WoW: The Running Game

A while ago Shamus posted a list of his WoW Nitpicks. Since I agree with most of them I’m not going to repeat them here. I just wanted to add few little nitpicks of my own. I still like the game, and I still enjoy playing it and I’m currently hoarding money so that I can afford my first mount as soon as I hit lvl 30 which makes it exciting. Having that mount will make the game play experience so much better and I’ll tell you why.

For the most part WoW is a running game. You run to a location, you kill bunch of things, you run back to the town, and then you run right back. Here is a very common multi-stage quest scheme that you encounter over, over and over again:

  1. Go to the location 10 minutes of running away from the closest town accessible by flight path and kill 10 Creatures and get back to me
  2. Great! Now that you killed 10 of the creatures I want you to go back and collect Greater Creature Claws. These are only dropped by 1 in 20 Greater Creatures which spawn in the same area you just came back from. Oh, and I know that when you were there you killed like 600 of them, but they never dropped the claws. That’s because I didn’t give you this quest yet.
  3. Excellent! Now that you exterminated that spawning point 6 times over we are well on our way of eliminating the creature threat altogether. I just need you to run back to that spawn point once again and this time destroy 20 Creature Eggs for me.
  4. Splendid! The last thing I want you to do is to run back to that location kill the Big Creature Boss. I know you killed him 5 times already but it didn’t count yet. This time it will though.

Can you see the pattern here? The game loves to send you to a distant area, have you come back to a town to turn in the quest, only to be told to get right back where you came from. Sometimes you can take these quests in parallel but that’s usually more of an exception to the rule rather than the norm. There are multiple quests like that in the Barrens, in Stonetalon and in Thousand Needles – essentially all over the place in the 15-30 level zones.

A bit repetitive, isn’t it? If the creatures in question are beasts that can be skinned I actually don’t mind grinding the same spot over and over because then I’m actually turning profit. However most of the time these missions make you kill some sort of humanoid creatures that drops 20-40 copper and stupid gray items. Ok, sometimes they drop linen which I can sell with profit to low level alts of high level players. Still, not the best use of my day.

My second nitpick which is directly related to the first one is the fact that 98% of low level missions are variations on the same old theme known in the MMO circles as “kill 10 rats”. Only that rats become increasingly powerful mobs which force you to come up with new strategies. But you are still just killing assigned number of specific creature in just about every mission. There is just little variety. Sometimes you will get an escort quest where you have to defend someone and deliver them securely to some location. Sometimes you just get simple courier quests where you just need to deliver a package to a location, and collect quests where you have to find certain items and deliver them to someone. These are rare though. Most of the time you are just slaughtering your way through horde after horde of enemies.

The repetitive kill 10 rats style quests are a staple of MMO’s of course so WoW can’t be really faulted for it. And perhaps some of the higher level content, the instances and the Burning Crusade/Lich King stuff will be much more varied.

Anyway, these are the two aspects of the game that have been slightly annoying to me lately, on top of what Shamus already covered. The add-ins are there to help alleviate some of these annoyances – for example the Quest Helper like tools do a great job eliminating the frustration with vague quest directions. But the two things I mentioned above can’t really be fixed by a plugin – they are essentially core game mechanic that is a bit repetitive at least at the stage I’m at. I’m hopeful for the future though. :)

[tags]wow, world of warcraft, wow nipticks[/tags]

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16 Responses to WoW: The Running Game

  1. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Hey, I mentioned the same thing way, way back! :) Even worse is dying when fighting in the NE part of the Barrens, then rezzing all the way back in xroads, and having to run all the way back to your body…which happens alot with this sucky rogue character…

    Should have rolled another lock

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    I also love how the *closest* graveyard is always the one right on the other side of some impassible cliff face forcing you to take 15 minute detour. :P

    Perhaps this is because Hunter class is cheesy but at level 29 now I’m usually able to take on red mobs few levels above me (31-33) without just a little bit of effort as long as I’m fighting them one at a time, and I can take a breather in between to let my pet recuperate.

    I usually only die when I fuck up and pull in to many enemies, or accidentally steal aggro from my pet while fighting a high level mob or an elite and both my concussion shot and freeze trap are on a cool down.

    Or if I back into a respawned mob mob while trying to put some distance between me and the enemy I just pulled off my pet. In fact that last bit is probably the most common reason of death for me.

    I have yet to play a rogue but it’s something I want to try at some point.

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  3. Keith UNITED STATES Konqueror Debian GNU/Linux says:

    It’s been a bit since I’ve played WoW so is getting a mount at 30 a typo or has it been changed? I quit a few years ago but due to the incessant pleading of my friends and my curiosity for the changes brought on in The Burning Crusade, I played again for a few months at the end of last year up to mid-December.

    My biggest gripe, and the reason for my dual-exodus’, is the need for constant grinding. At lower levels it’s pretty straight forward: grind experience for levels, in the form of quests or just monsters. Once you hit the level cap, your options to further your character open up more but still consist of grinding. You can: (1) grind reputation in the form of quests or individual monsters for higher level, and rarer, primary and secondary skill recipes; (2) grind honor initially by participating in outdoor PvP or grinding battlegrounds and then you can move onto arena combat and grind that for higher-level PvP gear (keeping in mind that gear becomes obsolete fairly regularly as a new arena season is introduced requiring constant grinding to keep up); (3) grind end-game instances for high level PvE gear; (4) continue grinding quests for gold for a faster mount (used to be ~900ish gold for an epic land-based mount, now add in ~5000ish gold for an epic flying mount); (5) grind specific monsters for materials for crafting higher-level items such as for tailoring epic clothing (ex. grinding for motes (previously essences), etc.); (6) with TBC, you can now grind daily quests that can only be completed once per day for gold, reputation, or items (ex. once you hit 70 and get a flying mount, you’ll probably be visiting the Skettis area a lot); and plenty more options that I’m sure I’ve forgotten or otherwise failed to list. Plus there’s always the option of starting a new character for various reasons (to experience a new class or realizing you could more easily grind monsters solo with a different class) and starting all over with the initial quest/experience grinding.

    It’s not a bad game by any means but like anything can just get old after a while. I was a relatively casual player — I did do a few of the original end-game instances like Molten Core and Blackwing Lair for a few months but setting my schedule around the game for scheduled raids in the evening wasn’t my thing. I don’t know how grinding could be removed from the game completely and made any better or be replaced by something else, I’m not a game designer after all, and I know the nature of the game prohibits it from ever ending but after a year or two of playing off and on those are my observations and feelings.

    And now previewing this comment I’ve realized it’s entirely too long and could rival your original blog post in length but I’ve wasted this much time on it, I might as well post it in its entirety.

    Abstract of my post: my biggest WoW gripe: grinding, and is level 30 for obtaining a mount an error or has it been changed in the game?

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  4. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Mounts at level 30 are not a typo. The most recent patch changed the level requirement from 40 to 30 which I was very happy about. This was around 2 weeks ago but I have already seen quite a few level 30 players riding around on their mounts already.

    I’m pretty sure they were funded by their high level alts because it will take me some heavy griding to actually earn enough money with my low level character to actually afford one now.

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  5. Keith UNITED STATES Konqueror Debian GNU/Linux says:

    Wow, that’s pretty cool, it certainly helps easing up the time wasted on the running game then. They seem to definitely be trying to make it easier to level up quicker which I suppose is a good thing considering the level cap increases.

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  6. Shamus UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Every time I complain about this I get people telling me that “That’s the way the game is and if you don’t like it you should go play a different sort of game.”

    But I don’t think these games NEED to be quite this monotonous. To a certain extent MMOs can be judged on how well they conceal the underlying grind. Everquest was appalling at this. Later games have been better about it. WoW is (I’m told) the best so far at concealing the grind with interesting activities, but I think there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

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  7. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    It’s a typical fanboi reaction – WoW community is not the only one suffering from this plague. Same arguments are repeated ad nauseum by Microsoft fanboys, Linux fanboys and Apple fanboys alike. Hell, I even heard this argument applied to political discourse as in “If you don’t like what the government is doing, you are unpatriotic and should GTFO.”

    In every single case it is a silly knee-jerk reaction – nothing is perfect, and attacking anyone who openly criticizes inherent flaws in the system never really amounts to anything. Discussing flaws is always the first step towards improvements.

    If no one ever spoke up Blizzard would never bother actually including all the bug fixes, and small improvements (like the drop of the level req. for the mount). Let’s hope next patch does something about the drop rates, and bag space. :)

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  8. Keith UNITED STATES Konqueror Debian GNU/Linux says:

    “Let’s hope next patch …”

    Overall, I do think Blizzard’s patches keep WoW evolving in a positive way. Their patches often help keep it interesting and exciting with new content or changes to existing components. The interface updates that they’ve done over time have also been great. When I played again after the expansion, a lot of the addons I used to use were already built in.

    Sometimes a ‘balance change’ to your class can be frustrating because a skill you always used is now nerfed or altered drastically but it can force you to keep coming up with new ways to do things with your character. Having half your add-ons not work after a major patch, however, can also be a little maddening due to various interface changes.

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    This reminds me that I need to see if there is an update of Titan Panel available because after the patch I have a permanent GM ticket icon next to the minimap which is harmless but a bit annoying.

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  10. Keith UNITED STATES Konqueror Debian GNU/Linux says:

    Oh nice, I refreshed this page to see if there were any new replies and noticed your Twitter widget-thing had updated so having never messed with Twitter, I clicked it and read some of your past updates. Looks like if I had done it a little sooner I could have seen those from the 15th about the WoW patch with mounts at 30 and your then broken Quest Helper add-on. :P

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  11. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux says:

    First rule: if it’s no longer fun, walk away.

    [quote comment="9677"]It’s a typical fanboi reaction[/quote]

    Not really. I read your list of wants and Shamus’ list of wants and almost every one of them made me cringe. I’m not an uber-leet WoW-head, I can count the number of raids I’ve been on using just my fingers. But most of the demands kill something subtle and easy to miss.

    The thing both of you are forgetting is there’s a lot of game mechanics involved. Take the food thing – can’t eat a pie, so what? It’s a game mechanic, just like it doesn’t take hours to go from city to city. Does it really make a difference if it’s food instead of an unguent or potion? Would you really like a game where the realism demands that the intercontinental zeppelin took literal days to complete? Do you complain about chess because the castles can move or that queens have incredibly powerful movement that isn’t historically comparable?

    I mean sure, there are time sinks and they can be annoying, but on the other hand, your demand for a quest marker that tells you exactly where to go just scares me – so much for the joy of exploring. If you’re watching the minimap to see which way to go, you’re missing the actual zone, and one of the most impressive things of WoW is the immersion of each zone. I’ve had a go at an MMO that had ‘here is the quest dude’ and you just watch the minimap, which isn’t very immersive.

    Combining ‘I hate exploring’ and ‘I hate grinding’ basically means you want a game that’s a taxi service – go to point A, then head to point B… but still they can’t win because everyone hates drop or delivery quests regardless of how easy they are. If you want a game that’s just max level PvP, it’s out there and is called Guild Wars.

    There’s a lot of subtle game mechanics you’re both missing, largely because you both seem quite new to MMOs (level 37 in a much-accelerated levelling environment is still very much a newbie, especially if someone hasn’t seen many MMOs). A lot of the suggestions made have been tried and failed before. One example is ‘rez sickness’. Coming from other MMOs, the death penalty for WoW is absolutely worthless. It takes a lot of strategy and fear out of the game, and hence a lot of punch. Far from further weakening the death penalty, it should be increased for non-PvP deaths. Yes, you’re probably thinking I’m an insane fool right now. If that’s so, then you haven’t played an MMO where you actually are at risk when you fight – it’s a lot more thrilling.

    Early MMOs such as EQ overdid the penalty and it could be crushing, but nothing is at risk in WoW. As for not wanting to do a corpse run and just rezzing… exactly how little challenge do you want out of a game? I’m not trying to have a go at anyone, but the idea of ‘making things easy’ in what is already a fairly easy game is a little odd. If someone’s not going to play because of rez sickness, there’s going to be something else equally minor that’ll prevent them playing as well anyway.

    Have a read of some of the responses on twenty-sided and you’ll see a few more in-depth explanations of why things are the way they are. Sure, things can improve and there are a lot of time sinks, but game mechanics and game balance are subtle and elusive creatures.

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  12. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux says:

    [quote comment="9681"]I can count the number of raids I’ve been on using just my fingers. [/quote]

    I mean as a layman would, not a master of binary, by the way :)

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  13. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    I think normal computer RPG’s are a lot better at masking the grinding. Again (I know I am repeating myself…), Morrowind and even Oblivion are doing this in a much cleaner way. The interactions with the environment and the NPC’s are less violent and more diverse. The repetition exists, but it is less felt. Perception is everything…

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  14. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @varci – hmm… Good points here. I don’t agree with all of them but I see your side of the issue.

    To tell you the truth, the food thing doesn’t annoy me that much anymore. It is a mechanic as you say and you are right – it works. It is a bit silly, but oh well. In fact this is my stance for most of these things anyway.

    Those are just minor nitpicks. This is what personally annoyed us, but not to the point where we are about ready to stop playing. These things would make the game better for me personally. But I guess different people look for different things in a game.

    I guess the problem here is that I’m a casual player – I play few hours a day on the weekends and at most an hour or two in the weekday evenings. I don’t really want a challenging game. I want a fun, and entertaining experience. I want to use the little time I have to play to minimize the annoyances and maximize my enjoyment to get the most of the game.

    What I don’t like for example is aimless wandering. I agree that the world is actually incredibly well done and full of detail. But I get frustrated when I try to find some quest objective and I end up running back and forth through the same area because of vague directions. I want to do my exploring on my own terms.

    I’m not really always following the way point on the map, but it is there for me if I need it. Sometimes I see something interesting in the distance and go exploring and discover a lot of new stuff. But that’s because I’m in the mood to mess around and explore. Sometimes I just want to knock off few lower level quests really fast for the XP/money the reward. At those times times I like to know exactly where I should be going. This is just how I like to play. If I don’t have a waypoint or a plugin I just put my laptop next to my monitor and look up the directions for a given quest online. I don’t like feeling lost, and when I can’t locate something I get frustrated.

    I guess you would consider it “cheating” but to me this is how I get more fun out of my game.

    Oh, and from what I know the death penalty in Everquest was painful, and it would likely make me stop playing that game. To me the rez-sickness in WoW is just fine. It is a time waster, but I actually don’t consider it that much of a deal – I just use the time to go to the town, unload my loot restock on ammo and etc…

    I think you are right in that some of our collective nitpicks probably can never be fixed because of game balance issues. Complex systems such as WoW are very hard to balance, and even a small change in a game mechanic can throw it of and create unfair advantages for some people or totally nerf mechanics others relied on for years.

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  15. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Never touched an MMO, so I know little of the esoterics, but the thing with food… wouldn’t a system based on percentages of your max. health work quite nicely?

    Everyone gets to eat the various foods without it being unbalancing, and the epic pie of much healing remains the “best” food as you level up… I guess the only gripe then would be reduced variety in the foods you eat since it’s easiest to just carry around a stack of the 100% heal food.

    Well… I have no answer to that, but it would at least mean that you aren’t at any point told that you need more experience of killing stuff in order to eat a delicious pie :mrgreen:

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