No More Excuses

President Harry S. Truman popularized the phrase “The Buck Stops Here.” As a fellow Missourian, I have a special understanding of what exactly he meant by that. Heads up, Blizzard, it’s not just a promise, it’s a warning. It means that you have to own up to your decisions and then live with the consequences of them.

You see, Blizzard, lately you’ve been passing the buck quite a lot, so just let me remind you, when it comes to WoW, the buck stops with you. The shortcomings of WoD, the drought of content that comes at the end of every expansion, the unfulfilled promises, the advertised-and-then-dropped content, the inaccurate or unclear communication? All of that is 100% your own fault. It’s not your players, it’s not the game mechanics, it’s you. Just you.

You want to know something else? Something cool? Admit it and we’ll forgive you. Own it and we’ll respect you. Fix it and we’ll trust you. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Did you notice what didn’t make it on that list? Feigned Obtuseness. Semantic Tomfoolery. Implausible Anecdotes. Deliberate Disengenuousness. Disconcerting Obfuscation & Blame-Shifting.

And now here we are again. Everything that was said about this the first time around is still true. Travel is still not content. Jump puzzles still aren’t fun. Flight Paths still break immersion. Limited mobility still inhibits exploration. Trivial/Unneeded mobs are still filler, not content.

I’ll go back to Ion Hazikostas’ original example on why flight is so evil, as revealed in his infamous Polygon interview.

Before flying was introduced to World of Warcraft, if you got a quest to rescue a prisoner from an enemy encampment, it would play out a certain way. Players would need to fight their way through the camp. After flying, players could just fly into the center of camp, land on top of the hut where the prisoner is, free him and fly out.

I’m sorry, Ion, but flight didn’t allow us to do that. You did.

You want us to fight through the camp? You want us to kill the jailer to get the key? You want us to free the prisoner? You want us to see him to safety? That’s easy! Just make the quest to do this:

-Kill 15 Guards.

-Jailer [RandomOrcName] Slain

-Prisoner Key Obtained: 0/1

-Prisoner Freed

-Prisoner Escorted

Instead of this:

-Prisoner Freed

Don’t design a quest with one objective and then complain that this objective is all the players did. As so many others have told you time and again, flight doesn’t create bad design, it reveals it.

Despite your many declarations to the contrary, you are relying too much on designed inefficiencies in travel to make up for poor quest design. If a player is at point A and needs to get to point B for a quest, he’s going to be completely uninterested in passing through points C, D, and E to get there, especially if he has to kill a bunch of useless trash that keeps dismounting him along the way.

Here’s my suggestion: Stop trying to micromanage our playing experience, stop trying to trick us, and stop trying to control us, even if you think it’s ‘for our own good.’ If you want us to kill 25-30 mobs, don’t have a quest to kill 15 and count on us having to fight 10-15 others along the way. Just recognize that we want to get from A to B and beef up the quest requirements once we get to B.

Imagine 2 scenarios, each with a player starting at Point A, and needing to end up at Point B to kill some Murlocs:

  1. Player runs a few yards and is dismounted, kills 3 Spiders. Player takes a flight path to a different zone. Player tabs out during the flight because he doesn’t actually have anything to do. Player runs a few yards and is dazed and dismounted, kills 2 Vrykul. Player runs a few yards and is stunned and dismounted, kills 4 Demons. Player runs a few yards and arrives at point B and then kills 15 Murlocs for his quest.
  2. Player mounts up, flies to point B, kills 30 Murlocs, and then moves on to his next objective.

I’m going to throw out the same buzzwords that Blizzard has been using as I ask you some questions. Which one gives you more agency? Which one feels more organic? Which one feels more like you’re making progress and completing objectives? Which one just plain feels better? I’ll let you be your own, judge, but to me its no contest. The second scenario is better by far.


Engaging in Content:

Scenario 1: My content is chosen for me and is hidden behind distractions and impediments.

Scenario 2: I can engage in the content I want/need and complete it at my own pace.

Exploration:

Scenario 1: I am stuck on a flight path with no way to stop and explore anything unusual (a quest, a rare mob, a bonus objective, etc.).

Scenario 2: I can choose to stop and explore if I see something that catches my eye along the way.

Flow of Content:

Scenario 1: My attempts at completing, or even getting to, the content are actively interrupted.

Scenario 2: I can get to the content without distraction or interruption, unless I choose to stop.

Pacing/Efficiency:

Scenario 1: I spend as much or more time on travel than I do completing the desired content.

Scenario 2: I spend just as much time playing, but all of it is spent on doing content.

Effort/Reward:

Scenario 1: Fighting filler mobs feels unrewarding. I’m not accomplishing anything, I’m just spinning my wheels trying to get to the content.

Scenario 2: I feel like I am achieving something and making progress. Even though I have to kill more mobs, every kill counts toward my quest/objective.

Character Fantasy/ Roleplaying

Scenario 1: I don’t feel very heroic. I’m killing random things for no other reason than they are between my current location and where I want to be.

Scenario 2: I feel like a proper hero. I’m not killing randomly or wantonly, only when and where it is necessary to achieve a greater good.


Ok, well I guess I’ve rambled enough for one post, but I still just don’t see what is so bad about the second scenario.

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