Friday, November 7, 2008

Is WoW too complex for fun?

Wow is a tough game to play. Everything was Candyland for the first 30-40 levels or so. Then, my bags filled up, stats became important and I started to sweat a little just thinking about playing. Along came level 60 and TBC. Stats became even more important, there were more of them and marginal benefit graphs started popping up. I didn't know which gem to buy (still don't). I didn't know which enchants were the best. I did't know that enchants don't proc with weapon strikes when shapeshifted?

My /played vastly underestimates the time I spent gear-searching, theorycrafting and scheming over which rep to get, which dungeon loot to pursue and which attack rotation to use. All this time, I felt that my druid was a calico, clown-car of equipment, clothes, gems and profession junk.

My conclusion.....WoW is hard. What makes WoW hard?
1) too many choices for gear
2) too many spells
3) too many ways to modify gear

As the amount of choices increases, the potential for making errors in choosing gear inceases. Also the potential for making a character incredibly powerful also exists. What if you showed up in PvP without much stamina or resilence? What if you thought attack power was better than Agi for cat dps? The gap between those who can assimilate, crunch and optimize is growing. The result is that the damage output, tanking capacity and healing ability is very high for some and vastly unrealized for others. This is especially evident in PvP, where I am routinely getting 2-3 shotted by rogues after the introduction of glyphs- they must have been given some really good ones. And what is the story with warriors getting the spinning blender ability? Healers stand their ground while I dps and heal until someone arrives to help. I

Impressive. Most impressive.

Hopefully this chasm will be reduced to allow players with less time more access to fun in PvP and more chances of contributing toward PvE goals. Reducing the amount of gear choices available, labeling gear for specific use and labeling enchants, glyphs, inscriptions, potions and other gear for specific use would be very helpful.

To reduce the amount of time it takes to find these objects, it would be very nice to have a class/spec filter at the auction house that would allow one to see (when toggled) only those items that might be improvements for class and spec given existing gear.

Additionally, if we consider instance runs a kind of shopping with a chance of getting the desired drop, a system where a dungeon drops only bracers and main hand weapons or feet and trinkets would be preferable to the current system where all drops for any slot could occur for any class. The result of the current system is that without great gear lists, which there are many, significant amounts of time are required for gear searching before you even get to the instance and have to deal with low probability of your heart's desire actually dropping.

As for the casual approach to all of this, I am lucky to have a class that has great online forums and resources. There are gear lists that are reliably and accurately updated. If I didn't have these lists, I'd hope to find an addon that would compare what I have eqiupped to what I am considering for purchase or loot. The combination of Talented and Dr. Damage will accomplish this.

There, I've said it. I don't enjoy spending hours reading about how to play this game. My attempts to play more efficiently have result in many dry-eyed Firefox sessions, which isn't much fun either. However, after 2 years of playing and reading I have finally found the instruction manuals for my class, professions and so forth in the form of various web pages. I must give credit to the forums, which occasionally have useful information, though I am likely to look there after Wowhead or wowwiki.

However, a bit of direction from Blizz would go a long way toward reducing the amount of crap-wading that must take place in order to have fun in-game.


Anonymous said...

Thing is, you can ignore all of that and still have fun and even, yes, be moderately successful. (I admit this might be harder if you have a guild breathing down your neck about it, though. And mind you, I don't like to PvP -- although I did for the stupid Halloween achievement.)

I have two level 70s and a passel of alts, and I've never gotten an enchantment in my life. I decided it was too complicated and I was just going to skip it. I have only a basic idea about stats (I like agility on my equipment because I think it increases my RAP and maybe some other things). My DPS is hardly max'd -- but it's high enough to let me do what I want to do, and that's all that matters.

*shrug* Your situation is probably quite different than mine, but I just wanted to point out that it is at least possible to ignore the complexity you don't want to deal with and still have fun.

SolidState said...

Simplification of gear options would mean homogenization (which is boring) and would start a slippery slope. What if you then complained about too many talents/abilities? We could end up with identically dressed people all spamming the same 2 buttons... sounds boring, doesn't it?

In every aspect of life (*real* life, not just WoW), the more effort you put into something, the better you can become at it (up to some ceilings determined by external factors, e.g. biology). Why should WoW be any different?

What most people don't realize is that success without challenge is meaningless, not fulfilling and not fun. Open any single-player game with known cheats/hacks. Create a god-mode char and "beat" the game. Did you have fun? Of course not. It's the same for WoW. If the devs spoon-fed you the recipe for success and limited your gear choices, while simplifying PvE so that you would more easily win - you would have less fun, not more.

Finally, many players agree the system is a bit too opaque - not complex, just not providing enough information in-game for dedicated players to succeed, while allowing casual players to more easily decide on better gear. That's why you have addons like TankPoints, Rating Buster and others like them. Plus as you mentioned, there are external resources - guides, gear lists and gear comparison sites ( for example) for every class and spec in WoW.


TD said...

@ Mania- agreed, fun is defined somewhat by the player.

@Solid State- As in all games, certain rules need to be followed. In WoW, some players are able to play on a different field based on the time they have to play. This makes wow less like a game and more like real life. If there were no boundaries in wow, then it would cease to be a game. I work hard in RL to succeed, I play wow to relax and have fun. Unfortunately, my fun ends where a greifer's begins.

I am not really even playing the same game as someone who can play for 10+ hours per week.

I certainly don't begrudge those who seek to do *well* by playing more. I'm just asking for a viable minor league for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

solidstate said: "Open any single-player game with known cheats/hacks. Create a god-mode char and "beat" the game. Did you have fun? Of course not."

Speak for yourself! God mode was the only way I could progress far enough in Clive Barker's The Undying to see the story unfold, and yes, seeing the story unfold was fun for me. I also regularly set up scenarios in Civ2 that are technically unloseable ... and then I enjoy the hell out of the journey. :>