It’s Not that Dungeons are Hard…

It looks like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft developers are on the defensive. Apparently I’m not the only player that has problems with the new expansion of the game. Here’s a few quotes from the latest blog entries over at the WoW forums.

On the subject of Tol Barad;

[W]e want winning Tol Barad to be a challenge for the attacking faction… but we don’t want it to be impossible. Taking Tol Barad should be tough — but right now it’s a little bit too tough, and it’s something we’re actively working to balance. Earlier, we attempted to temporarily address the issue by offering a far better reward to the winning attackers: Honor Points awarded for successfully attacking were increased tenfold, but that was such a great incentive that it ultimately undermined the spirit of competition. Since then, the reward for winning as an attacker has been brought back down to a more reasonable amount.

I’ve played Tol Barad. More than once. Unless the defenders are AWOL, winning Tol Barad is a virtual impossibility. I don’t care how much they minimize the difficulty, this battleground is not fun. It’s a mental grind. I”m not even sure how it can be made to be fun. Perhaps some temporary defenses that could be erected to slow down the opposing faction, before they just run right in and take one of the three assets that you must possess simultaneously in order to win…? At least with Lake Wintergrasp there was a clear goal, a task that took some skill to achieve. This battleground is won or lost on attrition alone. When Alterac Valley battleground goes this way (when both teams fail to kill the opposition’s leader, and instead must whittle down the 600 reinforcements) it is a grind as well.

Then there’s this on the subject of dungeons, from the post Wow, Dungeons are Hard!;

The bottom line is that we want Heroics and raids to be challenging, and that is particularly true now while the content is new and characters are still collecting gear. They’re only going to get easier from here on out. We want players to approach an encounter, especially a Heroic encounter, as a puzzle to be solved. We want groups to communicate and strategize. And by extension, we want you to celebrate when you win instead of it being a foregone conclusion.

On the other hand, we don’t want you to stumble your way to victory. We don’t want you to be able to overwhelm bosses without noticing or caring what they’re doing. We don’t want healers to be able to make up for all of the mistakes on the part of the other players. While at the end of the day, dungeons may just be gussied up loot vending machines, we want you to do more than push a button to get the loot.

Ultimately, we don’t want to give undergeared or unorganized groups a near guaranteed chance of success, because then the content will feel absolutely trivial for players in appropriate gear who communicate, cooperate, and strategize.

We didn’t like that the Heroic dungeons in Lich King and early Naxxramas had become zerg-fests. It made the rewards feel like they weren’t earned. It made all rewards except the best-in-slot items feel transitory — why enchant or gem an item when you don’t need the performance boost and you’ll quickly replace it anyway? Furthermore, it set the expectation that everyone would eventually earn all best-in-slot items rather than those being rare and treasured goals. It made class abilities feel less useful and interesting. Who needs that crowd-control or survivability talent when nothing is hurting you? Who needs a mana-conservation talent if you’re never going to run out of mana? Who needs a crit talent if your heals often overheal anyway?

Finally, the encounters, even the bosses, ended up having a sameness to them because you could ignore their mechanics. It didn’t matter — in fact, you didn’t even notice — if the dragon breathes or silences or drops a void zone. The fights all felt the same.

First off, it’s not that the dungeons are hard, it’s that they are too long. It’s not that the dungeons are hard, it’s that the rewards aren’t great enough to make it worthwhile to run them, especially if you are healing.

There’s a new philosophy afoot in the healing sphere of WoW called triage healing. While this isn’t explicitly mentioned in the first few pages of the post, what triage means is that you let the DPS that does the least damage and takes the most healing…. die. That’s it in a nutshell. There isn’t enough mana to keep everyone alive so some DPS will die in almost any encounter. This is how it always has been in raid encounters. Most raiders understand the vagaries of healing priorities. But. Combine this with a PUG (pick up group) and DPS that never does anything but DPS dungeons, and you’ve got a potential of being kicked at every encounter that results in player deaths. Considering how much pressure there is on healers to start with (it is the most difficult job in a dungeon, you always have 5 potential targets to work on) combined with having to hear Healer fail! repeatedly, right before being kicked from a group, you might be able to understand why dungeon queues are nearly an hour long. So much for the Dungeon Finder and PUGs.

The reason the WotLK (Wrath of the Lich King) dungeons are boring and blend together is not so much that they were easy when we first started doing them; it’s that Blizzard has set the standard for endgame play as a daily random heroic dungeon run and a daily random battleground victory. That’s it. If you are gearing and interested in raiding, that is what you do. This is 2/3rd’s of the WotLK endgame, which included the Argent Tournament dailies in addition to the two randoms. The Tol Barad dailies (probably intended to replace the Tournament dailies) are functionally not available for the faction that doesn’t own Tol Barad, so can’t be counted on.

After you’ve run the same 16 dungeons for two years, as an overgeared 80, things seem to be a bit bland in hindsight. Cataclysm though, is worse. Nine dungeons instead of 16, dungeons which must be run 2o time for each piece of gear (100 points per run /22oo points per piece) thats two runs for each dungeon per piece of gear, 17 potential slots, the possibility of no drops in any given dungeon being an upgrade for any armor currently equipped…

…Dungeons which are generally longer and significantly harder than the previous dungeons, with rewards that are not scaled up to meet the extra time/effort invested. 680 hours invested to gain enough points to get fully geared for raiding, and that’s if the dungeons aren’t complete failures, in which case you get nothing for your two hours.

I would mention professions as a gearing option, but that would just be silly. The professions are clearly included simply to give the professional some kind of buff to apply to point gained gear, because the gearing choices are laughable at best, and insulting at worst. There really aren’t any other methods to acquire gear outside of random battleground and dungeon runs. Is it any wonder that the battleground queues are all quite short these days? Battlegrounds give points, even when you loose.

The casual player doesn’t have a hope in hell of being able to meet the requirements for playing this game at endgame. I’m not sure why any of them should bother. Why were the heroic dungeons from the previous expansions not all updated to cataclysm levels? None of them serve any purpose anymore. With the addition of the dungeons from Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, at least there would be some potential variety and reward for reaching endgame. Professions that actually provide gearing options would be nice too, and would give the casual player the potential for getting gear without having to invest a significant portion of their lives.

I can already hear the QQ comments bubbling up, and that brings us to the last point I want to make in this post. That is the community, or rather, the general lack of community when it comes to realm wide chat channels and cross-realm PUGs. Everywhere you go in the Warcraft world there is a general lack of civility. Having honed my teeth in CompuServe chatrooms in the 90’s, I’m not impressed with or threatened by bluster. Still, every complaint about the game on forums designed to air complaints is met with hostility. Every group encounter seems to be dominated by the emotionally crippled child that thinks that yelling about failures is going to solve some issue, or by grimfaced elitists that kick people at the slightest provocation (guilty as charged) because that’s the only way to exert any control in the group. Strategize? I’ve had groups fall apart from simply having a question about a fight be asked. There’s another wasted two hours. There is no effective tool in game to police the community, no way for the average player to flag other players for behavior that deserves demerits, no realistic method for letting Blizzard know of violations without taking the time (and generally getting kicked as AFK, Away From Keyboard, in the process) to fill out a form. Seriously, is it that hard to understand the need for basic community policing tools?

…Oh, and while your at it, how about a quest history?

I don’t see myself playing this game in two years. I looked forward to the progression of WotLK, and while I just finished Christie Golden’s book The Shattering and loved it (I also think that any player that doesn’t read it is missing out on essential game lore) what I find myself wishing for when I log on is; to play that game, in that world in the book. Instead I find myself here, with 9 dungeons I dread, a server-wide battleground I have no hope of winning, and the resounding echos of healer fail in my ears as I watch the load screen deposit me back at my hearth point. I don’t see myself putting up with that longer than the date when my current subscription expires.

Posted here on the forums.

Author: RAnthony

I'm a freethinking, unapologetic liberal. I'm a former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. I'm a happily married father. I'm also a disabled Meniere's sufferer.

Attacks on arguments offered are appreciated and awaited. Attacks on the author will be deleted.

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