Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Taking the mystery away from the game

Today I read the patch notes about the upcoming change of the world maps and something in me died a little.

Once upon a time WoW was a game that offered mysteries to be solved, adventures to be experienced. The world was there for us to explore and it was endless. Not so anymore. It’s like if the whole concept of questing is turned into something that requires as much brain activity as fishing.

I’ll quote the notes in case you haven’t seen it already:

Quest creatures and objects will now show on the player’s world map.
  • A skull graphic will be placed on the map in the general area where players can find creatures they must kill for a quest.
  • A skull graphic with red eyes will be placed on the map in the general area where creatures can be found that must be killed in order to collect quest objects.
  • A gear/cogwheel graphic will be placed on the map in the general area where players must loot quest objects found in the world.
  • A chat bubble graphic will be placed on the map in the general area where players must interact with a specific NPC for a quest.
  • A yellow question mark graphic will show on the map to provide the location of a NPC whose quest the player has completed.

The benefits
Now, before I’ll throw myself into my doubts about the change, I must admit that I’m a bit torn in my opinion. I can see why they do it. It’s a part of the ongoing mission to make levelling up a bit easier. Completely new players can more easily work their way through the more or less dead zones and reach the +70 zones where most players hang around. They don’t have to wander around for ages, annoyed and frustrated at quests that sometimes are pretty cryptic and poorly written.

And to players who have been around for a while it doesn’t change anything. They’re using Questhelper or Lightheaded anyway, which do about the same thing. Now those features are built into the game, which means they have an addon less to update and to put strain on their system.

So, OK, I too see the reason for it. And probably I deserve to be called a hypocrite, since I too use Lightheaded and TomTom to give me the coordinates and directions when I level my druid alt.

All this said I still want to vent a bit of the sadness I feel seeing this happening.

My sadness
What bothers me is that somehow the “being efficient and do things as quick as possible, ticking off things from your list” concept has completely overtaken the “experience, explore and lose yourself into a different world” idea.

I think back to my own first levelling experience, two and a half years ago. I started in TBC, at a point where there was already tons of information available to facilitate your questing at institutions such as Thottbot. But I was all new to gaming, I didn’t know anyone and I had no idea those tools existed. I played the game vanilla, the way it was presented to me, fumbling for quest objectives in complete darkness for my first levels. And how I enjoyed it!

A typical example of this was when I completed the quest Retrieval for Mauren, which is handed out by a guy standing close to the mage tower in Stormwind. There was something in the quest description that really kicked off my curiosity and imagination:

Travelers keep asking me about the Stonetalon Mountains. It seems to be a popular place for adventure--it doesn't matter if you're seeking wyvern, elementals, or you have business with the Venture Co.Within the Charred Vale, deep in Stonetalon, there used to be a species of basilisks whose scales, when ground to dust, made a wonderful reagent for some spells I've created.

If those basilisks still live, I would love to have a few of their scales.

Take your time, it is no rush, but I can pay well.

Off I went on a journey that seemed endless. Completing this single quest took me three nights – at least. I didn’t have flight points anywhere, I didn’t have any mount. I don’t remember how I finally got there, but I can vividly imagine that I didn’t find the shortest route. And my corpse runs were countless. All this for just a crappy wand as quest reward. I remember teleporting back to SW, turning in the quest and then wondering: was this all? And then I went back to questing in whatever area of Easter Kindom I was working on.

This was of course a waste of time and effort, measured in xp/hour efficiency, and I’d never ever consider doing it again on any on my alts. But was it fun? Absolutely! The world was endless and almost everything on the map was dimmed. I didn’t know where I was heading, I didn’t know where to go, what to do, and this gave a sort of immersion that I think is hard to obtain if there are skulls and crosses all over the map.

What’s next?
Probably I’m just a sad old lady, longing back for an era of youth and innocence that WoW lost long ago. I guess I want to protect the new clueless “Larisas” coming to the game today from getting too much information. I want to let them enjoy their first steps in the game the way I enjoyed them. But it’s a lost cause, since those players were quite rare when I started and hardly exist at all anymore.

WoW is aging quickly and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can walk down the memory lanes and mourn what’s lost and gone, but the development isn’t in our hands. If we want adventure and exploring we would probably be better off trying a new game.

Still I come to think of the brilliant prediction of the patchnotes 5.2 that Gevlon made a while ago:

    • "an "adventure guide" NPC was added to all starter zone who provide quest "kill 3 boars" for XP to level to 100
    • streamlining classes: the complicated rotation of the 2 spells/class introduced in 5.0 has been revised. Now every class have one spell "Ipawn" doing 50000 damage to all hostile cratures in 20 yards and heals 60000 damage for all friendlies in 20 yards up to 10 targets.
    • Reputation requirements for "awesome screenblocking flying whale" mount has been reduced to Whale Tamers friendly
    • New Whale Tamers daily quest introduced, providing 500 Rep for bringing a letter from Whale Tamer Jack to Whale Tamer Joe, both standing in the largest building.
    • Material requirements for ilvl 400 legendaries have been reduced to 10 dream cloth/dream skin/dream bar and 1 ultimate earth/fire/shadow/life"

I’m afraid that this isn’t just sarcasm. It’s exactly what’s going to happen. Changing the maps in 3.2 is just another brick in the wall.


Dw-redux said...

Yep. If you recall I posted about this in an earlier post of yours. But you arent aware of the scale of this Lar!

Other MMO developers look at where the big money are. They are in WoW, so they look to ways to copy what they think makes WoW popular into their own games.
When WAR (warhammer online) came out, they allready had that built into the game so for the month i played that game, i never once read a questlog... A part from the few times i really really forced myself to do so.
Soon you will never find that magic again, and question is, do you want to? I seems that this is a very successfull addon and something players use a lot (before that i remember tabbing out to read thottbot on where to go), so maybe we are just too lazy for our own good.

What we should hope for, is a game with fewer quests (once you have read 15 dialogues all covering the same "kill that get me that" you just dont want to read anymore) but with stronger ties to the storyarch and more xp. That way you want to read the questlog, you want to get into the story of it and you will be happier for it in the end.

Another way to do it, is to mark important story quests with a different color, that way you can skim-read the boring non important "get-me-boar-liver" stories and read the long "quest-leading-to-quest-leading-to-great-stories" and be happy!

Dw-redux said...

I think the problem stem from the fact that they overfeed us with 15 million lines of quest-text... Who would *want* to read it all?

Gevlon said...

As I always told, the game is aimed at not players who want to explore and adventure, but to socials who want to get items, levels and achievements to show off to peers.

Since almost everyone are lvl80 unless the questing is not boosted, the new social find it hopeless to catch up and don't even try.

Ixobelle said...

they're integrating QuestHelper into WoW itself.

if anything, it's just streamlining the process for noobs. Anyone who's been around the block knows about these addons. Those that don't won't feel cheated when they are the last 2% of the population that 'just didn't know' for their first three weeks of WoW.

Scrolling combat text, threat tools, quest trackers, even specialized arena unit frames... all these have been grabbed out of the community and put directly into WoW. I don't see the sky falling, but only because Questhelper did it already.

If there was no Questhelper, and they were just pulling this out of nowhere, it might be alarming. If anything, I think it just ties directly into the controversy a while back about addon authors not being allowed to ask for donations. Carbonite was (another) Questhelper clone, and had 'paid' and 'lite' versions.

Blizzard is just cutting out the middleman here.

Carra said...

I was also going to mention WAR. That game shows your quest objectives on your map. It colors the map in zones where you can find your quest items/mobs.

But yes, as the ages go by I also got better and better at levelling. At the start I just picked up a quest and went on my way to do it. Then someone mentioned thottbot. From then on for most quests I had to alt tab to my browser to see just where those quest mobs are. Then mods like questhelper came to make things even easier. And finally I found the pinnacle of raiding, James Levelling guides. I doubt there's any faster way to level.

Yes, it takes away most of the magic. But it sure beats having to alt tab to thottbot every five minutes to find out just where you are supposed to be going. And in a way, Blizzard is just keeping up with their concurrents as I found the WAR mini map to make things a lot easier.

Typhoonandrew said...

Like all the recent nurfs, you don't have to participate. You could make it a challenge to never get gear from the "pov epics" that are coming in 3.2. Or don't use the map for quests, or don't buy the mount for faster speed till you're level 40. Play it your way. *ahem*

The constant drone of "blah blah feature is making it too easy" is getting tiresome. You know that plenty of players will be around for a long time, because WoW still does some many other things incredibly better than any other MMO.

I try the ones that look passable, but I have not seen anything that comes close to WoW yet. Period. AoC, DDO, Warhammer, Pirates all failed in my opinion, which is why so many players return to wow.

Better to adapt, set your own challenges, and enjoy the game. One day something will "kill" WoW, and it will have in-built features that allow beginners to play it too. MMOGs are mainstream now, get used to it.

Kedge said...

Starwars Galaxies (in it's original incarnation) used to automatically place a waypoint on your map and a direction arrow for you to follow to get to the item / mob. When you got there you used to see a big blue light shining on what you needed to kill.

When I came over to WoW right at the start of WoW, I used to miss that waypoint and direction. WoW quests just seemed too complicated to know where to go. Then I started reading the quest log (never needed in Galaxies) and it all became clear. I then started enjoying learning why I was doing something and getting clues as to where to go.

I can see the benefit this will bring to new players to allow them to catch us all up quickly. However I would hate to have this when the next expansion comes out. I prefer to feel my own way through quests on my main char. If this facility they introduce is turn off and on-able then I can just elect to turn it off on Kedge when he starts leveling again.

Typhoonandrew said...

A question for the guys who blog, but hate the nurfs: Why blog post something that potentially helps the "facerollers" if they are ruining the game? You should be more exclusive, or not post at all.

Larísa said...

@Dw-redux: I think your idea about marking the "major" story-telling quests is very good. I for one would definitely read those carefully instead of instant-jumping to check the coords. And yes, I too am too lazy for my own good.

@Gevlon: I wonder if that hasn't changed over time? Was it really like that from the beginning?

: yeah, I'm all with you. The innocents don't exist anymore, so it's all logical. Skies aren't falling. But I can't rid myself from the feeling that something has gotten lost. Probably it was lost much earlier though.

@Carra: the difference is that all those tools were optional, not built in by default.

: I too look very positive on most changes in WoW. And I'm not qq-ing about nerfs of raid instances or arrival of badge gear. If you've been following my blog you should know that. In this case I don't think you have any option not to see the quest objectives. Questing without any map at all, eh? It's possible though that they'll make it possible to turn it off in some interface option. We'll just have to wait and see about that.

About your last question I wonder if it's directed to me? I've never ever written a single post providing any kind of useful information. My blog is all about personal rants and opinions. A place where I relax rather than teach and help others.

@Kedge: yeah, I'm all for a turn-off option.

Christina said...

I wanted to share a story with you. You've sent me down memeory lane to my first month of wow. I discovered almost immediately that I really enjoyed trade skills. I think I spent half of my first play session fishing in Mulgore. So there I was, green as grass, with no concept of how to get from place to place, trying to get to the first cooking book. I was barely maybe high enough for the Stonetalon mountains, but I didn't understand that I needed to run through the valley of death.

So I death ran through Feralas, and tried to swim up. No go. Then I tried to swim down from Stonetalon. No go. Then I finally realized that was what the little path meant, and I death ran through the charred vale and Desolace, sometimes just inching my way along. It took hours and hours. Oh the triumph! of finally buying that book. And it remains one of my favorite memories of wow. :)

I don't mourn for the changes to wow. Rerolling on a new server of a quiet time alt reminds me how *hard* it is to be by yourself with your first toon. Not having 5 extra gold, nobody to send big bags, no alts to make iron buckles or whatever I need to level my crafting skills. And that's with the knowledge I have now of how to play the auction house to make startup gold. No-one to talk to, no guildies to come squish the elite for me or participate in group quests. Yes, its sad that new people will lose a little of the lost in the world feeling, but being new will still be hard. And for everyone who is not new, faster mounts, quest icons, and everything else will help ease the leveling experience along.

spinksville said...

I think I'll need to wait and see how they implement this before I decide. I remember that as Ixobelle says, they had a version of a questtracker in Warhammer and it was awesome. It didn't show exactly where to go, it just put a red blob on the map to make sure you didn't go totally the wrong direction.

But yeah, I liked being lost and confused as a newbie but games are moving on and questhelper was an amazingly popular addon (this always surprised me, it's not THAT hard to quest in WoW just from the quest text!!) so I suppose it's par for the course that they eventually add popular addon functionality to the base UI.

Klepsacovic said...

Is this going to be the end of "Where is X?" Re: "Read the quest!"

I don't like it when Blizzard adds things like this which make it obvious that I'm playing a game rather than in a world. I hate quest addons. The few times I'd play on my friend's laptop it would annoy me endlessly seeing questhelper drawing all over my map telling me where to go.

There is no need for this. Any problems caused by quests being too hard to figure out are either due to excessively vague objectives (rewrite to clarify them a little) or idiots who do not or cannot read.

If I want to destroy my sense of immersion, I can tab out to wowhead. I don't need something in-game to destroy that.

Captain The First said...

Honestly this just strikes me as something that is the result of blizzard monitoring addon-usage and replacing addons that practically everyone uses anyway. In this case questhelper and frankly I'll be quite happy not to have this dependancy anymore.

In the end the game is what you make it... it's a progression game that has different mechanics or ladders to progress on. Ladders may get easier to climb but that just increases the stress on the developers to create more/new ladders.

Players will always find the quickest path to the end game in a ladder based game mechanic whether this is via addons, external tools or through in-game mechanics.

This is natural evolution... a game is just as mortal as you are.

Galyan said...

It would be nice if this feature could be turned off in the Interface Options. That way, those of use who want the mystery can keep it that way.

Typhoonandrew said...

@ Larísa, my comments above came off far more angry/nasty than I actually am on this issue; sorry about that. I take your points wholeheartedly. My beef is more about the old school gamers who seem to absolutely hate the game that wow has become - which is not what you're saying at all. The point I was trying unsuccessfully to make was that the world has changed for gamers forever, and we now share our passionate hobby with everyone else too.

While thinking further about my comment here, I think I'm just as guilty of what I implied some other bloggers might do. Apologise for the hypocrisy.

Firespirit said...

I REALLY hope they have a on/off switch for this.

I leveled (for better or worse) through all of the content without using questhelper, cartographer, carbonite, ANYTHING like that. For the longest time I only had Auctioneer as an addon, and only because I was sick and tired of being broke all the time.

In any event, I was one who read every quest text (and still do). It really annoyed my questing buddy, but I do know a bit about the lore of the game now ;)

I am really sad to have this happen. I just started to seriously lvl my DK (without questhelper I might add). It would just suck if they forced this on to people who really don't want it.

Leah said...

my only problem with it is that wit ha quest helper - you get a choice. you can turn it on, or off. you can chose to use it, or figure things out yourself.

I haven't used cartographer in ages. I still use quest helper, but I only turn it on for some of my lower level characters when I'm exploring the zones I haven't extensively quested in and for some reason - got frustrated with too vague quest description.

this changes is something I would welcome IF I actually had a choice to turn off that function at will.

Tesh said...

Guild Wars has a similar internal "questhelper" function with quest relevant locations marked on the minimap, and arrows pointing in their direction if they aren't close enough. It's extremely helpful when even the best quest descriptions only have directions like "west of here" or "by the big rock".

As I noted in a recent article on the noob experiences in WoW over the years, you can even frame these "helpers" as the sort of things that your *character* should know instinctively as a citizen of the world, but that the *player* may not know as an outsider. I see these recent changes as a natural extension of the "sparklies" on herbs and such for quests. It's a way for the game to direct the player. (Especially since the alternative is what? Writing out herb descriptions that few people will read? Trying to interact with every single plant and playing "find the pixel" like in old adventure games? Including a "photograph" of the herb in question in the quest log? Maybe paste in a scrap of the herb that really doesn't help with identification until you're right on top of the plant?)

In other words, the *character* knows more about the world than the basic UI presents to the player. Updating the UI to reflect that makes for a smoother play experience.

And ultimately, I think that's a huge boon to the game. Yes, it means that those long days of aimless wandering are lost, but I say it's about time.

I say this as a confirmed Explorer according to Bartle. (100/50/50/0 EASK) I LOVE to wander around and look at the sights, taking screenshots and finding new critters. Thing is, the *game* often gets in the way of doing that, since content is level-gated or even quest gated. Making it easier to actually just get on with the task of leveling gives me *more* opportunities to explore because I'm not wasting time getting lost. I can spend more time getting lost *when and where I want to*. ;)

Daria said...

All the changes Blizz has made recently make me think that brand new subscriptions to WoW have dropped substantially, because all these changes really benefit people who already know the game and are bringing up alts or re-rolling.
Which is fine, if you've already done the content 100 times, why put people through it again.

Blizz could just take the route of letting people who already have level 80s start new chars at 60 or even 70 and leave the old stuff intact. What would be the harm in that really?

Veteran players are never going to get their "magic factor" back from the classic WoW days. If you are longing for that the only choice is to try a new game. I've been doing the EQ2 trial and I'm really enjoying having to find my way around again. There are no quest helpers and I'm not even alt-tabbing to look things up.

Llyrra said...

So many great recollections of "firsts." Did I love going through it all? Absolutely! Wouldn't trade the experience for the world! Do I want to do it again on my alts? Good God, NO!

An option to turn the feature on/off is a no-brainer for players who already have a level 80 toon. If it's your "first" toon in the game, there should be no option: no shortcuts allowed until you take the long way home. If people don't like it, they don't have to play but maybe this approach could help retain some of that mystery, that challenge, that reason for doing whatever quest you're doing.

Dorgol said...

I, also, hope the new quest features can be turned off. I have little doubt that the option will exist.

Oh... and I got Loremaster without using any quest addons. I ENJOY reading the quest text (at least the first time though :)).

Do I fault Blizzard for adding it? Nope. Do I feel it was necessary? Nope.

candy said...

I think they are looking to make questhelper and the other mods that collectively provided this sort of information obsolete. Would be nice if they allowed it to be toggled off/on...tho I suspect few folks would keep it turned off knowing that easy mode for questing was a few clicks away.

Syrana said...

I hope there is a turn off option. I was a bit saddened when I read the info about the map changes myself.

There's nothing wrong with looking information up, etc, because you are still putting some work into it... but to have absolutely everything marked on the map be a bit much.

When I introduced my parents to WoW, I helped them get a few addons, such as lightheaded, but I told them not to get QuestHelper.

Unfortunately... another guild member thought they were helpful by telling them to get it. /sigh

I suppose though, Blizz is trying to replace addons like QuestHelper and Carbonite since those may not be able to continue with the new rules regarding them.

I dunno, it doesn't personally affect me since I've done the old world content a gazillion times :P but, I wish more newer players would want to enjoy the newness and exploration of it all.

Tesh said...

Syrana, that's exactly what I'm getting at. I absolutely *do* want to spend my time poking around, exploring and "sniffing the roses". I just want to do it on *my* time and because something interests me, not because I'm being dragged around by stupid quests, looking for some stupid foozle in an idiotic location so that I can get on with the game.

If the game weren't a level grind, with content gated by level, I would probably almost never do quests, I'd just roam around and look for interesting things to do and see. Since I *must* gain XP and levels to go to new places, and quests are more pleasant than grinding (but far less fun than just exploring), it's extremely nice to be able to blow through them.

Heck, as far as that goes, I'd be happy with an instant level 80, free to go anywhere without being ganked by mobs or idiot PvP players.

MomentEye said...

This is the opposite of what they tried to do in Fable2...
They wanted to get people to look at the world rather than just navigate by the min-map all the time.

As a new player I'm still enjoying the exploration. I'll happily take cheap mounts but I'm skeptical about this.

Larísa said...

: In one aspect I think starting to play WoW now probably is much harder than it used to be – in spite of all nerfs and measures Blizzard has taken to make it easier and improve the levelling process. The hard thing is that you’re so much on your own. Finding proper groups for instances for example is really hard. And if you do it you’ll encounter impatient alts who want to run through it in zerg mode, not giving you any chance to learn to play your role properly. So making things easy to make them come up to 30 all makes sense to me. Still I feel a bit sorry for them missing the mystery.

: I guess they’re looking at the competitors. But is a feature like this really what cuts the decision and makes people pick up one mmo or another? I doubt that.

: Yeah, it probably is. The motivator to see the xp bar go up asap is stronger than the motivator to enjoy the story. Sadly enough. If people gave the quests some time I’m sure they’d enjoy it.

@Captain The First. I come to think of a sort of lichen, which at least in my language is called “The Russion empire”. This one grows in a circle and dies from the middle. So it’s basically a ring, growing wider and wider. Maybe that’s the natural path of wow. The levelling game is dead now. The endgame is the living circle.

@Galvan, Firespirit, Leah: yeah, let’s hope you can turn it off if you want to.

: np :)

@Tesh: but how come that our characters know so much right from the beginning. Isn’t it quite natural that they’re kind of lost while levelling up, at least sometimes? From a rp perspective… Yeah, I know, I’m just a wardrobe rp, but anyway…

I think that the aimless wandering where you actually stumble upon things and expose yourself to the unexpected will disappear with this kind of interface. You may wander voluntarily, but I think most players are too lazy for that.

@Daria: yeah, I’ve come to that conclusion too. Not many new players around to keep up the “magic” for.

@Llyrra: you have a point, but I’m afraid it’s kind of hard to execute your suggestion. Just because your account is new it does necessarily mean you haven’t been playing wow before. So how to determine who’s levelling his first toon and who’s not?

@Dorgol: wow. That is really well done! Grats!

@Candy: yeah, it would probably be hard to resist. For most players quick levelling > kept mystery and magic.

@Syrana. Yeah, sometimes veteran players are probably a little bit too eager to help out. Handing out knowledge people aren’t quite prepared for will probably hurt their gaming experience in the long run.

: a new player, wow!!! You still exist. Why don’t we put making a 15 min of fame article about you?  Cheers and welcome!

Pangoria Fallstar said...

@Larisa: What Tesh is saying is very valid, not to mention, if we're all walking around with maps of the world, who's to say we couldn't just ask the quest giver to POINT OUT where he saw the foozles we need to kill?

Our characters DO know more about the world, they're not kids leveling up. Being level 5 does not make you 5 years old.

Imagine any moment in WoW as if you were watching a movie. Larisa would travel to where the plants are that she needs to find. She spots them according to the description and picks some up. She brings it back to the quest giver.

Larisa knows the world, she knows where "east of the large boulder" is. And if she doesn't, and she has a map, surely she asked, where is that? can you show me on this map?"

Quite frankly I was pissed off, I couldn't do that in WoW, it made no sense not to be able to ask for them to point it out.

As for reading quests, honestly, reading the quest about killing 10 wolves for pelt, and "I'll make you something nice", is BORING. Either the writers have to be funny, or the story has to be epic. Mundane quests should be tasks, and leave storyline to the quests. I hope someday, WoW can seperate the two.

Tesh said...

Frankly, I'm not worried if players are too lazy to explore, and as a designer, it's not my place to force them to. It's disappointing, sure, considering all the awesome stuff to see, but it's their $15/month, and their time, to spend as they see fit. (Which is incidentally why I hate forced grouping.) If they want to race to the level cap and get on with the stuff that even Blizzard thinks is "the real game", more power to them.

It's not a choice I'd make, but I'm happy that there are options. (So I second the notion to make the onboard Questgiver a toggle, rather than an "always on" thing.) All that cool content out there to stumble across is still there for those who actually want it. The option to bypass it for something else doesn't make it go away, and I'll always resist efforts to say that any given way is The Only Way to play, and that others should be forced to do it the way I do.

That it's handwavable as character knowledge for ease of the play experience is just a nod to the sense of world. Ultimately, I think that it makes the *game* better, and that it fits the *world* better is a bonus.

Tesh said...

Oh, and Pangoria, thanks for understanding. You might be interested in an article I wrote a week or two ago about making mercenary "missions" or "contracts" for general mindless questing, not unlike Privateer's missions, and leaving the storytelling to major questlines that *show* rather than *tell*. Perhaps that's where SWTOR will wind up going.

Larisa, in summary, I'm very sympathetic to the desire for mystery in the game. That's why I go looking for it. I just don't like being forced into it if i happen not to feel like it at the moment. That makes me leave the game. Enough of those moments make the game feel like a job that I'm paying to do, rather than a fun game world to explore.

gnomeaggedon said...

I think some time back I wrote about needing "quest helper" mods because I am so directionally challenged.

I am not unhappy about this possible change. There are times when I ignore the quest mods, other times where in absolute frustration I turn to them.

I would say that on balance, the mods have allowed me to experience the game more than they have detracted from it.

The other night, while bonfire hunting, heading directly to the next point I wanted to extinguish, I got the chance to look around... I got to see bits of Outland that I never saw before, because I was always so frustrated about getting to the destination.

I only turned to TomTom the other night because I would be wasting 5-10 minutes running in circles looking for a fire that was "just over the hill", or "at the back gate, rather than the front".

I also welcome the idea of having ground mob's general location marked out... there has never been anything as frustrating as spending 30 minutes grinding mobs for the low % drop items, only to discover you wanted the "younger thingamebobs" rather than the "elder thingamebobs"

Larísa said...

Fallstar, Tesh & Gnomeaggedon: oh, I'm totally with you. I'm just sulking a little over my lost innocence. This new feature reminds me so much about it. But it's gone, with our without skulls on the maps. Once you've bitten the apple of knowledge you've taken away a little of the mystery.

But Tesh: I must say that I think players sometimes need a little push to explore things that are out of their comfort zone. I think about my daughter: she refuses to see movies she hasn't already seen! It's more comfortable to see something you know than to bother about understanding a new story. sometimes we FORCE her to see something new. And afterwards she's grateful and wants to see it again... I don't say that I think the game should force players all the time, absolutely not. What I like most about WoW is the freedom, the richness, the abundance of choices. But if everything is handed out in a certain way I think the game becomes smaller. You know it's like on a mountain. The water always take a shortcut down to the ground. I'm not sure I'm clear enough here... Hm... Maybe I should save my rambling for a blog post at some point. Initiating thought process... :)

I hope I came out right with this post. I was just linked from and seeing the comments there it seems like I'm some kind of elitistic asshat. Which I'm not. I'm just a bit nostalgic.

Wolfshead said...

Great article! There are two alarming trends going on here.

The first is the Blizzard has taken the mystery out of their MMO and ruined it for the explorer archetype. There is very little left to *discover* any more since Blizzard and their PR team feel compelled to reveal everything about future patches well in advance.

I talked about this a few years back when they announced all of the "invasions" before the release of the original Nax. So much for the element of surprise.

The second issue is the continual needless dumbing down of WoW in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator of gamer out there.

For more amplification of this disturbing trend check out Richard Bartle's excellent essay on Gamasutra: "Why Virtual Worlds are Designed By Newbies - No, Really!"

Also I did an article entitled "WoW Patch Notes We Might See in the Future" which I believe pre-dates Gevlon's similiar article:

Gilbert said...

I do not agree. I did start the game alone, without knowing anyone. Some quests, as I play the game in French, has errors in translation. I spent sometimes two days trying to do a single quest...

Later I learned of sites that could help a little, and Wow Cartographer. I still had to search inside, but at least I could find there the NPC I could not find.

The worse was I took quests at a place, did the quests and sometimes.. The quest does not say the name of the NPC you have to give it to ! Going everywhere to find the NPC to finish the quest and NOT find him/her is no fun at all.

I welcome those changes. They will help the new players and they won't have to spend ALT-TABBING ten times per quarter to try to find a NPC or what the quest asks for.

On most servers, each time a noob player asks for something, you can see "install Quest Helper" in the chat... so what's the problem ?

My main is 80. I am doing all the quests from Azeroth I did not do while leveling up. I have discovered a ton of things: new places, caverns I did not even know of, new knowledge of the game or factions. I play with Quest Helper because it is not fun to search for one hour for something. Sometimes I have 1, 2 hours after the raid of the day, and I'd rather do 10 quests with QH's help than 2. I do read all the quests text, but that's me.

I have done ALL quests in Northrend. All of them. I have read ALL the text in each of those quests, quietly and I took my time to level up. I did use Quest Helper and I love it. A few quests would have been a nightmare otherwise.

elfie said...

Well, I'm also a Larisa, and not only because that's my real name too, but because I also enjoyed exploring the world of Azeroth with incredibly fresh eyes and inocence about the game. Every new landscape made me awe at the design of this incredible world and exploring ad completing co many quests was really, really fun. The idea of entering a new zone always got me so nervous and excited at the first time, specially at the idea of changing my HS location... and the fact that I had carbonite from day one didn't diminish that sense of adventure. :)

Tesh said...

Larisa, I didn't mean to sound grumpy. I sympathize with the notion of lost innocence. You truly can't ever go back, and that's sad. Wistful is a good way to put it, and I've been feeling that quite a bit lately about gaming in general.

Oh, as for forcing exploration, I'm all for *enticing* players to go places by putting cheese in far-flung places or smartly crafted landscapes that tempt people to go over "just that next rise", I'm just against blocking off content with hoops to jump through and grindy time wasting quests. And that's only because I *want* to explore. I just don't want to be told *what* and *when* to explore. It makes a difference. ;)

Hone Melgren said...

"they're integrating QuestHelper into WoW itself"

No they aren't .. the feature at the moment is very basic. Icons on the map when you're near a quest objective. That's it. There is no hand holding. There's no "this quest is x yards away in this direction" arrow. There's no time estimate. There's no shaded areas of the map. There's no "we suggest you do the quests in this order" optimal quest route.

The feature as is in the current PTR build is no more less immersive then asking a guard where the mage trainer is and he marks it on your map. If you're no where near a quest thingy you don't get an icon (at least I didn't on my little level 1 Rogue)

@ Larissa

I personally don't agree with your slippery slope argument here. It's taken Blizzard 4 years to get to where they are game , content and lore wise. They usaully do things in a slow , deliberate , well designed way. If they do implement a feature from a mod it's usaully the most basic implementation they can put in. They still leave the more complicated stuff to an addon.

I really don't seem them ever putting in a complete QH - like "hold my hand and show me how to paly this game" type feature

Larísa said...

: your faked patch notes were really witty. Hadn’t seen them, else I would have mentioned them. Thanks for the link to that Gamasutra article. It gave me a lot of thoughts and new perspectives. I’m not a designer or even an experienced player. So I’m a bit fascinated that I’m able to take part in such discussions and a bit humbled by getting your attention at all. Cheers for dropping by!

@Gilbert: Well, each one to his own. I can understand your pov, and yeah, I too lost my innocence after a while and started to use Jamie guides and such. (although I didn’t alt-tab, but printed them out). I levelled quicker, but I’m not so sure that I had as much fun as I would have if I had kept it cleaner and struggled a bit more.

@Elfie/Larisa: Well I haven’t had carbonite, so I can’t tell the difference in exploring with or without it.

@Hone Melgren: I hope you’re right. I’m not against making the game a bit easier to newcomers, especially since the catching up to 80 is so long, not to say what it will be like when there are 90 or 100 levels. But there’s a limit for making it more casual. Finally it becomes dull.

JWtheMighty said...

Well. I've been playing since launch, and I can honestly say that I don't use QuestHelper or Lightheaded. I tried QH some time ago, didn't like it.
I remember the good ol' days too. I was leveling slow as a snail, but damn did I have fun. I explored Eastern Plaguelands as a level 24, me and a friend spent hours getting to the plateu east for IF, hell, I even waged war to Bloodhoof as a level 30-something. Now it's all just about xp/hour. It's sad.

Whats my main again? said...

Anyone one remember when they added quest givers and turn ins on the mini map? I played my first character before this was implemented and when I was leveling my first alt I was amazed at all of the quests I had missed.

In a sense that change allowed me more exploration because it opened me up to quests I never knew existed. Books lying on the ground, or some corpse with a quest objective. Heck I spent forever trying to find the corpses of the guards in Elwynn forest.

I don't use quest helper. I don't need to. I've done the quests so many times now that if I don't know the objectives right away... it likely isn't worth doing anyhow.

Still, every now and then I enjoy reading the quests that I'm doing and learning why I'm killing these 500 boars. When it comes to the next expansion I will likely turn off this option and read through every quest like I did in WotLK.

Blizzard isn't making the game too easy with this. After all... many people use quest addons anyhow, this is just functionality that players wanted. We are sucking the exploration out of WoW.

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