To illustrate my point

An article on WoW Insider takes one of my points about the character boost to 90 issue and expands it way the hells out to a mathematically precise word count of "large".  Anne states far more effectively than I have about one of the unpleasant side effects of the leveling "squish" – the way that the "story" of the game loses its cohesiveness due to the way that people are rushed through levels most expeditiously.

Anne provides a lot of good suggestions to address this self-inflicted wound, though the possible solution that Anne’s article leaves out is this: stop messing with the older levels. Stop messing with the XP scaling, stop messing with XP returns, stop dropping level requirements.

In short, don’t compress the leveling process at lower levels. Anyone that wants to rush through the 1-90 (or whatever) experience can go buy a boost.  This is my primary reason for wanting the boost in the first place. I really don’t give two damns about anything else, I just want to see the lore of the game coupled back with the leveling experience.

Unfortunately, that’ll never happen. The first reason is that Blizz just doesn’t have the PR capacity to handle the negative feedback without making a mess of things. They can’t even announcing an expansion without offending 1/2 the population of the gaming world, so let’s assume they just won’t be able to manage the awareness and deft touch required to make an unpopular decision and then weather the storm.

The other reason is that resources would be required in order to reset the leveling experience back to that which it was in the first place. In the case of the 1-60 process, they don’t even have an "original" setting to go back to, since they were redesigned in the first place to provide an accelerated leveling experience.  The old 1-60 leveling process was eliminated in toto when they were redesigned more or less completely from the ground up.

And those resources are just not going to be provided. They’re already pushing things with something as fundamental as introducing new character models with an expansion based on previously established lore (rewrit). They don’t have the bandwidth to also re-adjust and re-write all the old leveling content. There is no big red lever marked "reset to previous status", and, even so, they’d still need to test it, and they probably don’t have time or resources for that, either.

But Anne’s article truly does illustrate the folly of trying to mask a defect in design with workarounds. Eventually they pile up to the point where you can’t help but notice the flaws, no matter what your skill or perception level is. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that you can get from 1-60 without seeing but 3/4 of a single continent (rather than all of two continents).

Maybe somebody’s watching that will be implementing the next generation MMO that we all go to play, and they’ll not make the same fundamental mistakes that Blizzard has made.  Maybe they’ll offer level boosts to the "threshold" at the very first expansion, rather than five in.

Or, if it’s Blizzard and "Titan", maybe they’ll make all the same mistakes all over again.

Won’t that be fun.

Posted on January 27, 2014, in Broken promises and shattered dreams, Expansions, Game mechanics, The future is scary. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You hint at this already but I think you’re assigning blame when there isn’t really any to assign.

    Hypothetical Word of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Pre-Patch 6.0 Patch Notes
    * When pre-ordering WoD you will instantly receive your free level 90 character boost
    * Additional level 90 character boosts will be available in both the in-game store and web store
    … various mage nerfs …
    … after a massive bloat reduction, hunters are left with only 7 useful buttons, one of which is still snake trap …
    … warlocks are transitioned to a sky blue colour scheme …
    … rogues are switched to a mana-based resource system …
    … disc becomes a dps spec for priests …
    * To provide a better leveling experience for those who choose to level rather than boosting, we are reverting some of the previous leveling XP requirement reductions to increase leveling time by roughly a factor of 2. This should allow you to more completely quest through zones while still receiving quest/kill credit while participating in the full storylines

    The first few thousand players will skim through and will find something related to their class to bitch about before they get to that last point but at some point, someone is going to get that far and make the connection… IF YOU DON’T BUY BOOSTS IT WILL NOW TAKE LONGER TO LEVEL THAN IT DID BEFORE. PAY OR DIE (which is just as valid a comment as PAY TO WIN in this context so I don’t think I’m exaggerating that reaction).

    Once that gets out on the Twitter, most people (presumably minus you, me and maybe 3 others) who didn’t notice it originally will lose their damned MINDS. It’ll be MONTHS before we’re back to Obamacare (“GODDAMNIT, HUOLON DIED BEFORE I GOT THERE AGAIN. THANKS OBAMA!!1!”) snarks in general chat in-game again, all anyone will talk about is how Blizzard is FORCING PLAYERS TO BUY BOOSTS. Or die. 4 reel.

    I don’t see a single way that Blizzard could avoid this reaction… that isn’t in any way a shot at Blizzard, it’s just what would happen. The universe would implode, metaphorically speaking.

    Could they have implemented the boost earlier? Maybe, maybe not, we really don’t know… but they didn’t and they have to deal with the current reality. You’re in charge… what would you do if you were them that’s better than what they’ll end up doing (introduce boosts, not touch the level rate)? In the pre-expansion (post-expansion) lull would you risk announcing that XP requirements will increase for leveling and risk a massive backlash at a time when they have to be the most careful to keep people subscribed?


    • I’m not sure I’m assigning blame as much as noting the neglect that has piled up over the years, and the resulting clamor as a result. Or, at least I think that’s where you’re seeing that (honestly I’m a little baffled).

      But. As you so cleverly noted, if they DID do this, people would lose their shit, and I don’t think Blizz has the fine touch to deal with it without being offensive at best. That doesn’t really discourage me from wanting, but I know how unlikely that’s going to be.

      It’s funny you mentioned that particular political mess, since we’ve seen that scenario play out recently in that same arena, and the results were pretty much as you predict here. “We’re removing the temporary tax breaks enacted by the Bush administration.” “OBAMA IS RAISING TAXES!!!!!1ONE” EXACTLY the same mindset, it seems to me.

      (And I’m not sure that Obama handled it any better, other than I’m pretty sure he won’t make any fag jokes).


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