey.

    I don’t really know what I’m getting at, but I just think it’s curious to see the players pining for a lost time that cannot be brought back by manipulating the technology of the game – only by rewinding the lives of all of WoW’s players could you recreate that state of giddy excitement and collective naivety that was the real special ingredient in those days.

  6. malkav11 says:

    Everquest II has a very similar problem in a lot of ways (though last I heard they hadn’t gone back to tweak older content to speak of). But it also had a pretty elegant solution. Namely, at any time you can shift all (or I think possibly just some, if so inclined) of the experience you’re earning to the “alternate advancement” system. So when my friends and I played through the early game at our own pace, we simply turned off our direct advancement whenever we were nearing a zone’s level cap and then continued exploring and questing and dungeon-crawling to our hearts’ content. And we still got direct progression out of it, in the form of alternate advancement. We weren’t quite on the expected power curve, of course, because although the AA system in EQII tends towards the incremental it’s still more power than the traditional leveller is expected to have and we compounded that by doing all the heirloom quests for very powerful gear. But it wasn’t completely trivial, either, and we didn’t have the full six person party that dungeons expected, so it worked out pretty well.

    Obviously WoW doesn’t have any sort of alternate advancement system…but they could introduce one.

    • Scrofa says:

      This sounds very interesting! I’m gonna have to do some googling on this system.

  7. Smoky_the_Bear says:

    Pacing overall, not just at lower levels, is the problem.
    Currently in WoD a brand new player can be levelled to a hundred and have finished all of the dungeons, seen everything in the expansion, within a month or two, this applies to everybody, literally everybody.
    Comparing that to TBC, where the vast majority of people never ran out of stuff to do within 2 years of the expansion, and its not hard to see the problem……. for everybody but Blizzard. They keep making everything quicker and easier because of forum whiners. They need to STOP trying to please everyone.

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      It’s Naive to assume they want to please everyone. What they actually want is to sell more copies and subs to the game. They’ll do that by making it more and more accessible, which means easy levelling, farmville minigames and LFR.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Which has proven NOT to meet their intended goals of more subs, that’s fact, the height of WoWs sub’s was exactly when they put in split difficulty raids, dungeon finders and the start of the casualisation of the game, its been downhill ever since. By trying to keep everyone happy, they are making a mediocre experience for everyone. What they should be doing is just making the game, without considering “how do we capture x,y and z demographic”. Just make a good game, “Build it, and they will come”.

        • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

          Blizzard are losing subs because the game is OLD and TIRED. The only reason they aren’t haemorrhaging more subscribers is because they are introducing things that make it accessible. That’s what they want at this point. Passionate players like you and me don’t matter a shit any more, because most people who played WoW back in 04 are now sensible enough to realise that a 12-year old game is not worth spending a tenner a month on.

          Enter the FarmVille generation. Young, impressionable and casual gamers whose mums have enough of a desire to shut them up for five minutes that they are willing to spank their money on micro purchases. That’s who Blizzard wants. They know its lucrative, they’ve seen it work. They might not be rolling in dolla billz anymore but they know WoW is dying, and they are smart enough to know they can make a few more bucks out of it before it becomes unworthy of development time.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            The fact that 10 million people bought the last expansion, not far off it’s absolute peak numbers, completely disproves this tbh. 10 million people played it, then they all stopped and the overwhelming response to the expansion was “There is nothing to do, the Garrison sucks”. Yes if they made the game better there would be more people still playing it, I think you underestimate how many people still have a passion for this game and are disappointed at what it’s become.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Of course please everyone = get more people playing the game so we get more money. Didn’t think I had to fully spell that out as its obvious…….

    • mokfarg says:

      Actually there are a multitude of problems with live WoW and the reason I quit. It wasn’t just the dumbing down of monsters in the world to the point there was no risk, nor the lightning pace to the end game.

      I quit also for the following reasons:

      5 man dungeons also were dumbed down to the point they were boring. Threat management was removed, crowd control was removed, a tank could hold everything with ease and it not kill him in the process … yuck

      On top of a subscription they added virtual items for money. This is where I hit the cancel button for good. I play games for fun and immersion. My character has to obtain his items, not me pull out a credit card … lost me.

  8. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    It’s been quite clear for quite a long time that the ‘endgame’ has been the focus or, rather: “that’s where the game really begins” in the eyes of devs and a subset of players.

    That’s never been true for me. While I don’t dislike max-level content, I also like leveling, exploration and questing on the way there. I’m not sure how much effort they’ll put into it (if any) and moreso, how many people in the current playerbase really care. I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that the endgame being the focus has permeated the game and, one assumes, most players.

  9. Ericusson says:

    I came back a few times for a month or so since raiding in vanilla killed me and our guild who was mostly carried by one man.

    Over farming potions, no thank you.
    Spending 1 month just leveling up to reach the new content, no thank you.

    Zones are anyway empty whatever cross realm is put in place and everybody is rushing to get to the new content of whatever new extension, and rushing to begin the gearing at high level.

    Ok, 90% of players do so.
    If anything, having a slower paced leveling should be an option. Or just stop with the selling of 20$ instant leveling.

    This whole debate is a big lie around nostalgia of golden time of vanilla and BC.
    But since then Mmo formula has become quite stale and there is no surprise anymore in the wow formula. I feel like all this nostalgia is an early onset of a perpetual division of society between the young and the old, and the inherent conservatism of the old when they think about their golden age.

    Well, you can not escape time or erase your memories before Alzheimer hits.
    Best thing would be just to kill the WOW monster to leave space to something new. Except the blizzard of now is not the one of old and whoever would have the means, marketing and creativity to do this with the same succes as WOW ?

    Or something like that.

    • satan says:

      As somebody who started playing classic/vanilla WoW as an adult, it isn’t about nostalgia, it’s about the fact that all the interconnectedness and cross-realm stuff fractured the realm based communities and systems which do the legwork for you of assembling groups/getting you to dungeons (LFD/LFR) actually rewarded treating everybody in your group like shit, and the live/current version of WoW lets you experience the entirety of the game in a single player format, within a few days/weeks. (apologies for the long sentence)

      • Asurmen says:

        Because the idea of sitting around with my thumb up my arse spamming chat for a group that you had no idea what their gear was like is so much better, right?

        • Asurmen says:

          Also, people still treated others like shit even when your pool of players was limited to your realm.

          • Nim says:

            Players joined guilds where they could find other players to run dungeons with. Players who did not want to be part of a guild usually kept good friendly players in their friends list. The only time you had to spam chat was when you had ran out of other options.

          • satan says:

            Yup, made heaps of friends through guild/levelling/pvp/people who had tradeskills I didn’t/friends of friends and they were who I asked in the unlikely event that nobody in the guild was on to run dungeons with.

          • satan says:

            Also to Asurmen’s second point, I said LFD/LFR reward bad behaviour, because it’s impossible to fail in LFD/LFR, so not only do you get the abusives and the sociopathic trolls, you get people just afking/going on follow the entire time.

          • Asurmen says:

            If they joined guilds, then the community argument doesn’t make sense. Run with your guild instead. Community maintained. Problem solved.

            You can also do group finder with cross realm friends. Group with good people, friend them. Community maintained. Problem solved.

            Cross realms doesn’t stop making friends through trade skills or pvp or levelling either.

            You said it rewards treating people like shit, not rewarding bad behaviour. In your example, that’s the raid leader rewarding bad behaviour, not the system itself.

            Nim, I think you underestimate just how many people stood around spamming chat to get into a group. Ironforge was full of afk people doing a spam macro. Even when in guild there isn’t necessarily the people available to do a run, and I don’t think many people kept a curated list of randoms.

          • Asurmen says:

            Also it still means, by definition, that without the group finder you had to find randoms you trust. How did you actually do that without, at some point, sitting around waiting for a group to form? Just because you spent time with them levelling isn’t the same as them being good in dungeons.

          • satan says:

            Asurmen I’m not sure if you’re just being a contrarian or what…

            Let me start with cross-realm instancing.

            In the current version of WoW, outdoor and zone area instancing that is shared across multiple ‘connected’ realms means that you are extremely unlikely to ever encounter somebody you see again while levelling up, assuming you ever grouped with them in the first place (The nerfing of questing/levelling over the years and removal of world/quest elites/world pvp quests as well as adding of heirlooms and talents that don’t scale down, turned levelling into a single player experience. In previous iterations of WoW, players grouped to knock out the elite quests at the end of a zone, it doesn’t happen anymore.)

            Before cross-realm zones, alliance players could chase horde players all the way from stormwind to booty bay, if you’ve tried doing world pvp on live servers, you’ll know that thanks to cross-realm zones, when you’re chasing or being chased and you cross a border into another zone, the chaser or the chased simply disappears. This didn’t happen before cross-realm zones because every zone wasn’t it’s own shared instance, with more instances going up or down depending on server demand. Another side effect of this instancing is that because the population controls can be so aggressive at times on Blizzard’s end, you can end up in the instance of a zone with only a couple of other players in it. This is why on retail now when you do a /who duskwood you might get several names, and somebody might reply when whispered that they’re standing in the middle of darkshire, but because you’re in a different instance, you’re standing in the middle of darkshire and can’t see them (of course if you or the other person invites the other to a group, you or the other person get put in the same instance).

            With regards to cross-realm pvp, it started off reasonable and player/guild/faction and even battlegroup rivalries were able to be maintained to an extent, (bg6/bg9 represent!) but as the player pools grew and grew and more and more servers were put into the mix, the rivalries faded, players said loud and clear that they didn’t like how difficult it was to play against the same teams consistently. Years later Blizzard introduced rated battlegrounds, but that was long after all the teams I’d been associated with had grown bored.

            You mentioned cross-realm doesn’t prevent people making friends through tradeskills, considering that you don’t need to actually contact anybody now to get your most rudimentary things done (thanks to tradeable tradeskill kits/enchants/scrolls/etc and tradeskill streamlining), whereas in previous expansions/vanilla it was to your benefit to keep at least an enchanter (either in guild or out) on your friends list.

            Whether you want to go with me saying LFD/LFR reward bad behaviour or LFD/LFR rewards treating people like shit (they’re the same thing…), when you have an unlimited supply of people in a queue to get into LFD/LFR, it isn’t a matter of instance difficulty before you win, it’s only a matter of time, and like I said, you get afks, you get people who just come along to troll fulltime, people resetting bosses/pulling early/spamming raid warnings/pulling adds, I don’t want to list every single thing, but if you’ve run LFR anytime in the last two years you’ll know what I mean. I’ve no idea what you were referring to about raid leaders, LFR raid leader is nothing but a title.

            In a system of dungeons/raids where the players assemble the teams, the players are responsible for getting to the instance and players decide who gets what loot, people who are dicks quickly find that if they aren’t promptly removed, they sure as hell won’t be getting any loot.

            “I don’t think many people kept a curated list of randoms.”

            It is called a friends list… Friends aren’t randoms, friends are worth keeping around. Before we could put notes next to their names you could write notes down on paper, or use notepad, notes like ‘enchanter/tank who is always up for BRD’ (because he was farming dark iron rep).

            “Also it still means, by definition, that without the group finder you had to find randoms you trust. How did you actually do that without, at some point, sitting around waiting for a group to form?”

            The sources I’ve mentioned before, but I’ll say them again, in battlegrounds/world pvp, doing stuff out in the world at max level (herbing/mining), just basic interaction with other players out in the world that was possible before cross-realm zones and outdoor instancing meant that players now constantly phase in and out.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            In my experience as someone who loved TBC heroics, you definitely did keep a friend’s list of like-minded people that weren’t in your guild.
            The issue that hasn’t been mentioned here too, is how group finders, talking specifically about 5 man dungeons here, have affected their design decisions when making dungeons. 5 mans are no longer challenging in any way, they are made so that a group of 5 random people are extremely unlikely to fail, and will be done in 30 minutes or less. No more working through a challenging dungeon for an hour or two, no more needing to consider the classes you bought because you needed certain types of cc etc etc. Every dungeon is made idiot proof, because apparently failing is unacceptable now. They made Cataclysm 5 man’s more challenging (until you quickly out geared them), people whinged about them being too hard because their dungeon finder groups were failing.
            Its changed people doing dungeons for fun and for the challenge, to something people do simply for the end reward who want it over as fast as possible. Now personally I think content in a game should be something that people want to do and enjoy doing, rather than something they just want to finish ASAP and collect the rewards, yet since dungeon finder, dungeons in WoW have gone from being the former to the latter.

          • Asurmen says:

            Well, I’m arguing for a system that I think improved the game for those not overflowing with friends, guilds or mounds of spare time to make PUGs. If that makes me a contrarian, well, sue me :)

            Well, PvP was hardly the bastion of community building, seeing as you can’t communicate, at least in my experience. I did BGs back in the day, and I can’t say I cared for whose name tag was over the target. Each to their own I guess.

            In terms of trade skill, well, there’s still nothing stopping you doing that still. Also your counter argument there seems to more revolve around the changes to auction house rather than the cross realm. On that specific point though, again being able to sell your wares on AH rather than again, stood around in IF or Stormwind spamming macros to make money trumps any desire for community.

            In terms of LFR, I thought you meant the raid group treating the players like shit, not the LFR itself. If you mean the LFR itself, well, I honestly don’t understand your point. In what way does it treat people like shit? More casual people get to see raid content. As for what I meant by the raid leader, the raid can still kick problem people.

            As for LFD, my point still stands. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you can still group for dungeons with cross realm friends? So if you find people you like who work well with you, friend them. Create a group with those 5 friends and do LFD. Problem solved.

            As for the randoms, you miss my point. Every person you meet outside of guild and added to your friends list was at some point, a random person you knew nothing about. How did you meet them? If you met them through a dungeon, how did you do that before you met them? You did a PUG. In order to do that, you had to stand around spamming or watching for spam. Every time you do this, you’re not playing the game. So not only can you still have your community spirit because you can still find people to friend, but in terms of gameplay being able to get a dungeon, without having a massive list of contacts, trumps your community spirit.

            Not everyone did do this and not everyone did join a guild. Cross realm stuff actually makes the game possible for these people. I think you overestimate how much interaction to the point of friending a random actually happened. PUGs happened on a regular basis. They needed something to actually help form them.

          • satan says:

            I want to come back to your first point at the end of this post.

            When I say PvP I mean people on my faction, I’m not sure why you think I was referring to the opposing faction. The general rule of thumb in PvP was that if a player was half decent at PvP, they’d be able to cope with boss mechanics.

            I think I need to explain something about your ‘well the option is there, why not x?’ line of reasoning.

            People are generally going to take the path of least resistance when they’re chasing a goal, now say that goal is to clear current content, to see everything inside of molten core for example. In Vanilla, the path of least resistance, no matter what way you looked at it, was to join a raiding guild, (to make progress you had to be able to perform at a bare minimum level, and put in the several hours a week needed to make progress, but putting aside that for now, we’ll just go with joining a guild).

            In recent expansions and in the live version of the game, you can see what is inside of a raid instance without joining a guild, without making any friends, without knowing any mechanics, without even making your own way to the raid instance, without even knowing what continent it is on.

            Now as a person who follows the path of least resistance, if you were to want to clear all current content and check out the insides of raid instances these days, you would just bring up raid finder and hit queue you *could* join a guild and do it on a harder difficulty at times of other people’s choosing, but when it looks exactly the same, why would you? You get in, you clear the instance, and that’s it, as a person interested in clearing current content, advancing the story and following the path of least resistance, you’ve just beaten the game.

            Now the path of least resistance applies to everything, you point out that I could go and find somebody to perform tradeskills for me, but when the option to just have it done for me (via auction house) is there, even if I were roleplaying, eventually the time would come when I would cave in and just take the easy path, I’m only human after all.

            You’re for some reason saying your desire to make money trumps community and that that is somehow a desirable outcome, this should set alarm bells ringing in your head, if a MMO has no community it is going to die.

            I explained that because there are no consequences to being a dick in LFR, people act like dicks. Acting like a dick to others, is treating them like shit, again I am not sure why I am having to connect these adjacent dots for you. The raid leader *can*… ok ok hold up I have to stop right here.

            Your entire argument is based on the repetition of exceptions to the rule.

            Yes people *can* be kicked from LFR, in practice convincing 15+ other people that somebody is pulling extra adds on purpose to try and wipe the group and that they need to be kicked, they *can* be kicked but 99 times out of 100 they won’t be, because getting all those people to pay attention let alone listen, is next to impossible.

            Yes I *could* after doing an autopilot LFD run that requires no engagement, teamwork, or communication, add somebody from the group to my friends list (to run LFD with them again? what?), but in reality, I nor any other sane individual would see the need, I can just queue up again.

            For the third? time, I met ‘randoms’ (friends) while doing things out in the world (pvp, gathering, levelling, farming), hell the biggest source of ‘randoms’ you could encounter were the people in the first guild you joined. Out in the world you’d meet people and save them from certain death, bam theres a friend, save somebody from a 2v1 (pvp), another friend, join or form a group to finish the elite quests in a zone, make 2 or more friends (Stormgarde Keep in Arathi highlands was friend central in your 30s, and the same could be said of The Barrens, place was so much smoother in a group, we always used to say Horde were the better players because if you could make it through The Barrens you could make it through anything.

            I really don’t want to repeat my explanation of how cross-server zones, connected servers, outdoor instancing, dungeon finder, heirlooms and xp boosts leads to seeing very few players out in the world, but there it is…

            Anyway said I’d come back to your first point so I’ll wrap it up here. I understand that you are arguing for a system whereby you don’t have to join a guild, don’t have to communicate/work with other players extensively and don’t have to commit much time to experience all of the available content. That’s fine, but to a great many players, that isn’t what constitutes a MMORPG, and isn’t what drew them to and kept them playing World of Warcraft.

          • Distec says:

            @satan

            This is a good post. I approve it.

            Yes, old WoW could be very inconvenient compared to its current form. But it was exactly those inconveniences – and their forcing you to overcome them – that gave the world an integrity and social vibrancy that has long since slipped.

            There’s nothing wrong with wanting an MMO experience without the hassle. But the “hassle” of having to depend on other players or forging your own way forward was kinda what made the genre appealing in the first place, and is arguably what makes a game an true MMO versus an oversized lobby of interchangeable/meaningless instances.

            There’s a tendency to look back on the old game and see it as broken when it really wasn’t. It just had different priorities.

        • ludde says:

          Actually having to communicate in an MMO kind of makes sense. Yes it’s a hassle, but with clear rewards.

  10. Chillicothe says:

    I’ve been saying this for years, but even when I first realized this, it was too late.

  11. SaintAn says:

    Is he an idiot? WoW lost all its depth in Wrath+, so revamping the leveling experience again isn’t going to bring back the depth and great mechanics we have in Vanilla. It’s still going to be shallow mindless trash, just with a new coat of paint. Plus I doubt Blizz really wants to fix the leveling system since it sucking is the reason they sell $60 level cap characters. That’s why their cash shop scam works.

  12. Iamnotcrazyur says:

    Make vanilla WoW for tablets, problem solved.

    • Carra says:

      Considering you need to have hotkeyed 20+ buttons I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  13. Kabukiman74 says:

    The plague of most MMOs is that 90% of the playerbase only focusses on getting to the highest level as fast as possible – it even spawned an industry of levelling services. In my opinion there are 3 options to adress this:

    1. – do nothing/tweak levelling speed. The worst option. People will still rush through low and mid level content to complain about lack of endgame as fast as possible.

    2. – remove levelling entirely. A much better option. Instead of forcing new players to level AND break the equipment barrier to catch up, you reduce the roadblocks by 50%.

    3. – include options to remove the level gap temporarily. I’m thinking of the mentor/sidekick system of City of Heroes (RIP) here. If you don’t know it (and that’s a shame), let’s say a level 100 player could team up with a level 20 party as a mentor, having his level reduced to 20 while mentoring. Rewards for the player will be level-appropiate however, so while the party gets lvl 20 stuff, the tuned-down player will get lvl 100 loot (sidekick works the other way round, elevating the lower player temporarily and allowing them to play with their high-level friends). Taking into account the trend of influence/token grinding for endgame stuff, this system could easily be adopted and will give players an incentive to return to and experience areas they rushed through in the levelling phase (rewards should be given ONLY when mentoring). Another bonus is, that the mentor/sidekick system will improve when playing with different time investment – someone who plays 24/7 will still be able to play with his “casual” friends without completely outrunning them in the blink of an eye.

    So – what is the conclusion? In my opinion the developers should adress the majority of people rushing to endgame and skipping most of the game, leaving major areas of the game empty. The best way to do this IMO is giving them an incentive to play the low level areas .

    • -Spooky- says:

      GW2 has nearly the same feature (and i played CoX): You´re high lvl and want to team up with a lowbie friend? No big deal, because high lvl got a downscale to him / area.

      • Kabukiman74 says:

        Yes, GW2 allows downscaling but do they offer an incentive? The majority of the players doesn’t play for fun, they only do stuff that will increase the size of their epeen, which usually only the highest accessible endgame content will provide.

        I’ve played so many games where we struggled to get people together for some fun stuff because people always had this “what do I get out of it” attitude. And sadly having a fun time doesn’t cut it for most…

  14. Kabukiman74 says:

    Another idea that comes to mind to improve the empty low/nidgame areas would be a paradigm shift. Instead of providing the same static quests to each and every player, how about personalized quest chains. Let me explain.

    Instead of providing the same quests to each and every player, they should receive a random quest chain with varying targets. Let’s take an expansion like “Burning Crusade”. Instead of 99% of the players concentrated in the Hellfire Peninsula, a dynamic system like this would allow people to spread out evenly over the world(s). You could even implement a system taking into account current area populations and adjust the randomness accordingly.

    Or – how about competitive quests? You could give the same quest to a limited number of players who will then have to compete to finish the quest first.

    I think the solution to most of the problems existing in MMOs today is abandoning the standard that has been set ~16 years ago and try new stuff. The best way IMO is to remove the linearity that’s been present in MMOs since their origin.

  15. -Spooky- says:

    WoW Lvling this days:
    Heirloom gear, sitting around in any capital city, checking dungeon browser, go .. works random and with your guildies.

    Game contest seen so far: Nearly to 0.05%

  16. Hunchback says:

    I the mean time GW2 solves this by associating levels to zones and arbitrarily lowering your stats to a level where the encounters in a zone can be somewhat challenging even if you are top level. It’s easier, of course, to a real “newbie” because your top level char will also have all of it’s skills and talents unlocked, giving you tools and stuff… But yeah, it’s a good system allowing you to explore the WHOLE game if you want, without PLOWING through the enemies in starting/mid range zones.

    Also, i left WoW many years ago, somewhere after Cataclysm was released, and the game was seriously starting to look old and bad. I can’t imagine what it’s like today, unless they’ve actually upgraded the engine?

  17. Somerled says:

    It seems like a lot words to say, “We aren’t selling enough boosts because people can level too fast.”

  18. andu says:

    they slowed down the leveling because they need to sell boosts, one thing Ive learned about bliz is that they like their revenue stream to stay strong. Getting a billion a year from a game is something you get used to and thats why all their cosmetics are so overpriced. I remember earliest mounts in wrath of the lich king costing $25. The entire MMO genre is stale now, WoW included.