Archive for the ‘Cataclysm’ Category

Blizzard Wieghs in on WoW’s Difficulty

A lot of people have a bone to pick when it comes to the overall difficulty of World of Warcraft – many of them go right out and say that they think the game has become easier over time, that Wrath of the Lich King was probably a low-point in the simplicity of the game and the changes made during that period made the game so simple that you could play without paying attention. Those same people are generally grateful that Cataclysm has seen the pendulum swing back in favor of a more difficult game overall.

At the same time, there are plenty of people who think that the game was fine early on in Vanilla WoW, and hit a pretty broken and difficult period in The Burning Crusade. They’ll say that the balance and difficulty were adjusted in Wrath of the Lich King, and the game found its sweet spot during that expansion, and that the changes in Cataclysm to make the game more challenging were unwarranted and the game now has just too steep a learning curve to really be accessible to anyone but people who play all of the time.

I’m curious what you think, but before we get to that point, Bashiok – one of the blue posters at the official forums – had a few things to say on the matter, and they’re worth reading:

I understand and respect gaming masochism. But, I think that changing mechanics to be more reasonable and less punishing is an improvement, not a detriment, to games in general. Many of us Original Gamers pine for the days of D&D-based yore when games were seemingly intended to break us down into sobbing masses created by an uncaring necromancer of pain and suffering, or at least didn’t try to avoid it. Overcoming all of the obstacles (I CHOOSE NOT TO SHOOT HER WITH THE SILVER ARROW… NOOOOO) was a big part of what gaming (I HAVE 1 LIFE!?), and especially PC gaming (HOW DO I LOAD MOUSE DRIVERS?), were about. But, I feel we’re lucky to now be in an age where those ideals (intended or not) are giving way to actual fun, actual challenge, and not fabricating it through high-reach requirements (I NEED A FAIRY MONK WITH A MAGIC LOCKPICK?).

What we’ve always been trying to do, what WoW has always been about (and to which much of its success is due) is to make an accessible MMO. Anyone that looks back at the game at launch and wishes it was as challenging now as it was then is not aware of the painstaking effort put into making this game accessible as compared to its predecessors. Since release we’ve refined that intent, eventually evolving the very few masochistic designs WoW actually ever started with, but ideally still offering those same prestige goals that give that feeling of achieving something great if you’re able to pull it off. We’ve made a lot of progress toward striking that balance and continuing to evolve the game, but it’s not something we’re ever likely to perfect, and we’ll be constantly working to hit that elusive goal. Hopefully it’s to the benefit of everyone playing and enjoying the game, and they’ll continue to enjoy the journey that a living, breathing, persistent universe will take us on.

I have to hand it to Bashiok partially for slamming so many old school gaming references into such a tiny addition to the thread, but he has some good points too: there’s a sense of nostalgia among people who have been playing video games – especially PC games – for a long time and remember the days when games were still fun and exciting, but far more punishing and difficult. But he does pose the question: does difficulty and punishment for making the wrong decisions make a bad game? Does a strict game with rigid gameplay styles automatically equate a GOOD game, or does it just make it a game that some of the most dedicated and determined gamers will love but no one else will ever play?

It’s a difficult line to walk, I have to admit, and while I have no real complaints about the difficulty level in Cataclysm (while I will be one of the people to say things in Wrath of the Lich King were a little on the easy side, and I thought Burning Crusade was a good place, especially with some of the changes Blizzard made at the tail end) I can see how difficult it is for them to walk it. At the same time, I think it’s clear that Blizzard isn’t fooling themselves: they know they can’t make everyone happy, and they shouldn’t try to – stick to their principles and their guns, and the game will continue to be successful.

What do you think? Is Cataclysm just too damned hard, or are people complaining about nothing? Sound off in the comments!

Video :: Blizzard Sucks

You’ve likely heard all of the complaining about the state of Cataclysm raiding and dungeons. You’ve also likely heard enough from either side of the debate that you’ve come to your own conclusions. Personally, I think that a number of people are asking a little too much of Blizzard when it comes to nerfing the game – and that when some of the more hardcore players are mad that the game is too easy and some of the most casual players are mad that the game is entirely too hard, then you’ve got the perfect balance for most players who don’t complain either way.

To that point, this video is another Cataclysm Heroics are Hard-style skewering of the mentality that Blizzard should ratchet the difficulty of the game down to the point where it’s pretty easy, especially for players who want to put in even less effort than those who willingly call themselves casual. Click play, and enjoy.

Blizzard’s Guild Advancement Guide Helps Guilds Master the Basics

I had meant to share this when it was a little newer, but Blizzard recently posted a Guild Advancement Guide to the new Community Site that explains the basics of guild leveling, achievements, reputation, and some general tips to help your guild do well in all of its endeavors, whether it involves raiding, instances, or just being social and trying to keep a motley crew of friends together and on speaking terms.

Of course the post really focuses on things like the Guild UI, perks and achievements, and the technical side of being in a guild or running a guild, but the tips are great for people who are confused about all of the changes to the guild system in Cataclysm and are looking for some more information about it.

Visualize Raid Strategy with BossBlueprint

If you have a difficult time explaining to your raid or your guild exactly how they should move and where they should stand in a given raid encounter, or if you have people in your raid or guild that are be far visual learners and just don’t seem to be getting the hang of what you’re saying, Boss Blueprint might be a handy tool to help you build those raid strategies and share them with your raid members before the encounter so there’s no confusion.

The site only has support at the moment for Blackwing Descent, Throne of the Four Winds, and Bastion of Twilight, and the boss encounters therein – it would be really useful if the tool added more encounters and raids, even older ones that some people still run as practice or for fun – but it makes sense that the most recent content would be of primary interest to the people using Boss Blueprint.

The app then lets you add raid icons, raid roles, and directional arrows and zones to the map to indicate where players with ranged DPS should stand, where the healers should be, and where the tanks should be in relation to the boss, and other mobs and elements of the encounter that players should be aware of are located. You can drop big red circles on the ground to indicate places where you shouldn’t stand, arrows to tell players where they should move, and more.

Once you’re all finished, you can save your blueprint and share it with your raid either by downloading the JPG and posting it somewhere yourself, or by embedding the blueprint in another Web site.

Discussion :: How Are Those New Races Working Out For You?

(image courtesy of Penny Arcade. Click to see the original comic!

Cataclysm has been out for a while, and although many people have spent the bulk of their time rushing to get up to 85 and geared up for heroics and other dungeons that represent the state of end-game content right now, a lot of other people have taken the other approach: take it nice and slow, and roll on the of the new races or character race/class combinations, start from the beginning, and take your time getting through all of the new quests, changed zones, and updated content.

So, if you’re one of those folks who decided to roll a goblin or worgen and start from level one, how are those races working out for you? Do you find the lore works out for you, or that it’s all just a smashed-together trainwreck?

Some people have noted that the Worgen feel kind of abandoned, much like the Draenei were in The Burning Crusade, that they’re essentially leveled to about 10 or 15 and then shipped off to do quests that essentially already exist and join the storyline of another race (namely the Night Elves.) The Goblin experience, however, is much better – but this is all secondhand that I’m hearing. What I want to hear is what you think! Sound off in the comments.

Blizzard Comments on Tol Barad Balance Issues

There’s apparently been a great deal of discussion over the balance issues in Tol Barad – that they’re rough enough that there’s little incentive for anyone to try and take and to even bother to hold Tol Barad for their faction, and that overall the worst case is that no one’s actually PVP-ing in the zone and in best case factions are essentially win-trading on their servers to give everyone a chance to get the gear they want out of it.

Well, the furor has been rising on the official forums, and eventually Blizzard said that they would comment in a blog post on the issues and their plans for Tol Barad, and they made good on their promise yesterday:

Now that Cataclysm is out in the wild, more players are getting geared up and checking out Tol Barad, the new outdoor PvP zone. Today, we wanted to address some of the concerns players have expressed about the zone, including how challenging it can be to win as the attacking team, and provide some insight into our design approach. We also wanted to share some of the lessons we learned from Wintergrasp, discuss the difference between the two zones, and touch upon the recent hotfixes made to Honor Point gains and how we plan to improve Tol Barad going forward. We’re confident this zone will provide meaningful and fun PvP for some time to come, but we also recognize additional tuning is required to ensure Tol Barad is everything we intend it to be.

Cory Stockton, lead content designer for World of Warcraft, penned the blog post, and explained that while the situation isn’t where the developers really want it to be, it is closer than the community thinks it is. They do want the attacking team to have a really tough time taking Tol Barad, but they don’t want it to be neigh-on impossible as it seems to be now. Still, they think that a lot of people simply aren’t putting the right kind of effort into it, I think:

With that being said, we want winning Tol Barad to be a challenge for the attacking faction… but we don’t want it to be impossible. Taking Tol Barad should be tough — but right now it’s a little bit too tough, and it’s something we’re actively working to balance. Earlier, we attempted to temporarily address the issue by offering a far better reward to the winning attackers: Honor Points awarded for successfully attacking were increased tenfold, but that was such a great incentive that it ultimately undermined the spirit of competition. Since then, the reward for winning as an attacker has been brought back down to a more reasonable amount.

While we’ve already made minor adjustments to improve the gameplay and address select exploits, our job in Tol Barad is far from over. We ultimately want to make sure that any changes we make are all steps in the right direction, and we intend to make several updates in the next minor patch to address design and balance issues affecting attackers that we can’t address with hotfixes. For example, we plan to alter the battle slightly so that a team with two bases captured can more quickly and easily capture the third, as opposed to a team with one or zero bases. This way, if the defenders turtle up, it’ll be a little easier for the attackers to take their last base before the defense can take one of the attackers’ other bases.

He implies that the work is far from over and they do have some more ideas up their sleeve to make the zone more fun and more balanced for everyone to play. Now we’ll see if Blizzard delivers, or whether the community is just having a difficult time playing something that’s intentionally designed to be challenging.

4.7 Million Copies of Cataclysm Sold in the First Month

According to Blizzard, Cataclysm had quite the launch, selling 4.7 million copies in December alone, making it one of the best selling video games of all time. Here’s the word from the press release:

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that World of Warcraft®: Cataclysm™, the third expansion for the critically acclaimed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has sold through more than 4.7 million copies as of its first month of release, setting a new record for monthly PC-game sales.*

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was simultaneously released in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Europe, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand on December 7, and became available in Korea and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau on December 9. With day-one sales topping 3.3 million copies,* World of Warcraft: Cataclysm became the fastest-selling PC game of all time, shattering the previous record, which was held by the second World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King®.

That’s a pretty big number. No doubt that the simultaneous global release had something to do with it, but honestly I don’t think anything else should have been expected. The game – like any Blizzard game or expansion pack – was highly anticipated, and we had been looking forward to it for ages.

The release goes on to point out:

“We created thousands of new quests, introduced new lands to explore, and extensively revamped the game world for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, making it our biggest and most ambitious expansion yet,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’ve been floored by the community’s response so far, and we’d like to thank them for their continued passion and support for World of Warcraft, and for helping Cataclysm reach this incredible milestone.”

Prior to the launch of Cataclysm, World of Warcraft’s subscriber population had grown to more than 12 million players globally, further strengthening the game’s position as the world’s most popular subscription-based MMORPG.

That does raise an interesting question though – only about a third of the overall population of the game is playing Cataclysm, in that case – so what’s everyone else doing? Waiting to buy the game, or what?

Then again, you could look at the flip side there and note that a third of the game’s population opted to pick up the latest expansion and features in the first month they were available, so there’s that too.

What about you? Have you purchased Cataclysm yet? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!

Celiebugs’ Raiding Tips

Having been shared all over the WoW-verse, as well as being shared on WoW Insider. I’ve read comments in various places where the link-backs are listed on different guild forums. I know it’s a little difficult to understand her, but the ease with which she says “nubcake” and “sad panda” mean that this girl hears these phrases and words on a regular basis. Celiebugs comes from a WoW home, where both mom and dad play WoW.

Celiebugs’ Raid Tips (as a link, since the youtube tag won’t work right)

And remember, above all else, don’t be a nubcake.

(If you think you’ve seen this here before, you did. I posted it once before Metblogs took a digger. I’m happy to see that it’s back up, and hopefully that means things can go back to normal. I apologize if this seems like old news, but I really wanted to share it with people.

Video :: Cataclysm Heroics Are Hard

Yeah, this about sums it up. I’m not running heroics just yet, but with people like WoWCrendor on my side, I can be proud to be a casual player who doesn’t mind that his games actually require some thought and strategy to play.

Everyone’s talking right now about how difficult heroics are, and the only people I’ll take that from are healers, since they do have it a little tough right now – but I do have to wonder whether or not the fact that they have it rough is because of DPS players who are used to Wrath style dungeoning or it’s actually the way the game is designed.

In either event, this hilarious video brings us back to earth, so if you’re having a hard time in heroics, don’t give up – just know that you and your party will just have to work a little harder to get to the goal. I promise, it’ll be more rewarding this way.

Ghostcrawler Confirms: Class Changes on the Way

Now that Cataclysm has been out for a good while, the Blizzard devs have had a solid opportunity to see how their designs have managed to play out in live play. As usual, as expected, and as appropriate, the devs are seeing some unintended effects of the things they’ve done, and hearing the cries of players who have it difficult – especially healers, who have had a pretty rough time of it lately.

Some of it’s by design, and some of it is unintentional, but Ghostcrawler did say that there will be some changes in the near future to round things out a little more. He let us in on the scoop in a blog post at the new official site, where he explained that the devs are largely happy with the current state of PVE and damage numbers, acknowledge that healing is really hard but point out that it should be, acknowledge there’s a bigger emphasis on crowd control, and notes that a number of stats will likely get some changes in the near future.

In PVP, they noted that offensive dispels will get softened a bit and squishier classes will likely get some love, and noted that they’re pleased with the overall direction away from “see a healer, kill it first” to other more diverse strategies. Head over and read the blog post to see the whole list, but keep in mind it’s far from exhaustive.

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