Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cataclysm Post Mortem 1 Quests

This is a response to "Cataclysm Post Mortem -- Quest Design with Dave "Fargo" Kosak" found here.

He said the Main Goal going into Cataclysm but the community didnt feel that way.  Due to misleading hype about the world shattering zones people expected a sweeping epic story and that barely happened.

They should of stuck to their plan of remaking some zones, updating others, and ignoring the rest.  In the end the final product was very lackluster for its lack of focus relying on things such as bad CSI and Rambo jokes to try and carry it.  They dont have a place in WoW and they fell flat to everyone I know beyond a faint chuckle.

Old world revamp:  It was actually not terrible.  I still maintain their blowing alot of sunshine.  They could of done better in fewer zones but they were spread too thin so ended up very bland overall.  The main problem isnt hidden gems its that they put them gem into a mace and beat you bloody with the refrence screaming 'Do you get it yet?!?"

ironicly my main complaint is what he says is a problem with spreading themselves too thin though even so he is very sunshine and roses about it all.  "Once we got in there, it was all or nothing:" is a programmer and designer's view not a manager's.  They know the assets they have and know you have to focus to win.

"The content there turned out well, but the experience is inconsistent across the board -- Uldum feels totally different from Hyjal,"

Yea Hyjal is cool and most of Uldum sucks.  Yet they seem to lack the perception to understand why that is.  That REALLY bothers me.  Uldum plays like a WoW leveling experience.  in Uldum they tried to take the play away from the player and put it into cut scene into an awful Indiana Jones rip off.  Why show me running up a hill when I can do ti myself/  Why make me rewatch the cut scene if I exit out when your selling point was skippable cut scenes?

"The design decisions and efforts we made didn't always yield the desired results."

It sounds like you lacked an overall manager that had a vision for the project.  instead "Fargo" was so wrapped up in the minute details he couldn't move the project along with enough speed to deliver on the promises.

"That's something important that we're keeping in mind moving forward – World of Warcraft works best when there's a sense of place. A connected world to explore."

This is an assumption I challenge.  With a brick filled glove challenge to a duel!  I mean I dont want to be...
but its hard.

The original world had world spanning quest - burned and gutted in Cataclysm.  so you cant say the player base wasn't used to traveling around the wold to save it.  In fact everyone I knew had dome some of the quests in old Azeroth that meant traveling from BFE to Timbuktu.  The rewards were worth the travel time (for their age) and it was usually a fun and cool quest.  So why then would the mere moving of zones make us dislocated and need connected zones?

Could it be that you ripped out interconnected zone quests and instead had everything end up in a neat tidy 'everything is ok move to next zone please' quests?  Making each zone someplace you only visited for dailies and alchemy transmutes after you passed through it?

That added with the gift of flying (which thankfully they wont do again) makes the zones less functional.  Look at Outland?  Its zones lead you hither and yon.  Yet people didnt complain about it being 'fragmented' cause Shadowmoon Valley is off by itself.  Or Netherstorm. because the world flowed both naturally and via a questing standpoint.

"We feel the storytelling in Cataclysm was strong. Whether assembling the ancients in Hyjal, rescuing your drowned crew in Vashj'ir, or reassembling the world pillar in Deepholm, there’s a strong sense of plot in every zone."

Even the CSI zone?  What about the Indiana Jones rip off?  did you feel you flexed your storytelling muscles there or were totally phoning it in to make a parody?  What about in Redridge with the fight club knock off set up since you couldn't think of anything new to put there?  How is that a 'strong story'?

"The downside to creating these stories is that the zones on the whole ended up being way too linear."

Well thank heaven for small favors they realized that.  It used to be you could get quests based of your level.  Warcraft was trumped for its improvement over the MMO grind fest when it came out because of it.  Now you grind till your ready for the next zone and screw the story to level fast.

Its why I hate Uldum with a passion...well to be correct I hate it after I free the awesome kitty people.  Let me be crystal clear - Original setting/story trumps bastardized copies any day.

"We have a massive phase shift halfway through the story that changes the terrain for nearly a third of the zone. It's epic, right?"

No it isnt.  This is something a podcast I listen to brought up and I had to think about a great deal.  They never say 'hey look at the new green' or have a quest where you see it reboom.  Its as subtle as the old EQ night (With a thud Night falls).  So it feels more like a new zone.  I just don't feel connected to the zone change.  It isnt entirely the fault of the save the critters Id rather kill quest.  Its just too macro to be intimate or special.

"Phasing is like a story sledgehammer: it gets the job done, but at best it splits up players and at worst it totally confuses them."
So you introduced a new mechanic that previously only leet top level raiders had dealt with with no warning and no documentation or training and you were ... what ... surprised they didn't instantly grasp it?  Seriously?  The same people who still have problems with not reading quest text.

As much as I say Hyjal didnt affect my characters much it was a GOOD use of phasing.  We need to get instances of phasing before we can get used to them because... WARCRAFT DIDN'T USE THEM BEFORE!  Sheesh!  Dont toss kids behind a steering wheel and then say there must be a problem cause they didnt grasp yeild signs and four way stops right away.  Thats crazy talk!

"The Firelands dailies in patch 4.2 gives you a much better idea of our future direction."

Ugh, really?  A few hundred characters packed into one zone competing for spawns is your idea of 'better than phasing'?  Everyone I talked to thought it fact it ..

sucks the sweat off of a dead man's balls." I have no idea what that means, sir, but it seems very negative to me
Yea, I know, wrong pic for the quote but Forest is hard to find.  Visual changes dont matter for crap when the experience is all fighting ninja assholes.

"we’re going to be a lot smarter about how we show changes to the world, and we’re going to do everything we can to avoid splitting players up."

Id be tons happier if they realized sometimes you just have to split people up.  Jerks make up only 1% fo the Warcraft population but they can easily ruin it for he 99% when they have no escape from the griefers and idiots like AIE.

"Definitely. With those dailies we were able to engage a lot of players, myself included. (I was the first quest designer on the team to get the mount and all the achievements on the live servers -- suck it up, slackers!)"

This pisses me off.  The guy who designs the quests and knows every bug and trick is the one lording over the players how he got the mount first.  WELL FUCKING DUH YOU ...@^&E&*E#E^&#!!!!!  You make the DAMN GAME of course your going to get stuff in it first!  Is your ego so small you got to wave your epeen around and pretend it means anything more than you had more info than anyone else?  After doing them for months Id be better than anyone else at getting stuff in it you self righteous dickhead.

"Previously, "doing dailies" meant hitting the same quest givers for the same three quests, usually in a static place."

Exactly what fucking Firelands was.  You might unlock more dailies but you had the same goddess damned quests to grind awat it in personal hell.  Nothign changed.  it wasnt 'super awesome' cause a bit fo graphics changed with the unlock it was a nice bit of flair NOTHING more.

"Moving forward, we're going to look for more opportunities like this -- ways to keep people engaged and cool things to do solo with your max-level character. We've got ambitious plans."

Given that you just said you want everyone in the same area competing for limited spawns and having a helluva hard time I REALLY hope this is a reveral of it and an admission that most grind is best done mindlessly in SOLO play.  Away from griefers.

"We needed to make a quest that 500 people could do simultaneously without getting in each other's way. We wanted a quest that players could do solo, no matter what their skill level."

That would be the Thrall quest chain.  With its bar and the other elements of it its is soloable (thought difficult) and is easily groupable even cross faction.  it is the ul;timate success of that idea.  Its just sad Thrall is such a Mary-Sue do no wrong unrealistic yawnfest that the quest was ruined by him being the focus.

"the quests themselves ended up not being as compelling from a gameplay perspective as we would have liked. Many players blew through them once and never looked back."

Because of the content (Thrall) you chose.  not because of the quest design.  it isn't as simple as only mechanics.  When you have a do no wrong godlike DM avatar like Thrall a party of player characters becomes instantly less invested in the game.

Speaking of thrall "hard to follow his development over the course of the expansion"

Well no kidding I dont want to waste money on comic books and paper books when I can be reading about other things.  Not to mention the comic books and web novels tossed about.  Its even worse when Bliz just arbitrarily decides some didnt happen or barely did but not really as the book says.  Why the fuck am I bothering to read them then!

"Will future legendaries be this, uh, legendary?"
Wow, softball question.

"Good question. We love class-specific content, but quest lines like those are very resource-intensive. Each sequence involves weeks of development focus that takes content away from dungeons, dailies, or outdoor zones."

Well you ripped out the vanilla class content and declared you would never more make it then up pops the legendary quest chain.  One for casters that ISNT legenadry cause its too easy and one for Rogues that ISNT legendary cause its too easy.

Now Im not saying the rogue legendary quest chain doesn tlook really fun and rogueish but its way to damn common for it to be ledgendary.

"The feedback from players (and from our own team) has been overwhelmingly positive.'

I'm guessing that that's people that have the daggers/staff your listening to or staff members who used inside knowledge like you to get it fast and easy.  While Im sure their thrilled thats not something the common player will appreciate.

Im startng to agree with Lore form Tankspot that Legendaries are outmoded.

"The short answer is yes, we'll definitely continue doing these moving forward. Most likely future legendary quest lines will be built similar to the rogue experience:"

So your not listening to the player base I talk to and listen to at least.  The ones saying Transmog of legendaries is good but the whole class dominating the expansion isn't.  Wow..I just....are you even PLAYING the game after you got the mount first to lord it over players?

"We haven't even talked about goblins and worgen yet. What lessons did you take away from the new racial starting zones?"

Im actually with him on this.  Unlike the MASSIVE faulures of the dwarf and orc the goblin and worgen areas were grand.  But...

"As for the mechanics themselves, I’m glad we were so experimental, but our general feeling now that all is said and done is that we went a little too ‘gimmicky’ with the player’s initial experiences. Everyone can agree that the goblin experience gets pretty wild in places."
Ok listen to me for a moment.  What do you think Starting zones are for?  Not only to introduce you to the game but various kinds of gameplay.  Saying OMG we showed them too much is one thing but were talking about 4 hours or so of game play.  Yea it could be better but it need to teach new players to deal with what veterans just accept.

"That's a big lesson we're carrying away from the expansion as a whole."

"Q: Can you elaborate?
Overwhelmingly, players have told us that they want more quests where you have to flap a giant bird around a cave while targeting creatures in a 3D space."

"Q: Seriously?
Maybe not . . . But moving forward,"

Yet I feel you are serious when you say that...the rest of what you say comes from a dream castle after all.

"Whenever we do special mechanics, we want them to feel special, and they’ll never tear you away from combat for very long."

Well that is a slight improvement I mean some of the quests like in Uldum where you kill 1000 guys for no exp just rolling around for ten minutes were just awful..

After the successes of the past I just feel their trying to radically reinvent the wheel too much.  I know they love their jobs but some things just work.

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