They Killed Flappy Bird, Didst Thou not Hear?

Summary: Flying was a mistake. It was a design flaw in TBC.  Blizzard lacked the vision to realize the game would last beyond one expansion ((I’m really not making that up, they didn’t expect it to be so popular.)) and so they painted themselves into a corner at the end of TBC by giving everyone the ability to fly, and it went from neat end of game feature to automatic entitlement in the next.

When WotLK came along, the "reason" we couldn’t fly in Northrend at first was so thin, so lame, that we actually mocked them, and for good reason.  And thus has it ever been for the following expansions, as they continue to come up with lame, stupid "reasoning" ((Hint: no actual reasoning to be found.)) to "justify" ((To them, not us.)) keeping us on the ground until we’ve narfled the Garthok ((Def. #2 slays me.)), just because they don’t want us ignoring all that beautiful artwork and masterful questlining they’ve done.

A further unintended side-effect is that they’ve never learned how to create a zone with flying in it.  You may have noticed, Blizz uses the landscape to push you where it wants you to go. Impassable mountain ranges, big tree trunks, bloodthirsty troll guards, etc.  You avoid that which is impassable or inconvenient, and end up in an area that they want you to be. Flying mounts negate all that, you violate every control they put in place, children are left unattended, dogs and cats cohabitate, and other terrible things happen as an effect.

I don’t know if they’ve even tried, but I have yet to see a zone where flying was properly factored in to the flow of the zone’s "experience", and, as such, it looks to anyone that’s looking as if they don’t have a clue how to design a zone, period. Twilight Highlands – who remembers how unpleasant it was to slog through the first time versus the second time, when you got flying for the whole tribe and your alts just skidded around in the sky without a care in the world?  That’s the difference in how the zone comes across with and without flying.

So flying’s broken the game, and they won’t or can’t adjust the game to make flying work out as a part of the game ((Well, every now and then they try flying mobs that will knock you out of the sky, but as soon as the expansion moves far enough along, they remove that. Say hello to the birdies over Halfhill for me.  If they pay you any attention.)), therefore all we get is "U No Fly Heer" zones and collective years of wasted effort on their parts as entire zones turn into flat, two-dimensional tabletop adventures that have a scattering of completely avoidable mobs.

Clearly, flying must die.

There are three possible paths, as I see it.

  • They can remove flying from the game completely, admit it was a mistake, soak up the abuse ((For the kind of money they’re getting, they can manage to soak up a LOT of abuse and be just fine.)), and move on.
  • They can remove flying from the current content, allowing it in all previous expansion areas, but controlling it in the current.
  • They can bloody well learn how to put together a zone with flying taken fully into account.

As a gaming purist, I am in favor of the "nuke it from orbit" approach, mostly (a) because I have seen no evidence that option #3 is even possible. I’d rather they spent scarce resources on something that they have a reasonable chance to accomplish, meaning (b) I also have my doubts as to whether they can pick up all the loose ends in the case of option 2.

I’m not in favor of removing flying simply because I have the blackest of evil hearts and enjoy seeing others suffer ((I might, but it’s not germane to the situation.)), I’m in favor of it because it makes for a better game.

  • They spend less time trying to account for ((And failing, and giving up on.)) people flying around whatever feature they’re working on.
  • They spend less time trying to negotiate the precise moment in the expansion or player’s life that the ban gets lifted.
  • They spend less time tracking down bugs that might crop up because someone found a niche where they CAN fly in ((A feature not implemented won’t cause bugs in its own right.)).
  • Players play the game, rather than ignore it on the way to whatever corner-cased endgame feature they need to twink on ((And maybe players leave the game over this. I’m not concerned over the quality of people that lets something like this put them over the top. I just aren’t.)).
  • The designers put more thought and interest into game features because they realize that there are far fewer ways for players to blow them off.
  • You actually "accomplish" something yourself.

It amazes me that people can’t keep things civil on this.  A friend of mine has been getting abuse over her opinion on this.  Listen here, cheeto-breath.  When all you have to fall back to is abuse, you lose. You’ve already lost.  Everyone can see it, you have added nothing relevant to the argument.  You’re nothing but a hater, and we all know about haters.


That’s right, J. D.  ((Doing selfies Old Skool.)) 

You’d know better than most.

And the only way to deal with the haters is to let them go hate on the only person that loves them – themselves.  So, any person they unfollow is, really, better off for it – though blocking the haters is better, since that whey they can’t sleaze back into your life later without your permission.

I’ve not said much about this before, because others have done a much better job of getting the point across. But it seems as if some people don’t do "points." 

Or something.


Posted on March 16, 2014, in Ain't no party like a Blizzard Forum party cause a Blizzard Forum party don't stop, Broken promises and shattered dreams, Game mechanics, Haters gonna hate, The future is scary. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I love flying. I can’t in the “real world,” and when I am soaring on a pretend dragon or fairy-winged creature, I feel amazing. Nothing to do with content, questing, or anything: I just love it. Can’t that be reason enough?


    • I truly sympathize, and wish that it was possible for this thing to be possible without ruining the game. And if theyd figure out how to do proper flying zones, it would be no problem at all. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Even WoW isn’t so “theme park” that just flying around and being happy is enough to keep it running.

      Lots of things are fun that aren’t good for you. Every now and then we trade off on that. Seems like the optimum would be “can’t fly in the expansion content, but you can in the old stuff that everyone wants to bypass anyway.” I have real doubts they can pull that off without creating more convolution than we already have.


      • I am curious and confused by your sympathy, although it is lovely – does this mean you’re working for Blizzard now and trying to let me down gently? LOL I am a grown-up, and know that some things that are fun aren’t good for me. I also know that flying alone won’t ‘save’ a game, and didn’t say that. I simply offered I love it. Having said that, I will offer I hope we players can at Level 100.


        • I guess what I’m trying unsuccessfully to say is that I’m sorry that it might be necessary to lose something you like in my perverted views of the situation. It’s an imperfect MMO world, and mayhaps there are tradeoffs to be made.

          I don’t really feel you need to worry about it though. Full-on removal of flight is, in my cynical opinion, simply beyond what Blizz is capable of doing.


  2. I go back and forth on this one. There are places where flying was awesome and sometimes necessary. Like flying up to Skettis or Netherwing Ledge. The sky islands in Nagrand. That place to the North of Hellfire where the world boss sat. I actually think TBC did flying better than any of the following expansions (never actually flew in Pandaria, however). I also loved flying around Storm Peaks and Icecrown – those were large-scale zones that I feel were designed with flight in mind.

    I think the best compromise would a mix of 1 and 3. Make some zones that are designed specifically for flight. Give people challenges that require them to get on their bird and explore the skies, or mountains, or whatever. Think up some lame excuse why people can’t fly in other zones (demonic haze over the land, patrols that shoot you down unmercifully, canons that blast you out of the sky, Deathwing’s cousin patrolling). If done right, you could even create flying “highway” where people could enjoy some limited flying in those zones. Maybe like an underwater breath gauge that runs out while flying, and you have to make it to a beacon to recharge.


    • Those are many excellent examples of how Blizz put thought into making flight a gating mechanism to keep the scrubs out of the business of those that had made it all the way to 70 and got their mounts.

      I’m not entirely sure I buy the Wrath zones as having thought put into them vis-a-vis flight, though flying did make them less painful. Flight didn’t do anything to gate there – even sites inaccessable without it had alternate methods – Getting to Thorim or Ulduman, for example.

      The problem I have with half-assed “reasons” is pretty clearly documented. If it’s so hard to suspend disbelief that I openly mock them, they’ve done a poor job. I always feel like I’m sitting across the table from a used car salesman. Nobody likes being played. Any reason for keeping flight in some form but not across the board has to be set in granite, firmly held and consistently enforced or it becomes another joke on somebody’s blogcast.


  3. Admittedly, those were pretty silly reasons for restricting flying, but there are examples that work better. There are several elements that can make flying more exciting, and most of the ones I can think of come from City of Heroes. I mean, you can’t have a create-your-own superhero game without allowing people to fly. Those are: 1. big zones, designed in three dimensions (give people a reason to explore the air – see Nagrand); 2. danger at all levels (in CoH, it was flying mobs that patrolled areas, turrets that could do significant damage); 3. some forced claustrophobia (dense forests, caves, large buildings). Flying, or super-jumping (Yay!), was still the best way to get around, but flying was much more engaging than get on mount, bypass everything, do quest.

    As for using flying as a gating mechanic, I think it worked well in TBC. There was still the sense of exploration and discovery following getting level-capped, and there were living, active areas that you could only get to by flying. I think that is one of the stronger reasons for having flying.

    As you pointed out, Blizzard has never once been one for intelligently creating a three dimensional space or giving us a compelling, balanced mix of reasons to fly and to run. Point is, it could be done, but probably not in WoW.


    • Honestly, I never really felt any significant vibes from CoH’s flying – it was just a power that SOME toons got, but not all – I had one that did the power jump thing instead, another that did the floaty thing instead. Yes, there were mobs that would engage you if you floatythinged around too much, so “control” was in some way maintained. In WoW, you can fly over dangerous areas. In CoH, you would get shot down if you tried. And maybe that’s all that we need here.

      The remaining problem is that it is like a genie in a bottle thing; once it gets out, they can’t put it back in comfortably. They have to resort to “you can’t fly here because ANCIENT MYSTICAL FIELD NO TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN THE LAST ONE”.


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