Mists does well in the market place

Approx 2.7 units of Mists sold early, plus the sales just at/post launch, plus China coming on boards soon – WoW is back to 10+ million players and may get to a higher mark.

Mike Morhaime – “It’s been gratifying to see the results of all of the work we put into this expansion and to hear all of the positive feedback from players so far.”

I’m pleased, as it reflects how good I think this expansion is. Congratulations. There were initial reports that sales were less than Cata and less than expected, and however true they were they were slanted toward the retail sales of boxes which ignored the digital sales. I purchased a digital version, and think it is the logical way to pay. Sorry stores, you do not have a compelling offering. I guess there is Blizzard spin there too. The 3 month figure will be telling, and the 6 month stats will be definitive. As a player we generally know how it is going  in a broad sense anyway by who is online and what they are saying.

I’ve seen some players return to try out the game, but not a massive amount of the really “old” players who left with significant burn-out in place. Some folks have had enough of the game, and feel that the flavour of wow’s treadmill is not for them anymore – fair call. I respect that, just as I respect that a player can return and get a new lease on life too. We have to do what we enjoy above all else.

There are also some bloggers returning too, so we should see an increase in the general wow chatter through the internet. It is exciting.

It’s odd to think that games will cycle in this manner on first impression, but it really is logical. Something is new and entertaining, then it becomes old – the manufacturers make a cal of how long to keep content out there, and how fast they can release it. 1 year with an end boss is too long, and the anti-subs reflected that.

Anyone else like to roll a Mogu character?

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The Instance Interview with Cory Stockton

Logo of Blizzard Entertainment

The Instance had the opportunity to interview Cory Stockton (episode 292), one of the key World of Warcraft “Lead Content Designer” at Blizzard. It adds an element of personality to the names that we read about on forums and blogs.

cute long view image of Pandaria hillside and small buildings

Overall listening to this helped me along the hype cycle, to look forward to Mists and also raise my expectations on the lore and content being offered in Mists to characters leveling through 85-90. End game options in particular get a good thrashing as a topic throughout the interview. Some notes:

  • What characters Cory plays…loving the Monk class, and appears he’s a bit of an alt-a-holic. I respect that.
  • Timed runs, and Scenarios – What were the challenges in getting the balance right? Goal: Competitive PvE and Leaderboards.
  • A key challenge was explaining what Pandaria is, and why the factions are going there, and for what goals. A quick mention of Garrosh’s motivations and how they think about new lore.
  • Corey stated that scenarios should have the players understanding the goal up front. The snarky part of my play experience thinks that he’ll want to review the Fall of Theramore then. That said, he has confidence that the other scenarios are interesting and engaging. He mentions a “siege of the Undercity” style scenario with Varian Wrynn as a 3 player mode. Interesting.
  • Apparently folks do not read quest text! Wow, that makes for a challenge in terms of keeping context for a mission new without over simplification.
  • Less cinematics in questing, which is probably good given some of the feedback from Uldum.

Its definitely worth a listen.

Professions breakdown in Mists

As we have only a few days for the expansion to drop, here is a useful summary from Wowhead on professions. Particularly the good stuff that you’ll want to snaffle asap, as well as a general overview.

For my toons I’m looking forward to the level 85 Blacksmithing patterns which are direct upgrades on most gear, being level ilevel 415 items. It means anything that is non-heroic gear is replaceable. Mats are going to be worth a small fortune.

Archaeology also has a useful Trinket which might be worth torturing myself for.

Fishing looks to contain almost nothing worth rushed for, and Cooking will be where we grab our buff food from. Cooking grind, alas my poor time.

ps. Darn excited.

No Greg, you’re missing the point

GhostCrawler was asked for his impression of Theramore.

What’s your take on the Theramore event?

We did not do a great job on messaging. Players expected an event — but what we were really doing is giving players a preview of scenarios, there are a ton of scenarios coming in Mists of Pandaria. It’s saying “this is what scenarios are like”, they’re a new feature, a way to do content quickly, in a your lunch break, to get some more valor or gear.

I think players who understand that it’s a scenario preview are enjoying Theramore, while those expecting a world event aren’t. Players expecting a huge challenge aren’t going to find it in scenarios, challenge modes are more for those players.

You missed the point entirely. That response makes me furious. Continue reading

Acquiring Legendary Drama

Somehow previously the announcement of “a legendary for everybody” was proclaimed and I missed writing on it. GrumpyElf has a great post about the impact that this might have on the player community, and the way we view rewards.

We’ve seen some additional information mined from the Beta fro Mists of Pandaria (via wowhead) where a special item is “upgraded” to legendary via applying an item called the Breath of the Black Prince – in MoP the quest chain gives you an upgrade to ilevel 513 for an item you likely already have. That means a powerful weapon after a set of kills, drops, and gathering quests, which is a good way to start it off.

This looks like a big step for Blizzard and it’s going to leave a lot of people divided. On one hand, the idea of a legendary based on merit rather than class sounds fantastic; on the other, guilds will have a lot of trouble deciding who gets the first one of these.

But is it hard enough? Does a Legendary like that actually feel powerful, or more feel like a reward and not a tribute to your effort?

It got me thinking about what a legendary should be and how they are acquired.

Giving everybody a real true Legendary is bloody stupid.

Giving us the potential to access a Legendary so that every class has something that they might get reward from is OK, but making them easy to acquire is super-crazy. A Legendary is supposed to be just that – a Legend. Something that you proudly display, and something that only a small percentage of the community is capable of. Essentially I am in agreement with the moderate hardcore players who wish to see legendary items stay super tough to get.

Making them easier to access reminds me of the line from the film The Incredibles – When everyone has a legendary item, nobody does. These are items where their particular value is that they are exceeding and exceptionally rare.

I agree that everyone should have the plausible potential to get one, but not the expectation that they deserve one.

When every toon is grinding for the item, then competition for the drops and rewards skyrockets.

More people trying to get the drops means drama. It means that it will still take ages to get which is good, but it also means that every idiot with a BattleNetID will think they are entitled. I’d hate to see that, especially if it invites guild drama.

Something positive about a Legendary that only a few classes can use is that we have less chatter about who is worthy and willing. I didn’t have to stress about the caster staff or Rogue daggers, as a Death Knight was not eligible. It was almost a relief. Sharing that love around lets those people feel special and supported by others, and sometimes helping others is an excellent feeling and reason unto itself. I enjoyed seeing others get their Legendary items, and have helped many folks in the effort.

The behavior in LFR and LFDs is already often puerile and selfish, and the new loot rules only reflect that community cannot behave itself. Essentially the Internet F**kwad Theory applies (go look it up). So I hope the legendary is not progressed by a competitive activity in LFR. Perhaps your own “kill 300x bosses” count can be helped along by that, but not the “get 10x drops” bit.

To be entitled to a Legendary at the moment you need to be patient and work at it, and be a tad lucky. That might mean getting 24 mates together 50 times so that you can repeat farm some drops, and do kills in a special order. It might mean grinding a lowbie instance every week for 4 years so that you try to get three items – each with a 1% drop rate.

How to make a Legendary usable by all?

I’m not sure there is a question more prevalent that how on earth is one legendary going to satisfy the range of players.

  • A boosted item, where the base item is picked from a range of choices; as per above? Sure, OK. That feels like it will have less lore attached to it. By example Sulfurus felt epic because it was the hammer which Ragnaros was using to wipe the raid each week. It had a weight and presence in the game, and was won by blood and effort.
  • A legendary mount which can fly at 350% speed?
  • An Neck or Ring with gobsmackingly high amounts of universal stats like Mastery. Perhaps an item with 3-4 base stats like Agi, Str, Int, Stam in high amounts with Mastery to boot will be useful. The re-forge might make that worthy even for folks who need it for other things.

What are useful guides for how to create the quests and goals?

  • Require a huge amount of time. I’m normally an advocate for casuals who are time poor, but not in the case. No time, then no legendary. Tough luck kid.
  • Maybe require a reputation grind. And make it a bastard of a grind, perhaps first requiring all normal reps at exalted and no handy dandy tabard or booster. Difficult is the key. Perhaps the grind is something that is progressive so that as the character grinds the items needed their rep grows accordingly. The final stage might require Exalted status, but the entry might be Friendly.
  • Give moderate and slowly increasing rewards along the way. An item which slowly upgrades is a great idea and we’ve seen the caster staff and rogue daggers demonstrate how good that can be. Sure they will not always be Best in Slot, but they will be a motivator that continues to haunt the player (Shadowmourne still calls to me when I close my eyes).
  • Require drops and progress from each tier of the raiding content in the expansion. Thus it should start in the beginning of the expac as an optional quest line, and then end with the completion of special sub-quests at the end. Killing end-stage bosses is typically involved and that is a good theme to keep.
  • Require solo effort which is workable to do solo, without a significant advantage if you group it.

Why have the Legendary reward if all Blizzard want is a happy community?

I remember getting the Battered Hilt and quest series in Wrath and the joy of completing that quest-line. It felt awesome and rewarded a special item. For classes with a variety of needs they got to pick one. Job well done Blizzard devs; it was incredible. The item was a epic item with a historic look and feel.

I honestly think that this is what should be done instead of giving an Orange item away. Make it purple at best, and add a special effect/ feature / widget which makes it always cool. It was the special story which made Quel’Delar so good. Doing that gives far more appeal to the wide audience than an orange colour.

A power in-built in the gear like adding 25% character size and a golden hue on use? Or some other stylistic feature which appeals to a wide audience. That way its always awesome.