Monday, September 13, 2010

Just give us a date please!

It seems as if we're quickly approaching the moment when Blizzard will announce the release date of Cataclysm.

MMO Champion suggests November 2, with a disclaimer that it might get postponed. Boubouille has a solid reputation for having reliable sources within the walls of the Blizzard HQs, so it's not unreasonable to believe that they at least has some kind of internal goal along those lines and that there will be November release if nothing goes terribly bad on the way. (I'll stick to my previous prediction for November 17).

If you ask me I don't actually care that much if it will be launched in November, December or even next year. All I ask for is a release date, since I think it will help us to get the game out if its current location in a No man's land.

Raiding at halt
I would dare say that a majority of the raiding guilds have put their raiding at a halt by now. I don't have any numbers to back it up, admittedly, but the lack of players outside the entrance of ICC at raiding peak time speaks to me, as well as the absence of lag these days. We're all left hanging, and I really can't blame those who have decided freeze their subscription to go and try out other games.

The current lack of information is annoying. It resembles a little bit to what you can experience at an airport or a train station when there are delays in the traffic and the service provider fails at communications. People are generally prepared to wait very long and patiently for a delayed train, as long as they get estimation about when it will depart. And if that information isn't available yet, that's OK to, as long as the company clearly says when they will be able to announce the departure time.

But if you don't say anything at all, people start to get impatient. And that's the case here. In one way I can sympathize with Blizzard's stance, since it's an expression for their "it's done when it's done" philosophy. They don't want to release a sub-par product due to foolish, premature promises. But understandable or not - it shut downs the power field and drains the game for mana.

An estimated release date would bring new energy to Azeroth and the community; as a matter of fact I think it will increase the player activity quite a bit.

You could of course assume that it would make more players to temporary cancel their subscriptions since they'd believe that all the efforts they put into the game is "in vain" since there's new content incoming. (Which by the way is a pretty stupid attitude. Are we really raiding just for shiny gear and not because we actually enjoy killing big bad dragons).

However I'm not so sure that the players will drop quicker after the announcement. I could in fact imagine the opposite effect - that this will motivate players to return from their extended summer break.

Preparing for Cataclysm
As soon as you have a time limit, there's a reason to go over that bucket list again. Is there yet another goal to tick off? Get that Kingslayer title once for all perhaps? Or actually clear Ulduar?

But above all I think this will be the spark that makes us start preparing for Cataclysm. It's time to start clearing our banks, bags and our bunches of badges that soon will become historical items of no use. We will flood AH with our stuff and the prices will fall. A few of us will of course go the other way, stacking up on items that the incoming worgen and goblin alts might need as they'll level their professions.

If you're planning to promote one of your alts to a main you may want to go over the gear and swap out a few pieces. Surely it will quickly be replaced with new quest items in Cataclysm, but judging from the comments from the beta tester, levelling will be tougher than it was in Wrath. You probably don't want to start out in greens if you can avoid it.

Once the 4.01 patch goes live, we'll be even busier. It's time to start to think more seriously about those new talent trees and the changes to our classes. Better get used to it so you're not completely clueless at launch.

Guild preperations
A fixed release date will also be the signal to all existing guilds to think about their future. What classes are people planning to play? How many of the players on hiatus will come back? When and how will you start recruiting to cover the gaps? When will your first raid take off? What will be your goals and priorities as a guild? Are you chasing for guild achievements and guild perks? Is there any interest in battle grounds? Have you even settled for if you're going to be a 10 man or a 25 man guild? Will you aim for hardmodes right from the start?

There are so many things to think over for guild leaders during the months that remain to cataclysm. Of course some of those issues could be dealt with without knowing the exact date. But I believe that the announcement will get things going, bringing it from a vague idea about something happening in the future, into a more immediate concern. We will face that this is going to happen soon and that we have a lot of decisions to make, for our guild and for ourselves.

Incoming events
What I look forward to most of all though are the incoming events leading up to the launch. It's been such a long stretch when not very much has been going on in Wrath. There were those earthquakes for a while, but now it's been ages since I last experienced one. I miss them!

Recently we finally got an appetizer in the form of the gnome/troll event. I know some commenters thought it was a tad shortlasting, but to be honest I don't think there's any way you can please this starved audience. We're always craving for more, regardless of what bones they'll toss to us. For my own part I was really excited about it, enjoying every second from my proud gnome march through Ironforge and the silly little drill exercise to the sudden, bitter end.

More will come, no doubt. But I don't expect anything spectacular to happen until we get a release date.

So here's my humble request for you, oh mighty Lords of Blizzard: Please give us a date!

As a matter of fact any date will do, even if it would be as late as in January. All we need is a landmark. It will finally bring us out from limbo and make us start spinning up for Cataclysm.


Selyndia said...

I noticed the lack of a date as well, which is odd (we knew about WoTLK and TBCs dates well before they actually were released) and makes it extremely difficult to plan for. November 2nd seems early to me; I expected a 2 month period on PTR for 4.0.1 and then a one month period between 4.0.1 going live and Cataclysm launch (PTRs taking multiple months is not something new, and is about how long the last several took, and both WoTLK and TBC were released nearly to the day one month after patch 3.0.2 and 2.0 were released on live). The fact only one of the two Cataclysm release events we know of has been out seems to add more to the “Longer” thought than the Sooner.

Raiding is mostly dead or “Farm” mode at the moment and very little progression is still going on. A huge part of this is boredom. ICC was released live in early December 2009. It is now September, or nine full months since ICC was released. For those pushing content, doing both 10 and 25 man raids, over nearly 40 weeks, that’s nearly 80 Deathbringer kills for those that haven’t missed a week. That’s an absurd amount of farming.

The ICC content was too little spread far too thin over too long a period of time. Tier 7 content lasted 5 months (November through April) and had essentially 20 encounters (15 Naxx bosses, Malygos, Sartharion and 3 variants (1 drake, 2 drake, 3 drake). Tier 8 lasted only four months (April to August) and yet had, by far, the largest amount of raid content we’d seen in 30 different boss encounters (5 variants of Leviathan and Yogg, 4 of Freya, 3 of Assembly of Iron, hard and normal modes of XT, Hodir, Thorim, Mimiron and Vezax, and a single difficulty of Razorscale, Ignis, Kologarn, Auriaya, and Algalon). Tier 9 provided us with 10 initial encounters (With Onyxia added part way through to bring it up to 11) for another four months, and then ICC provided us with 24 encounters (26 once Halion was released deep into the content cycle) for what is shaping up to be at least 11 months.

For Cataclysm, one of the things I would most like to not see repeated is this nearly a year of dead time. Past “Last Instances” (Sunwell and Naxx) both saw about 6 months of time on live before the next expansion was released. ICC certainly didn’t need to double that.

Also, for a date purpose, I like to take a day or two off as an expansion is released so that I can keep up with those in the guild and so I don’t fall behind the curve; knowing when it will be would help plan around that. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who takes time off for an expansion release…

Hatch said...

I agree with Larisa and Selyndia. There's very little interest in the game right now. Most raiding is on hiatus (except for pugs on boredom-inspired alts). And it's due to there just not being enough content for the amount of time that tier 10 has been out. As Sely observed, ICC 10 will be the only raid content for nearly a YEAR (RS doesn't count, frankly). That's pathetic and shows a lack of forethought. Like Ixo said in his most recent post: the devs have moved on from the live game and are only concerned with (and communicating about) a beta that most of the community isn't in. Wrath has been abandoned way too early...either that, or Cata is WAY too late.

But everyone will be back in a few months, so I guess they can afford to abandon the live game for months on end, huh?

Syl said...

I wish I can at least finish that stupid gnomeregan questline without people bugging it out before Cataclysm! =P
and else all i really do is make silly amounts of money, I've never been so rich before in wow. 310% will at least not be an issue.

Redbeard said...

Maybe it's your server. A-52 is still very heavy on lag time on Tuesdays, and I have taken note that the server is full with a bit of a wait time very often that evening.

I know that my current guild is still working on normal ICC, and given the influx of new blood that want to experience endgame (but not in a dedicated raid environment), we're not alone.

tufva said...

I did a bit of research earlier today as we were having this discussion on our guild forums.

This is what I found:
Burning Crusade
24 Oct 2006 BC release date announced
14 Nov 2006 2.0.1 not yet on PTR
5 Dec 2006 2.0.1 patch goes live
16 Jan 2007 BC released

14 Sept 2008 3.0.2 goes on the PTR
15 Sept 2008 Release dated announced
14 Oct 2008 3.0.2 goes live
13 Nov 2008 Wrath released

11 Sept 2010 4.0.1 goes on the PTR
13 Oct 2010 4.0.1 goes live?
10 Nov 2010 Cata released?

If Cata follows the same pattern as Wrath (of course there's no saying it will), then we should expect a release date announcement in the next few days.

I am still playing and have a massive list of things I want to get done (I am slowly reconciling myself to the fact that I am unlikely to achieve everything I want before Cata hits). But I still would like to know when it will be released as then I can abandon outright things that cannot be done in time as well as make sure that really important things get done (1 achievement away from my Ulduar drake).

Plus like you say, as a guild we have lots of planning to do, but it feels pointless to do so until we are closer to the actual time and without a date it feels a very, very long time away.

I think they seriously need to get their act together. Not to mention that it would be kind to let people have an idea of when 4.0.1 will move to live as it will impact people still raiding.

Carson 63000 said...

I've already crashed and burned horribly on my July prediction (which was based on aiming for an 18-month expansion cycle and blowing the deadline by a couple of months).

My account is currently suspended anyway, so I'm not sure what's going on in game. I know raiding dried up for my guild months ago, though. I think a few more people have a full set on all 10 classes at level 80, due to having nothing else to do.

Ngita said...

I would have given the same data tufva except I had 13th September, 13th and 13th November. Somebody has got the pedal on the floorboards to get it out this year.

Personally if we dont raid 25 this week its over till cata , the last 2 weeks our raid leader has had net problems at his new house and and we have had people overseas. But root problem 5-6 weeks ago we had 4 hunters the next we had none. Admittedly one broke his arm but the others...

Last new boss kill was at 25%:(

But even blue does not seem to have a clue. Ptr came out and Zaryhm posts we think players will be so op we might have to take the 30% buff out"But, if we find that the Cataclysm systems changes coupled with the 30% buff greatly trivializes some of the boss fights, we'll consider adjusting the buff accordingly." and then today its "All the ICC dungeon and raid content is MUCH harder on the PTR that intended"

Kurnak said...

I don't think a release date would tivity, at least in a noticeable manner. While some gild would like to get the Kingslayer achi before the release of Cata, others will take it in a more relaxed way and knowing they can come back at level 83 with much better gear and spank Arthas easily. The only point where activity will raise is in the achievements that will no longer be available when Cata comes: completing ZG, etc
About cleaning banks... I've always been keeping a ton of crafting mats for all levels, until I ran out of bank space and had to start selling things. So I first start by selling the most common and easily farmable with a level 80 (vanilla plants, ore and enchanting mats), then the BC ones... and I found prices didn't plummeted down, thanks to people raising new alts. This time I even expect they will skyrocket, since a large chunk of players will be raising a worgen or goblin. Since gold is pouring out the pockets right now, getting mats from AH is faster than go around with your high level alt farming (also since a lot of peope will be playing these alts ares will be under heavy farming). So if you want to make some easy money start farming mats like tin, iron, briarthorn, mageroyal, shards (no need to go for the most basic ones like copper, peacebloom, silverleaf... these will be farmed whil leveling) and when Cata comes dump them in the AH (wait one or two days for prices to start ramping up) and you'll get some cash for the 310% flying.

Akycha said...

I feel sorta weird cause my guild is actually ramping up our raiding now. People are coming back from summer vacations, etc... So, we are actually finally being able to work on ICC10. Maybe it is because we are a casual guild? Summers are always slow for us.

Larísa said...

: I’m a friend of hardmodes, but it’s still pretty generous of you imho to count Sartharion as three different encounters, depending on how many drakes you had up. I too think that we were left with ICC as our one and only raid content way too long. Hopefully this will be better in Cataclysm when they’ll go back to the model with more but shorter raid instances, equivalent to how we raided MH parallel with BT in TBC.

I’m envious of those who can plan for vacation and power level as Cataclysm hits. It wouldn’t work with my job or family situation, which makes me slightly stressed out. I certainly don’t want to fall too far behind on the curve, so that I’ll have to pug the new 5-mans rather than running them with guildies.

@Hatch: Yeah, I think too that Wrath was abandoned too early. Some people argue that the loot issue prevents them from putting out instances late in an expansion. Noone is prepared to struggle to get the upgrades. But that could be solved by offering different kinds of loot, that will last into the new expansion. More of fluff/vanity items, less of soon-to-be-outdated-epics. That would definitely have helped us to keep up our spirits.

@Syl: I’m not certain how much gold we need to safely enter Cataclysm, not having to worry too much. I have a little more than 30 k and I hope that will do, since I’m completely uninterested in gold games.

: It seems as our servers are different. It sounds nice to have that influx of new, eager players!

@Tufva: Yep, I was expecting an announcement about the release date this week. I would have thought mid November rather than November 2, following the pattern from Wrath. Anyway, I’m convinced we’ll know soon enough.

It’s true that 4.01 will have a huge impact. As a matter of fact I’m a little frightened at the thought of it. Most likely I’ll have to go fire again since the arcane spec seems to be… too tricky for me. I don’t say it’s broken and useless but the arcane mastery seems complicated to master. And this means that I have to relearn a lot and adjust my UI and gemming and everything else.

@Carson 63000: Full set of 10 80 classes… wow! I can imagine more people will want to get that AFTER cataclysm hits since you might want to level a worgen or goblin and see the revamped content. But to bring up a bunch of toons to 80 right now, takes a special mindset.

We had a prediction here at the blog that turned out to be completely wrong, with a date around February if I don’t remember it wrong. That wasn’t me though, but my co-blogger and a result of wishful thinking.

@Ngita: Oh… I hadn’t read that stuff about the PTR testing with the new trees. Raiding after that hits, before Cata is released might become… interesting.

@Kurnak: Yeah… there’s surely a lot of good deals you can make. I just find it a tad hard to motivate myself to do it. Since I already have 310 mounts, the cost for the flying skill isn’t a big issue.

@Akycha: You’re just late to the party, which actually might be an advantage as it is now.

Redbeard said...

@Larisa-- Anything to keep the raid leaders from looking my way and saying, "Say, Quint, you do good damage.... We need to get you into a raid."