Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Tweetaclysm

Blizzard have abandoned useful forms of communication with its playerbase in favour of Twitter, so the unwashed masses who don't have an attention span sufficient enough to decipher more than 140 characters can get some insight into the developers' minds.

I'm not going to deconstruct every single question that was posed, because some of them are horrendously awful (Are Worgen going to have mounts?)

I will however be coming out and blanketing the stage with more of my trademark pessimism because of a lot of what Blizzard has said is complete nonsense. So without further ado, let's delve head-first into the sea of rubbish.

Q: In the future will hard modes have greater fidelity like Sarth, Sarth+1, Sarth+2, Sarth+3 rather than the Binary Normal/Hard?
A: Generally we have learned that hard modes should be more binary, but that doesn’t mean we will never do something like Sarth 3 drakes again.

No. This is bad. Binary hard modes are uninteresting and generally don't make any sense. Mimiron and Vezax were implemented well, the other binary hard modes (especially in ToC) have been terrible. And with Icecrown, they're doing away with the triggered hard modes altogether, so you'll be toggling switches in your interface to activate hard modes. Right. Ignoring the fact that this makes absolutely no sense in the lore (I just changed something in my game options and now the boss hits twice as hard!), it's simply less intuitive and fun.

Looking at Flame Leviathan's hard mode for instance, it was initially designed on the PTR so that you would have to talk to the Lore Keeper of Norgannon which would activate the encounter on hard mode (there was no option on Brann Bronzebeard). This would require you to clear all of the trash and kill all towers in order to do FL on normal mode, which rewards the guilds that are able to do the hard modes by making the trash less tedious. This was scrapped, and players got the option to start the encounter on normal mode straight away. What did the players that can do the hard modes get in 3.2? Another version of the same boring, repetitive instance to clear, making their experience even more tedious. This is the opposite of what needs to happen. Hard modes need to be used in a way that changes the feel of the instance for players. They need to be able to say "Awesome, we can do hardmode now, so we no longer have to do X", in the same way as you used to be able to with Flame Leviathan. More importantly, players need to have incentive to keep doing the hard modes. This didn't happen with Ulduar, there was nothing positive to be had from repeating hard modes week after week. And it's not happening with ToC either. Icecrown looks to be more of the same.

Q: Any plans for a gated system in IIC like in Colliseum that prevents us from doing hardmodes from day 1?
A: We do have a system that unlocks bosses similar to how we handled TOC and Sunwell. We are restricting hard modes to raid leaders that have defeated Arthas in regular mode.

Mixed feelings about this. The second part is good, the first part, not so good. Arbitrarily gating the encounters is not an adequte substitute for having difficult encounters which can self-sufficiently act as gates, especially not in an instance the size of Icecrown. It's understandable that this content needs to last (probably around 8 months) as it's the last raid dungeon before Cataclysm, but it needs to be handled differently. While the normal modes of Ulduar were bested in the first week, Yogg+0, the last of the hard modes, wasn't beaten until a month before 3.2 came out. The same thing needs to apply to Icecrown, by making the hard modes truly hard, it can last the distance.

There was quite a bit of interesting stuff in the Blizzard comments with reference to Cataclysm, which looks to be shaping up quite nicely at the moment. But that's a year or so away. Let's just hope Icecrown lives up to its potential, for now.


1 comment:

  1. Well written post, really agree with your points on making hardmodes interesting/worthwhile.