Reading some of the early reaction posts to WoW Classic has me mentality returning to the older days of this blog, specifically the thing where I pick apart another post because it always amuses me that people say how they are feeling, but don’t understand WHY those feelings happen. It’s the good version of “you think you do, but you don’t” I guess.
Case in point, this article from MassivelyOP. Let’s break down some of the parts shall we?
Number 2, quest markers: The game holding your hand and guiding you means you no longer have to actually care about the world and what’s around you. It means you no longer pay attention to quest text, just the little tracker with regards to how many more X you need. This of course then leads people down the ‘boring questing’ line of things, because all of these Kill X quests are ‘the same’. But hey, maybe that’s ok for some people, right?
Except number 3 is ‘a larger sense of world’.
The zone — the area — you’re in is your entire world at any given time, and you are forced to absorb it and immerse yourself in it. I love how this makes everything feel so large and even dangerous around me, even while it’s forced me to slow down.
I added the bold, but see how that directly contradicts number 2? So you love that Classic slows you down and makes you pay attention, yet after 3 minutes you went out and downloaded something that helps you do the exact opposite. And don’t worry, this isn’t the only example provided here.
Number 4, slower travel.
I’ve seriously contemplated rerolling as a Shaman just to get that faster hearth cooldown because this is so bad
Read the bold from number 3, now read the bold from number 4. “But its important for devs to listen to player feedback!”. Yes, yes it is. Its then even more important to listen to what that feedback is REALLY telling you, and not the initial impression of said feedback, because most players don’t fully understand WHY they are enjoying something. WoW Retail exists because New Blizzard was ‘listening to the players’ and just blindly giving people what they said they wanted. You think you do, but you don’t.
Number 5, slower but significant moments of progress.
But when I did get that six-slot bag or that rare armor upgrade or my very first green item, it was more exciting than the last 20 times I got a purple item in Battle for Azeroth.
The comparison with Retail WoW is obvious, but lets note it. The real key here however is that because the game is stingy (by WoW standards anyway) with loot and inventory space, you actually notice it and care. If the ‘problem’ of bad quest rewards, or ‘too limited’ inventory space was ‘fixed’ (Retail), would players care about finding that rare bag drop (more on bags later), or that imperfect green drop that is still an upgrade? Also equally important, the game is designed around those facts, so you can still progress even without always having the best gear for your level, or even close to it. There is a lot of room for error here, while actually rewarding removing as much of that error as possible (if you are decked out in at-level gear, you quest/progress faster, which is itself a good-enough reward without being mandatory).
Number 6, more talk about the limited loot, but also the mention of a guild member helping out with bag space. The big and obvious thing here is that if the inventory space ‘problem’ was solved by the game, this player would have one fewer reason to rely on a guild or the interact with other players. It would also diminish the early usefulness of that crafting profession. It should also be noted that the writer values a few points of armor over the cosmetic look of gear; if the game was faceroll easy (Retail), would that still be the case?
Number 7, talent trees. This one is more complex than it appears on the surface. Yes, talent trees are cool, or at least cooler than not having them and the decisions they bring. But again, if Classic was faceroll easy, would people care as much about making the ‘right’ choice with talent trees to boost their power? Would players look over how their skills work, how talents may boost them, what combos the choices create, etc? And this is all based on the early game of questing, we aren’t even talking about group dungeon usefulness, or PvP specs for Battlegrounds.
Number 8, running away. Another item that has a lot of hidden gems inside. Would players care about a hard-to-get chest if loot wasn’t as scarce or valued? Would this encounter around the chest have stood out to the author if they had been able run in and AoE everything without a care? Does the act of actually dying ruin the experience for the player, or make it memorable?
Number 9 and 10 are nostalgia talk and the announcement of not raiding. Neat.
Point here isn’t to pick on Massively and the author, because I think their feelings/writing represents a pretty significant group of players; people who can express how they feel, but not fully understand WHY they feel it, and why certain game design decisions lead to them feeling that way. Classic isn’t just a chance for non-Retail players to enjoy WoW again; its also a live demonstration of all the ways Retail went wrong with WotLK and beyond, as well as the rest of the genre when it copied that version of WoW.
I’m half and half on quest markers for the zone. Not necessarily one that shows you where you need to go, but one that is there saying to you, “hey, don’t forget me”. I believe from looking up that there are around 70 odd quests in Trisfal Glades. When I saw in general chat people looking for group to kill something I got puzzled. Looked up what they were talking about on WoWhead, saw where the quest started and ran half way back to the beginning. Took a side road I missed and found the quest giver. After I downloaded an add on to show zone quests, I saw I had missed 6 others. I want to quest out entire zones, not just skip things because the bread crumbs are sending me to the next area.
There are two solutions.
Once is to grab a mod.
The other is to change your player behavior and explore zones, rather than just go to the areas that quests guide you to.
Vanilla was designed with the idea that players would explore the zones. Current MMO mentality has taught people to only go where they are told.
Playing this now, as people did years before I started, I can see the subtle push to get you to head off in a certain path. I had about 12-15 quests done, was making my way to Brill, then I got a breadcrumb quest to head to a new zone for a delivery. From years of playing, I know what’s there when I get there, another quest hub that will lead me down the road and towards more difficult content. I’ve been down that road before, followed the trail and a long time later, come back to find what I missed. I have no compulsion to max out ASAP and go for raiding etc. I want to explore the zones and complete all of the quest chains before I move on to the next. Like I said half and half. I may use it to see that opps, missed one, let me go over there to complete that. I’m not using it to tell me where I need to go to kill everything. I get the quest, read it, if it doesn’t make sense because it’s referring to a spot I haven’t found, I go look it up.
I had huge fun in vanilla exploring the zones. I’m not super interested in trying to repeat that experience in WoW classic, because I’ve already explored these zones. To really repeat the vanilla experience I’d need similarly talented people to design a new MMO in the true spirit of vanilla WoW; playing WoW classic is not repeating the vanilla experience, but is more like starting over in a new server after already playing through all 4 tiers of 40 man raiding once. Which, sadly, is still one of the best MMO experiences out there today.
Syp almost never knows what he wants or why he’s doing what he’s doing. It’s pretty much the USP of his blogging persona.
I personally took against his first proposition, which you didn’t even mention, that I just did a whole post refuting it. He thinks the graphics “kind of suck” compared to the modern version whereas I think they are stunning and fit the world perfectly.
Other than that, I agree a lot more with your gloss than with his statements. One thing I would say about the quest-finding is that if you;re not going to have quest markers (and i agree you shouldn’t) then you do need to include adequate directions in the quest text. In Don Moragh that happens routinely but in Loch Modan most quests come with no directions at all. I’m all for exploring but if an NPC asks me to do his job for him he can damn well tell me where to go to do it.
Also almost no questgivers include their own location in the text which makes it a pain to find the way back to them. It would be fine if I just did one quest at a time but I take all the ones i see and it’s sometimes a few session slater when I get around to doing them, by when I’ve forgotten where i got them. All of that could be fixed with a couple of lines in the dialog.
Justin is Syp? That kinda connects a lot of dots.
Quest text is certainly not consistent. Sometimes it will give you pretty direct instructions/locations, other times just who, and sometimes it won’t tell you who to return to at all.
Edit: Also about the graphics. For me they are fine, but that kind of thing is subjective. I’ve always though, for example, that compared to WoW, EQ2 looks horrible, but in the past people have argued they think EQ2 is the better-looking game.
Past people are crazy, EQ2 looked like crap. At least the character models looked like crap. Couldn’t play anything but a froglok in that game because only they didn’t look stupid.
IMO, complaining about the look of WoW is silly unless you refuse to watch any animated movie or show because it’s not realistic (omg, that cartoon character only has 4 fingers). WoW is intentionally stylized and cartoonish. The graphics aren’t bad, they’re perfect depictions of the cartoonish world of Azeroth. They’re also timeless and look as good now as they did in 2004 because they always looked just like they were trying to.
The article did not state what settings they used for the graphics. The classic client default on the slider to a Classic setting with low polygon counts. If you move the slider up to recommended (at least if have good graphic card) the polygon count on characters goes way up so that arms stop looking like squares and instead are rounded.
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