Avoiding the Metagame Creates a Micro-journey in WoW

Coming in late to the Warlords of Draenor expansion has further validated a belief I have held since the early days of EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot: I have always been about the journey in MMORPGs. Instead of having a year+ of content ahead of me, I might have a matter of months. In that short period of time, I don’t have any desire to try and get the best gear or obtain all of the achievements, or even race to max out my Garrison. I can’t — I don’t have the time before Legion. My goal? See the content. That single goal has radically flipped this game upside down. Why? Because now I don’t care about the gear grind. What do I need to do to see the content? That’s all I care about.

Gul'dan

That’s right Gul’dan, no hamster wheel for me this time!

Suddenly instead of worrying about min/maxing my daily quest completion rate, my gear score, or my Garrison companion gears and levels, all I need to do is work on participating in the activities I enjoy because that’s essentially enough to get me to the point where I can see all of the dungeons and complete all of the raids. I can have fun and progress at my own rate and easily enjoy the content. ::gasp:: WoW feels like a game and not a job.

When it comes to a game like WoW at the launch of an expansion or in the thick of things, that journey is almost nonexistent and at times I feel like I have to make the most out of what I’m playing in order to rub away some of what masks that adventure. Coming in late has afforded me that opportunity in a way that feels psychologically easier to swallow. Granted, this same way of playing is completely open and available to me at the start of an expansion as well…. it’s just harder for me to win that internal battle.

Imagine if this is how WoW was inherently designed. Technically, the argument could be made that WoW IS designed this way, and they’ve just placed a bunch of activities between you and “seeing the content,” but I guess to me the activities placed between me and the content take center stage and the “game” fails to be about “seeing the content” and becomes about “getting the highest iLvL possible” or in general focusing on the metagame.

TLDR: When focusing on the actual ‘game’ part of World of Warcraft, it’s quite enjoyable. Coming in late to the expansion has made that psychologically easier for me to (1) Identify, and (2) Stay focused on. I wish WoW would emphasize the ‘game’ over the ‘metagame’ from the top down in their design.

Having To vs. Wanting To Do something.

Daily Quests

My post on Garrisons brought up an interesting topic: Having to vs. Wanting to do something. There’s a bit of psycholgy involved with this discussion, as well as complications from game design details, and I don’t want to dive too deeply into it that we lose the point, but here’s how I see the debate of having to vs wanting to do something as it pertains to things like dailies, garrisons, etc.

I don’t like dailies that force me to do them. I don’t like the quest hubs with 10-30 quests that I have to do every day in order to accrue reputation or points or tokens or whatever it may be in order to gain access to something else down the road. Notice my caveat: They gate the content or path to something else. Any day that I skip is a delay in my ability to access the content or the reward or whatever it may be.  I would say that in this case, these are something I have to do.

I don’t mind dailies that exist to simply provide me with gold or rewards as I do them. If I do 10 dailies today I get 100 told. If I do 5 I get 50. They exist solely to benefit me as I do them. Whether I skip a day of dailies or not isn’t going to push out my access to something, it will simply provide me with less gain. Also, I can get gold doing any number of activities from crafting to running current dungeons, or even really old dungeons. Some of these other options might even generate me income faster.  In this case, these dailies are something I want to do.

The psychology comes into play when we think, “I have to do this because if I don’t, and other people do, then I won’t be as good as them.” People will think that they have to run the dungeons, and the raids, and do all of the daily quests, and craft, etc., because if not they they aren’t taking advantage of everything. I’ll raise my hand and volunteer that I am completely guilty of this trap. I fall into it all the time. While there may (reality: is) truth to this concept of falling behind, what does that ultimately matter as long as what you’re doing still feels like a game and provides fun? This will be completely different for each of us as to what we think is fun, and for some being the best is the fun part. Ultimately though, if you’re not having fun, and this feels like a job, then YOU are doing it wrong and not the game — that is, unless the game has gated the content behind these daily quests, in which case the game is inherently flawed.

Bringing this back to WoW for a second, and to a topic that isn’t as cut and dry as gold, the ideal way to give me options would be to say that I can generate (for easy math) 1000 apexis crystals a day. I can do daily quests in Tanaan, or I can do activities in my Garrison, or I can run dungeons, etc., to earn these apexis crystals. The choice of how to earn them is mine. That, to me, is fair, as long as all of these options allow you to earn up to the cap for the day. As soon as I’m forced to do the daily quests in Tanaan, AND the dungeons, AND the garrison stuff… that’s the part that feels like a job because I may not feel like doing dungeons today.

Personally? I like options in my themeparks. And ultimately that’s what I feel a themepark MMO should be all about.

Garrison Management on iOS & Android

Garrison App

I know that I’m really, really late to this discussion, but after playing Warlords of Draenor for almost a week now I’m curious why the Garrison management system hasn’t been implemented on iOS. The auction house can be fully managed from the WoW App, so we know it’s not too much to ask.

For some reason I see a lot of people saying they hate Garrisons. Am I missing something entirely here? Sure, they take lots of upkeep if you want to utilize them to their fullest, but they aren’t mandatory once you’re at 100, right? I could be way wrong there.

I like knowing I can earn tons of cash by maintaining my Garrison. I prefer Garrison work orders over the daily quest hub B.S. in every way. I like sending my companions out on missions to level them up, and I’m not even getting rewards from them yet. I like mining my ore, finding wood, using my profession buildings, etc.

Back on topic, I think the interface lends itself to an app. Simply log in to the Armory app or whatever, choose Garrison, and manage sending your troops on missions. You could even see the timers left on your missions and receive push notifications.  To me this would make managing your Garrison even easier, and might even alleviate some of what people dislike.

Sadly, I guess Garrisons might be going away in Legion. I think the “Class Hall” will be public, and not a private Garrison-like feature. I think providing the Garrison feature in Legion would be great for those of us who enjoy the carrot it provides.

Anyone else really enjoy Garrisons and wish they would stick around in Legion?

Early Thoughts on my Return to WoW

Yeah, I returned to WoW. I’ve put in a few hours casually over the last 4 days and have to say I’m starting to really, really enjoy the leveling experience in Warlords of Draenor. In fact, so much so that I am regretting having not played from the beginning. Technically it would have never worked given I was busy getting married, etc., but there is definitely a twinge of “Ugh I missed out on this in its heyday.”

This post is simply going to serve as a place to dump a few quick thoughts on my experience thus far, and maybe even get a little bit of your feedback and help on some questions.

I decided to roll up a Hunter. I plan to convert him to a melee spec Hunter when Legion launches. I’m enjoying how Hunters have changed since I played one as my Main from Vanilla through WotLK.  Any advice on a particular pet?

Khadgar has Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian

Why does Khadgar have Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian?

Lore

I love the emphasis on lore and story. Right from the get-go we meet Khadgar and Durotan and really big players. So much early RTS lore being thrown at me. However, I’m sorta confused. So uh.. where’d Khadgar come from? Wasn’t he in Outland in Shattrath? And why does he have Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian?! Isn’t that Medivh’s staff?

WoW Garrison

Having a useful, functional place to upgrade and work on is a welcome change of scenery

Garrisons

The Garrison system is fantastic. I think adding a place to call “home” is definitely a much needed change of pace from everyone roaming around a capital city. The feigned sense of social contact in WoW was off-putting. We were never there to chat. At best it made for inspecting people and suffering from gear envy. Having a practical and useful place that generates items, income, and something to do — a reason to log in that isn’t the same kind of daily quest — is welcome.

Atmosphere & Quests

The zones themselves seem much grander than typical WoW expansions. MoP was so bland and the lore and atmosphere stank in comparison. I really feel a sense of “Warcraft” here.

Quests in Frostfire Ridge were quite good. I like the emphasis on cinematic and leading me around via story. On the main map there is a Story Progress indicator which is nice to see how far I should be progressing through a zone. Thus far, the story has taken me to all of the outposts and I feel like I finished everything I wanted to do in Frostfire Ridge by the time the story took me to the next zone.

[Spoiler ahead] When Ga’arn told his brother the tribe needed their Warchief and Durotan’s eyes widened… then Ga’arn sacrificed himself and yelled “LOK’TAR!!” I had the best nerdy goosebumps and was on the verge of getting emotional. Whew… starting to feel it again… okay, moving on.

Questing itself is definitely not bad. Yeah, it’s the same old stuff but man when you go to other games and do their quests and you come back to WoW it’s like a warm chocolate chip cookie giving you a hug. As far as themeparks go, WoW is king and no one else should even try.

WoW Rare mob spawns

Gathering treasures and hunting “rare” mobs adds fun

Treasure and Rares

One of my absolute favorite additions are the treasures and rare mobs/items around the map. I LOVE the exploration element that exists even when I cheat with this UI mod that shows me where everything is located. Personally, seeing these rares on the map is even more push for me to go out of my comfort zone. I also like how they can require a little effort and acrobatics.

Gear Upgrades

REALLY cool feature I just discovered is random gear upgrades. I got a quest reward that I swear went from a green to an epic. I now have like 5 epics that are way better than the quest reward was going to be. Such a neat dynamic element to a very stale questing model.

Gorgrond

I’m excited to see what adventures the next zone brings

I’m just now entering the second zone: Gorgrond. Setting up my outposts was yet another “cool, that’s neat,” moment. Those moments will keep me engaged and wanting to continue logging in to level.

Lasted 2 Years, 2 Months, 3 Days, and 49 Minutes

WoD-Free-Trial… Before truly considering a return to WoW. Yeah, I was tempted when WoD came out. Yeah, I was tempted last week when Legion was announced. The temptation to return didn’t really sink in until tonight when I was sitting here with nothing on the PC striking my interest, my friends were all offline, and the TV was occupied. I suddenly realized, WTF is there to do? I need a MMO!

The K&G Community hasn’t made the temptation any easier.  Several still play, and the general consensus is that WoD is fun to level through. I’m not a raider anymore. I’m not interested in anything beyond seeing the dungeons. I would like to try the Garrison stuff, and you guys know me… I’m into that Farmville style house maintenance crap. I don’t know why, but I like it.

I installed the game tonight. Blizzard offered me a free ten day trial and I took it. Logging in tonight was a mixture of absolute confusion (I mean seriously 2 years), feeling a little dirty, and a twinge (just a little bit) of glee.

I’m confused about what to do, where to go, how to get started. I don’t know what class I want to play. I have characters across half a dozen servers and I want to find out where a couple of friends are playing.  Where are my peeps at? (Is that how they speak in WoW still?)

You’ll recall I want to play a Melee Hunter in Legion. If I get WoD and have a 90 Boost should I use it on a hunter? I want to play one for sure. Maybe save the 100 Boost for an alt when Legion comes out?

Anyway, I have 9 days and 22 hours to decide what to do. Your input and ridicule are welcome.

Edit: I guess I have enough gold to buy several months of free play time with Tokens.