Monday, May 25, 2015

Balance, Balance, Balance (And Not the Druid Kind)

I wrote up an entire thing about flying and how it affects activities such as Archaeology and Pet Battles, but it started going off in a tangent that wasn't intended. So instead, I'll just lay out what I have plain and simply.

If Blizzard is dead set on no flying, then please, PLEASE create content with no flying in mind. Don't add in content same as usual; amend or alter them so that they accommodate the inability to fly.

This article that Lio linked explains how WoW has steadily shortened the stick upon which the carrot dangles. Not only that, though, but the tools to get to that stick have also been cut. Flying, for example.

When I read about the two new pets coming in 6.2 that will have similar if not same spawning mechanics as the Unborn Val'kyr, I was pretty livid. Not only did I not understand the logic (or lack thereof) behind it, but the fact that it felt like manipulation also upset me.

I gauge content and the desirability of it with the following (loose) equation. It's something I feel should be kept in mind when adding features and mechanics to the game.

RNG + Effort required = Willingness to participate

I say loose equation because 1 - I'm no math major nor was it my strongest subject, so I can't even say it's a proper equation. And 2 - the three things involved can be broken down into smaller parts. Perhaps it's more like a puzzle and these are just the three main pieces.

Anyway, to give an example of what I'm talking about, let's take the Sprite Darter Hatchling. Before and after Cataclysm, when the source of this pet was changed.

Before the change:
No RNG + Medium-low effort required = High willingness to participate
- No RNG

  • Obtaining the pet was pretty much guaranteed as long as you completed the entire quest chain.

- Medium-low effort required

  • I say medium-low but if you were the right level and spec, this required relatively low effort. Just complete the quests. Some travel time was involved, but the route was fairly direct and there were set objectives placed along the path.

- High willingness to participate

  • The previous two resulted in a lot of people going out and completing the quest chain and collecting the Sprite Darter Hatchling. Little to no complaints (other than Horde couldn't participate). People saw the pet, really wanted it, and went out and made that desire a reality.

After the change:
High RNG + Medium-high effort required = Low willingness to participate
- High RNG

  • In Cataclysm, the quest chain was removed and the Sprite Darter Hatchling became a zone drop from Feralas. On the one hand that gave Horde the opportunity to collect this pet, but on the other it was very random where and when it dropped. It could come from any mob in Feralas...and have you seen how many mobs there are and how big the zone is?

- Medium-high effort required

  • Time. This one is higher on the effort scale because of the amount of time required. It's simply unknown how long you'll be grinding on your choice of mobs. Those without time will see this task as nearly impossible. Those with time will see it as doable, but still a potentially long and tedious activity.

- Low willingness to participate

  • This results in a fewer number of people willing to go out and undergo the process for themselves. Farm an RNG drop off of many mobs in a gigantic zone? Psh, I'll just go farm some gold and then buy it off of the AH.

Now let's take a look at the two new Unborn Val'kyr style pets coming in 6.2.
High RNG + High effort required = Very low willingness to participate
- High RNG

  • Many spawn points but only one per zone at any given time. You'll have to be damn lucky to come across that ONE spawn, even if you're camping a spot.

- High effort required

  • Not only are you contending with RNG, but it's a time sink for the sake of a time sink. Getting from area to area to check is cut to a crawl since we cannot fly. Each zone is pretty large with many obstacles in the way of the direct paths to spawn points. There's a whole lot of waiting and hoping involved, which can be seen as effort. It takes effort to be THAT patient or do the hunting yourself.

- Very low willingness to participate

  • I've already heard some collectors straight out saying "Boring pets. Too much of a pain to collect. Not going to bother, skipping it". This is so disheartening. As a collector at heart, I will be going after these pets no matter how they're implemented; I'm compelled to do so. But for others who are also compelled yet feel they will have absolutely no chance, it must be devastating. And for those that don't see the appeal of spending so much effort on two pets they don't really care for, it must be frustrating as hell.
This is a prime example of content being created and implemented without taking into consideration changes made to the game. There are just too many things that players have to fight against, and that makes it less appealing and fun for many. Balance, balance, balance has always been my stance. If you add too many obstacles no one is going to even attempt the racetrack because why bother?

Would the effort required be as high if flying was allowed? Rather than being High, I would classify it as Medium-High to High. Does it still require effort? Yes. Are people being lazy? No. There are still many factors that make it impossible to click a button and win.

Bottom line, create content with current content in mind. If there's no flying, don't implement activities that are pretty much neutered without flying. Doing so only shortens the stick even further. Instead, change those activities and create around or with no flying in mind.

Players are humans and humans will almost always take the path of least resistance. As the article noted, it doesn't take much for a player to suddenly decide that the amount of effort required to continue chasing after that carrot, AND the carrot itself, just isn't worth it anymore.


  1. This post is perfect. Well thought out and right on the money. I would hope that the Devs, who thought enough of you to name a feisty pet battle after you find this. Well done as always. Thank you.

  2. Agree completely!

  3. Yes Yes and Yes.

    I would have coughed up the traditional $1kg to fly in Draenor b/c it's way past time for that feature to be enabled AND it should be gold gated as it has been in the past. However, now that flight will be gated behind junk hunting in old areas, a garrison "upgrade" to unlock Tanaan, apexis dailies, and a deliberately slow rep grind, I think these are minipets on which I'm just gonna pass.


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