World of Warcraft:
Counterpoint

  By Shamus   Jul 15, 2008   51 comments

OHNOES they’re making fun of our game!

That’s not a quote so much as a summary. I underestimated the intensity of the fanboy backlash I’d get for daring to suggest that WoWcraft might not be a flawlessly executed source of boundless, radiant joy. It’s a fantastic game, but it’s a game with easily observable annoyances, and no amount of e.e. cummings styled flailing at the keyboard will change that.

The WoW posts have drawn in a fresh surge of fanboys who will brook no insolence from “n00bs” who mistake this life-substitute for something so pedestrian as mere entertainment. I can only imagine the coming indignation and rage there will be when I get around to jamming this game into a comic strip.

A number of comments (here, and on other sites) complained that my suggestions would make the game “too easy”. To claim this is to miss the point the point by distances that only a stellar cartographer could appreciate. Like, if that one Mexican restaurant got an exterminator so as to stop inadvertently serving cockroaches in their meals, would you complain because you are now getting less food? “Harder” gameplay should never be mistaken for “deeper” gameplay, and in fact all too often the former is used to conceal the lack of the latter.

No, we are not even remotely done talking about this game.


20201151 comments. It's getting crowded in here.


  1. Chris says:

    Heaven forbid somebody’s entitled to having an opinion. ;) Frankly, if I saw people getting this riled up over somebody not agreeing with them, I’d start taking personal pleasure watching them get so bent out of shape they shave years off their lifespan over… wait for it… a game. ;)

  2. El Jaspero says:

    >“Harder” gameplay should never be mistaken for “deeper” gameplay, and in fact all too often the former is used to conceal the lack of the latter.<

    THAT is precisely why I read this blog. Bravo, Shamus! Any chump can make a game harder, but it takes true artist to actually make a game -better-, and you’re doing every gamer a service by standing up and demanding the latter.

  3. James says:

    “Let me say you’re so spot-on, you are more brilliant than the sun to me right now.”

    You might be focusing a little too much on the disenting opinion, rather than looking at the numerous posts that start out by agreeing with you whole-heartedly. It looks to me that you have a nice mixture of support responses and those that seek to discuss why some things are designed as they are.

  4. Russ says:

    And here I didn’t think you went far enough with your critiques!

  5. NobleBear says:

    Its unfortunate that a few seem to approach some of your points (while pointedly avoiding others) but don’t address them on merit.

    “You should get over it” is a horrible counterargument and a poor way to address concerns.

    I would like to hear more about this this:
    is XP debt (sickness)bad? Should there be an incentive to encourage players to exercise caution when engaging enemies?

    I look forward to your continued posts on this and other matters.

  6. MRL says:

    There’s something bizarre about the responses that boil down to “Yes, it’s annoying, it sucks, but…there are mods available that make it fine, so you shouldn’t complain about it!”

    No game should require third-party additions to be enjoyable, period. The same goes for “database sites” – it’s fine if they’re helpful, but they should not be required. The fact that some people don’t see that is kind of disquieting.

    That said, despite its flaws, I am planning on coming back to WoW once I find a job, most likely.

  7. Here, here, Shamus!

    For all of the fanboys who cry foul, there are many more of us thoughtful, articulate, and dare I say older players who completely agree with you.

    Whenever I used to complain loudly enough that less than 100% drop rates for quest items was indicative of lazy game design, I would inevitably get someone calling me a ‘noob’ and insisting that increasing drop rates would make the game ‘too easy’.

    I guess when you’re 13 years old, sitting at your computer killing the same group of murlocks for an hour is considered “challenging”.

  8. Avaz says:

    ““Harder” gameplay should never be mistaken for “deeper” gameplay, and in fact all too often the former is used to conceal the lack of the latter.”

    That is quite possibly the coolest and most accurate sentence I have read in about 5 years.

  9. Jeremiah says:

    No game should require third-party additions to be enjoyable, period. The same goes for “database sites” – it’s fine if they’re helpful, but they should not be required. The fact that some people don’t see that is kind of disquieting.

    YES! I was going to post the same thing, but was having a hard time getting into words. This goes for pretty much any kind of game, whether video game or table-top (i.e. house ruling). If such modding is pretty much necessary and the game isn’t playable and enjoyable out of the box, then my money is going elsewhere.

  10. Tom Gunn says:

    I look forward to any WoW related comics you come up with :)

  11. theckhd says:

    Shamus, I think the reaction that post received can be summarized in two points:
    1) The type of people who read worldofwar.net, and most serious WoW blogs in general, are not casual players like yourself. Even if they claim to be, playing 4-5 hours a day is really not casual in any reference frame. So the people responding are likely to be the more hardcore, elitist group that has an inner revulsion for things that “dumb down” the game, probably in part for a sense of justification that the time they spent achieving the same goals was worthwhile.

    2) The summary over there stripped away a lot of the context. In your post, you made it clear that you like WoW, but you’re still capable of pointing out a few flaws that annoy or bug you. In their summary of your post, they make it sound like you said “WoW sucks, this game is awful and here’s why.” Two very different statements, which of course will generate two very different reactions.
    —–
    As a long-time WoW player who isn’t remotely casual despite my best attempts, I read your post yesterday and wasn’t offended. I agree with a lot of the things you said, because many of them annoy me too. But I also recognize, much as you do, that most of them are simply game balance issues, and won’t be changed for that reason. Which makes sense really, as you pointed out, the game has to work – no amount of justification via lore or realism will make a bad game mechanic playable. Fixing some of the flaws you outlined lead to flaws in other areas, just like in any complex system.

    Eventually, you either decide that the flaws overshadow the fun and quit the game, or decide the flaws are tolerable and keep playing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t point out the flaws in the hopes that they might be fixed.

    One final note from an “oldbie”: Keep in mind you’re playing WoW 2.0, several years after release. You are playing a very different game than some of us did back in November of 2004. There were a lot of flaws back then, many more than you listed. And people complained. Loudly. And other people said the complainers were noobs. Also Loudly. Guess what happened?
    Many of the bugs and gameplay issues got fixed. Entire classes got revamped. All because of player feedback like yours.

  12. Derek K says:

    @Leslee: But we considered and more mature gamers do the same thing:

    “I guess when you’re 13 years old, sitting at your computer killing the same group of murlocks for an hour is considered “challenging”.”

    We are just as disdainful of their opinions and style of play as they are of ours. Because sometimes, it’s not a 13 year old (also, my daughter was, until recently, 13 – I’m not entirely sure what being 13 implies about your gaming skills, because she is *far* better at WoW than I) that feels that way. Sometimes it’s one of the mature gamers, who feels differently. Granted, it’s the l33t h4rdc0r3z that tend to post, and sound like idiots, but there are some people with reasoned, mature attitudes that feel it was a good choice. Like, say, the designers of WoW….

    I happen to agree that low drop rates are a bad solution, but I can see the decision:

    “We want players to kill 40 boars.”
    “Wow. That’s a lot of boars. Are they going to do that, or will they just say “That’s way too many boars and get frustrated’?”
    “Hmmm. Good point. What if we asked them to get 10 boar *parts*, but only 1 in 4 boars has the part? Same thing, but it feels more accomplishable.”
    “Not bad, not bad. Let’s try it out.”

    Apparently accomplishable wasn’t a word. Now it is!

  13. Luke Maciak says:

    I think you said it elsewhere that developers purposefully make games harder to disguise lack of content. WoW seems to have plenty of content, but the game play can be viewed as rather simplistic (since most of the time you are doing the same “kill X of Y” quest with some slight variation).

    I agree whole heartedly with the whole laundry list you posted. These things could definitely be fixed, and improve the WoW experience. And it seems that Blizzard does constantly tweak the engine improving small fixes in every patch. So perhaps in the long run stuff like drop rates will continue to improve.

    I’m not counting on it though, because I don’t think they have an incentive.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “but you have to draw the reality line somewhere”

    Thats my favourite quote.To defend a system where a full plate armour takes as much space as a leaf with that quote is….well,mind boggling.

    But your nitpicks arent just about wow.Most MMORPGs,and as many regular RPGs suffer from the same problems,which is sad.

  15. Derek K says:

    @theckhd: “4-5 hours a day is really not casual in any reference frame.”

    Actually, I disagree with that. I don’t think there’s much link between time spent and hardcore/casual-ness.

    There are people that play 2 hours a night, every other night. During those 2 hours, they assemble a raid, and run it, with military precision, and then go home. They have maps, add-ons, code words, and discipline. They are, without a doubt, hardcore. And probably pretty advanced.

    Then there are people that log in when they get off work at 5:30, and play until 11:30 at night, every night. And they screw around in Org for an hour, then go try to kill mobs that are +3 to them, and die, then do a corpse run for 30 minutes, get annoyed, go run to a city, get in a battleground, try hard, but fail, do it again, again, then give up and go try to fix their stuff. Then they log off until tomorrow, wondering why the game is so hard, and how everyone else is doing so much better than they are.

    I will say that, in general, I don’t think WoW is the best game for a “hardcore” player – someone who cut their teeth on UO and fully lootable, full PK’ing PvP, who has 14 mods designed to eek out the maximum killing power from their class, and who can tell you, from memory, the best shot rotations for hunters from level 10 to level 70, modified by the speed of the weapon whether improved hunters mark has proc’ed or not. Because WoW is full of the rest of us, and it will only annoy them. ;)

  16. Calite says:

    I totally agree about the deep gameplay and hard gameplay thing Shamus. If something in the game makes it require more skill, or strategy, or planning, then that makes it both deeper and harder. If something requires more luck, or more repetition without variance, it makes the game harder, but not deeper. Making a game more difficult without making it a more full experience is not good game design, it’s a cop-out to make the game last longer. Frustrating your players will happen often, but if the frustration doesn’t improve gameplay or balance, remove it or change it.

  17. Rubes says:

    Sweet, more blogs on WoW. Keep ‘em coming.

  18. Johan says:

    “A number of comments (here, and on other sites) complained that my suggestions would make the game “too easy””

    Also remember that casual gamers who would prefer easy game play far outnumber hardcore ones who prefer elements that must be mastered over years of play. I can see some of these things, and many other annoyances being “tweaked” to make the game more newbie-friendly in the future.

  19. theckhd says:

    @ Derek K:
    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree then. My definition of “casual” would be a few hours at a time, a few days a week. Keep in mind that “hardcore” does not necessarily mean “raider,” though it often correlates well.

    By my definition, your person who plays for 6 hours a night but wastes a lot of it messing around isn’t casual. That doesn’t mean he’s hardcore either, he’s somewhere in the middle perhaps.

    Your hypothetical 2-hour raider would be casual though, by my definition. And that I agree with, honestly. The efficiency with which he uses those 2 hours doesn’t automatically disqualify him. “Casual raider” isn’t an oxymoron anymore.

    To me, “hardcore” would indicate that you spend a LOT of time playing the game, and are sampling the very latest content shortly after it is introduced. They are what in the tech community would be called “early adopters.” The reason that this usually correlates with lots of play time is obvious: End-game raiding require lots of consumables, which cost gold, which equates to spending time farming. Similarly, being the best at PvP entails a lot of practice and playtime, both in arena and battlegrounds.

    I’m not going to claim that my interpretation of the terms “casual” and “hardcore” are the only correct ones, but I do think that they fairly represent the most common usage.

  20. NobleBear says:

    @ Avaz:

    Maybe this is the problem; that 13yr-olds fumbling around are barely knowing how to get a proper game on in the first place, let alone appreciate the significant differences between “harder” and “deeper”.

    They’ll get it eventually, I’m sure. ;)

  21. folo4 says:

    jeeze.

    Bottom line is, Shamus likes WoW. I still can’t believe people would forgo that simple statement and go directly to bashing him for nitpicking.

    People had dabbled in nitpicking all the years. Usually, after furious backlash from players, they stopped nitpicking.

    Will Shamus Young continue criticizing games, despite potential violent e-reactions? Either way, the results are long walls of interesting text that will make humanity proud of Writing. And me occupied.

    anyways, is there anyways to deal with elitism, other than ignoring them outright?

  22. Fred Pinto says:

    Man… free speech will turn me into a Fascist before I die. More and more, hearing people being smug jack-as*es about things they don’t know/understand/heard, I picture myself going Dirty Harry on them!

    Damn you Internet! You’ll doom us all!

    About the game:
    -Great game UI that can be so easily modded. Pity it needs the mods. Smart that Blizzard incorporates some of the things they see in popular addons.
    -Drops: I like a little randomness (to make me fell lucky sometimes, but not frustrated all the time) but some drop rates are absurd. A justification for the drop rate would be nice (and in some quests is used), like “Perfect White Bull Molars” or whatever.
    -Bags: I think it’s fine… some realistic limit… “cheat a little” and create a “fence toon”.
    -Level restrictions: necessary evil in Equipment with the same objective of level restrictions in skills… balance. BUT, in food it’s ridiculous! The solution would be to change the result of ingesting food: level 10 toon eats pie gets 100hp, level 70 toon eats pie gets 7500hp. EASY!
    -Drinking mages: Balance.
    -Day/Night Cycle: it would be nice to speed it up as you suggested. With a added benefit of making traveling more believable.

  23. Dev Null says:

    Theres a subset of people involved in any hobby who will spend too much time on it – where “too much” is actually an amount that they themselves feel slightly uncomfortable about. Many of these people will feel the need to turn their hobby into some bizarre form of religion in order to justify it. Its weird, but people are like that.

    (Seriously. Try to have a conversation honestly critiquing the lame plot of an otherwise mildly amusing Star Trek episode… with a Trekkie. But armour up first if you want to survive the experience, and wear your running shoes…)

  24. RudeMorgue says:

    I wouldn’t dream of suggesting WoW was perfect (random drop rates being the prime offender for me), but saying that it requires mods and/or external database sites to play is simply untrue.

    There is no part of the game that I’m aware of that requires any of those things. They simply do the things they are intended to do: allow the user to customize his play experience and allow the user who doesn’t feel like investigating the world himself to speed through content.

    The game doesn’t require mods, but it accommodates them better than any game I’ve ever seen. How can that be a bad thing?

    I leveled a rogue to 60 way back when the game was new and I don’t think I even knew where to put mods until I started on my second character. This was when the only major database site was the ugly-as-hell Thottbot.com, which I only ever used to find out which creatures had the best drop rate for crafting materials.

    It’s true that some things are not as spelled out as they might be, such as hunter pet feeding, but the fact is that if you hover over the icon for pet mood, you should get some indication of the … well, mood of your pet. Open up the pet’s display and it will tell you what it likes to eat. You don’t have to use the “feed pet” button, either. You can just drop the food right on the pet just as if it was a player you were giving the food to.

    And, of course, it’s a multi-player game. You can always ask another hunter.

  25. Tacoman says:

    Someone agrees with your 100% drop rate point, and that someone is on the WoW website.

  26. scragar says:

    I’ve played a fair number of MMOs, never WoW though, and I have to find that the best equipment balancing I have seen was with a game I can’t recall the name of, where your stats would have a multiplier applied before a constant bonus, since the multiplier got higher as constant bonuses got lower a very powerful piece of equipment for a high level would offer almost no bonus to a lower level, even if it offered 5 times his strength (numbers in the game were very varied as well, which made it seam much more customised).

  27. Kevin says:

    Hm. I dunno here. I did respond to your points, and I didn’t agree with all of them, but I don’t think I was being defensive about it or unfair. But now I’m sitting here wondering if I’ve just been slammed because I liked some of the things you didn’t, and chose to write about it.

    I think I’m going to assume that my post was read in the spirit it was written, and that you were being mean to someone else.

    (Edit) I just went and read some of the other posts and I understand your frustration. I do think that maybe you should try an not allow your upset to come out so obviously in your blogs. A purely defensive post like the above just reads as angry and attacking to your readers, not as the thoughtful and insightful Shamus we’ve all come to know and love.

  28. The Lone Duck says:

    Yet another comment. :)
    The only thing I’d take out of this, is a congrats on how widespread your blog is. The arguments of forum users are many. One of the problems I have with WoW is that community. There’s plenty of decent people too, so that’s not the only problem. It’s just enough of a problem for me.
    I tell you what I think it is. Deep down, some of these people know that they’re wasting their lives on a game, not doing anything meaningful. But they resent being shown that, because they want to play. So they do all they can to justify their time investment. Having played myself, I believe this to be accurate.

  29. theckhd says:

    Also, you were picked up on wowinsider yesterday as well.

    Not that you want to read even more worthless posts by people complaining about your “whining,” but there were at least one or two posters that got the point. The post by Moose at the end should be comforting, at least.

  30. Jeff says:

    I’m not entirely sure what being 13 implies about your gaming skills, because she is *far* better at WoW than I
    That’s the point.
    It’s like a vetern 3.x D&D player going “Hard to create a character? What are you talking about, it only takes a few minutes!”
    Those young people (who won’t get off my lawn!) have more time and attention for these things, generally.
    Exceptions exist, but what would stereotypes be for otherwise?
    (There’s a very nice and articulate fellow in a guild I’m in that’s something like 12. He exhibits no signs of being an idiot.)

    “Hmmm. Good point. What if we asked them to get 10 boar *parts*, but only 1 in 4 boars has the part? Same thing, but it feels more accomplishable.”
    I would answer that he has no understanding of statistics and probability. ;)
    This is a good idea only if drop rates change the more you’ve killed it, so that if you have 0 parts, the 31st to 40th dead boar will have a part.
    Otherwise, about a quarter of the players will need almost two hundred kills.

    @Derek K:
    Both those examples are of hardcore players.
    However, the relationship is more “The less time played over an equal amount of time, the more likely they are a casual player.”

    -Bags: I think it’s fine… some realistic limit… “cheat a little” and create a “fence toon”.
    I’d like to point out that anyone who has mule characters because they need more inventory space have no right to attack people who complain about inventory space. :)
    Fred: Not directed at you specifically, mind you. Much like how Mods can fix an issue but doesn’t mean the issu edoesn’t exist, work-arounds aren’t a valid way of saying a problem is resolved.
    “When I try to close your program, it kills my cat.”
    “Minimize the window first, then close it.”

    Many of these people will feel the need to turn their hobby into some bizarre form of religion in order to justify it.
    Post-purchase rationalization.

    And, of course, it’s a multi-player game. You can always ask another hunter.
    I hear Xusuck is a noob-pwning machine. ;)

  31. Shamus says:

    Kevin: Yes, the post was intended to be fun. Reading back through the previous thread, you can see a clear line between:

    1) Actually, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. You see…

    and:

    2) Ah! Stop saying the game isn’t perfect you’re just a n00b!

    But the real reason for this post was in the comments of the post I linked above. I always enjoy discussion on the details of gameplay mechanics, but fanboys need as much derision as I can heap on them. The main post for today actually gets back to the gameplay and the two sides we saw in the debate yesterday.

  32. Samrobb says:

    FWIW, I’m not a WoW player (yet… cue ominous music) but I’ve really enjoyed your analysis from the perspective of game design. Have you ever considered billing yourself as a “Game Play HCI Consultant”? You’ve got a real talent for it, and we all know that there’s enough games out there that could use a nice little cluestick or two applied vigorously to beat out the stupid…

    Minor nit: there’s a doubled phrase in the post, “To claim this is to miss the point *the point* by distances…”

  33. John Lopez says:

    I was expecting frothing at the mouth at the other site, but by Internet Forum Standards(tm) that was pretty mild disagreement mixed with some acknowledgments and agreed to points.

    Of course, you do have to apply Rule Two of forum reading: no shift key does *not* mean they are on the level of e. e. cummings.

  34. Derek K says:

    @theckhd: I DO NOT AGREE TO DISAGREE! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!

    “I’m not going to claim that my interpretation of the terms “casual” and “hardcore” are the only correct ones, but I do think that they fairly represent the most common usage.”

    True. That’s very likely – I typically find myself on the wrong side of the common usage argument. ;)

    @The Lone Duck – I think you’re very very right. I used to feel a *lot* of guilt over the time I spent playing MMOs. Then I got my wife involved in them, and compared the time I spent on MMOs to the time my friends spent on single player games, board games, TV, reading, etc – I found that a few hours a night was a reasonable time for a hobby – when you stop thinking of it as “wasting time on a computer game” and start thinking of it as a hobby, you can make a more rational decision. But I can’t bring myself to spend 10-12 hours a day on weekends, even if I didn’t have little ones poking me to come play with them. ;) An examined life, and all that rot.

    @Fred Pinto:

    “Man… free speech will turn me into a Fascist before I die”

    NO FREAKIN’ KIDDING! As I get older, I find myself becoming more and more the person I used to rail against. I find myself muttering a Jeff Goldblum quote, from Jurassic Park: “You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could…you never stopped to think if you should.”

    @Jeff: I find that there’s a valley effect for 3.X – beginners take a long time, as they try to figure out all the classes, the feats, the skills, what on earth BAB is, what weapon to use, etc, and then just throw darts. Intermediates take a pretty short time, since you know about what you want, and just need to look up details. But when you get advanced, then it’s forever again. It takes me *days* to create a character. I create him. Then I toss half of it out, and go online. I find new synergies, redesign, add another base class, adjust skills to match the new feat I just found, pick equipment, find new equipment, which changes my feats. Then find a thread explaining why my feat is mechanically inferior in all ways to another feat, which I then investigate. Eventually, I have something that is almost, but not entirely, unlike the original PC, but is the same concept.

    I think I had a point, but it’s lost. ;)

    Also, re: Stats – I know. But I’m pretty sure the majority of the world doesn’t get statistics. ;) I know I only do if I think about it – 86% of the time your gut instinct is wrong. ;) I still *swear* that quick picking lotto numbers is less likely to result in a win than selecting them, even though I know it’s not true.

    Although it would be a somewhat elegant solution to the problem to create much more sophisticated algorithms – a flat 25% drop chance, up until you hit either 10 killed, or 10 claws, at which point the chance ramps up or down, so that, on average, you’re killing 40 boars, but the outliers are pulled in such that you’re looking at 25-50 within 2 deviations, or the like. Hmmmm. And then a hard limit where you have to kill at least 20, and will never kill more than 60.

  35. Tom says:

    A comic? I can’t wait!

  36. Blackbird71 says:

    Shamus, I’m not exactly sure what you’re getting at here, as it is unclear which posts you are categorizing as a “fanboy backlash.” Are you targetting specific posts, or are you including every post that disagreed with your statements in that one sweeping comment? If you’re merely ranting on fanboys who respond to any attack on “their game” with no rhyme or reason to their arguments, then fine, I have no problem there.

    But if you are out of hand dismissing the well-structured arguments and explanations countering some of your points, without even considering that your limited experience with MMOs may not give you the best perspective and that others may have a better understanding than you, then I have to say that I’ve lost a bit of respect for you on that one.

    Personally, I am not a Blizzard fanboy. I’m a relative newcomer to WoW, having played several other MMOs previously and even some currently. I enjoy WoW as a casual game, and a fun distraction. It is by no means the only game I ever play, and it is definetely far from perfect. When these flaws are pointed out, I have no probelm admitting them and agreeing that something should be done (as I did with several of your points, i.e. quest item drop rates). However, I will step in to defend points that I believe are misunderstood and are actual strengths or valid characteristics of the game (i.e. death penalties and mana management). So I posted to that effect (as apparently did others), not to say “you’re a moron if you think WoW isn’t perfect,” but rather to hopefully open your eyes to a different perspective.

    Shamus, you have reviewed a lot of games. However, I think it is safe to say that WoW is something entirely different in size and scope than anything you’ve done before. This is not a game that can be played through in 20-40 hours, not even 2-3 times that. My wife and I have each put over a week’s worth of hours on our main characters, and we’ve still only experienced a portion of the content available. In addition, this is your first official foray into a genre that is entirely new to you, the MMORPG (no, GW does not count), and as such you are not as familiar with the characteristics and functions that are inherent to the genre. Because of these factors, I think it is safe to say that you cannot approach a review of this game in your usual fashion, as you will really require much more of an exposure time than you typically give a game, both to understand the game itself and to gain a grasp of what an MMO is and is not. Personally, the first time I tried WoW, I was on a two-week trial. It was ok, but in the end I decided not to continue. Two years later, I tried it again, and I found that with the perspective of my experience in different games, I found that I really enjoyed it this time around, so here I am.

    Some of your “nitpicks” are dead on. Others are matters of opinion and are debatable. Still others seem to be born in the shortsightedness of someone who doesn’t really understand the big picture of the game or MMOs in general. These are the points I tried to address. I have no problem with you or anyone else expressing an opinion of discontent with any aspect of the game, in these cases I just feel that your reasoning is mistaken and wrong. What bothers me is that as a game reviewer, you appear to be unwilling to even entertain the possibility that you may be wrong. If this is the case, then you are being just as bad as those who believe Blizzard is infallable and that WoW is the ultimate paragon of computer gaming. If you want to spend your time giving criticism, expect to receive some in return when your opinions don’t quite add up.

    If this is the case, and you are unwilling to receive constructive feedback, then I think you’ve reached the end of your usefulness as a reviewer and should stick to the comics. If this is not the case, and as said before you are only addressing the “rabid fanboys,” those who see any statement against WoW as blasphemy, then I apologize for my part in the misunderstanding and freely retract my comments.

  37. Shamus says:

    Blackbird, and others: Like I said to Kevin above, I didn’t say “some disagreements were great and some were stupid” because I didn’t think the distinction was needed. Just click the link in the post above and it takes you to exactly the sort of thing I was talking about – knee-jerk rejection of widely recognized gameplay flaws as “n00bishness”.

  38. Jeff says:

    @Derek K:
    Eh, I do have a degree in math, so I won’t comment on how easy statistics and probability are, as my viewpoint is skewed, heh.

    I dunno, even my most twinkish 3.x characters are quick, with the exception of my wizzards. The DM for the game I played as a wizard got very worried about me with regards to his plans. I overprepare, and 90% of the time it’s perfect. :P
    Wizards are time consuming with the LOADS of spell sourcebooks to go through, yeah, but that’s purely due to selection.
    The most difficult character I build mechanically was my Swashbuckler/Rogue/Dragonmark Heir/Blade of Orion who had no stealth, 4 attacks at level 20, and full essential rogue skills. Fun.

    @Blackbird:
    Come now…
    Shamus already mentioned he wasn’t referring to:
    1) Actually, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. You see…
    But to:
    2) Ah! Stop saying the game isn’t perfect you’re just a n00b!

    …and to the other comments on the other site linked above. :P

  39. ngthagg says:

    I’m pretty sure the crowd that says “your changes would make the game too easy” are also part of the crowd that says “the game BEGINS at 70″.

    Incidentally, how long does it take to reach 70? 5 days, if you’re good, and I think that’s a generous estimate. (Any powerlevelers out there, please correct me if I’m wrong.) That’s a huge time investement far beyond the typical total playing time of a game, even a long winded RPG.

    From Blizzard’s they don’t see hard/easy or shallow/deep. They see time-consuming or not. When they give you a choice of a couple minutes to run back to your corpse and maybe risk dying again, or waiting ten minutes for your resurrection sickness to expire, they’re happy (unless you cancel your account). Low drop rate? Money in the bank. Small bag space forcing trips back to town? Moolah! Getting lost while following vague quest instructions? Cha-ching! Etc etc.

    Fixing these problems would be like making crack non-addictive. Yeah, that’s really going to help business down at the ol’ street corner.

  40. Alexis says:

    Ok, I read this as a massive slam against the comments on your previous post until I read your response. I was kind of offended, in general the comments seemed of a high quality. Then I actually clicked the link.

    My misreading maybe, including worldofwar.net somewhere around the link would have helped.

    “Actually, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. You see…”
    Saying “deal with it” is not exclusive to acknowledging the flaw.

    WoW is far from perfect, sure. Calling that out is fine. You will enjoy the game more if you find ways to deal with the imperfections. They can even lead to surprisingly fun gameplay sometimes. God knows threat mechanics are more artificial than Paris Hilton, they’re FUN though! No one ever complains chess is unrealistic.

    “Ah! Stop saying the game isn’t perfect you’re just a n00b!”
    Other times… well, other times your expectations seem to be simply out of whack with how the game is set up. Hording cooking ingredients is simply inefficient, as is trying to level every craft skill at once. You can play without equipment or talents too and I will support you right up until you complain about the difficulty.

  41. Andrew says:

    I enjoyed reading your comments. I have no intention (besides the money angle, all the reasons you’ve suggested and more besides) of playing WoW or other MMO’s for now, and so this is insanely insightful stuff – a person who knows games going in with a fresh view, which there isn’t enough of (although this blog is quite the read).

    Keep it up. Ignore the fanboys, they exist for all games, and WoW’s mad-forum-going-minority of it’s total 10 million accounts are just slightly louder then others. I totally get your reasoning, and it makes it even more funny knowing they backlash even a bit against the most minor flaws being pointed out.

  42. Alexis says:

    And uh, non-addictive crack? Sign me up. If you could fix the comedowns that’d be lovely :D

  43. Derek K says:

    “Money in the bank. Small bag space forcing trips back to town? Moolah! Getting lost while following vague quest instructions? Cha-ching! Etc etc.”

    Optimistically, I think Blizzard does want their game to be fun. I don’t *think* they’re playing a “Just how obnoxious can we be before we make someone angry?” type of game – interviews with the devs show they love the game.

    Pessimistically, they’re smart enough to realize that alienating your players is a bad way to keep them – they’re not going to simply play the “how much money can I get out of you today” game – they know they need long term support, to buy all the expansions. So they aren’t going to go with quick money makers, they’ll go with long term ones.

    @Andrew: Your post is an example of what is making some of us so strident, I think. You are the non-MMO playing educated public (the type of person that we *want* in MMOs). You are reading Shamus’ article, and thinking “Ah, I knew those MMOs sucked, and Shamus has proved it to me. I am justified in my dislike of MMOs, and of WoW, and those that play them just don’t really get it like I do.” You didn’t really say that, but you are getting there, and you’re reminding us of all the people that *have* said that.

    Those of us that love MMOs (I do, I’m just in a funk right now, and focusing on single player/small team games) get kind of upset about that. Because we love MMOs. We have had a freakin’ BLAST playing WoW, despite the flaws, and know that it’s a hell of a game. I personally have been playing since the first open beta. I’m still subbed, though I go off and on. I have three accounts. We don’t want you slagging the genre, because it’s a good genre. And we’re a little upset at the “See? People that play MMOs just kinda don’t get it” implication. You didn’t really say any of that. But people out there do, and we’re a little worried that Shamus, with his grand influence, will turn a few more people away from the fun. And less players means less people playing, and less development, and that makes us sad.

    Won’t you drink the koolaid? It really does taste good…. And as much as I hate to say it, 10 million people (I know, I know) can’t be wrong! ;)

    @Jeff: Stats don’t make sense. If I roll 10 10-sided dice, I should get 1 10. Stats are dumb (Note: I did grad work in multi-variate calculus. So I don’t hate math. I just hate you statisticians ;) ).

    Have you been to the WotC Character Optimization boards? Those are the type of high end PCs I’m talking about. My most recent character was an Elven cleric archer. I had to build a spreadsheet in order to calculate his current BAB, AC, and damage, based on which of his 12 buffs were currently active, what his highest level available war spell was, whether he was size medium or large (righteous might), which of his 4 arrow types he was using, and whether he had activated his relic bow (Bow of the Wintermoon) that day or not. I don’t even want to tell you how long I angsted over taking Improved Turning and a reliquary, to allow him to persist Righteous Might, taking Holy Warrior to allow him a 5 damage bonus per shot, or taking Rapid Shot, to grant an additional attack per full attack (I ended up going with Holy Warrior, based on an average 15 damage per full attack, or 5 per shot, being that size large was a pain, and I expected to spend more time moving and shooting, rather than doing full attacks. I still wonder if that was the right choice).

  44. Slikmar says:

    I have been reading your stuff for about 2 years now Shamus and have to say how helpful I find your reviews. I have played quite a few MMOs. A lot of your suggestions are ones we/most people who are more casual players seem to make. A big part of it started with EQ, where the whole mentality seemed to be time=challenge, so the longer something took to do, the more challenging it must have been. Of course, if all it is is a timesink, that doesn’t mean challenging, but you can’t convince the people who make these games of that.

  45. Yes, it’s annoying, it sucks, but…there are mods available that make it fine, so you shouldn’t complain about it!”

    That misses the point.

    There are people who enjoy playing the game without the mods (my daughter for example), the current system lets those people enjoy the game, while not denying those who want a different experience the ability to tweak things.

  46. Hal says:

    Shamus, after reading some of the comments on the other sites, I have to say that I continue to love the atmosphere you foster here and the audience it draws in.

    Look at the comments . . . Proper grammar, capital letters, punctuation, argumentation that isn’t “you disagree with me so you must be stupid” . . .

    Thank you for making a classy place on the internet, Shamus. Just don’t go and spoil it with a fart joke or anything.

  47. ngthagg says:

    You can count me as a mod free player as well. I refer to Thottbot regularly, which is heavily dependent on mods, so it’s not 100%, but I still play unadulterated WoW.

  48. Zukhramm says:

    I dislike mods, mostly because I feel that if players need to fix things themselves to be able to play the game, the game could not have been very good to begin with. (And it seems to me all raiding guilds require their members to use mods for raiding)

  49. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Got to toss in my couple of pesos:

    I’m with MRL, (waaaay up at the top). Database sites and add-ons should be there to add to the fun (and for type-C personalities who get off on creating these things), but once they become a requirement the game has lost sight of its reason for being. I want to be able to immerse myself in a gameworld, not have to ensure that my interface is tweaked or flip out of the game to check the web for the location of Mob X so I can get Purple Shiny Y.

    Also, kudos, Shamus, for making my afternoon beverage cover my workstation, again. That hasn’t happened much since DMotR ended, but you had apparently just been lulling me into a false sense of security. The Mexican restaurant analogy is destined to become a classic. And to think that most people need medication to think like that! ;) It’s a gift, man.

    All the best,
    Richard

  50. thebigkr says:

    dude… a comic making fun of WoW? That would be so freaking awesome… i wonder why it hasn’t been done yet…

    wait, crap, southpark did it. @$#%ing southpark, stealing all the good ideas.

  51. Steve C says:


    “Harder” gameplay should never be mistaken for “deeper” gameplay, and in fact all too often the former is used to conceal the lack of the latter.

    I’m not the first to say it, but that quote is great Shamus! That easily could be your tagline for all of twentysided. It’s perfect! I suggest you include it a mouseover of your pages.

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