World of Warcraft:
Nitpicks

By Shamus Posted Monday Jul 14, 2008

Filed under: Game Reviews 128 comments

I think I’ve finally been with this game long enough to tell the difference between newbie growing pains and actual design flaws. Despite the fun this game has to offer, it is not without its eccentricities and frustrations. This list is long. This is not because the game is rife with idiocy (at least, not more than other games) but simply because the game is so immense.

I actually considered making this a series, but then I decided to just dump the whole thing on you at once. Good luck. This does not mean I won’t write more nitpicks later. All of my efforts thus far have managed to raise a character to level 37, which means a vast portion of the game still remains beyond the horizon for me.

And now begins the nitpicking, which in this case takes the form of a numbered list:


1. Low drop rates for quest items

This is one of the most notorious hassles of the game. If you want me to kill 30 bears, then ask me to kill 30 bears. Don’t ask me to collect 3 bear claws and have only 1 in 10 of them actually drop a “claw”. Like, you want 3 bear claws? Then I should have to kill one bear, because a standard-issue bear has four of them. There is nothing like having a wild bear rend your flesh in battle, only to loot the body and find the animal has… not a single claw? Just like the last 5 you killed.

I’ve killed toothless wolves, headless boars, and clawless bears. I’ve wiped out an entire village of Murlocs, who had not a single eyeball among the lot of them.

Low drop rates are annoying, but they really tend to rile people when they are both low and nonsensical. Ideally the quest should just specify the number you need to kill. Barring that, the requested item shouldn’t be something that is an integral part of the animal. Have me collect Murloc spears or earrings or something.

2. Quest Locations are Vague

Let’s see… the quest giver enlisted me to, “Slay the King of Furbolgs, on the hill north of the ruins”. Do these broken pillars count as “ruins”, or am I looking for like, big stone buildings? That busted statue could count as ruins. I mean, it’s ruined. Crap, is that hill the he was talking about? Or the one beyond? Or was he talking about something mountain-sized? Damn it, maybe I’m in the right spot, but someone killed King Furbolg recently and he hasn’t respawned yet.

Far too many times I’ve found myself slaughtering an assigned wild animal, but finding they don’t have the required body part. Am I fighting the wrong kind? (Fighting “Elder Crag Boars” instead of just “Crag Boars”, which look the same.) Or am I fighting the right monster but in the wrong region? Or is this just another instance of problem #1, where some Tigers don’t have fangs and some Boars don’t have intestines?

Some quests are supposed to be a search, but far too many simply become a search because the quest giver was an unhelpfully vague jerk. This is made worse by the fact that moving around in the game means hacking through the endless waves of monsters that evenly coat the surface of the world. Backtracking and looking for something becomes endlessly tedious when it involves killing the same four bears a dozen times while trying to guess at all of the possible meanings of the directions you were given.

You can get a plugin to pinpoint required locations on the map. I consider the game to be nearly unplayable without this. A less sledgehammer solution – and one which might preserve the intended sense of mystery in the world – would be a button to ask the quest giver for more explicit directions for players who might not have the major landmarks memorized yet.

3. Bag space is outrageously limited

At the start of the game you can carry a maximum of sixteen items. As you progress, you eventually get more bags, so you can hold more items. But the game is mercilessly stingy with bag space, and the price of bags is preposterously inflated. Like, at level ten a formless burlap sack costs more than a dozen sets of armor. One of the best bags you can get early on (via a quest) is a 10-slot container which is a feed bag for a horse for crying out loud. You can afford swords, armor, magic potions, ammunition, and training in any number of professions, but a horse’s feed bag is right out of your price range.

Keep in mind that one of the things that makes this game such a rich experience is the number of different activities – leather working, fishing, cooking, first aid, enchanting, and so on. But these professions take up a lot of bag space, to the point where you can’t participate in the activities because you can’t carry the tools you need.

My guild set me up with a full set of neatherweave bags, which can hold 16 items each – some of the largest in the game. I don’t know what just one of these bags would normally cost, but I’ll bet it’s more than everything I’ve made with all of my characters combined. For one. And I have four of them. And yet space is still tight sometimes. If it weren’t for the generosity of my guild, I’d have spent nearly all of my money just to get bag space that’s about half of what I have now.

I really don’t see the point to any of this. Sure, getting more bag space is a nice reward, but less bag space = less activities, which means less fun. What exactly is the point, here?

Of course, this problem is exacerbated, or perhaps even caused by…

4. The Needless proliferation of ingredients

If you’re learning the cooking skill you’ll want to save the animal parts you pick up. Recipes call for certain animal parts, and you need to have the right parts from the right animals. So you’ll have boar ribs, boar liver, boar meat, boar snout, boar intestines, bear meat, wolf meat, stringy vulture meat, spider ichor. Each of those items takes up a slot.

But there is almost no re-use of items. A vast majority of the ingredients you collect in the wild are part of one and only one recipe.

I wouldn’t need so much bag space if there weren’t so many different types of animal parts. There are even certain recipes that call for meat from a particular breed of animal. Beer-blasted boar ribs can only be made from Crag Boar ribs, and not from the ribs of any of the other hundred types of boar in the game. I have a recipe for “roasted bear meat”. It requires I collect “bear meat”, but it doesn’t work with the “big bear meat” I get off of higher-level monsters. Frustrating nonsense.

The game needs to cut way, way back on the number of different meats. I understand that special dishes need esoteric ingredients, but this is excessive, particularly given how precious bag space is for people that aren’t being subsidized by rich guildmates.

Yes, there are mechanical reasons for this related to how the cooking skill is leveled, but there are a lot of ways the cooking system could be overhauled to be 1) More interesting 2) Make more sense and 3) Have a more acceptable impact on bag space.

The way the system is now, it eats up a lot of space, it doesn’t make sense, and it leads to…

5. The Needless proliferation of food types

There are just dozens and dozens of different foods that all confer the same bonuses. So, maybe a roasted boar leg and a cherry pie (or whatever) both heal the same number of HP when you eat them, but they don’t stack in inventory. So a boar leg and a cherry pie together take up more space than ten cherry pies. Again, it just takes its toll on bag space, which is already scarce and which already limits the number of fun things you can do in the game.

Also: The various food types don’t give you a clue as to which is better. Which restores more health? Roasted wolf burgers or an Apple pie? Well, if you mouse over it you learn that Apple Pie is for high level characters and restores many, many times the HP. There is no rhyme or reason, there’s just this ladder of food types that don’t stack.

The system would be better if larger, more complicated food offered a bigger bonus, so a user could look at two different foods and immediately know which is better without needing to read tooltips.

6. Arbitrary Level restrictions

It has long been a pet peeve of mine: “You must be level 10 to use this item.” This isn’t so much a dig at WoW, but at about half the RPG’s out there that impose these ridiculous limits on otherwise mundane activities.

Yeah, I can see why you’d want this on armor and other combat-related items, but… food? Blacksmithing? Leatherworking? Do you really need to be a seasoned warrior before you can learn how to smelt better? Do you need to have a firm understanding of arcane magics before you can properly command a needle and thread?

I actually like the idea of a character that hangs around town and levels up crafting skills without needing to go out adventuring. For gathering professions you’ll need to have the chops to survive in high-level areas to get the more valuable resources anyway, so I don’t see the need to impose a hard limit.

And to the person at Blizzard who decided you must be level 5 to drink a glass of milk: You are a madman and you must be stopped.

My first character is level 21 now, which means she’s still a good thirty levels from being qualified to eat a pie.

Really. What the hell?

7. The realtime day / night cycle

I usually don’t get to see Azeroth during the day, because I’m at work. The in-game clock runs realtime, so if you play at the same time every day you see the sun in the same position and everything looks the same all the time, which defeats the entire purpose of having a day / night cycle. I’d rather the thing ran on (say) a three-hour cycle, which would let you see a good bit of the change while you’re playing.

Given the distances between locations (towns are a few minutes apart on foot) it’s clear this world is somewhat compressed and symbolic. If it takes (say) half an hour to walk from Menethil Harbor to Ironforge, then that would be four hours of game time, which is a more reasonable distance between towns.

8. Respawning monsters

Again, this is more about MMO’s in general, but we’ve been doing this MMO thing for… what? Ten years? At least? Are we at the point where monsters can stop beaming down from the Enterprise yet? Maybe try to have monsters appear in the spaces where player’s aren’t? At least make it so that a monster won’t respawn if a player is standing within attack range. It’s no fun being in the middle of a fight and having Scotty beam in reinforcements for the enemy right on top of you. Things like that tend to result in unjust player death. This goes double for those that rely on ranged magical attacks to do their thing.

9. Heavy Drinking Mages

Mages have to replenish their magic power by sitting down and drinking water. It takes a while. It’s a constant drag on performance, and means that everything just takes longer when you’re playing a magic user. Worse, you can’t put that time to use. You can’t work on leatherworking, or tailoring, or alchemy, or any of the other secondary activities in the game while you wait. You just sit there.

I don’t see a reason for this, other than as a simple timesink. Mages can conjure water using magic. Then they sit down and drink said water. What exactly are we accomplishing here, except to squander the player’s time?

Any game mechanic that requires you to constantly stop playing the game to do nothing for a worthless thirty seconds at a time is bad game design.

10. Wandering Elites are Asinine

In Desolace a vast portion of the desert is populated by monsters with levels in the low to mid thirties. Except, there are these massive level 39 giants roaming around. Given that you can’t see monsters until they’re thirty or so meters away, and given that you’re peering into the world through a 90 degree viewport without peripheral vision, it’s actually really easy for one of these bastards to get on top of you before you’re aware of him, particularly if you’re in the middle of a fight. What is the point of spiking the lower-level areas with these high-level monsters? Someone that wants to fight level 39 stuff will go to a harder region where he won’t have to wade through a dozen worthless level 34 mobs to get to the giant.

Suddenly being attacked by something you can’t fight and can’t outrun is more or less the same thing as being killed by a random bolt of lightning. Life is random and unfair, but when I’m playing a game for entertainment I’d like for penalties to be related to mistakes, not bad luck. This does not enrich the game experience. It’s just a pointless death to punish the player for… what? Playing the game in the first place?

And speaking of death…

11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks

If you die and can’t recover your body (because, say, four monsters spawned right on top of you and murdered you and now buzz around the corpse like flies) you can choose to re-appear in the graveyard. But you have to endure resurrection sickness, which reduces all of your stats by 75%. Fighting at one-quarter power is simply not an option in this game. There is nothing worthwhile you can fight. You just have to sit there and do nothing for ten minutes.

Ha ha. You were killed by teleporting monsters, or lag, or by one of those roaming elites we like to put in the game just to piss people off. Sucker. Go stand in the corner for ten minutes.

WoW can quickly shift from being immersive and fun to idiotic and dull, and once in a while I wonder if the people at Blizzard secretly hate me.

(People also complain about the length of the Gryphon rides in this game, although I use them to write the epic posts like the one you just waded through. Your mileage may vary.)

 


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128 thoughts on “World of Warcraft:
Nitpicks

  1. Allan says:

    You call them nitpicks, I call them 85% of my experience with WoW. That is why I quit.

    The other 15% was when I could adventure with my friends, which quickly stopped as they seemed to just ‘get’ the game and raced past me in levels faster than a… very fast thing. Atleast I can still stomp their eyes out on Halo.

  2. justaguy says:

    Well, I agree in general however… basically the game is a time sink. Everything you mentioned and complained about being a time sink? Yup, that’s sort of the point. The point is to make it take as long as they can, up to the point just before the player gives up. I agree the bodypartless creatures are rather silly.
    And bag space is related. Part of it is a money sink. The other part is a way to limit database size and how many items you can have. If you want more items you gotta pay for it somehow.
    Oh, BTW, up until a really recent patch that feed bag was a 4 (or was it 6… I think 4… it sucked) slot bag.

  3. Mengtzu says:

    Luckily a lot of that stuff drops away as you get into Outland – generally the newer the area, the better the quests are, as the annoyances correlate pretty closely with older design. Hopefully Lich King will go further towards eliminating them. Blizzard are learning to be better at WoW :)

    Some of the annoyances however are directly related to PVP (or at least PVP keeps them in the game). Arbitrary level restrictions and drinking times are a big one. PVP at the sub-70 levels is already pretty unfriendly when someone wearing the best blues for their level, enchanted to the gills rocks up. It’d be much worse if they could also use more potent food to instantly restore health and mana, and equip top-end BoE purples.

    Of course, I spend most of my time playing my Enhance Shaman and Paladin, neither of whom really stop to eat or drink outside of instances or battlegrounds, so I may have lost sensitivity to the issue :)

    As for bag space: get a bank alt. Keep a character parked near the bank/AH of a major city, and anything you’re planning on saving or auctioning, just send to them. Saves you trips back to the city when you’re out levelling, keeps your money somewhere where you’re less likely to spend it, and gives you access to a full extra bank.

  4. Pedro Santos says:

    Well, I have to agree with you on that subjects and there are a bunch more that we could point out. I have played as a mage and I know you pain… and it’s even worse on PvP realms, where mages <40 are so easy to kill that you always have to be on the run!

    Having said this, and knowing the game flaws, I’d like to point out what I *really* like about WoW: the instances! The way you have to team up with several other players, each one having one class, and you have to play as a team, doing your job, to finish an instance. Going trow some instances with friends or sparring against players of the other faction are the things I miss.

  5. LemmingLord says:

    I played WoW on a free private server, and by the time I hit level 25, I felt like I was wasting my time for mind-numbingly repetitive gameplay, and solely for the far-off reward of “the actual game” at level 70. It amazes me that anyone can derive enjoyment from killing palette swaps for 40 levels, and then claim that randomly combining elements from these monsters (skins, body parts, etc.) constitutes “deep gameplay”. If I wanted to do that, I’d play a bad adventure game. I thought there was hundreds of hours of different gameplay- and really, all there is is a few hours dragged out into eternity. In any other game, time-wasting behavior would be dinged as bad design, but with MMOs it’s heralded as “adding value” or some such BS argument.
    Maybe I’m the one person on the planet who is incapable of enjoying WoW. and I’m glad at least that everyone else seems to like it fine.

  6. Tacoman says:

    I actually kind of like the wandering elites aspect. They give you an especially difficult challenge where you weren’t expecting to find them. I’ve never found one again where I left it if I go back to town to buff up a bit. You can take the risk to get the reward with them then. If you defeat them, then you get some especially high quality item for your level (like my shiny new pants), and if you are defeated by them, then at least you were up against a worthy opponent when you were beaten, and not just running in haphazardly or overrun by respawns. I really do hate the respawns on top of you that you mentioned above.

    By the way, have any of those sweet ten slot bags you could send my way? Phonar would love a horse’s feed bag to help with his quests.

  7. James Pony says:

    On some of the items mentioned, I must agree. On some, I must say it’s not the game, it’s you. But in the end, it’s all about how one takes it. Relax, man! Stop with the negative waves!

    …That, or just kill a thousand bears and their families, and sell whatever bodyparts you find to that blacksmith who has billions of goldcoins in his pocket and an unsatiable appetite for useful items such as broken sand, rocks or bear gore.
    Just remember this: When in doubt, kill your bags full.

  8. Yspoch says:

    You may call me crazy, but I believe if those points you listed would all be NOT in the game, it might suck MORE. ;-)

    Now, I don’t want to say that the game is perfect (altough I do like it very much), but there can be found answers to WHY certain things behave like they do.

    You only have to look hard enough… *g*

  9. Stephen says:

    1. The Horde has a quest in Hillsbrad to get vials of cougar blood. Who’d have thought so few mountain lions had any blood at all?

    This is one of my favorite parts of Age of Conan, and it’s the first MMO I’m aware of that’s fixed the problem: if it makes sense for the mob to drop at least one of an item, it always does. Early on, I got a quest to get 120 molars from the warrior mobs in a zone, and bemoaned how long it would take, until I realized each of said mobs dropped 4 molars each.

    I don’t know why WoW does it this way. At the very least they could tag “pristine” at the front of the quest object more often to indicate that you’re looking for pieces that haven’t been messed up by you chopping up the animal.

    2. Sadly, the other side of this is quest locations that are unnecessarily specific. In AoC, an NPC will send me off looking for a mysterious location, and I’ll wonder why he didn’t just follow the exact waypoint he gave me. It’s somewhat immersion breaking to know where you’re going all the time.

    3. And when you’re a hunter, one of your bag slots is all ammo.

    WoW seems to have designed to make space one of their economy drains. Check out the prices of upgrading your bag slots in the bank.

    4. I suspect that this is a database limitation. I can’t remember any WoW quests or recipes that allow you to use a variety of options. Most likely, their database has no way of indicating that items X, Y, and Z are all sub-entries of category A, so all recipes have to reference the specific item.

    5. The proliferation of food types seems to mostly matter when you’re a hunter and have a hungry pet to feed. Running around with a wolf that only ate meat, I’d never bother to pick up any other kind of food. The wolf could eat meat, and so could I… apple pie, vendored.

    6. As you noted, most MMOs do this to one extent or another. Hell, until they patched it out Neverwinter Nights 1 even did this (even though the campaign was in control of when you got access to higher-level gear). It all feeds into game balance: the designers have tested a challenge with characters using appropriate-level gear, and want to make sure you can’t easily beat the challenge by outgearing it. This mindset spreads to other aspects of the world, like crafting.

    I believe earlier MMOs had a huge problem with twinked alts running around in top-level gear, such that no equal-level players could compete. Designers have been trying to limit this ever since.

    10. Wait until you meet the Devilsaurs. They’re ninjas.

  10. Dave says:

    The reason I quit WoW was quite simple.

    The only reason to do anything is to get new loot(as the PvP is mediocre at best, and you can only do so many Kill X for Y drop quests before your eyes scream with rage and murder your mind). The reason why you want new loot? To be able to fight more and varied monsters. Why do you want to fight them? To get more loot so you can… etc, etc.

    There is nothing else to the game. The zones never change in any appreciable way, after playing off and on since release, those peasant are still building the Westfall Inn. So the exploration game dies after about 40 hours in. Add to this the sadness that comes with being run through instances(the norm on aged servers, as there are not enough lowbies to actually run instances) and the cool dungeon bits die as well.

    So you have a game that makes these great zones that are interesting, fun, and awe inspiring into sources of tedium and lament. Great Job guys.

  11. Novarum says:

    Shamus, #2 on your list had always been one of the larger problems for me. I would constantly be jumping back and forth between wow and a browser (where thottbot or wowhead were up) just to have an idea of where I was going for a quest. It was always a big wall in the way of my levelling an alt.

    I FINALLY found a mod that cuts out the middle man. This may be something you already have, although from what you said I interpreted you were just using a map with loc, and still having to go online to find out what loc you wanted.

    Anyhoo, the name of the mod is Quest Helper. It’s been fantastic for as long as I’ve used it, goes well with cartographer, and keeps you pointed in the right direction. It’s also very useful when you’re partied with other people who have it, as you can see what quests they have and how far done they are with them. I strongly suggest picking it up for all your questing needs, so long as you don’t feel it’s too much of a spoiler :)

  12. JoeTortuga says:

    Almost everything you cite as a nitpick is there as a reaction/evolution of MMO games, or is there as a beachhead against player knowledge.

    The nitpicks about quest locations, exactly what animals to kill, etc are things that, as an experienced player, I have no difficulty with. Knowledge of the game space — both where quests are, the best order to do them in, which foods are the most efficient to cook to raise skill, and so forth are an advantage that an experienced player has.

    Sure, the first run through and second were harder, but as we played for years (gradually building up high level characters in every class), it got clearer. It also encourages us to form into social groups and guilds as things like bags and gold were passed down to the newbies.

    That sort of thing is part of most MMOs, and is the reason for the level restriction. It got silly in EQ where a level 1 paladin is decked out in some level-60s cast offs (which were way overpowered for them). Sure, I could do it in a pen and paper game, but I think this makes it better.

    As far as the drinking mage goes, I dunno. The mage always seemed like a tactical character to me. Deciding when to drink, where to drink, and how to pull monsters in the most efficient ways possible. I spent most of my points in mana-boosting abilities, and at level 70, I drink a lot less.

    But every class is like that, one of the things that Blizzard got right was that it feels different to play a Mage, a Rogue, and a Warrior. They fit different playstyles, and that’s a good thing.

    Not that I want to be a WoW apologist, I’m the grumpiest WoW player in my group, and have cancelled my account several times just because I got bored with it. It’s a fun game, but it’s not the be-all end-all in this space. I look forward to the MMO that does to WoW what it did to the EQ and the others in that space:)

  13. Helge says:

    I read complaints like yours and wonder why people play the game at all. I guess there must be rewards to the game that make it fun in spite of those flaws, because otherwise you’d be doing something more rewarding with your time, like poking yourself in the eye with a sharpened pencil…

  14. Randolpho says:

    Excellent post, and of course, spot on.

    These problems seem typical of MMORPGs in general and, like Mengtzu said, are mostly related to the PvP aspect of the game.

    Ironically, the only really fun part of WoW is PvP. I really enjoy the capture-the-flag and hold-this-zone games, but I really really really hate all the twinks who play in those games. That’s why I prefer PvP games that have the players on a more or less equal footing, like Halo or Quake.

    Or, if you want MMO, like Jumpgate Evolution ( http://www.jumpgateevolution.com/ ). Man, I hope I get into the Beta. The first Jumpgate was slick but slow, and they promise to really pick up the pace with the new game.

  15. Randolpho says:

    Helge —

    There are rewards. As I mentioned in my last post, PvP is actually usually pretty fun, provided you have a decent team and aren’t going against mega-twinked bastards. Unless you *are* a mega-twinked bastard… ;)

    The fun aspects of the game are the social aspects of the game. The rest is just a grind to get there. And a grind it is, too. :(

  16. Liz says:

    I am so with you on most of that… Though just as a suggestion – when I’m stuck with rez sickness, I take that as an opportunity to head to the nearest capital city, visit the bank and the auction house, train up any professions, restock on trade gear, etc. (Don’t forget to get armor repaired, either!) By the time I’ve done that, the 10 minutes of rez sickness are done or close enough to hop that flight back to where I was questing.

  17. Sarah says:

    Well, it’s annoying, I’ll agree, but a lot of things you just have to tack up to ‘that’s the way it is.’

    I mean…take your pie-based complaint. There has to be some way of making food items that work rediculously well not function for characters with less HP. Yes, it’s silly that you can’t eat a certain pie at level 37. But, this also keeps people below the intended level from getting huge heal-quicks out of food, thus negating strategy.

    But, the food had to be something. And, no matter what the food was, pie, or cake, or roast duck, or whatever, it was going to be silly that you couldn’t eat it. It’s food. In real life, it’s fairly simple to eat just about anything.

    When food can magically heal wounds, convey temporary super-strength, endurance, or cure cancer…maybe the process becomes a little more complicated than “grab food, stuff face.”

    It also makes no sense that certain boars and what-not don’t have fairly vital organs in most of the species, and those quests could be reworked a little, but in the end, it’s sort of the thing to make quest-length have a little variety. some people will pick up claws on the first three bears. Others will ave to work a bit harder.

    Quests, especially in Darkshore, are excessively vague, especially given the vagueness of the landscape, there can be no argument there.

    Bagspace….ah, well. If you’re playing a hunter, bagspace is always going to be a bigger issue than otherwise. Quiver, leather-bag, quest-items…yeah, it fills up quick.
    Bag-growth is better if you start out in a Draenei or Blood-elf zone. You get some good bags quicker.

    …and not to nitpick on your nitpicks, but was it really so long ago that you were begging for items and armor in games to be easily described on tooltips? No, the heirarchy of food makes no sense, but it’s only food. It’s obvious via the tooltip whether you should eat it or not. If you can’t be troubled to move the mouse a few inches to hover over the icon, then there may be other issues here.

  18. Daath says:

    Requiring some specific level before you can munch on apple pie is a clumsy solution to a real problem described above. It would have been considerably better to set a cap on the maximum amount of health you can regain by eating food and base it on your level. There’d be no WTF moments when a lowbie finds out he isn’t allowed to eat a food by some mysterious, unexplained reason, but he might as well eat the dishes intended for his level, because he won’t be getting the full benefit.

  19. Luke Maciak says:

    The real time cycle annoyed me too. Since I usually play in the evenings, I have no clue how some locations actually look in the daylight.

    The bag thing is stupid but I think all RPG games have this. Some games like Morrowind keep weight of all the items you carry, compare it against your strength, and put penalties on you when you are encumbered. WoW took a simpler way and made you purchase bag space.

    In general WoW seems to favor simple solutions over elegant or realistic ones. That’s where the thing with food comes in. The hierarchy makes no sense, but the food/drink really merges 3 separate systems into something very simple to grasp and use:

    1. healing and buffing (which in many games is based on potions and/or rest)
    2. feeding Hunter pets (and some eat only certain types of foods)
    3. mana restoration (which in many games requires potions, rest or meditation)

    It is all rolled up into a nice and easy system of “food heals and drinks restore mana”. And you can use the same food to feed pets, use as ingredients for various stuff and etc. Simplicity trumps logic in this game a lot.

    But you are right – bag space is silly. I used to carry wood so that I could cook in the field, but I no longer bother since the extra bag slot is much more useful. Besides, I hardly ever actually use food for anything other than feeding my pet. And so far it has been perfectly happy eating raw fish I catch for it.

    Steven mentioned the quest in Hillsbrad. It’s funny because I went from level 22 to 23 the other day doing practically nothing but killing those damn cougars and occasional bears that. Perhaps 1 in 20 dropped blood.

    The other funny thing about quest item drops is that the creatures may not drop certain items until you have a quest that requires them. Also, some drops that look like they would be quest items may never get used. When I started playing I tried to be smart and hold on to sets of claws, or beaks hoping there will be a quest for them in the future. There usually never was.

    Spawning points are unrealistic and I always wondered why can’t there be a better way to represent this. For example Quillboars usually spawn around little settlements they build in the hills. Why couldn’t they emerge from the huts instead of beaming down? Same goes for harpies who usually hang around nests hanging from big trees. Why not have an animation of a creature emerging from a structure then run to the assigned “post” in evade mode?

  20. Matt says:

    Shamus, Try Runescape, It has no restrictions on combat levels for other skills. If you want to craft, than just craft, cooks can just cook, fisherpeople can just fish, etc etc etc…

  21. Derek K says:

    1. This annoys me to no end as well. Drop rates should be reserved for loot, not quests. Tell me to kill 30. Be a man about it. ;)

    2. I’ve run in to extremely few of these, personally. There’s one in the Barrens that I can never find (a peak of some sort) and just ignore, and I get very lost in Stonetalon, but beyond that, I never have any real problem finding them. And it is a balance – if I’m just gonna get a waypoint to run to, why not just make it right beside the quest giver?

    3. I like d2. That being said, bag space is a limiter, but it’s a personal thing. My wife never runs out of space – she only picks up magic stuff, never worries about vendors, and has a couple food items. And she’s just fine. She doesn’t have as much money as me, she doesn’t do the tradeskills – she just plays. So you bring that on yourself, to some degree. Sure, that cougar claw might be used in some recipe, somewhere. But you know what? It’s not one of yours. Toss it. If you have to keep it because it might be useful, that’s your (and to be fair, my) own issue. ;) The bag space game tells you how you’re doing, and gives you something to aim for. Unless you’re just buying them with friend’s/main’s money. It’s a bit annoying, but it doesn’t really bother me.

    4. Again, you do it to yourself. ;) Why carry earthroot if you’re a skinner? Plus, if everyone could pick up and carry every item, then a bit of the value is lost. If everyone can very easily be a master cook, then why do I care about becoming one? But if it takes a decided effort, and sacrifice, then making master cook means something (and means my wares have a bit of value as well).

    5. Agreed. I understand that they want it to be interesting and varied, but then each one should be different.

    6. That’s never bothered me. If you haven’t been to Warsong Gulch in the mid range of your level, and fought people that were X9, with perfect gear, you should try it. Gear restrictions mean that you can’t just drop the uber equipment on your alt, and be a master at PVP and PVE. It also gives you that “DUDE! I hit 34, I can wear that headgear!” And makes a nice “what should I be wearing?” filter. Is that pair of pants worth it? Oh, min level is 5, and I’m 22. Probably not.

    7. I can honestly say I have *never* paid attention to the time of day cycle. I honestly didn’t know it was there for quite some time.

    8. I would definitely like a “zone of control” type of idea – granted, you could probably abuse it by getting enough players together, but saying that monsters can’t spawn within X feet of a player isn’t a bad idea. Maybe put a preferencing on it – they try not to, within Z feet, spawn within X feet of a player. If they can’t spawn anywhere else, they spawn within Y feet of A players. The issue that could come up, though, is clustering. If there are a lot of players in the area, either mobs aren’t respawning at all, or they’re *all* respawning in one isolated area. “Sure is empty out here…I wonder where all the OH GOD OH GOD THE RAPTORS ARE EVERYWHERE THEY’RE BITING ME OH GOD OH………..”

    9. Wah. ;) Mana management is how good mages learn to be good mages. Anyone can spam mage skills over and over. “Fireball, Fireblast, Fireball, Fireblast” until it’s dead is a way to play. It’s also gonna mean you drink every 2-3 mobs. Whereas “Frostbolt, crit frostbolt, wand, wand, wand” means you can keep killing, albeit slightly slower. My frost mage drinks once every 15 mobs or so, at most. If I have to take one 3 mobs at once, it means I’m probably thirsty, but that’s about it. Plus, I have evocation and a trinket to fill me up. To me, that’s sort of like warriors saying “Man, I have to heal up after every 2-3 mobs. That really sucks. I shouldn’t have to worry about my health.”

    10. My only beef with wandering elites is that they shouldn’t attack you other than in a very limited range, and should show on the map. I remember the first time I saw a Son of Arugal, and it slaughtered me (they wander in the undead area). Then I got to SFK, and went “OOOOOH! *THAT’S* one of those things!”

    11. L2P n00b. ;)

    Rez sickness does suck. I’d like a better mechanic. It hurts the casual player more than anything – often times my wife will simply quit playing, rather than wait – she’ll try a run a couple times, give up, and then rez, and log out, because she’s frustrated, and doesn’t want to wait to play the game.

    Re: Crafting/level limits – again, I think that’s to prevent people from making 1st level alts, sending them full supplies, and having a master everything on their accounts. You can have master everythings, but you’re gonna at least have to commit the time to level them. Otherwise, go interact with other players. You’ll looking at it from the point of view of an RP’er, or a non-combatant. I look at it from the PoV of a power gamer. If all it would take to have a master enchanter on my account is cash and skill grinding, you can bet I’m gonna pay my daughter $5 to sit there and get me up to max skills.

    Re: Food/level – look at it from the Power gamer’s PoV again. I’m level 25. I have 750 hp. I can get an item that heals 800 hp/20 seconds. Or I can get one that heals 7500/20 seconds. I can do math – in 2 seconds, I’m fully healed. Food goes from an out of combat item to a 2 second full heal. Why *wouldn’t* you carry high level foods on everyone? Healing potions? Those have a cooldown. I’m just gonna eat my mystical nether-ray gullet surprise!

  22. I agree with the comment about the devilsaurs. Thirty foot thunder lizards that can sneak up on you and tromp you to death in a second flat.

    I completely agree with the time-sink issue. My suggestion? Get Jame’s Leveling Guide for Alliance (or Horde), get the QuestHelper add-on, Cartographer and Auctioneer. They make your life a lot easier.

    As for the collection quests? They suck, and should be taken out behind the chemical sheds and shot.

  23. King of Men says:

    Obviously they are *epic* pies (and glasses of milk), which will instantly kill any mere peon of low level who tries to ingest them! The sheer magnitude of the surge of vitality you get from these foods will make your brains leak out through your nose if you’re not ready to handle it.

  24. Alexis says:

    1-2. Yes.

    I agree with a great deal of what you’re saying. In most cases the issues you’ve encountered can be worked around with a little metagaming or skill, or are better than the alternative.

    3-6. Crafting is expensive and time-consuming to level even with a guide. If you try to do it without one, full bags will be the least of your worries. I know you want to experience as much of the game as possible, all at once, but it wouldn’t hurt to leave one or two things until you’ve seen some of the (early) endgame.

    Buy a stack of appropriately-levelled food or water from an innkeeper. When you ding and lvl%5==0, sell the leftovers and buy a new stack. Remember, full bags = more trips to town. Buff foods are not, imho, worth the trouble until L70.

    Bandages rock. For warriors and rogues they’re essential but even mana-dependant healers can save time.

    I love the many varied food types. It gives the world some colour. It would have been very easy to make “Iron Ration: restores 2% total health per second for 30 seconds”, instead they chose to make all kinds of cheese, bread, meat, fish, more types of water than an associate marketer on speed, even lollipops and icecream. Don’t pick up, or drop, random bits of food off monsters. You don’t know where it’s been anyway.

    “Do you need to have a firm understanding of arcane magics before you can properly command a needle and thread?” – yes. You’re creating *magic items*. Similarly blacksmithing has a rich mystical tradition in RL lore. The greatest weapons were made by GODS, surely L50 is not too much to ask?

    The vendor bag prices are hyperinflated, this is true. This creates a rare market for player-crafted items.

    7. The plaguelands are strangely beautiful during the day. When you hit 60 or so, log on at the weekend and go gryphon touring. Your wife might enjoy watching, I’ve done this for a couple of non-wowhead ladies and they both thought the world was beautiful.

    8. Yes, it’s unrealistic and kinda sucks. Your suggestion though makes it impossible to camp spawns and allows players to deny others spawns. If they spawn anyway, but outside aggro range and walk towards their spawn point – that would still be unfair to melee classes and could cause even larger groups to chain-aggro onto you.

    If you can think of even a vaguely realistic solution for infinite spawns, which doesn’t encourage goldfarming or griefing, Blizz would like a chat I’m sure. Ultima Online tried the ‘living world’ thing and afaik the results didn’t merit the investment.

    Pragmatically, try to keep moving and remember which groups you killed. Mistrust clearings next to mobs, camps or caves. Pull mobs away from their spawn points. Usually you get 2-3 seconds to scarper, if you aren’t in combat.

    9. Kind of. At some point mages get evocation, which restores all their mana very quickly, in combat (6m CD). Druids and especially priests get a lot of mileage out of Spirit, with the right talents. I view drinking as kind of a punishment for screwing up and spanking all my mana inefficiently.

    Having said all that, yes mages have to drink too much. This is partly to compensate for the speed at which they kill. Most classes become less dependant on drinking around L40-50.

    10. You’re gonna love Un’goro. Really tho, maybe look around a bit (with left mouse)? They do help build character… I mean environmental awareness, which will serve you well when you start instancing.

    The real issue here is the clipping distance. Large mobs move faster but seem to clip at the same distance. You have to be quite spry to dodge some of them. Good ol’ Tyraninjasaurus Rex.

    11. You can res quite some distance from your corpse. This is actually quite innovative and helps prevent corpsecamping by mobs or players. If you can’t make it to a cleared area, res, run, die and res again. It costs less. Spirit rez is rarely necessary, last time I genuinely needed one I just got a mate to fly out and rez me instead.

  25. Thank you, Shamus. You post makes me somehow feel…vindicated.

    I’ve been complaining for years that drop rates for quest items should ALWAYS BE 100%. Period.

    There is nothing fun about standing around for an hour killing the same monster over and over again, waiting for them to drop an eyeball. Or a gizzard. Or whatever.

    When drop rates for quest items are less than 100%, the game begins to feel more like a job than a source of entertainment.

  26. Mike says:

    1. One of the things I hated about Everquest, and why I loved DAoC. In EQ – You get a quest to get an item off of something, you go kill ten of them to get the trophy. Or you’re farming said mob and you accidentally get a drop. You search Allakhazam to see if said drop is useful for any quest you might ever get so you never have to farm said mob again. Oh, and you’re competing against other people who know mob’s usefulness and are farming just so they can sell said drop.

    In DAoC – You get a quest to kill something, you go kill it, you get the trophy. If you have the quest, you get the trophy. You don’t have the quest, you don’t get the trophy.

  27. Changling bob says:

    For many of these peeves, be glad you aren’t playing Everquest 1. Specifically number 9: if you think down time is bad in WoW, Everquest made you (apparently) sit for 15 minutes at a time. Doing nothing.

  28. Justin says:

    You should be able to level your intestinal fortitude stat separately just like any of your craftsman skills.

    I know there isn’t such a skill.

    Also: Imagine a world where pie eating contests are decided by level of experience!

  29. Robyrt says:

    Having been introduced to WOW with a free trial a couple weeks ago (I’m Beruthiel on Kirin Tor), I’m seeing a lot of the same problems. From the popularity level of WOW, I didn’t expect to see a game I would be unfavorably comparing to Dungeon Siege.

  30. Jeff says:

    4. I suspect that this is a database limitation. I can't remember any WoW quests or recipes that allow you to use a variety of options. Most likely, their database has no way of indicating that items X, Y, and Z are all sub-entries of category A, so all recipes have to reference the specific item.
    Perhaps they should be less “creative” with recipes and more “logical”. Is it really necessary to have 4 types of wolf meat? Do they really taste so different?

    6. As you noted, most MMOs do this to one extent or another. Hell, until they patched it out Neverwinter Nights 1 even did this (even though the campaign was in control of when you got access to higher-level gear).

    Which was a terrible thing, given that D&D controls it via access, not some stupid arbitrary limit. If you found a Hackmaster 9 and the DM said “Sorry, you can’t swing that your level isn’t high enough”, somebody is going to get a book to the face.

    There'd be no WTF moments when a lowbie finds out he isn't allowed to eat a food by some mysterious, unexplained reason, but he might as well eat the dishes intended for his level, because he won't be getting the full benefit.
    That would work really well. Just have it be percentage based (off your total), but also capped numerically.

    Regarding spawn points, wouldn’t it be better to have them not spawn if somebody is nearby? That prevents camping as well… have the respawn timer tick down, but not actually pop until someone else further away. Although that could lead to packs of mobs popping up for highly populated areas…

  31. Neal White says:

    I can understand all of the nitpicks you listed since I have plyed enought to have a 70 warlock (still hoplesly squishy) and a lvl 20 warlock (working at not being so squishy when he’s a 70)
    The food issue confused me for a while but I figured it out. If I am a low level toon with 800 HP and eat a pie that grants 3500 HP in 18 seconds I am at full health almost instantly, but when I drink a glass of milk it takes the full 30 seconds to get to full health.
    I do think the “Hey! This pig has no liver” problem should be investigated by the ingame EPA and maybe we’ll have to put a ban on DDT.

  32. Manticore says:

    Ugh, collection quests. The level 50 rogue class quest is especially nasty, because you have to collect a certain bag from a certain ooze in Azshara. Thing is, there’s maybe 5 of these oozes in the world, and I’d be amazed if its drop rate was as high as 1 in 20. That was not a fun several hours.

  33. James says:

    Reading through these nitpicks, I don’t disagree much; one thing that’s worth noting is that for the most part the section of the game currently being experienced (1-37) is years old, mostly unchanged since the game originally launched.

    While not perfect, the newer content (Mostly from the Burning Crusade Expansion) have resolved at least some of the more annoying issues. Not all though. I tend to just skip parts of the game that irritate me now instead of slogging through it. :P

    Level restrictions deserve a special note: They’re a solution to a problem, that being of low level characters getting way out of scope gear and trivializing content, not just in PvE but in PvP as well. Better discussions and comments about it have already been made however, so I won’t rehash them further.

    Cheers,

  34. Arthur says:

    You know what I’d be interested in? An MMO where there’s NO PVP AT ALL, or where what PVP there is is resolved through roleplaying (faction politics, etc) as opposed to the combat system. It strikes me that if they yanked PVP from MMOs then half the problems with them would evaporate instantly.

  35. Dave says:

    Dang it, Shamus, you went and made me fire up a WOW trial. I quit in late 2005 to avoid what had become near-complete mind control. I ran into some of your cool guildies on KT, P&W does seem like a really great guild.

    I know what you mean about the unchanging world. It was funny to run through Dun Morogh and be like, dang, you STILL haven’t gotten Gol’balar Quarry cleared out? How many troggs could there possibly be down there?

    Not that it was terribly surprising, but there could be some kind of update after 3 years. Of course, with 80% of the population at the end game, why bother?

    I got my dwarf up to level 17 and am feeling your pain. You will learn grinding techniques that maximize your uptime as you go along. But there’s no escapin the meatless crocolisks and other non-dropping hacks. The dude at the Farstrider lodge wanted 5 chunks of crocodile meat. You’d think I could get that without having to clean the whole island out, like twice.

    My metaphysical thoughts about why my priest is such a bloodthirsty psychopath are beyond Blizzard’s control, of course. But really, does he not ever need to spend time pondering/meditating/praying (sorry, not real tuned in to his religion)? Some priest.

  36. Derek K says:

    “It strikes me that if they yanked PVP from MMOs then half the problems with them would evaporate instantly.”

    Eh. It’s not just direct competition. It’s indirect. I’m competing with you for AH items, for quests, for drops, for status. If you have an advantage over me, it may or may not hurt me.

    If you can get godly loot from a main, and just wipe out Wailing Caverns over and over again, 20 minutes per run, getting all the items you want, the fact that I struggled through it for 4 hours to get an item that I want to put on the AH becomes less important. Etc.

    “Not that it was terribly surprising, but there could be some kind of update after 3 years. Of course, with 80% of the population at the end game, why bother?”

    Eh. From a resources point of view, why delete a quest that people can still do? There are new players. They can do the quest. And really, it’s a quest. “Kill X Foozles in Y location” is really the baseline of a lot of the quests. Why drop one that works?

    “My metaphysical thoughts about why my priest is such a bloodthirsty psychopath are beyond Blizzard's control, of course. But really, does he not ever need to spend time pondering/meditating/praying (sorry, not real tuned in to his religion)? Some priest.”

    You assume that priest == pacifist in some way. ;) When there are wandering abominations about, it’s your sacred *duty* to make them dead.

    I haven’t worked out how exactly boars fit in to the equation, but I’m pretty sure they’re abominations in some way….

    But it’s a world of WARcraft, man! Ain’t no namby-pamby peace n’ love gods here. You worship ’em by makin’ things dead in their name! WAUGH!

    Wait, I may have just crossed IP boundaries there.

  37. Gary says:

    Shamus, I really have to agree with you on most of this. When you decided to take on WoW as your topic of discussion, I decided that I would play the trial once again,in order to:

    A) keep up with the rants.
    and
    B) give the game another chance.

    The reasons you list here are some of my main complaints about the game (besides the monthly cost).

    I’m used to the drops being inconsistent in games, but in WoW I’ve found that one quest can take hours because the lousy Gnoll Paws refuse to drop no matter how many you kill!

    I agree about the bags being ridiculously costly too. In Guild Wars they cost a lot but in WoW they cost a small fortune. For a 6 slot bag you pay something like 2 silver, but you say you want an 8 slot bag, well I’m sorry, you’re going to have to hand over 30 silver. FOR TWO EXTRA SLOTS!

    The quest location aspect of the game however is my BIGGEST pet peeve. There is often no way to find some of these places without wandering the whole face of the land and then stumbling upon them by accident. Someone mentioned a 3rd party plugin or some such. In my opinion, if you have to resort to 3rd party software in order to perform basic gameplay functions, then that portion of the gameplay is broken.

    There were a lot of good things about this game in my second trial attempt. I was expecting to hate the game completely, but it has some really nice things going for it too. The landscape is a lot of fun and it is huge. At around Level 10 (human), I decided I wanted to go find the dwarf starting location. I tried many different paths to get there (invariably getting spattered by huge monsters) and discovered some really charming locations. (I also learned how to rez in strategic locations) Finally, I just swam up the western coast of the map (which took about 45 minutes) but was neat that it let me do that.

    I was almost swayed into buying the game. It has some powerful motivators, but in the end some of the “nitpicks” listed above and a couple of others became the deal breaker.
    They were just too annoying for me to deal with. So if I ever get the urge for WoW again, I’ll most likely just pop in a new trial CD and have at it until my time runs out again.

  38. 2. Can’t remember the quest, but the quest giver told me to go north east to get what I needed. So I went north and east. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for I pulled up wowhead only to find that what I wanted was in the north east part of the zone, not north east of the NPC’s location.

    Concerning food, and drink, and recovery time. In Everquest food and drink were simply required. Your character had to eat and drink on a regular basis. If you did not your natural health and mana recovery just stopped. Fortunately as long as you had food your character would automatically eat and we were never bothered by this mechanic. Unfortunately their was no warning that we were getting low on food or drink, only that we were hungry or thirsty. It made for an annoying and otherwise useless game mechanic.

    Coming into WoW its nice to see that food and drink are recovery items. Sit down, eat up, and miraculously recover from near death. Or drink up and completely refresh your magical energies. It gives food and drink meaning that EQ lacked. The other nice thing being that in EQ, we didn’t have recovery items. Or at least those rare ones we did have were extremely rare. Recovering mana took minutes, not 30 seconds while drinking milk, but many minutes in which the caster had to sit down to meditate their mana back. If it was the healer that was low on mana, it could stop an entire group in its tracks. No bandages to help a healer out, no mana or health potions. Just had to sit and wait.

    In this way I consider WoW a vast improvement and don’t mind what little downtime there is.

    I completely agree with you that there should be a way to allow players to level up in crafting skills separately from fighting skills. There should also be a mechanic that allows a person who is good at both fighting and crafting to make exceptional armor and arms.

    I use resurrection sickness downtime to visit town, empty pockets, replenish ammo, repair, and travel. Generally I’m ready to get back into the fight right as its wearing off, so I don’t usually notice it. In either case, punishing us with a little downtime is a far cry better than taking away our hard earned experience, especially when the experience was so much harder to earn as well.

    In this way I’m happy with WoW. I agree that level restrictions on food and drink items sucks. I would much rather see them all replenish a percentage of health or mana as appropriate. No need for level restrictions then, and as a social game we can all then have our own favorite foods. The different food types could allow for different bonuses. This is something you’ll see if and when you get to Outlands. The foods there offer bounses to agility, attack power, hit rating, and spell power, not just stamina and spirit. They still require levels, but theres more reason for having so many different types of foods.

    I don’t mind the vast amount of ingredients, but I am annoyed that each and every recipe has to have a whole new different set of ingredients. How about using wolf meat with mild spices for one item, wolf meat with hot spices for a different item, and wolf meat with soothing spices for yet another item? This would greatly increase the amount of items we can make while cutting down on the amount of raw materials we need. Personally I’d like to see more of that. With tailoring we could have different shirt patterns, but depending on the type of cloth used we could have different shirts made. But we’d only need one pattern. Makes sense to me.

    Bag space to me only becomes limiting when I’m farming. Granted I’m farming for tradeskills, quests, money… its almost a continual farm fest. I don’t mind the limited bag space, but when I’m skinning, I have to empty my kills of all their crap before I can skin the kill. This makes bag space even more valuable. I’ll admit that I’d like to see more drop on from creatures I kill. Regularly two eyes, a nose, two ears, 4 paws and 20 claws. But I’d also like to see more use for each of those parts. Whats with all this grey crap that is vendor fodder? Most of it gets destroyed anyway for bag space, why drop it at all?

    And whats with medium leather, heavy leather, think leather? Why all the difference. I could understand medium quality leather and high quality leather. But even then, what does the level of my kill have to do with the quality of its skin? My skill at skinning a creature should determine, or allow me to determine the quality of hide I get from a creature, not the level of the creature itself. For that matter how is it that I can skin a croc and get the same type of leather as I can get off a cat? Why can’t I skin a croc and expect to get scales? I could also understand having different types of leather for different types of creatures skinned, but make it consistent. If I’m going to skin a dragon, I expect to get dragon scales, not more rugged leather.

  39. krellen says:

    I’ve started playing City of Heroes again after you started this series on WoW (I tried it a couple years ago and didn’t continue in favour of WoW, which I quit a few months later). CoH has none of these problems.

    Your quests are to do something in a specific location – a cave, a sewer, a building, a warehouse – or to defeat X number of Y group – no collection to it. And you don’t have to go searching for your mission location; it’s a mark on your map. There’s no equipment, just enhancements – which often you can’t use because of your origin, but sell nicely for influence. No wandering elites – areas are marked by their level even within a specific zone, virtually nothing “wanders”, and most that do only have small patrol paths, and best I can tell things do not spawn around players. Some groups have “Bosses” in them, but the groups pretty much stay put and are generally easy to avoid or flee.

    It also doesn’t have as varied a crafting system, though inventions do lead to some interesting searching and combinations. There’s no first aid, cooking, and other such crafts to grind up, but there are badges to earn (and most tell you exactly what you have to do to earn them, if not concretely how much of it you have to do.)

    Their “resurrection sickness”, XP debt, also operates entirely differently. Instead of encouraging you to sit around and do nothing for ten minutes, it actually encourages you to go out and keep doing something, because you need to beat some foes to work off your debt. Half the experience you earn goes to pay off debt, and the other half you keep, so you don’t even feel like you’re needlessly filling in a hole; you’re still earning something, if not as much as usual. Plus, there’s a badge for paying off debt, so there’s a reward even for that.

    Plus, in City of Heroes, you can fly, from level 6, virtually anywhere you can see (there’s a sky ceiling, but it’s really really high and only the spire tops of the tallest buildings will be denied you.)

  40. Derek K says:

    CoH is, in fact, awesome. I can fully support that. ;)

    CoH is an entirely different beast from WoW, though. One I usually prefer – in CoH I shout “Level 22 scrapper, LFT” and within minutes, I have a group. Or, I simply start hitting up the people flagged as LFT with “Hey, interested in a 21-24 mission team?”

    Works really well. CoH is flexible enough that you can really make a team out of any 2-8 players, and have fun.

    Course, CoH is really only so good after you’ve spent time in a normal MMO. You won’t find it refreshing that you don’t have to manage drops unless you’ve spent enough time doing so. ;)

  41. Sheer_FALACY says:

    The reason for having seventeen different kinds of leather or 17 different kinds of boar meat is you don’t want low level and high level characters farming the same items. I mean, if you kill a level 70 monster and get the same item you’d have gotten off a level 23 monster, it’s pretty sad. In the worst case, it’s an item people actually need and you’d get level 70s farming the level 23 monsters in bulk. That would be very bad.

    The problem with cooking is a particularly poor balance of realism and good gaming practice. It’s realistic that each meat makes different foods. It’s good gaming practice to have different levels for meats from the same animal type. What you end up getting is an absurdly large amount of recipes, each of which uses one ingredient. This is an especially large issue when you’re level 25, you have some bear meat, and the recipe for bear meat steak or whatever is only available on the other side of the world.

    Also, Shamus, if you’re worried about an item being used for a quest… It’s very rare for an item to be used for a quest if it’s not marked as a quest item / only aquirable after you’ve started the quest. And if the color of the name of the item is gray, it’s never used for anything and only exists to be sold.

  42. krellen says:

    I’ll add to Derek’s comment that my biggest beef with CoH is the fact that everyone is looking for teams. It’s virtually impossible to get away from the search for teams; I get asked three or four times a night if I’m looking for a team. The game’s perfectly playable solo (though some power sets and a couple of the classes are much more difficult to play solo than teamed – but there’s also at least one class (the Mastermind, on the Villain side) that seems designed specifically for solo play), and sometimes it’s hard to get a group together for the longer missions (called task forces, actually a collection of missions), but overall it’s a nice balance of group and solo playability.

  43. J Greely says:

    1. Pure torture. For years now, almost every patch has had an “increase drop rate of quest item X” note, and it’s still not good enough. Stranglethorn probably has the worst of these.

    3. Until quite recently, Blanchy’s Feed Bag had four slots. Worst reward ever.

    4. I think high-level crafting ingredients should break down into low-level ones, just like you can combine low-level leather to make high-level leather. The big bear meat should be equivalent to 3 standard bear meat, etc.

    5. “Oh, great, I’m in an elf town that sells nothing but white wine and canapes, and I’ve still got half a stack of gnomish engine cleaner and two stacks of goblin mystery meat.”

    10. Wandering elites give you a long-term goal; there’s nothing like coming back a few levels later for some old-fashioned payback. Anyone up for some devilsaur burgers?

    -j

  44. Jeff says:

    The reason for having seventeen different kinds of leather or 17 different kinds of boar meat is you don't want low level and high level characters farming the same items. I mean, if you kill a level 70 monster and get the same item you'd have gotten off a level 23 monster, it's pretty sad. In the worst case, it's an item people actually need and you'd get level 70s farming the level 23 monsters in bulk. That would be very bad.

    Eh, there’s a very very simple solution for that.

    Level 1 creature drops 1 tooth.
    Level 70 creature drops 70 teeth.

    Level 1 necklace of teeth – 20 teeth.
    Level 70 necklace of teeth – 1400 teeth.

    Same for things like meat.
    If the level 70 wants to make and eat Sloppily Made Meat Pies instead of Pies Of The Gods and heal 1hp/tick instead of 700, that’s his business.

  45. tom says:

    wait, level 5 for milk? does this mean babies are born level 5? if not how do they level? and how the hell did all these people survive being babies when they couldnt drink milk? I mean, just about everybody there started at level 1 so they couldnt drink anything besides water.

  46. Jeff says:

    Clearly the level 1s would be able to drink milk if they had access to boobies.

  47. khorboth says:

    Some interesting facts:

    1) City of Heroes is a low-population game compared to WoW and many other MMORPGs.

    2) City of Heroes is over-represented in the people commenting on this blog.

    3) People commenting on this blog tend to be more literate and more mature than people who post on other gaming sites. (see previous post that I’m too lazy to link.)

    4) People commenting on this blog are more attuned to gameplay flaws than those who post on other gaming sites. (unsupported, but I think the content of the blog gives good empirical evidence.)

    So… Enjoy WoW for as long as you can, Shamus, but when you’re ready to move on, perhaps you should look favorably upon CoH.

  48. Shawn says:

    I’m actually a big fan of wandering elites. They build character.

    Just wait until you hit Un’Goro Crater for the ninja devilsaurs. At least the Fel Reavers in Hellfire Peninsula shake the earth when they move. You learn pretty quickly to run the hell away from them.

  49. Liz N. says:

    Looks like most of your points have been addressed. However I would like to add that, while having a large variety of ingredients and food types may be a drag on bag space… It’s a large variety of ingredients and food types! It makes the game interesting. I’m amused to find things like “Mulgore Spice Bread” and “Alterac Swiss”- even if I pretty much immediately trash them because they’re useless. It tells me a little more about the world. Eventually you’ll learn what kinds of things you need to keep around and what kinds of things you don’t, and if there’s ever a question, all you need to do is look it up on thottbot or wowhead. (I realize this “breaks the immersion” for some, but honestly, you’ll have a happier WoW life once you accept it.)

    And also, cooking gets a lot less stupid later on. :)

  50. Dev Null says:

    I agree with most of your gripes, though I also agree that they’re mostly minor. There are things that occasionally frustrate me, but they don’t ruin the game for me.

    #9 though I think you get wrong. I kinda like the fact that all of the character classes in WoW aren’t carefully balanced to be doing exactly X DPS at level Y, and be able to last Z minutes against the avaerage same-level opponent. Mages are glass cannons. While I’m doing X damage you’re doing 2X. You’ll kill the little beggars twice as fast, and you have a variety of ways of slowing or stalling them as they come to eat you… but god help you if one of them gets close enough to breathe on you. But if you’re going to be able to kill things twice as fast, and the game is all about killing things for loot/xp/quests, then something has to balance you out slightly so that you’re not just twice at fast as progressing so long as you stay with mobs you can take down safely. Mana conservation / regen is just the balance.

    Mind you, this whole idea of progression balance completely falls apart when it comes to paladins, as near as I can tell. People claim they’re not out of whack, and for same-level stuff it might even be true, but when you’ve watched a pallie farming things 5 levels down by simply running through as many of them as they can see at once, continuously, without break, for 10 minutes on end, it starts to get a little silly. I can take a couple at once maybe with my warrior, with a break afterwards to bandage, but I’ve seen palladins pulling _dozens_, without gear appreciably better than mine.

  51. Duffy says:

    While I agree some of these are annoying or at the very least just plain silly, they do in fact create an ideal game balance. And while they are oddities, they do not prevent the game from being enjoyable, at least to me and apparently many others.

    The one that is really an issue is the vague quest directions, personally I only recall one or two per zone that gave useless directions. They were incredibly annoying, especially at the lower levels when you don’t have a mount and travel time is precious. I currently use the 3rd party addon for my alts, just because I’ve seen and read every quest already, I just want to get on to the end-game.

    As for the downtime argument, well there are, once again, game balance issues. Using the mage example: Mages have very hight burst damage, meaning in general they can kill a single mob far faster then other classes, to offset this advantage, they go through mana faster.

    As for CoH, I personally tried out CoV when it came out as it appealed more to my tastes then CoH. And I will admit it was neat and some of the “cool” things it let you do were fun. (I did enjoy super jumping all over the place.) However, it was a very shallow and boring game to me, the combat was good, in a lot of ways it was similar to WoW’s combat opposed to other MMORPGs. That was fine, what I found boring was the lack of scenery change, the fact that there was nothing but combat to do at anytime, and I recall navigation aggravating me also. Again, thats just my personal problem with it, to each their own.

    As you may have noticed from my comments and many people before me, a lot of the nitpicks are centered around the fact that you are playing an MMORPG and MMORPGs require all around balance. The restrictions are not in place just because, they are in place to insure someone cannot ruin the game for you or make the game trivial for those coming after them.

    If you still don’t like it, oh well. On to the next game.

  52. Steve C says:

    Nitpicking your nitpicks…

    1. Murloc eyeballs are not a “quest item” per ce. Quest items can be defined as items that someone can’t get for you, only drop if you are on the quest and cannot be traded or sold. Murloc eyeballs are wanted for a quest, but are more common than dirt and worth less than 1 silver each to purchase. Similarly for most of the other stuff. A new player has no real way to know that (a valid gripe) but that’s why those eyes didn’t drop all the time. Your point is valid, just not a good example. Consider if every murloc dropped 2 eyeballs. However I’ve killed a village full of murlocs and none of them had heads! It’s very annoying.

    2. I’ve found quest locations for 99% of quests to be spot on if read carefully and your map consulted. Some quests are absolutely terrible but I’ve found them to be the exception rather than the rule. I know of the addon that points the way, but I purposely don’t use it. I don’t want to be lead by the nose. Your suggestion to “Ask for more info” is a good one. Some quests do exactly that, but not enough. If you want more info type /1 and ask in general chat for a location.

    3. I think bag space is just fine. As for your guild mates giving you 16 slot bags for free, that is common. Those bags are worth less than the materials to make them, but people make them to gain skill points. Basically if people didn’t use them as gifts they would become worthless. It’s an emergent property of the game that results in game balance. If bags had a level req to equip, then the gripe would be valid.

    4. I’ve found the problem with not having enough inventory only occurs if you are a packrat. You don’t need to carry every random piece of crap you find back to a vendor. (Goes back to what if everything dropped all their parts to pick up.) Throw away the less valuable things as you find more valuable things, or don’t bother picking up crap in the first place. If you are running into problems where there are lots of different types of things that you really want to keep, try killing a less broad range of creatures on a foray from town. For example if you kill lions, tigers and bears then they all will drop different parts that don’t stack well. If you just kill bears, then only bear parts drop which stack well.

    5. If you have different types of food that don’t stack, then simply pick one and throw the rest away. It’s either an example of an obsolete item you should just toss, or is just in for flavor. (Horde find more fungus and Alliance find more cheese for example.)
    All the food and water that can be found by killing or shopping is good for ten levels at 15, 25, 35 etc. Some of the crafted food can be used at 20, 30 etc but you have to go out of your way to make it. It’s like obsolete weapons and armor, ditch it. You don’t have to read the tooltip entirely if you don’t want. Just look at the level required to use it. If it’s level 25, then knowing that it’s 25 means it’s always going to be better than food that is for level 15, and never as good as food requiring 35. If you are level 37, you should be using level 35 food and ditching the rest. It’s no different than ditching that level 22 sword at 37.
    Yeah it’s nonsense that you can’t eat apple pie. But consider if you could eat food meant for lvl 70 that gives 7000 hp over 30sec. You could take 1 bite and be at full hit points in 2 secs. That wouldn’t be balanced. I’ll accept the nonsense for balance and a bit of flavor text. Let’s you play a vegan Tauren that only eats fruit.

    6. That’s not really a valid gripe IMO because all the professions don’t have a level tied to them to craft. There is a level tied to become a -master- at it. You DON’T need to be a seasoned warrior to smelt better, you DON’T need to be a seasoned tailor to learn how to use a needle and thread. All the crafting professions have 3 specific levels (20, 35, 50) to get to different tiers of skill beyond the basic (journeyman, artisan, master). The secondary skills (cooking, 1st aid) have one level (35) requirement to break it up. That’s due to a quest before a qualified teacher will teach you.

    I think it makes a bit of sense that a character has to have some understanding of how it needs to work before he can craft it. A level 20 tailor can make cloth goods usable for characters level 40 that provides better protection than the mail made for a level 20 warrior. The monsters that level 40 is expected to fight would 1 shot a level 20 regardless if he was wearing mail or cloth. Another way of looking at is how do you design armor to provide protection against the most fearsome dragon attacks, when you have no concept of how even a sick baby dragon attacks?

    There are a few good game reasons why those caps are there. Consider if they weren’t; lots of people would have crafting characters would that would effectively be npcs. They wouldn’t leave the city, but would have maximum blacksmithing and leatherworking etc. Since so many people would have these max skill alts there would be no demand to purchase crafted gear from other players. But there would be LOTS of demand for the raw materials. The price of raw trade goods would be 1000s of gold to craft things worth a few silver for what they could be sold to a vendor. It would skew the profession system into nonsense and would end up hurting the newest players the most.
    BTW You can be level 5 and smelt the ores found in level 70 zones. It’s really really hard to be level 5 and do that, but possible. (And I know someone who did that just to say he did.)

    7. Valid point if you want to see the day-night cycle. Personally I prefer it linked to real time. Different servers have different time zones. You could pick one that moves from day to night in the time that you will normally play. A kluge solution but it’s a solution.

    8. You’re right, respawns suck and should be eliminated. Your solution that a respawn won’t happen if in attack range is a good start. Problem comes about since it’s a massively multiplayer game. What happens if player A clears out an area and moves on while Player B who is on the same quest but 2 mins behind comes into the area looking for monsters? He won’t find anything because he is there. Maybe a solution is to not spawn if a player is in combat in a certain radius, but allow it if any player is not in combat within that same radius. At the very least it should stand there longer without joining in killing you if you don’t take offensive action.

    9. It’s a class mechanic issue. The only class really in that boat is the mage. They kill fast (little time in combat) but have a lot of down time afterwards to balance it out. It does suck, and it’s the reason why I don’t like mages. Good mages can kill fast and have no downtime. Killing fast while using little mana is the aspect of the class that’s easy to learn, difficult to master.

    10. I really like that there are wandering toughs that smoosh you. Keeps you on your toes. If stuff like that didn’t happen it would be a case of “go here, click that, win. repeat.” I love that at any minute some monster could be wandering up behind me. It forces you to be aware of your surroundings. Part of my combat routine is to rotate my camera around to watch for nasties, normally while I’m waiting for a cooldown or something. Generally you -can- outrun them. All classes have something (be it fear, bubble, FD etc) that allow them to cut and run. Part of the game is knowing when and how to do that.

    11. Rez sickness does suck. Far far from perfect, it is the best implementation of a penalty for not recovering your body. (Remember Diablo?.. shudder.) I’ve found that 99% of the time I can find a safe corner somewhere the the relatively large radius around my corpse to rez safely.

    @Derek K: Paying your children to play video games? What’s the world come to?!

  53. GeneralBob says:

    Hm, sounds like you’d like RuneScape

  54. Kevin says:

    1. Low drop rates for quest items
    This bugs my wife too. I never really cared though, since I enjoy the combat portion, and extra killing just means extra xp.

    2. Quest Locations are Vague
    I have had this complaint as well, but in almost every case it has simply been that I was being impatient and failed to read the whole entry.

    3. Bag space is outrageously limited
    I thought this was just another marker of my progress, it didn’t occur to me to get upset about it. On the plus side, it’s something that you only have to put up with once. After that your mains can send your newbies stuff like this.

    4. The Needless proliferation of ingredients
    I loved leveling cooking. (Not a defense.) The bank helped me tons here, and I used an online guide to help me keep track of what I needed and what I didn’t. (Cheating? Maybe.) Also, I cut my teeth with EQ, and this system is SO much better. I actually wish that there were MORE cooking stuff to be had out there, and it’s another reason I’m looking forward to the next expansion.

    5. The Needless proliferation of food types
    Agreed. Again I do wish that there were a greater variety of food bonuses and types. (Not just names.)

    6. Arbitrary Level restrictions
    This is a total twink-guard. But it WOULD be really cool if you could make up a character as a non-combat class. Total rubbish at fighting but gained xp by crafting stuff.

    7. The realtime day / night cycle
    This doesn’t really seem like an actual problem. EQ had the compressed cycle, and while I like it better the way WoW has handled it, there isn’t really any difference except for decorative.

    8. Respawning monsters
    I smell potential player abuse in this one. The spawn camps in EQ were a real pain, and WoW has greatly (though not entirely) alleviated this by the current “beam down” method.

    9. Heavy Drinking Mages
    I like the additional resource issue of regaining mana, but I DEFINITELY wish it went by more quickly.

    10. Wandering Elites are Asinine
    I LOVE the wandering elites. I totally enjoy that even in an area where I out-level everything by one or two spots there is still a reason not to become complacent and just relax into a boring routine. The sudden screaming run is (for me) exhilarating and fun. Hm… perhaps I am being asinine…

    11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks
    Yep. It sure does. I don’t think it would lessen my enjoyment of WoW one jot if they did away with it and never looked back.

  55. Luke Maciak says:

    Note about vague quest directions – I think this issue plagues every single game with large open ended terrain, and no “waypoints” of any kind. I had the exact same problem with quest directions in Morrowind – and in fact, directions were sometimes much worse.

    There were a lot of quests of the type “find a concealed door located on one of the 3 dozen tiny islands that all look the same in the middle of nowhere”.

    I totally hate this sort of thing. It’s frustrating – I rather know exactly where I’m going and do sight seeing, and wandering around on my own terms. That’s why I use Quest Helper – I can’t imagine playing without it.

  56. Tim-O says:

    WTF? So does every noob get to bitch about a game they’ve only played for a month? And be taken them seriously? I think not.

    Gosh, I wonder how Blizzard ever made the largest and most profitable MORPG ever without Shamus’s help?

    I think this is just a case of people never being satisfied. If they implented most of the changes he suggests the game would be boring after a weeks play. Go play Mah’ Jong or Solitaire. Sounds like Shamus would be happier with the one-dimensionalism of them.

  57. Katy says:

    As for “respawning monsters” and your comment: “At least make it so that a monster won't respawn if a player is standing within attack range.”

    I can see high-level players abusing this mechanic by standing within attack range of a boss’s spawn point, thus not letting anyone else ever kill him to complete a quest. You know some jerks on the WoW servers would do this.

  58. Kavonde says:

    I’d say Tim-O’s assigned icon is fitting. Are you implying that Shamus’ list is in any way incorrect? That was a pretty complete list of annoyances and design flaws with the game.

    I noticed an earlier comment mentioned the Outlands being a huge improvement over the old content. This is true, but it’s worth mentioning that the problem of wandering elites, especially in the first area (*cough*fel reavers*cough*) is only made worse. In fact, it becomes part of the “challenge.” Watching the screen shake and hearing the shriek of demonic steam engines just before a giant foot comes down to smash you into oblivion is kinda fun the first couple of times, but boy, does it get old.

  59. Evil Otto says:

    WTF? So does every noob get to bitch about a game they've only played for a month? And be taken them seriously? I think not.

    Actually, it’s Shamus’ blog, and he can complain about anything he wants to, and given the intelligent quality of his writing, he gets taken seriously.

    Unlike you.

    Quite a few of his complains have merit, and I say that as someone who has played WoW for two years now.

  60. Tom M says:

    1. Think of it this way, if the NPC wants, say, 3 murloc eyes, assume that he wants intact murloc eyes. Not ones that you’ve slashed with your sword or fried with your spells. When it’s a body part I always assume he wants an ‘intact’ body part.

    If you wanted bear claws would you want chipped, cracked or blunt ones to put on that necklace you’re making?

    Not to mention “drop quests” encourage solo questing while “kill X number” encourage group questing. The more of a variety in quest types creates more variety in gameplay.

    2. If you're playing WoW, you have internet access. That means if you're impatient about finding where something is, the exact location is only an ALT+TAB and a couple clicks away.

    Meanwhile, those players who want to immerse themselves in the game through exploring for things can still do so.

    The best way to keep both types of player happy is to include some vague quests that require some searching around. Meanwhile, you'll also find that many quests are actually very precise in their directions.

    3. I disagree. I find it odd that you have issues with nonsensical things yet believe players should have more bag space. How, exactly, is the character carrying around THAT many items on their person?

    You have to limit bag space so players are required to go to vendors, go to cities, go to their bank from time to time. What exactly do you think is a realistic limit here?

    4. Again, you're arguing for less diversity. I have to disagree; I think the more diversity in this game the better. If the plethora of different ingredients is driving you crazy, it's a simple ALT+TAB and a couple clicks for a clarification of which ones you need.

    5. Same complaint as #4; substitute “food types” for ingredients above.

    6. There's actually quite a lot of thought put into profession level restrictions. In #53, Steve C did a really good job explaining why lifting profession level restrictions would cause complete havoc on the WoW economy. Not to mention, all those profession-specific BoP items (an incentive to level your profession early on and gain that advantage) would have to be specifically restricted by level so you didn't have level 1 master blacksmiths running around with level 70 weapons and creating swaths of destruction in leveling zones. I don't think I have to explain how that would completely destroy the leveling process.

    As for foods/drinks making sense, you can't buy a level 70 pie on your level 10 mage and instantly restore full health. That would be ridiculous. If you really need an in-game reason rather than the purely logical one, how about your character hasn't yet developed the palate for sufficiently appreciating finer cooking as of yet?

    7. The reverse could be argued as well. I like it that if I get on in the morning, the sun is rising in WoW, just as if I get on in the evening… etc. This set up encourages variety in play times so when you get on at a different time, things are different. I like the fact that catching a “˜WoW sunset' can be a cool thing, and not something that happens 8 times a day.

    8. Personally I like random respawns. It introduces an element of surprise, challenge and excitement. You should always be prepared for ambush by another monster, just as if you play on a PvP server you should always keep an eye out for “˜gankers.'

    Unjust player death? Every class has different tools at their disposal for making a quick getaway when it's needed. Leveling is easy enough as it is without doing away with some of the challenges it does have to offer.

    9. Every class has its strengths and weaknesses. It's not such a small step to complaining about mages' drinking downtime to becoming one of the many voices whining about their viability in arena or their sustained DPS in raids.

    To specifically address this one: if mages didn't ever have to drink they could AoE level ridiculously fast. In order to have such high burst and area damage capabilities, there has to be a mechanic for balancing it out.

    10. Again, this is basically the same gripe as #8 and I have the same response. Introducing the element of surprise or requiring the player to keep an eye out for such things creates more variety and excitement in gameplay.

    If Blizzard implemented any one of the changes you suggest here I believe it would take away from game quality. Not only that, but some of the suggestions you make have the potential for complete disaster.No offense, but as a level 37 mage who’s seen maybe 1% of this game, you actually do not have enough experience to tell the difference between newbie growing pains and actual design flaws.

  61. Blackbird71 says:

    I’m afraid I only had time to skim the previous comments, so forgive me if some of this has been said already.

    Shamus, on some of your nitpicks I will have to agree with you completely, while on others I think you completely missed the point. So, I’ll tackle each item in turn:

    1. One of my biggest complaints ever. Blizzard either needs to fix these drop rates, or at the very least write some lore explaining the history behind Azeroth’s plague of intestineless and liverless animals.

    2. Vague locations are a bit of a problem, but as you point out, there are plug-ins and add-ons that greatly improve this and many other issues. One of the strengths of the game is the fact that they made it able to be player-modified. As large MMOs have flourished in the recent past, it has been seen that when dealing with a game of such magnitude, it becomes impossible to anticipate every single problem or situation that may be encountered. Having the foresight to recognize this in advance and the courage to employ a system whereby the power to sovle the problem is in the hands of the player is something I think Blizzard should be commended for. Most other MMOs ban accounts using 3rd party add-ons, while WoW facilitates and encourages it in order to promote and improve the evolution of the game.

    3. I don’t think bag space is as big of an issue as you make it out to be, in my observation it’s been more of a personal outlook issue. Every MMO takes steps to limit inventory in some manner, primarily because all items have to be stored in the main database, and there is not unlimited memory. Beyond that though, it adds another dimension to the gameplay when your storage capacity increases as you progress: it’s just one more reward in an RPG, a system built on rewarding players’ accomplishments.

    I’ve never had a problem getting by with the initial 16 storage slots for the first few levels. It’s a good tiem to learn what’s worth keeping and what’s too much trouble to bother with. You prioritize, and only take the items of the most raw worth, or those that you need the most to ge tthe job done. As you rise in level, you get to keep more of teh stuff you find. This has the added effect of giving you more money later in the game, as you can carry more loot back to sell.

    As a note, prices vary by server, but thsoe netherweave bags typically go for 5-6 gold each – a hefty sum for a 10th level character, but really not that bad as you get further on. The disadvantage to the netherweave bags is that once equipped, they bind to that character and can not be given to anyone else to use. The alternative is to use Mooncloth bags, which do not bind, but tend to cost 4x as much.

    Personally, I would have expected to see you nitpick this little mechanic, soulbinding, a bit more than some of the others. It makes little sense to me. I understand it from a game mechanic perspective, it’s a money/item sink, which helps keep some level of balance in the game economy and perpetuates gameplay. However, when looked at from a logical or RP perspective, having an item only ever usable by a single person needs some better justification. I can understand it with regards to armor, as historically armor needed to be custom-fit anyway, and it would be a bit hard for a human to don a set of armor made for a gnome, but explain to me what makes a staff (i.e., stick of wood) so special that no one else is capable of hitting someone over the head with it?

    Well, off my little rant and back to the list at hand:

    4. I knew there was a reason I never bothered doing much with cooking. I can’t say that I’ve had the same problem with other crafting professions, so I’ll have to take your word for this one.

    5. Again, I don’t see the issue here. I jsut pick which food/drink is appropriate to my current level and discard the rest. Seriously though, in what CRPG can you tell the attributes and characteristics of an item “just by looking at it,” instead of from reading some sort of description with stats (tooltips here). Honestly, I think you’re being unreasonable in your expectations here if you’re wanting WoW to handle this differently than every other RPG to ever come before or since. You can be innovative in many areas, but you’re asking for something needlessly complicated that would end up being quite arbitrary (imagine arguments like “Ribs are better than pie because they’re meat and they’re more filling” vs. “Pie is better than ribs because it’s got sugar and carbs for energy and I like it” – how are you going to order your visual cues so that everyone udnerstands it?).

    6. Okay, so having to be a certain level to devour particular food does seem a bit ridiculous, but look at it this way: You’re a long-time veteran of pen and paper RPGs, as a DM, would you give a 10 sword of awesomeness to a newly-rolled level 1 character? Of course not, it would completely unbalance the game. The players will quickly get bored if they can easily wipe out the whole map because of their super-awesome loot. It works the same in WoW, only in an environment with random loot drops and no GM to oversee who gets the gear, balance must be maintained in other means. This is partly controlled by enemies only dropping loot appropriate to their level, but this method can be thwarted in a system where players can freely trade gear with each other. If you could eat any food or use any potion, what’s to keep you from getting a higher-level buddy to give you stuff that is much more powerful than is appropriate for your level and unbalancing your game? The level restricitons are not “arbitrary,” they are carefully calculated to keep balance in order to preserve a normal progression of gameplay.

    7. This bugs me too, as like you I often do most of my playing in one time period, with only occasional forays into the other side of the clock (weekends, the occasional quest before work if i’m up early). A faster cycle would be a nice touch.

    8. In a system with open maps in which players can potentially be just about anywhere, where do you propose the monsters spawn? I get just as annoyed as anyone when an ill-placed and ill-timed spawn ruins my day, but it’s really the nature of the beast and unless you are going to take the Guild Wars instancing approach, not much can be done about it. I suppose it could be possible to code the spawns to occur minimum distances from players, but frankly I’d think that this makes things needlessly complicated and opens a can of worms for exploits and bugs. Want to ruin the Alliance’s day? Take a group of Horde players and spread out in the area of a major quest spawn and keep anyone from completing the quest. No thanks, I’ll take the more minor annoyance of monsters appearing out of nowhere, think of them as the “wandering monster” checks in that PnP dungeon.

    9. I have to be honest here, this one seems to be mroe about you learning the gameplay. Mages dish out a ton of damage. Being able to do so indiscriminately would make them hopelessly overpowered. For that matter, any class being able to use it’s best abilities without limitations would be a huge mistake. Learing resource management is a major part of the game. Learn to balance your casting with your available mana, know when to spread out your spells and when to spike everything you’ve got. Here’s a tip: mana begins regenerating on its own 5 seconds after you last use an ability requiring mana. This means that it is typically better to set off a few spells in a burst, as if you are continuously casting, you’re mana will never charge itself.

    I look at food and drink from the opposite perspective: rather than forced downtime, it is a means of shortening downtime for those times that I’ve expended myself, letting me get back into the fight faster, not slower. It’s very useful when needed, but if you’re needing to stop and drink between every fight, then you are doing something seriously wrong.

    10. Have a look around Un’goro crater, the massive numbers of elites stomping around is staggering, and yes, this is another feature that is very annoying. Making an area difficult to get through is one thing, making it certain death (for supposedly approprately leveled characters) is quite another. This one really does seem to be designed only for the frustration of the players.

    11. I think you’re going to find yourself at odds with the vast majority of MMO gamers on this one, Shamus. One of the constant complaints about WoW heard among players of other MMOs is that the death penalty is too light. The nature of MMOs is such that there has to be some consequence for getting yourself beat into the ground. Some games use an experience penalty, others take away gear, and others still (like WoW) impose temporary ability debuffs. The thing about WoW is that this penalty is completely voluntary. If you don’t want res sickness, don’t use the shrine! I hardly ever res at the shrine unless I’m about to log out or am not planning on being in combat for a while anyway. With a bit of practice, you can almost always retrieve your corpse safely. For those rare times you can’t, you get the res sickness, which is the game’s way of teaching you not to get in over your head. I know you’re new to MMO’s Shamus, but if you’re going to stick around them, you’ll have to get used to the idea that in these games, death hurts, that’s why you’re not supposed to do it often. Look around a bit more, and you’ll soon find that WoW has one of the weakest death penalties in the genre, and it’s optional to boot! Success has reward, failure has consequence, that is the way these games work. It’s really a bit like any offline RPG, only you don’t have to roll up a new character or go back to your last saved game every time you screw up.

  62. Katy says:

    Err, I realized I’d like to make a couple more comments. Some of your complaints are actually signs that you’re not playing your class efficiently or that you’re not understanding why certain game mechanics need to be there in order to guard against the really annoying things that could happen were they not there. I don’t want to say that some of your complaints are “n00btastic” or anything because a lot of them are based on stopping tactics taken by PvPers or power gamers, and others are meant to keep the game exciting for you. A couple of your complaints are genuinely something that new players have to deal with before they learn how to get around such game devices.

    1. For some things, I could understand not getting a quest item off a mob. Perhaps my rogue damaged the bear’s guts so much that the stomach is unusable. Sometimes, it is a little ridiculous. Why are drop rates low? To force you to get XP by killing more mobs. (There’s another reason: see the bottom of this comment.) Some quest grinding gives you more XP than the quest reward! If you understand that, just enjoy the little purple text that says you’re a step closer to your next level. You’ll notice, though, that some drop rates for certain quests are higher than 100% because mobs drop more than one of the quest item. Maybe that’ll be something you can look forward to.

    2. I’ve found that getting an add-on and reading the quest text closely (in 95% of cases) makes it easy to turn in one direction, go straight, and strafe around or kill mobs in my way. Complete the quest and go back.

    Something I’d like to suggest is that you do a bit of research when you hit a new area. Find out what quests can be completed together. “Oh, I need bones from these guys and then I need to open the chest in the center to retrieve a relic? Two quests completed!”

    3. If cooking/fishing is something you really want to do, as in the food is needed for your character to buff themselves (buffs help in early levels for some classes and also high-level foods help in much higher levels), then you should spend some time on cooking, but once you’ve graduated past using “bat wings”, don’t pick up anymore. Let that bat meat rot on the ground! If you’ve got a stack of cherry pies and a stack of boar ribs, vendor one stack. You can make more! Also, if you’re purposefully going out to get ingredients for recipes, don’t get a few from each of your “orange” recipes, just get 10 or 15 from one orange recipe, then you’ll still get all the levels and have only one stack of food.

    As for my rogue, I never bothered leveling up cooking, and I leveled up just fine.

    You do know that you’re better off leaving the gray-titled items on the ground, right? And if you’re someone who can wait until later to level up cooking, like at level 70, it’s an easy grind to get the ingredients, make some food, vendor it, and then go to the next area to grind some more meat. Hey, your guild might even have the “wine and meat” tab in their gbank (not sure if all guilds have that tab–we do) that holds cooking ingredients. You could store some of your items there.

    4&5. See above. You don’t have to make every recipe. Just level up the orange ones (preferably the orange recipe with the easiest-to-grind ingredient). If you’re curious to know what each food does, try wowhead.

    6. Twinks are the devil’s minions. Ever try a battleground as a normal lvl 19 player and get genked by a super-twinked enemy player? Imagine that these twinks can get even higher-level gear or foods from their lvl-70 alts. I shudder to think of it. Remember that not everyone is solely PvE or RP.

    7. I can understand your grief here, but this is one aspect of the world they can realistically portray, so they do (versus distance between towns, size of towns, etc – which they can’t portray realistically).

    8. Already said earlier.

    9. For mana classes, mana efficiency is a part of learning how to play your character. I had to re-spec my priest and research the best wand for his level to make him a better killing machine. Put a DoT [damage over time] on a mob (or if you don’t have a DoT at low levels, do a couple of bigger spells) and then “wand” it to death. It’s a few seconds more, but you won’t need to drink every sixty seconds.

    10. These are to keep you on your toes. Why play a game if there isn’t a sense of danger? Just read a couple of paragraphs about a new area on WoWwiki and keep a wary eye out. The only elites that don’t announce their presence somehow are in Un’Goro (devilsaurs!!!), but even they can be avoided. Most elites, though, are close when the ground starts to shake (or they even make noises) and their aggro range is short, so you can definitely pull your mob out of the way or just cut and run.

    11. Resurrection Sickness is to teach you to find ways to avoid dying. Learn how to run away — that’s also a viable tactic. Learn how to avoid pulling more mobs than you can handle. Learn how to spot spawn points. It’s not all “run in and fight”.

    One more thing on drop rates. Let’s say you get to the highest level offered so far and you want to have a leatherworker (assuming you’re not one) make a really cool piece of gear for you. The materials are hard to get, though. [Primal Air] goes for lots of gold in the Auction House and you need six??? Well, you could try to just farm it yourself. You’ll need to gather up 60 [Mote of Air] and right-click on stacks of 10 to get [Primal Air]. Only problem is that [Mote of Air] isn’t so easy to get either. Some motes are even harder. Some players would find this incredibly frustrating.

    But wait, if getting materials for this cool piece of gear were so easy, then everyone would have it and no one would feel special for having earned it (either by making money to buy mats or by farming the mats). This isn’t something a person who entirely avoids PvP would care about, but on the other hand, you’ll want to do raids eventually with your guild, and wouldn’t it suck that you have the crappiest gear going into Karazhan because you didn’t want to go farm [Mote of Air]?

    The drop rates are meant to keep certain items rare, and therefore make wearing these items a reward rather than something everyone else has anyway.

  63. Funkula says:

    Apologies if this has been mentioned, but mages kill things much faster than most classes. Their mandatory downtime puts them on par with others in terms of XP/hr. Or at least that’s how it works in theory, I don’t typically crunch numbers on stuff like that so I’m taking other people’s word for it.

    Now I agree that playing in fits and starts is pretty crappy, but it is important to realize that you’re not really leveling slower than others.

  64. Blackbird71 says:

    Well, I’m not sure how I italicized most of the final paragraph in my last post, oops. Also, didn’t notice it until after the edit timer had run out. Double oops.

  65. Mark says:

    These points may have been addressed already above but I’m going to post without reading the previous comments so as not to taint what I have to say.

    For most of these complaints, there are reasons they exist that are mostly unfortunate results of and responses to exploitation.

    A) Bag space. Much like needing to repair, limited bag space means you can’t run a bot unattended forever, even if you somehow manage to run a bot in the first place.

    B) Wandering high level monsters: Will kill unattended bots.

    C) Level restrictions on professions make it so that I can’t take all my loot/food/whatever and send it to my level 1 alt who then accomplishes all the profession stuff I want without me actually bothering to level that character. Otherwise, nobody would need anything from anybody else because their alts would make everything for them. Personally I’d like that, but Blizzard wants this to be a multiplayer game. Even still it’s taken them a while – long time players such as myself consider the “disenchanting nerf” to be recent. (It used to be a level 1 skill 1 enchanter could disenchant anything, so EVERYBODY had a low level alt to do their disenchants for them.)

    D) Day/night would be nice. Real-time daylight cycles don’t make much sense when so few people actually play on a server that matches their time zone. (When the game first launched the time zones of the servers were displayed, but the coastal servers were so overwhelmed that Blizzard removed the designations.) Personally I’d love it if the NPCs went away/moved to homes or bars/were replaced based on the time of day. I mean really, selling lock picks and poisons in the day time right out in the open? That never seemed right. Quest NPCs too. They do it with nightfin (fish) and sunscale (also a kind of fish), they could do it with NPCs and it would rock – especially if the day/night cycle were much shorter.

    E) Rez sickness most assuredly does /not/ suck. It’s about the easiest, nicest penalty you could hope for. (Get off my lawn rant ahead!) In games like EverQuest you permanently lost XP and (from what I’ve heard) could actually lose levels. In EQ you’d have to run back to your corpse and all of your stuff was on it. Can’t reach your corpse? I guess that’s too bad. Supposedly in Ultima Online you could lose all of your possessions. In Asheron’s Call you’d drop X items of gear and half your cash, in addition to taking a 5% penalty (per death, stacking to a max 40%) on all of your stats. To get your gear and coins back you had to run back to your body, which was normally surrounded by monsters strong enough to kill you at your full capacity and now you’re 5% worse! In PVP your items would usually be gone, looted by your opponent. People took to carrying “death items” – items of enormous value – just so they wouldn’t drop the gear they cared about. Also of value were “non-drop” items that wouldn’t drop upon death. The guild (allegiance as they were known in AC) I was in all wore these retarded straw chicken hats because 1) they had good stats and 2) were non-drop.

    So yeah – 25% damage to all items equipped or in inventory, no item or XP loss, and being nerfed for ten real (vs. in game) minutes? And it’s voluntary? That’s not much of a penalty. Heck, some people refused to play WoW just because they couldn’t grief other players enough – no XP loss, no gear stealing. Mind you I hated those people with a passion and am glad they didn’t play WoW, but they were out there.

    F) I agree (gasp) about the cooking, food, low drop rate, etc. I figure the drop rate is a game mechanic they had no other solution for. Kill 30x is annoying, wait until level 65 when you’re in Nagrand. Sometimes when the drop rate becomes stupidly absurd I will log out and back in – that usually corrects it. Total coincidence? Maybe, but it at least feels like you’ve done something to help. The usual explanation for drop rates is, “Of course they all had eyeballs – which you squished 90% of while killing them.”

  66. Guile says:

    For #10:

    Outland doesn’t really fix this, as a previous commenter claimed. The first zone in Outlands, Hellfire Penninsula, has a handful enormous (really, really, enormous. I mean it. Giants are like ants to him.), extraordinarily vicious magic-powered robots called Fel Reavers.

    By the time the ground begins to shake beneath you and you can hear the sounds of pistons working, it’s already too late as ten tons of furious robotic death falls on you.

    This and other factors (like demons constantly battling the NPC guards) help to contribute to a general feeling of the epic scale of the fight to retake Outlands. You feel like you’re part of a war. But it’s still damn inconvenient.

  67. RudeMorgue says:

    Food is level-based because the entire game is level-based. Any paradigm in which you accept that a more experienced person is capable of sustaining and surviving progressively more damaging wounds necessitates a certain suspension of disbelief.

    They call it a Cherry Pie because that’s more interesting than “Level 55 Food.”

    I do agree with you on the variety of ingredients, though. And that’s made doubly stupid by the fact that they have four different “spices” but make almost no use of them. In particular, virtually every fish recipe seems to involve only how much time you hold it over the fire. I don’t see why they couldn’t have “tasty yellowtail,” “spicy yellowtail,” “mild yellowtail” and so on made from the same basic meat, but they just don’t.

    Still, it’s a pretty minor quibble in my mind.

    For the folks who say there’s no benefit to gearing up except that it lets you fight monsters to get better gear: Yes, and it lets you get prepared to see the content you’re paying for in the raids and instances in the endgame. Since Blizzard puts most of their work into those areas, I’d kinda like to see them.

  68. Cthulhu says:

    About the Fel Reavers:
    I actually like them. They give you something to worry about, and for me at least, unlike other roaming elites, you can see them coming. They’re so huge they stand out against the skyline, and when the ground starts shaking you know it’s time to look around and see if you need to leave. I’ve only been killed by a fel reaver once, and that was because I was deliberately testing its aggro range. I like having a monster that makes you run for cover, as long as it actually lets you do so. (Death to the creator of the Devilsaur).

  69. noneofcon says:

    Perspective from an eve player (and ex-wow player)

    bag space: eve has a compromise system in that while your ship has limited cargo space (limited by the size of items and not how many there are), you have unlimited storage space in stations. (I have items scattered over about 20 different stations, with the number of different items per station ranging from 1 to over 200) The counter to this is that it takes time to move items from station to station.

    rez sickness: If you think rez sickness is bad, then stay away from eve ;) If your ship gets blown up then its gone (along with most of the equipment you have on there as well). While, yes you can insure it to help recoup your losses, it still takes time to rebuild and find all the parts you need (or if your the type that dies alot, just have a few spares lying around just in case.)

    Lvl restrictions for items: To use an item in eve (ship or module) you need the right skill(s). But even if you have the ability to fly a ship, doesn’t mean you should. There can be a big difference between being able to fly a ship and flying it well

  70. Tuck says:

    Hehehe…if I take that list and check it against Guild Wars:

    1. Nope.
    2. Nope.
    3. Yes, to a certain point in the Prophecies campaign.
    4. Nope.
    5. Nope.
    6. Nope.
    7. Nope.
    8. Nope.
    9. Nope.
    10. Nope.
    11. Not that bad.

    *runs and hides*

  71. Mengtzu says:

    It’s also worth noting that a lot of the “random” annoyances – from liverless boars to the Prince Malchezzar encounter – have an implicit mechanism to control the randomness: your performance. The better you’re playing, the more good tests (does the liver drop?) and the less bad tests (does the infernal land on the healers?) you’ll be exposed to.

    This may seem trivial, but it’s why veteran players tend to be less frustrated by these issues – they overpower them and suffer little if any inconvenience.

    So for annoying liver-drop quests while levelling, I have two suggestions:

    1. Get better at your class. Do a little research, experiment with better rotations, ask for help. There are some awful drop rates out there, but if you find yourself in this position often, it’s probably a flag that you can improve.

    2. If a quest is particularly frustrating, ABANDON IT. There are *many* more quests than you need to gain any particular level. If a quest moves from fun challenge to tedium, ignore it. There’s no particular reason to expose yourself to five year old quest design if it’s not working for you.

  72. Mistwraithe says:

    Phew!

    Prior to this Shamus had almost convinced me I was going to have to somehow find the time to try WoW… Now I know I don’t need to bother ;-)

  73. Joshua says:

    Doesn’t a standard-issue bear have twenty claws? Five on each paw?

    Also, I noticed an unusually large number of, “Like, ” instances and I began to feel like I was reading the speech of an eighth grader. Your performance overall seems to be suffering.

    EDIT: Maybe not suffering, but still slightly worse than your norm. WoW iz teh suk.

  74. =Dan says:

    Shamus,
    Everything you nitpick is why I stopped playing WOW.
    I played up to about 35-37th level and finally got tired of spending my time running from wilderness to town and back whenever my bags became full. After leaving WOW I drifted to EQ2, SWG, EVE, stayed briefly at CoH/V and more before finally stopping at Lord of the Rings Online.
    They addressed a lot of the issues you have:
    1) Drop rate on 95% of items is high, not every bear drops a pelt but it is close. Maybe (pessimistically) 2:1.
    2) Quests give good directions and when they don’t the community is incredibly helpful
    3) You start with 5 bags (free)

    I could go on (and will with little prompting I assure you) however the main point is that you are playing a game that is several years old. Yes it is the most popular but that doesn’t mean best.

    Oh and 7) the day/night cycle on Lotro is about 3-4 hours. And the graphics blow WOW out of the water.

    If you ever feel inclined look me up on the Brandywine server (Serigil or Pucky or Muirinthir). If you need a buddy key to try it out just let me know.

    =Dan

  75. ShadowDragon8685 says:

    Just for the sake of debate, I’ll take Shamus’ nitpicks and contrast them to (my memories of a long-ago) Ultima Online.

    1. Low drop rates for quest items

    This was absoloutly not a problem in Ultima Online. The reason was that there were no quests, peroid!

    Also, if you wanted leather and meat, it was simple. Kill an animal. Animal is dead? Double click bladed implement (your sword/axe/halberd will do fine, or you can use a knife if you want) to register that item as “I want to use this”. (Sorry, no hotkey bar. You can keep your backpack open, though, and you can set a macro for ‘use last item’). Double click the carcass. Congratulations! You’ve just harvested all the meat and leather (or wool, if a wool-bearing animal) that animal had to offer!

    In this way, it was relatively ‘simple’ for a new player to get money and learn some combat skill if they wanted. Go out and find an animal type that was plentiful, then murder it. Harvest it. Take the results to an older player who’s a crafter and sell it.

    Rinse, lather, repeat. Not glorious, but you can learn some combat and anatomy while getting money. This worked on any monster except humans – you dismembered them, getting a torso, right leg, left leg, right arm, left arm, and a head. (Usually, the only reason to do this is if it was someone you hated or intended to collect a bounty on, in which case you needed the head.)

    2. Quest Locations are Vague

    Again, not a problem. There are no quests! Finding PLACES might be a bit harder, but that’s what magic and Recall Runes (and Runebooks, for those with libraries of places) were for. Found a place you like? Peg a recall rune there, and come back any time! Hell, you don’t even have to have been there – you could recall off a rune you purchased, or a rune someone laid on the ground, or locked down on their steps or in their house.

    3. Bag space is outrageously limited

    Bag space? No problem, you can carry infinate items in your backpack! You can carry around a literal mountain of stone. You are, however, limited in carrying capacity by the weight. You’ll probably also want to have multiple containers, so you can organize you stuff.

    4. The Needless proliferation of ingredients

    Again, not a problem in UO. Several types of reagents you needed to cast spells, but not too many (they could get expensive, though), meat/leather as one generic item you get from any animal, fish you get from cutting up fish of any sort… It may have lacked variety, but it was easy to handle.

    5. The Needless proliferation of food types

    There was a fairly large selection of food type available, but everyone only carried fish-steaks, since they had the best weight ratio. Food was only useful because your performance would greatly degrade and your health regain would go to crap if you were starving. So most people just bought fish-steaks en masse and ate some whenever they started to get hungry.

    6. Arbitrary Level restrictions

    This is one thing UO is good about. There’s no levels! So there’s no arbitrary level restrictions, nor restrictions based on your ability to swing a sword. Sword: Can I physically lift it from the ground? (IE, item is NOT nailed down, and am I not ridiculously burdened in terms of weight such that I cannot pick up the sword?) If yes: Then I can equip it and swing it at someone!

    7. The realtime day / night cycle

    UO had a fairly forgiving day/night cycle, I think it was an hour or two long.

    8. Respawning monsters

    It did happen, but not as much as you’d think. Spawns in the wild happened because a player was near, but not too near. In dungeons are different, but they have fairly long respawn timers, so unless you’re camping a few rooms deliberately, you probably won’t see Scotty beam enemy reinforcements into your lap.

    9. Heavy Drinking Mages

    This was, I admit, a problem with UO. Mana recovered slow, and there was NOTHING to be done about it! It recovered faster the less you wore, though, which is taken to it’s ridiculous extreme by mages running around in their underwear and nothing but. On the other hand, those rare few combat-focused people who focus on nothing but fighting can master the fighting skills, shield skill, and magic skills, and run around in full plate casting spells and swinging a sword. (Or they could forgo the shield skill and use a polearm.)

    10. Wandering Elites are Asinine

    This did happen, I admit. It sucks to be a lowbie and BAM, you run into a troll. But for the most part, you can run away, since you get some warning before a monster or whatever comes on screen. And if you’re lucky enough to have a horse, you should be fine unless the enemy has a ranged attack, since horses outrun all the monsters in the game. (There’s only two speeds of movement; on foot, and on a mount.)

    Oh, and you can fight from horseback, and you don’t have to do anything special to use a horse, either. They’re not very expensive, either.

    11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks

    Here is where UO really sucks arse. You died? That’s fine, you become a GHOST. You have friends nearby who can rez you? Fine and dandy, get your kit back on and get back into the fight…

    No friends? Uhoh. You have to run to town (or get lucky and find a wandering healer NPC/player who’ll rez you), and get ressurected. You re-join the ranks of the living wearing A ROBE! And that’s it. Your stuff? Yeah, it’s all back on your corpse. Hope nobody came along and looted your body while you were getting ressurected – yes, people can loot your body. Your magical sword that you spent hours farming high-monster drops to get? Gone. Your armor? Gone. Your regs? So very gone. Your fishcakes? Might be there. And so forth and so on – basically, you could be diminished by any random player, without them ever having seen you.

    UO had it’s flaws, and they were legion. What I fail to understand is how so many of the games that came after (it was the first true MMORPG) cock up the things that the very first one got right on the first try.

  76. Shamus says:

    Tim-O:

    This is what I do. I analyze gameplay mechanics. For popular games. If you don’t like it, you are on the wrong blog.

    Fanboys are not welcome here. Go be an idiot someplace else.

  77. sithson says:

    What I find amazing about tim-o’s post was the total non thinking behind it.

    How many OTHER game companys or review places play for a month, then, in turn disect the game in several long, lengthy and well written posts? Go on im waiting.

    These same L2p loosers are the same ones who are getting p/led and then go around greifing other players becuase they spent 500 gold on a mongoose enchant on some arena gear they paid some one else to get on their team so they can get the 1337 gear to pwn noobs with. its sad.

    Keep going shamus, your reviews are really great!

  78. Tried posting this before…here goes round two…

    If you’re in a good guild, you should be able to get 16 slot Netherweave Bags for free, imo.

    Are you using addons yet? When I started heavy alting, I used QuestHelper. (http://wow.curse.com/downloads/details/9924/) and LightHeaded (http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads/info7017-LightHeaded.html) They have a lot of features, but the one I used the most is that QuestHelper sets a pin on the map where the quest is. Range of what I have to kill, where I have to stand, etc. Lightheaded has WoWHead comments about each quest, so if you’re really stuck, you can read up on the quest ingame.

  79. Moose says:

    1. You’re right, drop rates on mobs like that are pretty silly, but they are building in small grind sessions to build up your exp along the way. Least that’s the way I see it.

    2. Add ons like Carbonite and quest helper are your friend.

    3. Bag space sucks early on, but think of it as a reason to head back to town, heal up, interact with someone in the inn. As you get higher in level you will be able to go for longer adventures without going back to town to restock/train/heal up, you’ll get larger bags along the way to help with this. But then again you’ve got a netherweave set so you’re golden. Now I could have sworn that a week or so ago those bags were in the hundreds of gold a pop, but then I saw them on the AH for 7 gold a shot, now I’ve got a full compliment of them on hand and in my bank. I’m not sure if I’m crazy, or if someone decided to crash the bag market, if the latter is the case I’m glad I saw it when I did!

    4. Like a few others said, makes you work hard for your skills. And the cooking really becomes imporntant for raiders working on end game content, those guys are looking for every little buff and assist they can find, food is a good source for this.

    5. I dunno, you got me there

    6. See game balance, and hopefully cutting back on the twinkage of lowbies

    7. I would like to see something like a 6 hour transition giving you two full days game time per 1 day RL time. I play early in the AM (7-9 central) and maybe a little in the evenings when I can but it’s always daytime. I did get some late night gaming in over the weekend, the salt basin (I call it the salt flats) south of 1000 needles and north of gadgetzan is amazingly wonderful at 2 AM.

    8. I agree that having them come out of the huts, or something like that would be better, but that could cause problems also. I think that the idea was that you are clearing a cave or village, by the time the respawn counter goes off and the first couple of humans, or gnomes you killed off respawn you should be further inside the cave or village putting you beyond the aggro range of the new spawns. This does make getting out of a cave or village a little tricky though.

    9. Ahhh, mage tears, best in the game. You should have rolled a LOCK! Sure I get all emo and kill my health in order to restore my mana, or I suck all the mana out of my imp, or I suck it out of a caster mob, or I suck health out of any mob and emo it back to mana. As affliction I can go all day without drinking, pulling two to three mobs a time (sometimes more). The only time I have to stop and eat/drink is when I end up getting a little crazy with my fears and pull a whole town on top of my head. If I survive then I’m hitting the bottle pretty hard. But I guess you’re playing alliance so I can understand not rolling a lock…who wants to be human or gnome? 8)

    10. Bring on the elites! A lot of the roaming ones are for quests, the others can either be a means of keeping you from getting too full of yourself (that’s what they do for me) or for really testing yourself. They will either smack you down when you’re feeling that you’re spanking everything in sight, or they push you to tackle something very hard. Now when they show up when you’ve got your hands full it stinks, but that’s life…or death wich brings us to

    11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks – you’re right, it does. But sit in the grave yard and work on your crafting. Last time I bite into more than I could chew I spent 10 minutes turning all of the linen/wool/silk I had into bolts, bandages, or clothes. The clothes were either enchanted to sell on the AH, or they were disenchanted to sell the reagents on the AH. This could also be a great time to cook up some of the stuff you’ve been collecting drops for.

    It sounds like you’re having a blast, just chaffing at some of the minor things that we all gripe about. Except for that whole mage drinking problem, that’s what you get for being a mage 8)

  80. "Voidcaller" says:

    Let me say you’re so spot-on, you are more brilliant than the sun to me right now. (OK, weak compliment from a WoW player who tends to never see daylight.)

    We both know that games need you to be busy doing something other than leveling. Level 70 means you’re going to slow down on your needs – less spending on equipment, spell training, and MAYBE even your bags are best money can buy by then.

    Not to mention (for some economy-destroying reason) L70 characters get up to 25 daily quests to do that earn them easily 10 gold per quest, plus incidental loot. 250 gold a DAY to a high-end character with little to spend it on, at least after they get their 5000 gold flying mount.

    I blame daily quest income in part for the high price of popular items, bags being the common denominator that EVERY player starting another character wants to buy. If only the materials process to make the 20-slot bags were relatively simple, fast and easy, 20-slot bags might be “just” 100 gold these days instead of over 300 each. But it’s not, and therefore I believe by design Blizzard engineered these to be extremely pricey. This makes the 20 slot bag be one of the priciest items that have no graphic – why the Gucci price without the obvious fashion statement?

    Let’s get back to quests with an indefinite endpoint, the primary mechanism of delaying quest completion (and quest XP gain) in MMORPGs. You’re right, if a quest objective is to get an uncommon drop, make it something that anatomically speaking isn’t standard issue on every one of the mobs in question.

    I am wondering just how popular WoW would be if all the information we go to websites like WoWhead, Thottbot, Allakhazam, et al., was incorrect, useless, or just plainly not there. It’s almost as if when new quests are introduced to the game, there’s a desire to make it a struggle to find the exact location, mob, puddle of water, whatever – instead of pointing it out clearly. Let’s face it, we have these hint sites and they won’t go away, especially since they fill a need game designers have been ignoring – TELL US WHAT YOU MEAN.

    Some games like Star Wars Galaxies can place “waypoints” into the player’s information storage that helps them find exactly where they are supposed to hunt, or at least determine where to go to next when attempting a quest. Do we really need a sci-fi setting for something as simple as placing an X on a map?

    I definitely agree that had I been able to redirect development efforts away from creating hundreds of similar foods and recipes and instead put them toward fixing bugs or at least addressing the other gripes we share, I’d make the same call I believe you would. And it would be OK to eat Pie, Ice Cream, and have mils from the get-go.

    I’m glad not much in WoW requires you to be present at any one given hour during a 24-hour day. Many MMOs have quests that only work if it’s late, early, noon, the changing of the guard, whatever. Maybe Blizzard is trying to remind us in game just how dark it’s getting outside?

    As for forcing us to waste time needlessly, have you played a Druid, made your inaugural teleport to Moonglade, then discovered your hearthstone wasn’t ready to use yet? The flight back to the nearest city is a DRAG. I’ve actually played a full game of Yahtzee waiting to land in Thunder Bluff and still had to wait 30 seconds during that flight. The in-flight entertainment needs serious improvement. Or here’s a thought: Put NPCs in place that just teleport us to where we’re going. A Warlock could move a player between most any 2 points in game, including into an instance, why can’t game NPCs do better?

  81. Joerg Mosthaf says:

    These are exactly the same nitpicks which are part of the reason why I stopped playing WoW after about 2 years.
    Most of those are much better or even completely gone in Lord of the Rings Online. Drops are good, Quest (and quest-giver) directions are quite good in the quest log, inventory space is limited but a lot better from start, night-day cycle of ~2-3 hours …
    And I just love the “feel” of the game. And the ‘tards seem to at least leave the RP-servers alone. I have been playing a few months and have not experienced the idiots I have seen in WoW in Goldshire. Most players seem to be at least civil, lots of memorable roleplaying going on … me and my friends (who used to play WoW) are even contemplating buying a lifetime account.

  82. ngthagg says:

    I wrote an analysis of all of these, but I doubt it’s much different than what everyone else has said, so I deleted it. What’s interesting is that I recognize everyone of these nitpicks, but I’ve either minimized or worked around them all. What’s left is a very fun game.

    I will say this: I prefer drop quests to kill quests. If you are collecting murloc eyeballs, then every murloc in the area has a chance of dropping an eyeball, so you can plan your killing however you like. But if you need to kill 10 Scouts, 8 Tidechasers, and 6 Shamans (or whatever), you’ll get your 10 scouts in 2 minutes, the tide chasers in 10 minutes, and then spend your time carefully extracting the shamans from the crowds of pointless kills. You end up killing 60 scouts and 40 tidechasers just to get your 6 shamans. The quests are designed to take about the same amount of time, but with kill quests your activities are strictly regimented. Give me a 5% drop rate any day.

  83. Mephane says:

    I fully agree with all of your thoughts, Shamus. I’ve played the game for 2-3 years and I can tell you it will get worse towards maximum level. I’ve had level 70 characters equipped with 18-slot und partially 20-slot(!) bags and still the available space was a problem, with random crap filling up your precious space; I mean REAL crap, like a handful of wolf hair or a “broken boar tooth”, which you carry with you anyway because some these damn things sell for almost one gold coin each at any vendor! I highly recommend any addon that shows vendor prices of such stuff when you collect it, so you can at least know that “shiny raptor feathers” just make you five silver, but “dirty mud” gives 1 gold!

    What I find more ridiculous about dying than ressurection sickness are the repair costs. Dying just once at level 70 can cost an average character several gold, not even accounting for the time lost for running (!) on foot (!) as a ghost (wtf?) through the area back to your corpse!

    And if you rezz at a graveyard, you get 25% damage on ANY item on your body and in the inventory on top of that!

    Did I mention that the wandering elites get way more extreme in higher levels? Some of these are so strong that they can one-hit even level 70 players if they are not uber-equipped defense-specced warriors or the like. And those elites still can surprise, outrun, snare or stun you.

    Or think of the “dazed” debuff you often get when an NPC hits you from behind. If you have a mount (and once you have a mount, you will not want to go everywhere on foot for good reason…), that will also drop you from your mount, and you cannot sit back on your horse because you are “in combat”. Even if another player is actually fighting the monster, you are “in combat” and have to run on foot or wait until it is dead. I am not making this up.

    Crafting gets ridiculous at higher levels, too. Getting one(!) skill point in a crafting profession can cost you more than 100 gold in raw materials, of which you can never collect all on your own (and if you can, it takes a huge lot of time), but are required to buy from other players. You end up making dozens of items that cost like 150 gold to make, but are actually worthless crap that no one wants to buy and sells for 2 gold at any NPC! And to make things worse, if these items are not “orange” in the list, they just have a certain CHANCE to gran you a skill point. If you have bad luck, you can literally destroy hundreds of gold coins making worthless items and yet not even receive a single skill point!

    Again: I am not making this up. This game is rife with “WTF?”-moments, and there is no way to get around them. Even if you are just here for the role-playing… “What? I can’t wear this torch because I have to be level 67?”

  84. Maz says:

    so you want everything that makes the game harder to be abolished? that doesnt make things fun

  85. Mephane says:

    Hard != Ridiculous limitations or timesinks

  86. simmuskhan says:

    I’ve been on and off playing WoW, CoH/V and LotRO since they came out. I find that I get fed up with one, then play one of the others etc. Between all three of them there is the perfect game for me.

    CoH I love costume design and powers. LotRO I love the over abundance of quests and walk around scenery fun. WoW I love being a hunter and getting cool pets.

    Double xp weekend on CoH/V this weekend so I know which one I’ll be up for =)

    It’s well worth playing others, even if you’re a die hard fan boy, just to see what’s out there. I’ll probably have a go at AoC at some stage too to see if it’s any good.

  87. Phil says:

    Heh. I have to agree with several of these. Especially ludicrously low droprates for items that it doesn’t make sense to have low droprates for (I once fought an entire coastline of headless murlocs, apparently, since not one had a head for the taking… and none of the farmers in Hillsbrad Foothills have skulls. None of them).

    I have to note though – if you don’t like wandering elites, just wait till you get to Hellfire Peninsula! The Fel Reaver’s train-like bellow will give you nightmares and sending you scrambling no matter WHAT you’re doing.

    Also, good luck wading through the trolls – you got linked from WoW Insider, after all.

  88. Tom Gunn says:

    Hey Shamus, glad to see you trying WoW out. I’m not going to read through all the comments so I might be repetitive.

    First, all your comments are on target. I do enjoy the game but some of the game play is just silly. Geez, look at that, another critter with no liver, how did he live?

    I enjoy the game enough I’ve leaned to ignore certain parts of it. Quest with low drop rate? Just don’t do them unless they are part of some important quest chain you want to do. There are plenty of quests out there that are more interesting and rewarding.

    Bag space is annoying. Having guildies make bags for you is a very good thing. Starting up with no support from guildies or higher level character of your own can be an exercise in building up resources to afford to have bags, have decent gear, leveling up crafting skills.

    For a first character, if you are more interested in the quests and story content, I suggest ignoring the crafting skills. take two gathering skills, mining/herbs/skinning. Skip cooking and sell off all the components, that’ll save up lots of bag space. Sell all your gathered items on the auction house for profit. Buy decent gear for your level every 3-4 levels and quests will be easier.

    Once you’ve experienced the story lines and quests you with one character can go back and level up alternative characters for crafting using your high level character to shower your alts with resources. The crafting skills require a lot of resources and somewhere around your level you will find that leveling them up requires a lot more time and effort. Some people like doing that. I personally found it to much of a grind and wanted to see more quests/content.

    Mages drink lots of water, they also kill things a lot faster then some character classes. It is a trade off. There are some mana efficiency talents that help with it.

  89. Jeff says:

    Another way of looking at is how do you design armor to provide protection against the most fearsome dragon attacks, when you have no concept of how even a sick baby dragon attacks?
    I’m pretty sure medieval armorers didn’t wander onto battlefields so they can better craft full plate for their patron lords. :P

    How, exactly, is the character carrying around THAT many items on their person?
    I can’t speak for the game, but when I went camping as a Scout I had a ton of gear…
    The most effective way of addressing this would be via sizes, ala Hellgate London or Dungeon Siege. So that you’re not burdened equally by 20 sets of armor or 20 vials of potions.
    Or weight.

    This set up encourages variety in play times so when you get on at a different time, things are different.
    You’re looking at it from a different perspective. Ala the “unemployed” or “student” perspective. ;)

    One of the constant complaints about WoW heard among players of other MMOs is that the death penalty is too light.
    Yeah, this is again due to those who don’t actually work and only get in an hour or two of game time a day.
    A 10 minute penalty in a 100 minute play session is 10% of your game time, but 10 minutes to someone who’s playing for several hours is considerably less of a penalty.
    If you died because of factors you can’t control – something spawned on you, or *shudder* lag – that makes it even worse.
    It's about the easiest, nicest penalty you could hope for.
    Less suck != no suck. ;)
    Something you can choose to work off would be much better, or if there were items you could buy to reduce it. It probably wouldn’t be too expensive since only noobs die, right?

    I'll take the more minor annoyance of monsters appearing out of nowhere, think of them as the “wandering monster” checks in that PnP dungeon.
    Can’t they just spawn somewhere out of sight? Give them a bigger spawn radius? Then have a fail-safe that if no spawn locations are available, then spawn at the default location anyways?
    So rather than delay the spawn, spawn elsewhere in the area within a certain distance. If no displaced location is available, spawn at default.

    You feel like you're part of a war. But it's still damn inconvenient.
    Yeah, why can’t wars be more convenient, heh.

    They call it a Cherry Pie because that's more interesting than “Level 55 Food.”
    Nuh-uh! It’s ’cause pie is AWESOME!

    The in-flight entertainment needs serious improvement.
    Ooh, a mini-game! WC1, anyone? :D

    so you want everything that makes the game harder to be abolished? that doesnt make things fun
    There’s a huge difference between enjoying a challenge and being a masochist.

  90. Derek K says:

    Re: Tim-o’s comments:

    I think perhaps I’ll rephrase it like this: “Despite all these nitpicks, WoW is still an excellent game, the best selling MMO out there, and the accepted Gold Standard for How To Do Things. Keep in mind that these nitpicks only serve to contrast the rest of the game, which really is pretty good, as attested to by the sales and continued playerbase.”

    That’s what he *meant* I think.

    Except that “You only played a month.” Uh – a month is longer than the shelf life of most non-MMOs. If someone said “I played Final Fantasy 13 for a month” people would say “Wow, you must have been really in to it.” So yeah, you can pretty well judge an MMO in a month. He can’t judge *end-game* content, but…

    Notice the correlation between the month of play time, and the one month trial (which many games don’t even have – 3 days? 7 days? HA!). If the game hasn’t WoW’ed you (sorry, sorry) in a month, marketing FAILED.

    Honestly, I think a phrase like “All this nitpicking aside, I’m still enjoying this game a lot” might have calmed some folks down. But it’s kind of implied in the use of “Nitpicks” as the title not “CRITICAL DESIGN FAILURES THAT SHOW xusuck BLIZZARD!” ;)

    And yes. WoW is a way of life. This is *nothing* – go read the official forums. I used to come out of those feeling like I should just go cancel my account and burn the disks. Until I, you know, actually played. And remembered I *did* enjoy the game.

    “First, all your comments are on target. I do enjoy the game but some of the game play is just silly. Geez, look at that, another critter with no liver, how did he live?”

    MAGIC

    Re: Death penalty: I’m up in the air about death penalties. On the one hand, they’re necessary – otherwise people would just fling themselves endlessly at the goal, caring not a whit for the fact that they’ve died 100 times already. On the other hand, why do I care if they do that? They’re still sacrificing time. And mob regens are typically high enough that you can’t whittle down a level 50 mobs at level 5 just by doing that over and over again.

    I think taking a page from old arcade games is the best bet – after you come back to life, you are invulnerable for 10-15 seconds *as long as you don’t attack* – so you can respawn, and run, and presumably be out of the dangerous area before you’re vulnerable. That way people that truly don’t want to get rez sickness, just get away, can. People that don’t want to bother walking can rez. And people that want to come alive and kill can simply jump at the mob as soon as they are alive.

    Blizzard: That’ll be 10k, please.

  91. J Greely says:

    I love the way that some people respond to legitimate flaws by describing how they work around them. Which misses the point entirely. Yes, after several years in WoW, you navigate around obstacles without noticing them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

    Like the tram between Stormwind and Ironforge. I had a friend who swam along the coast to get from one to the other because nothing in the game had mentioned an easier way. If you didn’t talk to a guard and check out all of the things he could tell you, you’d never know. Hell, I think I wasted half an hour trying to figure out a way to get there before I stumbled across the answer.

    The WoW developers learned a lot from the mistakes of other games, but they’ve made plenty of their own. Some have been fixed over the years, others linger. Every point Shamus made is valid, and the company that learns from WoW’s mistakes as well as the others will make money.

    MMORPGs have come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go. I started playing UO when they first opened the Sonoma shard. They didn’t understand the difference between a retail game and an online service. They didn’t understand that spending twenty minutes dodging PKs to reach the only three decent surface spawn points was not fun (orc valley, rat island, and one other I can’t remember; surface spawning was hosed for months, and dungeons were full of PKs). They didn’t understand that “realistic” economies are nonsense in a fantasy game (“hey, look, thirty people are camping the reagent store hoping for a chance to cast spells”). They didn’t understand that PvP with no consequences made Lord of the Fries look like choir practice (they added a rep system, but it had loopholes you could drive a truck through; it was so bad that people ran away from my high-rep, mounted character, because they were sure I had to be a PK). Etc, etc.

    After UO, AC, and AO, it took some doing to get my friends back into an MMORPG. A lot of what I promised them was the lack of the flaws they’d seen in earlier games. And 10-slot bags.

    -j

  92. Davesnot says:

    NWN1 or NWN2… community mods.. community PWs.. skip the OC

    http://www.nwvault.com

  93. Steve C says:

    I’d like to revisit 8. Respawning monsters:

    In a post above I included an idea for how to fix the negative aspect of monsters spawning directly on top of you. I’ve been thinking about it and I think I’m onto something. I would like feedback. Here it is again:

    Spawn wants happen, check;

    a) if player is within aggro radius
    b) if player is currently in combat
    If yes to both, then spawn is delayed by 5-10 secs (random) and recheck.

    Run check 10 times, if delay= true for all times, then player = null for delay check until he changes zones. (To counter exploits by bots.)

    Note:
    1) If there were multiple players in the area then they are each checked. Therefore if even one player is not in combat, then spawn is allowed.

    2) aggro radius is based off that player’s normal ability to aggro. A level 70 in a level 10 zone needs to be right on top of a monster to get it to aggro. Therefore for a high level player to prevent a spawn would have to be right on top of the location it wants to spawn.

    Assuming that spawning monsters on top of a player is an undesirable play mechanic, does anyone see any undesirable consequences of this?

  94. Graktar says:

    I agree with all your comments except #7. I’m pretty sure the day/night cycle is just a few hours long, unless its different on some servers than other (unlikely). The problem is that night in WoW is so light you can easily fail to notice transitions between day/night unless you look at the sky.

  95. Derek K says:

    It *seems* like you could abuse it, but I don’t see anything off hand.

    The only real possibility I see has something to do with a hunter who has his pet on aggressive, but isn’t attacking himself, but that just tends to allow mobs to spawn, which is where we started.

    The other problem has to do with ensuring enough monsters spawn. But the out of combat check seems to override that.

  96. Vao Ki says:

    I had a nice loooooooong winded reply written up earlier this morning, but gremlins seem to have eaten it somewhere along the way, and I’m too lazy to redo it right now.

    In essence I agree with most of your points Shamus, and I’d like to add a suggestion for cooking: Cook fish. They stack, the product stacks, and you raise both skills simutaneously with less reliance on other ingredients.

    Also to save pack space, mail stuff to your alts. I had 5+ characters with maxed out banks, inventories and mailboxes. There’s just never enough space.

    The one thing I disagree with you on would be not having big fish in the little pond (or elites running around lower level areas) simply because they add an element of danger and cause you to wake up from mindless grinding of exp/quests (not that everyone does this, but you will, or have…searching for a spider with a single leg, etc). If the death penalty were lessened to where you could actually continue to play then this part of the game isn’t as debilitating for lower levels. Some of my most vivid memories were of getting eaten by high level monsters in EQ (sand giants in Oasis, the nasty DE in commonlands – west I think, the ape Burning Woods) and later getting revenge upon each of them. I wasn’t the only one who made a habit of stomping on that DE in commons whenever I passed through.

    And yes, creatures without basic required anatomy needed to survive is a bit disturbing, even though the graphic shows them to be intact. I agree fully with Shamus here. If I’m required to kill 30 pigs don’t ask me to collect 5 snouts, ask for 30 snouts or just ask for 30 pigs.

    On the note of realism in the game…you can take this 2 ways:

    1. Games should be more realistic and make sense. Let me eat a pie regardless of my level. All pigs should have snouts. My bags should only hold so much, ever. Add weight to items (which would include awkwardness of size) instead of space limits in general, per bag.

    or

    2. Games should allow for bending reality to the fullest. There will be critters running around without essential parts to function. Dragons can be soloed. Bags are never really full. Cherry Pies are just not edible until you are an elite warrior.

    I believe games should strive to be somewhere between those 2 extremes, using common sense (which isn’t really all that common) to decide which factors are most important. I’m in no way advocating dumbing down MMOs and making them too easy, but some things are just silly. When I got a quest asking for 5 pig snouts, as a noob I expected to kill 5 pigs and be done. MMOs are counterintuitive in this respect, because the reality is now to expect to kill 3-5 times the amount of monsters to parts needed. Not all pigs have snouts. Maybe some have feelers, or are psychic, I don’t know.

    When it comes to high level pies, as strange a concept as that seems, I have to laugh at the designers, and sigh at the laziness involved in that decision (considering this IS Blizzard we’re talking about). I expect high standards from Blizzard. This is why I buy their products blind, or would. I respect their devotion to the level of detail, which contrasts glaringly to something so ridiculous as 70th level pies. This irritates some gamers simply because it makes no sense. To fix it, have varying degrees of food items still, I suppose, but each would give an effect based off the character’s level who consumes it. This would prevent low levels from essentially cheating by using buff food to zoom to max level quickly, yet retain what is in place currently for the high level game.

    This still ended up being a long post, but the one the gremlins ate was much bigger. They must have been pretty high level gremlins to be able to choke that post down.

    I’ll close with one last comment. Anything that detracts from total immersion needs to be changed, meaning having the player not actually engaged in playing the game for any length of time is simply foolish.

  97. StingRay says:

    I imagine that jumping into a conversation this long-running is largely pointless, so I’ll simply agree with most of your comments, Shamus. However, I kinda like the long day/night cycle. I can’t really explain why I like it, I just think it’s cool. I do, however, wish it weren’t a 24 hour cycle. Even something like a 20, 21, or 22 hour cycle would allow for variation over time and give everyone a chance to see the different times of day.

  98. Derek K says:

    “I'll close with one last comment. Anything that detracts from total immersion needs to be changed, meaning having the player not actually engaged in playing the game for any length of time is simply foolish.”

    I’m assuming you mean immersion to mean “playing the game” as opposed to something like “not having a UI because real life doesn’t have a UI.”

    There’s a thread over on another site (I think Massively?) that is titled something like “What do you play while you’re playing MMOs?”

    And it’s asking people what games they play (Peggle seems to be a big choice) while they’re playing MMOs, to pass time.

    *THAT* is wrong. Horribly horribly wrong. If I have to find something to occupy myself during a game that’s not the game, it’s a waste of time. I liken that to loading screens – if I’m looking at 5 minutes of loading screen for 3 minutes of game, I need to look somewhere else.

    Why can’t I craft while riding a bat? Why can’t I queue up mail? There’s a mailbox where I came from, and one where I’m going. Break the rules of reality, and let me check my mail on the flight, and send items. Just pretend I’m doing it once I get there. Once I’m on the bat, there is *nothing* in the game, short of server failure, that can prevent me from reaching my destination. Assume I’ll get there, and mail something successfully. Let me browse the AH from anywhere. Okay, fine, I have to run to Org to buy it. But let me know what I can find there. Logical? No. Fun? Yes. Efficient? Yup.

    Also, true story: Last night, I tried to eat a cherry pie, and choked on it. So there is real life justification for level limits. I’m gonna grind all day today, and try again when I get home.

  99. Iudex Fatarum says:

    I agree with the list, but as I have mentioned in previous comments I still like the game a lot.
    1. Yes it is frustrating, and yes it is hard to know what is what, for example a craig boar rib you can get before the quest, and yet if you don’t know to get the quest until after you sell them and log out then you have to go get them again. Also, come on people maybe the quests have a range of item drops, 2-4 paws or something (sure the front ones can get damaged but how often does something fight with its back paws.
    2. My favorite example of this, the Beren’s Peril quest (horde) its description, yah, the place these very specific monsters are, is near some hills, and its surrounded by the Dalaran, which btw are practically everywhere in the south.
    3. I agree, thankfuly my guild doesn’t give free bags (that kinda kills everything) but instead crafts them for free if we can get the ingredients, (Ah is nice here sometimes)
    4. It makes lots of sense for high level recipes to need high level ingredients, it prevents farming low level critters. but come on people, as was pointed out, why can’t i use a big bear meat to make my simple roast bear. sure its probably a waste but let me do it. plus that way i don’t have to farm low level mobs if I want to send some food to someone. your only lvl 5, sure i can make food for you and I get something out of it more than 4 copper because i can get the ingredients from lvl 40 critters.
    5. Again, similar. I like the different types of food, but lets be honest, I really want to save on bag space. Perhaps a way of fixing this is letting foods (especialy ones just randomly picked up) take up no bag space, or some similar mechanic. I regularly have to drop foods just because i can’t carry the different types so i go back to making stupid useless ones. It got so bad that on my warlock i don’t use food anymore because of space restrictions. I just use bandages if i need healing out of combat.
    6. True, but I think its necessary. After all you tube level 1 twink or some such. there was a video on youtube of a lvl 1 rogue killing lvl 12 characters in goldshire because of ridiculous enchantments.
    7. I agree totaly, and perhaps it isn’t as quick as 3 hours or something, but maybe 6 or 12 hours a cycle. I moved to china recently (only for a short while) so I can’t ever see azeroth during the day. Thankfully i’m on a pacific server and not an east coast one, if i was then i’d never see the day (I’m at +8 GMT)
    8. at least some problems they have fixed with re-spawns. probably the most annoying i’ve ever dealt with was the stupid samophlange quest. Me doing it with another person (I a lvl 15 shamman him lvl 14 druid) couldn’t clear out the area. It took so long to kill each enemy and they respawned so fast that we couldn’t get in to complete the quest. its not like people just wander through killing the people either, its kind of an obscure quest.
    9. Yes its a problem, yes as people pointed out it kinda balances things. but perhaps they should do something more interesting than just drinking, especially because it takes mana to get the water so if you run out, you are screwed. and you can’t even use the water in recipes (see above complaints)
    10. my favorite is a group of 3 nigh elves on tigers in badlands. lvl 34-5 elites in an area right near cross roads where the highest level monster is lvl 13. oh and they are dead silent and have a huge agro range, i’ve literally had them charge me dismounted already before i could see them (I was starring in their direction).

    I still like wow and think that most of these are true for most MMORPG’s. Not always in the same way, but I’d prefer to have a bag than have people carrying around stuff weighing more than a house.
    Now for my individual rant. Since i use almost all of my supplies i gather with professions on other professions I have at points spent all my gold on skills when i level. 4 gold on skills at 30th level when i barely have 5 to my name is stupid.

  100. teamdest says:

    all that, and I post under the wrong topic. sorry!

  101. Vao Ki says:

    @ Derek K: Yes, by immersion I meant playing the actual game you mean to play. Though immersion means a bit more. If you’re running along and suddenly fall through a hole in the world, then get stuck or fall to your death because of it, the event will yank you out of the false reality of the game. Basically anything that frustrates a player so much they stop playing or come back to it later, when they had not intended to quit just yet…well that my friend is a loss of immersion.

    Immersion is when you sit down to play a game and look up 5 minutes later only to realize 5 HOURS have passed. It’s equivalent to a smack in the face when the game causes this realization on its own. A loss of immersion can happen thanks to game mechanics, such as seeing the path you need to take but realizing that 2 foot drop is so treacherous that your character just can’t make it – won’t even attempt it. Some gamers accept things like dangerous impossible 2 foot drops, 70th level pies and pigs without snouts. Others get yanked back to reality as these things make no sense. When a gaming company is able to get this concept just right, having a fun and immersive game that makes sense, I believe we will then crown a WoW killer.

  102. Derek K says:

    @Iudex Fatarum:

    I had forgotten that Crag Boar thing. You’re out killing them, finding their ribs, and selling them.

    Then you get a quest to gather them. And you can *still* sell them. I can’t think of any other quest that lets you vendor the quest items. The first time I played a dwarf, I’d sold about 20 of the ribs before I realized it. I kept thinking “Wow, I’m just *not* finding the drops I need….”

  103. Annon says:

    Something has been bugging me for a while. I have been waiting for a post where this fits better, but I can’t imagine anything coming close to this unless you decide to reply to my question…

    Given your unending ire of online activation, how can you stand playing an RPG which makes you pay on a monthly basis (after you’ve shilled out the money to buy the software) to enjoy a game which requires you to remain connected to a server at all times while playing? To me, any/all complaints you have against online activation should stand here tenfold. What makes it more palatable in this case?

    Not trying to be a jerk here. I’m just genuinely interested in what your thought process is on this matter.

  104. Shamus says:

    Annon: I actually do answer this question a lot, but it will probably keep cropping up until I make some sort of FAQ. Anyway, the short version:

    WoW is providing me with a service. As in, connecting to their server is making the game possible. Yes, in ten years the WoW server will be down and my game will be unusable, but without the server the game is pointless.

    In something like BioShock, they don’t have anything I need. The dependency on the server is purely artificial. In ten years their activation server will be down / moved, and my perfectly good game will stop working for no good reason. The only thing the server gives me is PERMISSION, and I shouldn’t have to ask for that.

    Imagine what it would be like if every game had online activation. You’d change your hardware, and a third of your games would break. You’d have to re-activate them. Some of the servers would be down, and you’d be locked out of those games until you could find a crack. It would be a lot of hassle, for no reason whatsoever.

    The shorter version: If you make me dependent on your server, then that server needs to be providing me with something I want.

  105. Annon says:

    That makes sense, but at the same time it doesn’t make sense. Your argument reminds me of the rational consumer thing you hear about in economics, that says people will only buy something if you can see an adequate return on your investment.

    I confuse myself, however, when I try to itemize the return you get from investing your resources in each case. In WoW’s case, you get access to a community of somewhat like-minded individuals, access to a fun game, and periodic updates that contain new content. For this you pay to buy the game, you must remain online at all times, and you get a monthly subscription fee.

    If this weren’t an MMO, I would think this whole set-up sounds like Steam. You get the community, the game, and the content either way, as well as the up-front cost, required internet connection, and (if you want new content) periodic upkeep charges. So why should I only grudgingly accept Steam while I am willing to shill out cash for an MMO?

    I don’t know, but it seems like the problem is how each is spun. For activation, the company is accusing every customer of theft whereas in MMO’s it’s just the nature of the beasty. Further, while the membership is a necessary condition of playing WoW, a membership isn’t/shouldn’t be required to install a piece of software on your computer. The idea of DRM as extraneous makes it less appealing. So even though the net result is the same either way, the very idea of DRM sucks while MMO subscription is perfectly accptable.

    Am I even close?

    EDIT: Sorry for the rambling. You’d think this was my blog…

  106. Zukhramm says:

    The difference between DRM in other games, and MMORPGs, is that with MMORPGs, I am from the beginning entering the game on the basis that I am going to pay for a service, while with other game, I (no matter what their EULAs say) am buying a produckt.

  107. Vao Ki says:

    @ Annon: My opinion of the whole paying for an online game (I’ve payed for several, up to 5 at one time!) is that it is STATED right there on the box that not only will you pay to play this game online, and only online, but also that the game content may and will change according to the powers that be.

    Whereas any game that I play solo, whether it has optional content online or not, should not cause me to have to do ANYTHING online. It should be playable directly out of the box. No patches, no online activation. If you plan to play the game online then there may be hoops to jump through, but for solo play there’s no point other than to annoy the gaming community in general, all thanks to a subset of said community who don’t want to pay for games, and uninformed greedy companies who think this is all worth it to sell a few more products. In the long run I believe those companies will lose more sales than anti-pirating saves.

  108. David V.S. says:

    Just a quick note, Shamus: None of your eleven nitpicks are significant if you adventure in instances.

    I know a few people who get a character to the ‘teens solo and then refuse to do anything but visit dungeons with a guild-mate groups. They have gotten many characters to L70 this way and avoided the repetitiveness and arbitrariness of questing almost entirely.

    Could a company make a MMORPG that was only crafting solo in cities and adventuring grouped in dungeons? Would that be better?

  109. DKellis says:

    Derek K (#102) mentioned something:

    There's a thread over on another site (I think Massively?) that is titled something like “What do you play while you're playing MMOs?”

    And it's asking people what games they play (Peggle seems to be a big choice) while they're playing MMOs, to pass time.

    This is the primary reason why I quit WoW (and FFXI). It just hit me, when I was poking at my Nintendo DS while watching my Draenei Paladin hoof it very slowly in a vaguely southeasterly direction looking for ruins that turned out to be far more “south” than “east”.

    I probably wouldn’t have minded so much if I had something in the game to do (say, chat with others) while waiting, but for all of WoW’s immense population, it’s strangely difficult to find people in the Singapore time zone on an RP server.

    (Speaking of which, server queues are really, really annoying. Have they gotten rid of those yet?)

    I should note that I don’t have that problem in City of Heroes, but this is mostly because I have a fast enough computer that loading instances and zones take only a few seconds. For all I love CoH/V, WoW is probably more appealing to those without a top-end computer.

  110. Lee says:

    WoW is a time-sink basically. I played for a while. One of the major issues that I had with it was when you got to a higher level (especially 40+) it seemed to take just as long to find a full party as it did to actually run through the dungeon (one hour of searching for an hour long dungeon). So if you play on a schedule (anyone with a real job) by the time you find a party your alloted playing time is up already.

  111. Matt says:

    One of the main ways to keep generating cash for any MMo is to keep people playing. Early on the level cap was seen as the point at which people would stop playing (with earlier MMO’s). All the timesink activities (including having to empty bags) are there to stop you reaching max level too fast.

  112. Carra says:

    Well, some points are exagerated a bit :)

    1. Low drop rates for quest items

    Some of those quests can be frustrating. But on the other side, it’s more fun to have some difference in quests. Killing 30 boars or getting 10 boar skins is different. And Blizzard did notice that people do not like 10% drop rates. Before TBC expansion, farming elementals would give a 10% drop rate for essence of fires. After TBC you now just get motes of fires of pretty much all elementals. Combine 10 to get a primal fire. You can better monitor your progress this way.

    2. Quest Locations are Vague

    Yep, it’s a problem until you find out about sites like wowhead/thottbot and later on about addons like questhelper. It’s giving you a big arrow “go here”. And with one of these new patches quest items you need are shown on your mini map.

    3. Bag space is outrageously limited

    I don’t see this as a point. Yes, bag space is the first thing you should buy for a character. If you have a high level character, buying 4×16 is peanuts. But even when starting on a new server I managed to get 4×14 bags at lvl 40. Especially the small bags are *cheap*. Just buy them in Ah and not from a bag vendor, you can find a 14 slot bag for 3g which is well in reach for even a lvl 30 character.

    5. The Needless proliferation of food types

    Only reason there seems to be multiple types of food types is for hunters. A bear eats a meat, a boar doesn’t… Seeing how they get rid of pet hapiness in a next patch, it makes no sense at all anymore.

    6. Arbitrary Level restrictions

    I can see a good reason to put level restrictions on levelling professions. Let’s say there are none, I could just dump 5k gold in a lvl 1 character and level it to get 375 gemcutting… Heck, I could have all professions.

    9. Heavy Drinking Mages

    Yep, mages have got a huge downtime. But from the 4 characters I have, it’s also the class with the worst downtime. Can lower it a bit by going frost, using mage armor, using evocation when you can, put some points in arcane tree to get 15% extra mana regen, fight lower level mobs so you can kill more with the same mana… Or play a character with less downtime (e.g. hunter).

    10. Wandering Elites are Asinine

    Heh, you haven’t met one of the big T-rexes in un’goro ;) It can be very annoying to get eaten by one of those but it does make you pay more attention to your surroundings. It can be avoided if you pay attention.

    11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks

    Well, you can in 95% of the cases walk back to your body. If you’re surrounded you could try to resurect and run. It doesn’t happen often enough that you really have to resurrect at a spirit rezzer to make it a hassle.

  113. Aaron says:

    Replies to Shamus Nitpicks:

    1. I’ve always believed the developers intended you to expect that the item you are after did not “survive” the assault. So if you need furry paws, perhaps in battle all the paws were ruined… i.e. bloody, crippled, disfigured. So I’ve never had a problem with the low drops. However, I can agree that some drops take extra-ordinarily longer to get then others and instead of having fun and adventure you have carpel tunnel and headache.

    2. I played since Launch and never had a problem finding anything in the game. And that is before the Map and Quest add-ons. Thats one of the things I liked about WoW, very intuitive. Maybe on just a couple of quests I might of had to double back to find an area or quest objective. But nothing to complain about. If anything it added to the realism for me.

    3. I think bag space is OK. It gives you incentive to go back to town every once in awhile… to interact with the game more instead of being out on your own for days at a time. Adds to realism for me… I mean, I know it sucks you can’t stack alot of items and it’s unreal to carry a lot of armor pieces for instance. BUT, I think it manages better then other MMOs.

    4. Different ingredients for different levels. That makes sense to me.

    5. Various food types are great, adds to realism. What I think they should in both the proliferation of ingredients and food types is narrow the field when it comes to items you need for quests and “needed” magical items. Because often you just want to have your magic items and get the adventuring… not sit around for half a day collecting the ingredients. That is one of the pitfalls of WoW IMO… to much harvesting going on, it’s just to much of a time sink. Basically if you need a Level 55 Bear Paw I think any bear paw should do that is 55+.

    6. I like the level restriction feature because it kind of prevents twinking. But on food items I think it’s kind of weird. It could be more realistic (your cup of Milk point was a good one) but if it prevents a level 16 from using Tier 3 or better then I’ll accept it.

    7. I love the day and night cycle!

    8. Not sure how many people are having SO much trouble with this spawning issue. I now it happened to me a few times, but I never had so much of an issue that it was worth blogging about. I can could on one hand the number of times it actually boiled down to frustration. But all in all I think the monster spawn and roaming patterns and alerts (i.e ground shake) are well implemented.

    9. Never played a Mage.

    10. Wandering elites are awesome. They give you a sense of the “living power” that inhabits the game world. Plus they are a great challenge for a Guild/Group when you can find them. In two years of playing I died maybe twice to accidental elite aggro. No big deal in my book.

    11. Resurrection … I think the way you die is handled great. Puts you out of battle just enough to punish you for dying, but not enough to ruin your game. Again, never had to much trouble with monsters over my body. I have had some trouble in PvP zones, but that is to be expected right? I like the way it works. And in my book, there is never a reason for rez sickness unless your done in the area and are just going to rune back to town.

    All that said, here is why I quit: WAY TO MUCH OF A TIME SINK AT END GAME. All you do is harvest during the day and raid at night… all in the pursuit of more and better loot. It just got way to repetative. The Battlezones kept me occupied for awhile… but those got stale for me after awhile. And then there was nothing left to do. Don’t get me wrong… the trip up to 60 was AWESOME. Graphics, design, areas I think are great. But end game is just RAIDING and, well, it just gets really old after awhile. And using the DKP system, which is generally the universally accepted method of loot distrobution, it takes forever to accomplish loot goals making the game even more repititous.

  114. Falco Rusticula says:

    I ran into the drop rates at level five. I needed three Strigid owl feathers. Of the first three owls I killed, two had nothing and one had a plucked feather (not the same, apparently, as a Strigid owl feather). And standard owls have somewhere upwards of a hundred feathers each, unless your thinking of flight feathers…and even then there’s a dozen to choose from.

  115. Decius says:

    And I just realized that the well-thought-out reply I had was so dated as to be meaningless.

  116. ldwater says:

    I’m leveling up another character after having a level 80 for over a year or so and I really feel sorry for all those people playing for the first time!

    Without questHelper I would be completely lost – alot of the quests are too obscure and give few indications on where to go makes it very hard. Yes they have made some changes in later patches to show better quest information but its rather late.

    Alot of the quest zones have very few quests and the game expects you to run between 2 or 3 similar leveled zones in order to get the xp you need – but when your on foot the time spent going between these zones is crazy!

    I think its the problem with alot of games, and especially a level based game such as Wow – developers wont retro-fix the game.

    It may be because of the player backlash of “Oh I played it the hard way and now you guys have got it easy – I want compensation etc etc” or it might be because its just easier to leave it behind.

    Once you get to outland the quests start making sence. Each zone has alot more quests and happily support you through a few levels as well as providing quest rewards that support most (if not all) of the classes.

    To be honest though I think blizzard are well aware that most of the people who play WoW are level 80 anyway, so ALL of the content is geared towards those players as they are the largest customer base to keep happy.

    Its an unfortunate fact of MMO’s that leveling up is more of a ‘trial of endurance’ – those who manage to get past the levels are granted with good content, those that dont will quit and miss out.

  117. TainInfernus says:

    I remember when I first got WoW. It came with the 10th Season of South Park DVD. An excellent way to pimp their stuff, since Blizzard helped a lot with that episode.
    Anyway, it was a 14-day trial. I had never played it and I was wondering what the hell people were talking about.
    Installed, started playing. In those 14 days, I got a couple characters into the teen-levels and experienced a bit of the areas. There are reasons why I would NEVER pay to play a game, monthly. Mostly, it’s the principal of the thing: I don’t like buying something constantly that I can’t be sure I’ll use. Money-sink.
    Anyway, the main mechanic that clinched my everlasting hatred of WoW, and it is actually quite small: Things you make cost less than what it took to make them. I got a good ways into Blacksmithing. First off, I couldn’t use a damn thing that I made since I was low-level. Second, I expected my hard labor to yield results. In any real sense, the labor that creates an object automatically imbues it with greater worth. A table is worth more than a log. Assuming the same material, this is true ALWAYS. I could not imagine an economy that would work otherwise. I know about balance and game economies, whatever, blah blah. I want to sell shit I make for money, if not, then at least be able to use it. My weak equipment had lower level requirements and was more suited to my character than anything I ever made as a blacksmith. Iron ore should not cost more than an Iron chainmail. PERIOD. This drove me up a fuckin wall and destroyed any motivation I had to pursue my “profession”. Forget this game. It’s not worth the time spent on it. It’s not fun, it just seems to be obsessive. For the first 10 levels, sure, fun, new, exploration. After that, it’s a thousand variations on a theme that, VERY quickly, lose appeal.

  118. Dragomok says:

    If I remember correctly, Shamus said that he likes when people comment on his older articles. And -by an accident- I have something to say, so…

    As to point 8: ironically, the only MMO I have heard about which spawns monsters when player isn’t near is… infamous Tibia. Yes, the same game, which fails to have interesting activities (there is no crafting – unless you count inserting whole four gems with limited lifetime (!) into about twenty weapons and… baking), interesting combat, interesting character development (‘builds’ are a lie); which hides behind mask of Free MMO (free accounts have no access to 90% of gameworld, gem enchanting, most spells and all quests except small boring); which…
    *Crusader’s rage runs out*
    Erm. You get the idea.

    What was I sa… Oh, right. Tibia solved that problem by spawning monsters in areas that no player is currently looking at. Two exceptions are monsters’ raids on towns (there are usually two warnings beforehand) and summoning.
    Someone could point that Tibia is 2D and based on square fields so it was waaaay easier to implement than in 3D enviroment where you have to calculate line of vision. That statement is true, but let me ask a question: what we have caves, high mountains, ceiling holes, unopenable doors, wigwams with dark interiors, suspiciously thick bushes and completely unimportant and random piles of leaves for?

  119. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Hey, cool, I somehow got from your article about not liking The Witcher to this post, and suddenly I have something to say.

    Well, less something to say, and more general musing in public, since Cataclysm has just come out, I dug out my old copy of the game to play for a bit, and I’m wondering what’s changed since this post was made.

    Well, to start with,

    1. Low drop rates for quest items – Fixed, mostly, or at least they’ve upped the drop rates so you don’t go more than three kills between drops, and since these kind of quests usually run concurrent with a “kill X amount of Y” anyway, that means you’re usually either accomplishing one or both quests with each kill.

    2. Quest Locations are Vague – Fixed completely, every quest will give you a point on the map to go to complete the quest, hell, when you’re, say, looking for a specific kind of boar to kill, they’ll also highlight areas of the map in blue, which are areas that specific boar spawns in, which is nice.

    3. Bag space is outrageously limited – Kinda patched up, bags as drops or quest rewards come faster than ever, but space can still get tight if you’re not OCD about selling stuff, or are OCD about collecting stuff; I find it a minor annoyance at best, and the most basic grasp of inventory management and how valuable each item is can save a lot of headaches here.

    4. The Needless proliferation of ingredients – no idea, I’m a miner, but I’ll assume it hasn’t been fixed.

    5. The Needless proliferation of food types – not fixed at all, but since the game as been made easier, you don’t have nearly as much need for food, so you can sell whatever you have the least of if you want the space; I usually keep just one bag full of food, and if I start collecting more than that, I start using more or selling it till it’s back down to one bag.

    6. Arbitrary Level restrictions – haven’t noticed any as of yet, so no comment.

    7. The realtime day / night cycle – not fixed, and it kinda cheeses me off, too.

    8. Respawning monsters – Maybe fixed? This is a random chance kinda thing, and while it hasn’t happened to me yet, I’m only so far into the game, so it may happen yet. I can say I haven’t seen a monster spawn right before my eyes yet, but like I said, random chance.

    9. Heavy Drinking Mages – Nobody plays mage anymore, or at least I have not seen one, which is odd as hell; must be the server I’m on.

    10. Wandering Elites are Asinine – Not fixed. Love to attack when you’re looking at your map. Hate so much.

    11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks – I’ve only died twice so far (damn elites and their wandering), but I have noticed that if you die while under level 10, you can respawn at the graveyard with no penalty whatsoever. As for higher levels, I’m not aware yet.

    Right, so they fixed a couple of nitpicks, fiddle with a couple of others, and completely ignored others.

    So… yeah, the more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

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