Do you want cheese with that whine?
Oct 19, 2007 22:08:53

Blood ElfWhen The Burning Crusade came out it sold more copies in the first 24 hours than any other pc game ever has. It gave us two new playable races - the Blood Elves and the Draeni. Along with these new races came new starting zones that covered the first 20 levels. While both of these starting zones were an absolute blast to play, they also beleaguered one question. What about the mid game levels? Enjoying the wonderful new starting areas that Blizzard Entertainment gave us meant having to level up new characters through the SAME...OLD...LEVELS. It meant you had to repeat levels 20 through 60 AGAIN.

So this time the 800 pound gorilla really did listen. One of the Blizzard "Blues", Nethaera, made the following post on the WoW forums:
"As many of you already know we've been working on changes designed to improve various aspects of leveling for those making their way to level 60. These improvements, available in patch 2.3 will come in many forms and should significantly contribute to a more fluid and enjoyable leveling experience .The first notable change was to simply reduce the amount of experience needed each level by approximately 15% between levels 20 and 60" - Nethaera

By and large this change has been received very well. Many of us, myself included, are not only grateful for the change, but pleased that Blizzard has listened to the players - really listened this time.

But this has not been the case with everyone. It was not long after this change was announced that some of the whines began. One complaint on the forums went this way:
"wow, thats great, oh wait, too bad i've already wasted all my time lvling my alt to 53, i guess i get to pat myself on the back for doing it the hard way??" - Evanescena

There have always been complaints about WoW being too easy. This is nothing new. The new easier leveling curve just gave a reason for the same tired complaints to be aired again. This is a complaint I have always failed to understand. There is no denying that Blizzard has that certain "Je Ne Sais Qua" - Fifty thousand Frenchman may occasionally be wrong but nine MILLION paying residents of Azeroth aren't.

Complaining that Wow isn't difficult enough is like renting Star Wars and complaining that it isn't great drama. If I want heavy handed drama I will go rent an Ingmar Bergman movie. If I want a game that is difficult to level I will go play EQ1. If I want a game that is so difficult to learn you need a degree in business to get a real handle on it, I will go back to playing Eve Online.

The Blizzard Entertainment team knows their market. There is no doubt about it. Here is what Rob Pardo had to say about their player base:
"A lot of the growth in the user base happens naturally by continuing to work on the game. It also happens through word of mouth, like the content, if you look at World of Warcraft (WoW), I don't think that we need to go through a lot of effort to pull in this new group of players; it's more of that "long tail" of players. You see this with a lot of games that are popular over time like people playing The Sims today are not necessarily the same people that bought it when it launched years ago." - Rob Pardo in On the Art of 'Craft in GameDaily.Biz

Even so, Blizzard listened to the gamers who have come back to the game or have been playing for a long time. You may not be able to please all of the players all of the time, but Blizzard is trying to please a large sector of them. If you aren't new to the game, but want to enjoy the new content with a new alt Blizzard is about to give you a way to do it.

This time, the 800 pound gorilla of MMO really did listen.

Thanks Blizzard,

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Oct 19, 2007 22:08:53 CST (comments: 5)


'But would they really do what it takes?' by Osiris
Submitted on 2007-10-29 11:39:33 CST
Interesting post, I have pretty strong feelings about World of Warcraft's Level 20-60 content. I have never been an altaholic, but World of Warcraft defintely does not lend itself to a player like myself in terms of leveling alts, either. Making it easier to level from 20 to 60 isn't whats going to intice me to playing an alt. My character is a level 70 hunter, and I don't have time for the hard core rading, so where does that leave me? Logging in once a week to do kara raids with my close group of friends, and not logging into WoW the other 6 days of the week.
What Blizzard needs to realize is that even the altaholics are sick of doing the same content, and they don't neccessarily enjoy the end game raiding content that they seem bent on focusing on. There needs to be new zones and instances for players level 20-60. Burning Crusade did not focus on this, and it seems neither will the upcoming expansion Wrath of the Lich King. So it doesn't look like there is any hope of new content for World of Warcraft players who don't or can't get involved in the hard-core raiding end game that Blizzard is herding its players towards. Well, for me atleast, all they've accomplished is herding me away from WoW and towards Tabula Rasa. The only thing keeping my interest in WoW is the upcoming Zul'Amman, lets hope its enough to keep me interested.

'The Intended Audience' by Scott
Submitted on 2007-10-29 18:25:31 CST
The main goal of the 20-60 leveling speed increase is to get new players to WoW catching up to the 60+ content and players quicker, and have them at a appropriate level for future expansions.

If they didn't do this and just kept layering on another 10 lvl's with new instances the barrier to entry for new players would get too high as the availability of low level groups keeps getting smaller and the necessary XP to catch up with the majority of the playerbase keeps getting larger.

Last I heard they were going to re-itemize and scale the sub-60 dungeons/instances again but they're main goal is always going to be continually adding new content and expansions on the upper tail of their latest release.

This has been a good move by Blizzard since it was announced months ago and will be a decent aid for new players. I just don't see how anyone can expect them to devote the resources necessary to implement sub-60 content for alts as I can't see it being used enough to justify the expense of implementing it vs 60+ content that adds so much more value to the game as its grows.

As for the complainers that it makes WoW too "easy" they're unfortunately in the old EQ mentality of time = achievment, that an investment of time performing a mundane task in a MMO earns you advancement. I've seen this group time and time again in nearly every MMO beta clamoring for it to stay hard core (the EQII launch was case in point). The only real point of MMO's requiring so much time is finding a perfect medium where the time spent makes the player feel a sense of acomplishment, nothing too easy, nothing too long/hard to make it a chore/grind, of course all the while requiring enough time to keep the customer paying their subscription every month...

'But what about the casual gamer?' by Osiris
Submitted on 2007-10-29 20:58:28 CST
Scott, I certainly here what you are saying. But I do remember that Everquest released expansions that were not just end game focus. For example, Rise of Kunark allowed you to play a new race on an entirely new continent. So its totally in the realm of possibility for Blizzard (which definitely has a bigger team for WoW then EQ did) to release new content that is not end game focused.
My main point is that if they just keep releasing more end game content, it'll just be more of the same. If they released some mid-game content it'd add an alternative for players who don't or can't spend time raiding and don't want to rehash the same quests and zones again. Even throwing in 3 or 4 instances to span the mid level range would do alot to spice up WoW again.
I believe as you suggest Blizzard just feels its economically more advantageous for them to focus on end game content, since those players tend to be the ones who play the longest. The only problem is that you risk alienating the more casual gamers that were attracted to WoW's accessibility in the first place. It just feels a bit like a 'bait and switch' mentality.
We'll get ya hooked with accessible, bite sized gaming, but once you hit level 70, you are going to need to spend several hours a night if you want to get involved in the content we put out for your level.

'MMOs are about change' by Moorgard
Submitted on 2007-10-30 12:54:02 CST
"What Blizzard needs to realize is..."

Sorry, but whenever I see someone start a sentence with these words, I chuckle.

Blizzard doesn't have to realize *anything*. They're the top dog, and their growth defies any MMO model before it. No matter what comments get made on message boards or blogs, the proof is in the pudding. Any fundamental change to the game is a gamble of messing with something that is proven to work better than anything before it. I would not be surprised if, for every voice advocating change, there is a counter voice saying "Hello? 9 million subs. You want to risk fucking this up why?"

That said, every person who works on a game that goes out the door wishes they had more time to make it better, and MMOs are one of the few types of games where devs actually get a chance to do so. Of course people at Blizzard look at old zones and say "Damn, if I knew then what I know now, that zone would be so much more fun." What's rare is to actually be given the time to make such changes happen.

While there are certainly marketing considerations when changes like this get made, they're just part of the equation. Wanting to improve the game isn't part of some evil plan; it's a natural result of every developer's desire to make their game the best it can be.

'Alternative Content at the Endgame' by Scott
Submitted on 2007-10-30 14:07:25 CST

I totally agree, it is disheartning to see the lack of grind-free non raiding content for Casuals, ie. good solid quests with rich content but again Blizzards standard method of operation for that seems to only implement them in their expansions such as The Burning Crusade, and even then they're consumed entirely too fast (for BC is was within a matter of 1-2 months for most players).

That gives the distinct impression even with the largest dev team in the industry they simply can't produce enough quality quest content to keep casuals occupied, hence their reliance on repeatable content like raid dungeons and rep grinds.

I really don't think the MMO industry has an answer for that. They can try to mix in the automaticly generated quests like those from Anarchy Online or City of Heroes inbetween the unique storyline quests but the randomly generated ones just feel cheap and about unrewarding, not much different than rep grind quests.

Honestly, I will continue driving home the point that MMO must advance more towards player driven content with open ended sandbox play, that's the only way to truly solve the long tail problem for a MMO at this time.

But as Moorgard pointed out with about 2 million US/Euro subscribers and 7 million asian their problem isn't really a major problem in the big scheme of things. I would never expect more than incremental changes, and if they make anything major it'll be in a new MMO or sequel to the existing one.

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