Tuesday, March 20, 2012

MoP Press Event Reaction

As most of you know, the march towards a new expansion continued last week with the Mists of Pandaria Press Event, and yesterday we got buried with information from multiple sites and I am only now digging myself out of it.

There are several things that came out in the press event that I like, but my general feeling is disappointment. To be fair, my disappointment probably has something to do with high expectations and in no way am I proclaiming that “WoW is doomed” as some like to do, but I expected more. Overall it felt like a Blizzcon recap and we were fed a lot of rice (no pun intended) without much meat. Though as Lissanna tweeted to me yesterday, that is kind of inevitable until we can get our hands on the Beta.

Anyway, I’m going to break this post into three sections I think of as bit stuff, medium stuff and little stuff. I’ve read everything I could find, and taken some notes on along the way. However, there are a lot of things that are hinted out without much detail backing them up. It is quite possible that I missed something or misunderstood something. Please feel free to comment with different view points or with corrections.

My Big Raiding Questions:

It’s safe to say that my biggest concern after reading all the press event stuff was what wasn’t said about raiding in MoP. In the media presentation it was glossed over very quickly by saying there would be three raids with fourteen bosses and two world bosses, but that was it. When Lore from Tankspot questioned J. Allen Brack about it he said:

Yeah, that’s because we haven’t done a lot of the work yet, and so we’re reluctant to commit to a whole bunch because things may change for us, but we’re working on spawning out the dungeons, we’re working on spawning out the various raids, and building those out. Those take many, many, many months to be built out from an artists’ perspective. Then we’ve got all the itemization, and all the character art that has to happen, from weapons, and armor, and bosses, and trash mobs that we have to make and dress up in order to make that happen.
This has me concerned because I am really hoping for an early Q3 release and don’t want to be killing Deathwing for another nine months. It could be that Brack is underplaying how much work has already been done or just trying to manage expectations, but if the raids are really “many, many, many months” we are in for some rough times.

Brack was also questioned about the overall raiding philosophy for MoP and had this to say:

We actually have not decided what our raiding philosophy, our raiding design will be. We have a lot of different ideas in terms of where we're going to end up, but I really can't say because we basically haven't decided just yet. But we have changed our raiding philosophy very significantly with every single expansion, and I don't expect this expansion to be any different, so we'll have a lot of thought, and a big write-up, and a blog will go out when we've decided how it will all work, and the forums will explode and it'll be amazing! (GamePlanet)

I think we’re gonna look at how the 10/25 person lockout worked as a shared cooldown. Was that the right decision, or do we want to do something different? I don’t really know what the right answer is yet. We haven’t decided.” (Tankspot)
I am happy that they are taking another look at the overall raiding philosophy and aren’t afraid to change it for the fourth time. It needs to change to address the 10vs25 issues, but judging from some of the comments I’ve read it seems like they are committed to the two raid format model. I’ll hold off judgment until they do make a blog post about their ideas, but I am becoming less and less confident that a two format system can work.

Garrosh: The Final Raid Boss

Taken entirely on its own without considering other theoretical “lore vs game play” issues, I love the idea that a faction leader of a playable race can screw up so horribly that BOTH factions think it’s necessary to pull him down. I like a lot of people have never been a Garrosh fan, and despite a few slightly positive moments I think it’s safe to say that his reign as warchief has been a bit of a disaster. I won’t be sad to see him gone, but I do have some concerns about what this will me for the game’s tone and lore as a whole.

I’ve seen the Horde vs Alliance debates for years, and one thing that I think is often forgotten is that game play will always trump story and lore. For this reason, there will never be peace between the Alliance and Horde, because PvP would feel hollow without the overall conflict. There needs to be animosity between the Horde and Alliance, and that is why Garrosh and the irrational Varian were good for the game. They maintained that animosity in a reasonable way.

In MoP that’s clearly going to change. I don’t have a problem with Varian maturing and becoming the “great king” for all of the Alliance that he can be since the Horde had good guy Thrall for so many years. However, I do think a good guy Varian would need to be balanced out by an irrational enemy, and that won’t happen if Thrall is reinstated as Warchief as suggested by J. Allen Brack on GamePlanet.

In short, I like the fact that the Alliance is being presented in a more positive light while the Horde is getting slapped around a little by Garrosh’s the ends justify the means philosophy. However, that will be hard to maintain if Thrall is reinstated. You can only have so many peace talks disrupted by Onyxia or the Twilight Cult. Plus, I think it’s a little strange that Chris Metzen just spent an expansion explaining that Thrall is more of a World character then a Horde character to throw him right back into the leadership of the Horde.

The Medium Stuff

Removing Group Summon: In his Curse interview Tom Chilton said that they plan on removing the Have Group, Will Travel guild perk because it “shrinks the world and allows players to avoid being out in the world” I have to say, this is one of the dumbest things I ever heard a WoW developer say. I agree that it shrinks the world, but it’s absolutely ludicrous to think that by eliminating it players we be out in the world more.

I think of it this way. HG,WT is a travel ability. On my main it primarily gets me to my raid quickly, on my alts I use it to go back to Org to train and such. Without it, I would use a flight path or pop in to flight form fly in the general direction of my objective. Am I really out in the world when I’m on a flight path I can’t get off, or flying myself a +100 yards above the ground?

I would argue not. In fact, removing HG,WT will result in fewer people being out in the world. The HG,WT perk is a quick and easy way to get your friends and guild mates to your location quickly when something worthwhile is going on. Let say for example, the Alliance is attacking Crossroads. If you put out a call for help, the action could be over by the time people get there, but HG,WT will can get people there quickly for some real world PvP.

To get players out into the world more Blizzard needs to create content that make people want to get out in the world. If Blizzard really wants to tackle this problem by eliminating modes of travel there are much bigger fish to fry like Flying Mounts, LFR, LFD, Flight Paths, Portals, and Hearth Stones.

Druid Glyphs and Inscription Changes: In general terms I don’t have a problem with what they are doing to Inscription. Getting rid of Prime Glyphs makes perfect sense since in most cases people use the same three 95% of the time. I also like that they are focusing more on utility and situational options for Major Glyphs while adding a lot of “fun cosmetic” minor glyph options.

That said, I am surprised that the Glyph of Stars made it past the editing room, because its either a half-baked idea or not finished. According to the tool tip (reported by several sites) the Glyph of Stars Transforms your Moonkin Form into Astral Form. This sounds cool at first until you find out that Astral Form is just the “spirit” model that is used when players are dead.

Given that moonkin models have been the same since vanilla WoW, and that the only way to change a moonkin’s appearance currently is to change races, I approve of Blizzards effort to give us a little variety. However, the ideal change would be to update the Moonkin models much like they did for the cat and bear models in WotLK. If that is to much work and a bandade fix like Glyph of Stars is the only change possible, do it better. Please come up with a new graphic rather then a tired old one that makes us look like a Shadow Priest. I think a model like Algalon’s would be cool and would fit the title of Glyph of Stars.

LFR Loot System: There has been a lot of confusion about the changes being made to LFR looting. If you are one of the confused, here is a link to the thread in which Zarhym is trying to explain it.

The basic premise is that for LFR kills loot is done on the individual level rather then for the entire group. If you win an item it will be an item that you can use based upon your class and spec, and it will be unaffected by what other people win.

From what we’ve been told, I really like this idea. For one, it gives us a consistent chance of obtaining loot. We aren’t S.O.L. because the boss only dropped protector tokens and an enhancement shaman can’t role on a caster trinket I want. The other thing it will prevent is the 2minute wait after a fight for loot because someone decided to log off without rolling.

Valor Point Revamp: Blizzard didn’t address this directly in a formal way, but many of the interviews commented on a revamp of the Valor Point system. The most direct comment I could find was on the WoWHead News site which said:

Valor Points are completely reworked. They are no longer a currency for actual items, but something you use to (repeatedly) augment the ilvl of your gear. Details are still being worked out as to how many times players can bump up the ilvl, or what happens when players hold onto an ancient item for the stat combinations.
There were also comments made about using Valor points to buy rep and extra loot rolls in all tiers of raiding. It’s hard to comment too much without getting more information, but what little we’ve heard so far sounds good. Valor points have been a bit of a joke where they are really important for maybe four weeks and then they become completely useless. Tier 13 has highlighted this amazingly well.

WoW Farmville: With the Tillers and Anglers faction players will have the ability to tend there own farm to grow cooking ingredients, herbs, quest turn-ins, and pets. I’m not really interested in a farming for farming’s sake mini game, but I find this addition very interesting.

There are a lot of open questions, but this could have a dramatic impact on the game. The first question is, do you have to be an herbalist to pick the herbs that you grow? How many Herbs can you grow and how often? Can you grow all herbs including low level herbs? Can you choose which herbs you grow?

As you can see there are far more questions then there are answers, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out since it could have a huge impact on the WoW economy.

I also wonder if this is a reaction to the SWTOR professions system. I haven’t played the game, but from what I’m told the crafting system in SWTOR is very hands off, where you tell your crew what to do and they do it while you are off-line or doing something else in game. The Tillers and Anglers faction along with the possibility of Scribes being given a “staff” seems very similary.

The Small Stuff

  • Female Pandaran Model: I personally think it looks awesome. Much better then the female worgen model. I’m having a hard time understanding why some people seem to hate it.

  • No Item Squish: I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other on this one, but it does need to happen eventually.

  • AoE Looting: Why couldn’t this have been available when I was farming Enchanting mats on my rogue.

  • Buff UI Update: I really like the idea that it will show you if you have 8/8 of the buffs. It should make life slightly easier.

  • Tier System Revamp: They seem to change how you acquire tier gear every patch so why should MoP be any different?


Anonymous said...

"Glyph of Stars Transforms your Moonkin Form into Astral Form. This sounds cool at first until you find out that Astral Form is just the “spirit” model that is used when players are dead."

You think it's bad as a troll - a dead night elf "wisp spirit" looks like a glowing ball of light.

Ohken said...

I don't see the Glyph of Stars as a replacement for updating the moonkin model. They should surely update the moonkin model, no matter what else they do.

However, I really like the idea of druids spending at least some time in combat looking like a caster. It means all of your gear shows, and it means that as the fight progresses, the character *shifts* shape.

My favorite arrangement for balance would be more like it is right now for restoration. You look like a caster 2/3 of the time, and you look like a wild creature the other 1/3.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see someone other than Thrall taking over the Horde, how about the Troll leader or Sylvanus?

Narcuru said...

it's not going to be just a wisp form. At least according to WoW insider's description:

Glyph of Stars Transforms your Moonkin Form into Astral Form. This glyph essentially makes your character appear as a spirit instead of a moonkin. You look very nearly like you do while dead -- but people can see you this time ... and your armor, for that matter.

source link:

Not sure if that is confirmed or not, but it seems more like the SPriest minor glyph then anything else.

Anonymous said...

I put the removal of Have Group, Will Travel at the top of my bad list. At most this would send one more person out to the raid instance to help with the summoning stone. How does that get people out in the world more in any meaningful way?

The other one they removed is Chug a Lug. I guess that will get us out in the world farming more herbs. But it takes long enough to farm flasks and feasts as it is.

Anonymous said...

The removal of HGWT screams portal ganking. HGWT just eliminated the annoyance of having to get past an enemy raid. Having a warlock in the raid was pretty much a requirement to get stragglers in and not waste any more raid time.

I'd rather they make it usable from inside instances. That was its primary use after all.

Erthshade said...

I loved the idea of the Glyph of Stars, imagining something like the effect seen in a quest toward the end of Mount Hyjal where your character gets 'ascended' to fight an elite and your model's textures are effectively changed to their lighting reflection map. Then I saw the screenshots. Oh goodie, another placeholder model/effect to replace our current need-to-be-updated models.