Saturday, June 22, 2013

Qiraji Guardling Woes

UPDATE: A June 24 hotfix was applied to increase the spawn rate of the Qiraji Guardling. Blizzard does listen! :)

The Qiraji Guardling is stirring up the community lately, and some players are unhappy with how this pet was implemented. I haven't heard/seen this much dissatisfaction in a while, not even about the Minfernal or Unborn Val'kyr.

With low spawn timers, CRZ, limited amount of time to capture one, and griefing from other players, it's only understandable that some are frustrated. On one hand, this pet could have been implemented differently to help reduce the amount of stress on collectors, but on the other hand, we as players need to remember that good things come in time.

Blizzard's infatuation with "rarity" goes a little too far sometimes, as I've mentioned many times before, and the balance between keeping things rare and actual fun gameplay can often be overlooked. A player on the WoW forums sums it up nicely:
"There's a difference between "supposed to be rare" and frustrating game design. Frustrating game design is saying we're ok with having 100's of people farming the same location for hours, days, months, years...etc...because...we want it to be rare."
In the case of the Qiraji Guardling, there should have been many factors to consider before its implmentation, not just that the pet needed to be hard to obtain.

First off, this pet is the last pet for many players to collect in order to earn the "Zookeeper" title. I know many players are very achievement oriented, and a title is something that they can show off 100% of the time (whereas a pet doesn't passively stick to you like a title does). Blizzard should have recognized that because of this, and on top of the pet being highly desirable for collectors in general, that making this pet spawn so little and so few would aggravate people. The psychological effect of being unable to finish or complete something can be pretty intense, and it's only natural that players would feel angry that there's a roadblock in their progress. Not just any roadblock, either. A purely RNG roadblock in which they have little to no control over.

Secondly, I think a lot of the anxiety over this pet is due to the fact that it will only be around for a limited time. "Summer" may last for a few months, and although many collectors understand that there will be time to capture one, it's only human to feel pressured to get it as soon as possible "before it's too late". Missed chances are incredibly discouraging, so people will do almost anything avoid this, be it getting it on day one or getting it as soon as possible. Not to mention it requires players to go out of their way to wait for the pet to spawn. It's incredibly time consuming and leaves players feeling unproductive. So to get it ASAP means having more free time to do other, more productive activities (in-game or IRL).

On top of a limited time frame in which the guardling can be caught, there's the incredibly low spawn rate and limited number of spawns that players must face. Under normal circumstances, if this pet was available all year round, I don't think there would be as much fuss about it. Again, I didn't read/hear nearly as much outcry about the Minfernal or the Unborn Val'kyr, and I can only guess that it's due to the fact that players have some control over when they capture it. They can choose to go out at any moment in time to hunt for one. Even if there are only a few spawns and the pets only show up every few hours, there's still room for player choice.

But the Qiraji Guardling? There's less room for player control because of the limiting factors. Few spawns, slow spawn timer, and limited time to catch one. Add to that the increased desire to obtain a guardling to complete a collection or achievement. All these things just to make the pet "rare" leaves players with a really unfavorable experience. There has to be some sort of balance between making a pet hard to get and the act to get that "rare" pet fun. Unfortunately for the Qiraji Guardling, there are just too many factors that leaves it unbalanced and not very fun.

What's even worse is that even if players are willing to withstand all the forces working against them, it's still open for other players to ruin their chances. There have been reports of players griefing those attempting to catch a Qiraji Guardling, by killing both players and the battle pet. This just adds to everyone's frustration, and makes it a headache to capture a pet on any type of server, PVP, PVE, or RP. Because of CRZ, mean spirited players have free reign over all servers and can be a nuisance anywhere.

All of these things combined, it's only natural that anxiety levels are extremely high. It would be insensitive to simply brush off players who are upset with the implementation of the guardling, and discount their voiced issues as merely complaints of an impatient person. There are valid concerns that Blizzard really needs to take a closer look at and keep in mind when implementing the next "rare" pet.

On the flip side, though, we have to remember that many of us will get this pet, but it's just a matter of time. As some have already pointed out on numerous forums, come July/August there will probably be many Qiraji Guardlings at the gates of AQ just waiting for someone to pay attention to them.

The stress and irritation that arises from anxiety over collecting the pet is natural and I don't think anyone should be condemned if they feel upset as long as they can maturely articulate it and keep in mind that they will get their chance eventually. We all need to vent our worries at times, and this situation is no exception. As long as we think of the bigger picture and remember that anything is possible in this world (of warcraft), even the act of collecting a very hard to find pet, we can shoulder each others' anxiety and help each other get through it.

Does that sound a little too family-friendly TV sitcom-ish? In the end it's true, though. This is what the community is meant for. We exchange ideas and sometimes worries with those of like-mind. In some cases we can also share hope and optimism that others will succeed in their adventures too, and give them hope that their pet will come eventually.

It's frustrating and it's maddening, and we don't have to agree with it or find it enjoyable. But if it's something that you really want/want to do, it will come in time. As a community we must remind each other that and empathize with our fellow collectors.

So to sum it all up, I hope Blizzard finds a more balanced way of implementing "rare" pets or at least consider it. And we as players need to remain patient with not only the mechanics but also each other, and remember that we're all at the mercy of the RNG gods.

Sidenote: Although I touch on CRZ being an issue, I don't include it as a main factor in the unbalanced implementation. I don't agree with or like CRZ, but the competition for pets will always be there, CRZ or not. I've pretty much resigned myself to this fact, and even though I rolled an alt on a low pop server, I don't have any expectations that there will be less people looking for pets on that server than my main toon's high pop server. In the end I just pretend that everyone from different servers just has really long and elaborate name tags, but are still from my server. Delusional and in denial? Probably. But if I don't force myself to think this way, I would just get even more upset over pet spawning mechanics, and I don't need that added stress.


  1. I'm very grateful (and probably lucky) that I managed to get one on the 21st, but I think it's kind of a kick in the pants that the pet we've needed to complete an achievement that's been almost complete for months turned out to be such a rare spawn. On the flipside, what would it have been like if we ended up having to wait for the Snowy Owl instead of the Guardling? The owl can be tough to spot, but it spawns more often and it spread all over the zone instead of concentrated in a single area.

    1. @Riven: I agree. The Snowy Owl and Qiraji Guardling can only be compared if the area in which they spawn is the same size. But it's not, and the guardling spawns are at a huge disadvantage which in turn leaves collectors at a huge disadvantage. If the guardling's spawn area spread across the entirety of Silithus, would there be such a huge fuss over it?

  2. What I think Blizzard have failed to take into account is, as you say, it's the last pets poeople need. As people have waited 9 months for it, they've had a chance to get all the other pets. Whereas, at the start of the expansion, people where all over the place catching lots of different pets (and thereby not having as much competition), they have now descended on the one spot where a pet they still need is.I only ever saw a few people at Minfernal/Whelpling and rarely saw any for the Val'kyr but there were over 50 for this.

    1. @Jodmos: Exactly. This pet has been a long time coming, and many are eager to complete the achievement/collect the last one they need. The desire to be productive and complete something is incredibly strong, to the point where so few spawns is unacceptable to many.

      But it could also be argued that since we've waited so long already, what's another few weeks? Come mid-July or early August, it's possible that interest will have died down.

  3. i think that having CRZ forced upon people is a fat kick in the mouth,some of us have been playing since vanilla, paid our dues and good money, on medium populated servers, there already was enough competition for pets as it was. now you force us into a CRZ area because a few people cry out they have no "friends" on their server. Last I saw you got to choose your server, you made a choice to join a low population one or a high population one, instead of forcing people into one zone, why not set realm population limits to 75% and if people want to play with their friends, make "CRZ Specific" realms for those that WANT to play with others...and blizzard wonders why people stop playing the game for months on end, it's because of stupid crap like this that frustrate players to no end. the end doesn't justify the means,

    1. @Anonymous: I don't think the CRZ would be as bad if they had implemented the spawning differently. Make the guardling spawn faster, or add more spawns. Allow the area in which is spawns to be the entire zone and not just a single area. These things could help greatly with CRZ competition.

  4. It is important to more clearly highlight the role of players against players. For the Unborn Val'kyr, spawn locations were geographically spread, so players were as much searching Northrend as competing against each other. Minfernal was geographically restricted, but was introduced alongside 101 other pets, so pet collectors were much more staggered in time as to when they attempted to catch Minfernal. In contrast, for Qiraji Guardling we have almost every pet collector descending onto the same tiny patch of land at almost the same time. The result is:

    * At best frustrating as no pets are seen for hours of camping one spot, with no alternative locations to travel to.
    * At not-so-best that frustration is aimed at other players, who are so obviously the reason the pet can't be found. Remember, one can't form a group to share a pet - pet battling is a very solo activity.
    * At worst a "prisoners' dilemma" style issue, where all the pets that do spawn are getting destroyed, preventing anyone getting them.

    Even the best case scenario isn't terribly fun, because the player isn't really doing anything, other than waiting for a computer-generated event they have no control over. I believe that there are too many dimensions of "challenge" embodied in this one pet - by all means have rare spawns, timed spawns, weather-related spawns and so on. But don't combine these together: The result isn't difficulty plus difficulty, but difficulty to the power of difficulty, which probably equates to too difficult.

    Beyond stacking too many dimensions of difficulty in the one design basket, what's unhelpful is Blizzard's inconsistent definition of "Summer". Qiraji Guardling have appeared 3 months *after* Raw Summer Bass, and also *on* a date that another part of the game specifically identifies as the middle of summer. Not to mention that Azeroth has no visible winters or summers, only he world outside - and players in the southern hemisphere are likely to get even more confused. As a consequence, I'd wager there are plenty of people that believe there is a risk that they only have 2 weekends to catch this until next year, and they're naturally frustrated when half their assumed gathering time passes without sight of the pet.

    1. @El: Very well said! "difficulty to the power of difficulty, which probably equates to too difficult." sums it up nicely.

      I hadn't even thought about the confusion of seasons between the northern/southern hemisphere. I wouldn't be surprised if there are those under the assumption that there are only a few weeks to capture the pet. Definitely an oversight on Blizzard's part when they changed up how seasons work in-game.


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